Going to try a DIY custom arcade stick soon, but there's so much info to sift through


Hello Tech Talk. I’m planning on assembling a stick together for my friend’s birthday in half a year. I’m setting aside a ton of time because school and work will likely get in the way, and who knows when I’ll get time to sit down for a few hours (4-6 hour sessions) to work on this. I plan on going all-out; custom artwork LEDs, and whatever reasonable extras that a first-timer can put in.

I thought I’d start with Art’s Tek-Case


since it seems more fragile than standard TEs and my friend will hopefully be less likely to chuck it in salty rage.

However, there are a metric shit ton of articles to follow about this and it’s kinda hard to follow what and what not to do. I was hoping that some posters could link some tutorials that particularly helped them out when they were attempting something like this. I know that slag coin is a really great resource and there are some great posts here as well, but again there is a lot to go through.

Some starting questions I had:

  • My friend is 360 only, so what PCB should I use? Madcatz pad, 360 OEM, TE PCB, or custom PCB (PS360+, etc)

  • Regarding LEDs, do I need a separate PCB to control them? I only need them to be lit, no blinking patterns. Will the USB be enough as a power source, or do I need a separate power source (ex. D battery)

  • What do I do about the Xbox Guide button? (shows p1, p2, etc and opens Home menu) Do I need this for the controller to function?

I’m sure I can think of more later, but this is just to start. Posting any information that you guys found helpful in your diy projects would be great. This page seems to have everything -but- starting from scratch.

This is my first time attempting a project like this. I have very little soldering experience and no iron, so hopefully I won’t need it.


Start with Slag Coin

The Info is sort of dated, but the basics are still the same.
Some every good info on stick building.

What PCB to use?
Any one you mention would be fine. How you feel about soldering?
If you are really not good with soldering go with a PS360+ PCB.

Regarding LEDs, do I need a separate PCB to control them? I only need them to be lit, no blinking patterns.
You can use resistors to limit the current so you don’t blow the LEDs.

Will the USB be enough as a power source, or do I need a separate power source (ex. D battery)?
As long as you use 5 volt LEDs you should be fine.

What do I do about the Xbox Guide button?
Depends what PCB are you using.

This page seems to have everything -but- starting from scratch.
Info Thread: Rules, FAQs and Tutorials Inside. (READ THIS BEFORE HITTING THAT NEW THREAD BUTTON!) ?

Few people build complete sticks from scratch as it involves some wood working, metal working or working with Acrylics.
And you aren’t going to learn that from just a web forum.
But everything else you need to know is there.

I say for a first timer, stick with an Art Tek Case, go with a PS360+


As a quick side note, save yourself some wire clutter and use a ground daisy chain.


Hell you can buy premade daisy chain wire and pre crimped signal wires
It cost a little bit more, but the connections are often better than what can be made by hand
and you do not have to buy more tools and materials.


if you plan to use LEDs you’ll likely be force to solder. and it might just be my opinion but constant LEDs would get annoying, especially on a transparent case. you could include an on-off switch but that would require cutting into the acrylic. if you’re looking to avoid woodworking and painting i would recommend starting from a TE base. they can be remodeled to be really pretty as you’ll see in the ‘check out my new arcade stick’ thread. you can coordinate the colors of the bezel and sides to compliment the artwork which could impress more than LEDs.


What is your end goal?
What is your budget?
What features you want in a stick?

Coffeejuice is right. Just for on/off LEDs you have to solder. and find a place for a switch.
The only non-solder solutions for LED lights have PCB controllers for the lights.


The Kaimana is the most elegant way to light a stick. http://www.paradisearcadeshop.com/436-kaimana-led-series


Just a cool-looking stick with some chun artwork that will work on 360 no problem. I mentioned LEDs since that was the first thing that came to mind for reasonable extras, but I might just bail on that and get a TE case and start from there like Coffeejuice suggested. As for budget, preferably under $150. I figured that

Sanwa JLF --> $25 +$3 custom balltop
Buttons, dunno if sanwa or something else --> $16.50 or $22 depending on 6 or 8 button layout + ST/SL buttons
Case --> ~$55 for Tekcase, might go for a TE case and dunno how much those go for
PCB, maybe PS360+>? --> $60, might go with a madcatz pad PCB instead
LED, Kaimana? --> ~$45, dunno if I really want to go with this
Cables, etc not sure of cost --> $10

So that total comes out to ~$220, I might have to drop the LEDs and go with a TE case to meet my budget. I could then get different joystick/buttons (Hori Hayabusa/Kuro) to use the leftover budget.

I appreciate the comments so far guys, very insightful.


Well if you go with a working Mad Catz TE for the Xbox 360, you can save out on getting a JLF, an Xbox 360 PCB and maybe the USB cable if it is in good condition.


Just another option is the Panzer Fight Stick as well. It’s a bit more than a Tek Case but it will never crack! Additionally, you get it in the colors you want, can customize it with a full wrap, use the button combos you want etc. Plus Bryan @ Paradise Arcade Shop has given folks 5% discounts on parts for their Panzers.

Finally, the PS360+ is only $54.95 @ www.jasenscustoms.com and you get an additional 5% off that price when you buy it in conjunction with a PFS.

Just some more options and money savings ideas to give you a robust stick that is past proof (meaning you can play it on old and new consoles)



Awesome, thanks a lot for the heads-up! The Panzer is a bit out of my price range for this project, but I will keep it in mind for the future.


Well, simplecase looks pretty cool but they’re no longer accepting orders. Anyone know when the owner will start making cases again?



Nobody knows at this point. I would check his thread periodically if you are interested. Check out Anomaly Arcade Sticks. Do an fb search or google to find his store. He makes some pretty nice wood cases that are priced reasonably. I’m at a concert or I would link you myself.


You could always post a want to buy ad in the trading outlet here.


These guys?


Damn, that FLCL stick is fine. Too bad it’s out of my price range and my friend hates anime.

Seems that wooden frames go for $110 from this guy. Doesn’t leave much money left over for parts…


I used one of these for a DIY stick: http://www.containerstore.com/shop/collections/hobby/partsBoxes?productId=10009772

It’s not as solid as the other options listed, but it works, and it’s the right thickness for snap in buttons. It’s just barely tall enough for the .110 quick disconnects, I recommend soldering the wires into the QD’s after crimping if you take this route. You’ll also need 30mm spade or forstner bits to drill holes.

There’s also a sale on the Madcatz Pro sticks (full Sanwa) for $99 running through 3/17 ( Mad Catz FINAL ROUND XVII Sale! $100 FightStick PRO & $100 FightStick KE (ENDS March 17th!) ). Good parts, a good case, easy to mod, and no work involved.


Here’s a picture of that stick. I removed the pcb and wiring to use it in my MAME/PS2 arcade. If I was actually going to use it much, I’d add rubber feet.


those simple-styled cases aren’t too expensive to put together yourself. foehammer arcade shop also sells blank wooden cases with some pretty cool designs for a little cheaper. though you should also keep in mind the priming, painting, and sanding costs that come with wooden cases. they’re also harder to care for than manufactured sticks and can be prone to dents and scuffs.


there’s always project boxes


Honestly, your best bet is to buy a retail stick if you want to save money. You get the best bang for your buck that way and MadCatz has all of their stuff on sale until the 17th.