After a long while I am pleased to announce that I have finally finished my custom Virtual On twin sticks. I have written up this work log to show the process I went through and to maybe help others that wish to undertake such a project. After finishing my Akuma stick, I was getting a bit tired of making regular sticks and wanted to do something a bit special. When VOOT was announced I thought that would be a good project to do and not just a simple (but effective) PCB swap over, create whole new custom twin sticks! I opted to use the Saturn sticks as I managed to find a set that was moderately priced plus they were the colour I wanted to match the rest of the box. I already have a set of DC sticks but I would rather keep them in one piece.
Here are a couple shots of the stick before modding began. Im sure all of you have seen Saturn twin stick before, but I guess this is just for reference.
Ok, first off I dismantled the sticks to inspect the condition. Gave everything a good clean and laid the parts out.
Next the sticks themselves got dismantled, gave them a clean out and lubricated the buttons. I was surprised to find that one of the buttons for the trigger wasnt soldered to the board! Dont know how that got missed in the factory, but anyway…
I changed the wires and soldered the loose button in place and reassembled the sticks again.
Here is a shot of the controller PCB before modification.
I also changed the wires to match my colour scheme. Incidentally I might add, when you have the PCB rotated this way with the wires facing down, it makes it very easy to wire up. The wires from left to right are Ground, Up, Down, Left & Right.
Now onto the box itself, I went with a box within a box type (like I did with the Akuma stick). This part is made out of 12mm pine with 12mm plywood on top. I lined everything up from the template I made, traced around the bases and drilled the holes for the buttons and jig sawed the bases out. I was originally going to make custom metal plates up for the bases, but there wouldve have been enough gap between the base and the bottom of the stick once you put Plexi on top and it wouldve hit. So I had to improvise and make it sit flush.
Another thing to note is that I routed out the holes a little for the 24mm Sanwa buttons on the inside as otherwise the plywood wouldve been too thick. I did this before I glued and screwed the top to the sides as I wouldnt be able to do it afterwards.
Thankfully Sega (or Ascii) in all their wisdom had some forethought and included lugs on the side of the stick bases. This gave me something to screw the bases to the top panel but I had to dremel out a little from the sides to make the base sit flush. I then used stainless steel screw to fix them in place, but I had to cut off the tip of the screw as it was a little too long.
I opted for Jarrah as the outer timber for no particular reason. It was easy for me to access, the right thickness (19mm) plus its fairly heavy and dense, which is what I wanted. Here are the side pieces cut out.
To house the extracted Madcatz PCB I used (from a 4716) controller I made up a custom case out of some spare 2mm Plexi I had floating around. It was originally going to be square on the corners, but found out that it wouldnt fit due to the stick PCBs, so the easiest thing to do was chop off the corners, bog the holes with some Plasti-bond (pretty much same as Bondo) and sand it down, prime and paint. A couple notches were cut out for the cabling.
Process of gluing the sides to the case
After the glue had set
I got the router out and chamfered off the edges and dyed it with a black stain. I rubbed it back a bit to bring out a bit of the natural reddish brown of the Jarrah. I just wanted it darker than what it normally is.
I stained the inside of the box with a Rosewood stain and began installing the stick components.
Once that was done, I printed out some custom artwork which I photoshopped, cut to size and then placed the 2mm Plexi over the top. 24mm yellow Sanwa screw-ins were then installed. I lubricated up the stick shafts, installed the terminal blocks and finished off all the wiring. Cable tied necessary wires together and did other general clean up. All thats left to do it wait until the polyurethane is fully cured before I start polishing it up.
Would you believe that after I found the first Saturn twin sticks, I found another set locally, which were in boxed mint condition for a cheaper price! I couldnt pass it up, but these ones Im going to keep in original condition. Heres a final photo with its stick brethrens.
Just to recap, heres a brief summary of parts used…
Set of Saturn twin sticks
3x 24mm yellow Sanwa screw-in buttons
Madcatz 4716 controller
12mm Pine and Plywood
2mm Plexi (for top and PCB case)
3mm (for bottom)
Yellow, Red and Black hook-up wire
Stainless steel screws used where possible
2x wiring terminal strips
Double sided tape (for terminal strips)
Adhesive paper (for VOOT sticker and wiring block details)
Plastic prime and black spray paint
PVA wood glue
Jarrah coloured putty (to fix small gaps)
Semi-gloss photo paper for artwork (I find it works better than glossy)
Black wood stain
Black rubber screw-in feet
Any questions or comments, please feel free.
**I had to make a small change to my sticks. I hadn’t used them in a few days and in that time we got a cold snap in the weather. Now for whatever reason, the 2mm plexi which I have on top decided it was going to shrink slightly and curl up. When I noticed, it had risen at least 5mm on the left hand side of the the case. The other side wasn’t so bad as there’s the two buttons on the top right. 3mm plexi which I used on my other sticks was seems to be fine, it’s only because this stuff is thinner that I’m having a problem. I’m not one for using screws in the corners of the plexi simply because I think it looks horrible and unprofessional, but I didn’t have much choice in this matter.
Here is the stick with countersunk stainless screws.
I went to the hardware store and came across these things called Bifurcated Rivets. Now I’m not sure what they’re proper use is, I think leather work, but I liked the shallow rounded head.
Got my Dremel out and cut the head off.
I then used some thin and strong double sided tape and stuck them over the screw holes. I couldn’t use bolts with nuts (like in most sticks) as there was no room and I didn’t want the bolt heads half an inch from the corner, that would’ve looked silly, plus mess up my artwork.
I’m quite happy with my modification, it’s better than having the plexi lifting, that’s for sure.