Diary and log of an Astro City Joystick build


Hello, I love arcade sticks.

I love them probably more than I should, given that I’m not really a “great” at fighting games; I can hold my own in a few but I’ve got a long way to go. I’ve built a few simple Paewang / Cthulhu sticks in the past; both cheap Hori and kind of less cheap Madcatz TE.

This time, I’m going as arcade authentic as humanly possible, but “portable” for home use. My current gen systems are in my living room, but my vintage systems (MVS and Dreamcast) are in my “arcade nook” (eat in kitchen area that I’ve taken over).

So, without further delay, here’s what I’m doing. Someone tell me if I’m doing something stupid or wrong.

The first piece I got, and the one that cemented my plan for this stick. I live near Video Games New York, and they recently got a bunch of Sanwa Astro City panels in stock. Here it is, mounted in its cardboard box. The part number is OOM-8-6AR-H.

I’ve opted for MC Cthulhu boards for the brains of this operation. Originally I was going to pad-hack a Dreamcast Fight Stick, but decided it would be better in the long term to simply use the RJ45 data line from the Cthulhu; it simplifies the number cables I need, and makes the stick disconnectable from said wires.

I’ve also looped the connections back out of the Cthulhu and to a terminal that I’ve labeled and will eventually connect to the DB15 connectors that are en-route for the Neo Geo. I know that my original AES controllers don’t use the 5V, but in this case I should connect it to the VCC, correct?

Anyway, it works great on my PS3!

As sexy as this cardboard box is, I need a better housing. There are a few solutions to this:

  1. Build some kind of enclosure out of wood. (I don’t have the right tools, and it would cost $350 or more from established builders)

  2. Order an aluminum project box. (This is tricky; there are no 26" wide stock boxes).

  3. Get an Astro City or Blast City bezel. (These are very hard to find in the USA).

  4. Get a Sega Saturn HSS-0130 and gut it. (This is a $400+ proposition).

I did find a great supplier who was willing to make custom enclosures in Japan:
These guys quoted me a very reasonable $115 for the enclosure, and $100 for shipping. This is a pretty good option, for those who want to go that route.

The good people of the Neo-Geo forums directed me to Yahoo Auctions Japan, and I used Buyee to purchase an Astro City Bezel. Buyee, by the way, is a great service. It’s very polished, and they were incredibly friendly when I had questions about the process. The bezel I bought cost $21 or so with the fees, and actually has the sawn-off lower half of the enclosure that the bezel is hinged to. It turned out to be much nicer than I expected, despite needing a REALLY sincere cleaning. Shipping it stateside cost $70.

My eventual plan, as this path continues, is to get an HSS-0130 for this to rest in… but those are damned hard to come by in good shape / at reasonable prices. Mostly this is for the purposes of having the most “finished” looking arcade stick possible.

More to come soon!