Microswitches instead of Rubber Contact Pads


I was wondering since they don’t make rubber pads for Sega contollers anymore, especially the awesome Saturn one, what if one were to solder tactile switches to the pcb? Has anyone ever done this?


Not in Tech Talk, but someone (on the internet) has done this.
How to do it? Hell if I know.


It’s not hard to do. Scrape off the carbon from the contact points so you can see the bare metal, then solder the tact switches to the metal below. Then, you’ll have to fill in the buttons with an epoxy putty so that the switches have something solid to press against. It’s a fairly easy mod with minor soldering skills, especially on an old school PCB like the Saturn pad.

New pads these days like the SixA, DS3, DS4 use a stupid film with the carbon contacts, and they’re IMPOSSIBLE to solder to.


I did this a week ago with an old knockoff Saturn USB pad I got on eBay. There are a few considerations.

First, there is very little clearance under the Saturn pad buttons if you fill them with epoxy, so you’ll need flat tact switches in order to fit. I used cheap tact switches from Radio Shack, the ones that are nearly flat on top, no raised button. The other option would be to get raised tact switches, and then just don’t fill the buttons and shave down the switch as necessary.

Second, I don’t recommend attempting to solder directly to the contact pads on the PCB. Instead, put a dab of hot glue underneath the switch and stick it to the PCB, then solder some short wires to the tact switches and run them to traces elsewhere on the board. The reason I did this is because the XYZ buttons have very little room to align the tact switch, so I had to move them around a few times before I could get to the soldering. Plus, you can undo this mod fairly easily in the future.


I suggest just making your own breadboard/pcb thing to mount the tact switches on, maybe even like plexi/metal sheet that’s cut to shape. just copy the shape of the pcb of whatever controller you’re gonna use. if its a saturn pad, then it should be easy to do so since its basically soap-shaped pcb.

and just put the encoder/padhack on a separate box, wired to it.
or use one of the smaller pcb’s out there (cut down cerberus perhaps).

@FreedomGundam should be able to give more experienced advice on tact switches.


I’ve installed tact switches in both my Hori FSVX and TvC/Brawlsticks, but not in controllers yet, but that’s in the pipeline later on (very low priority in the grand scheme of my hobbies)

For the FSVX, I soldered the tact switches directly to the stock PCB, and trimmed/padded the button-part as needed:

On my TvCs, I removed the stock PCB and used perf-board to recreate my own:
(see the top-right corner of the picture)

The problem, like @earlyberd‌ mentioned above, is making sure that the plastic button-part presses onto the tact switch correctly, and that’s all dependant on the height of the tact switch (I bought a bunch of all different heights to experiment with) and the clearance inside the casing. It’s a little hard to make that call without actually doing it yourself, though.

That being said, I’m wondering if there’s a market for replacement PCBs with micro-tact switches mounted on sized for the popular controllers where the rubber membrane tends to crap out, like the Mad Catz original SF4 Fightpad and SFxT Fightpad, and the Hori Fighting Commander 3 Pro.

I’d imagine it’d be a drop-in replacement to the stock PCB, but where you’d have to solder in the cut-down Cerberus, so there’s technically no “brains” on the board itself, natively. You might lose out on some stock functionality (turbo, LS/RS), but you’d gain better buttons, and possibly a removable/detachable USB cable or something.

I’d look into getting something like that designed, but I unfortunately own none of the MCZ Fightpads, and both my Hori FC3 Pro and notPro are still 100% fully functional…


I think it’s worth mentioning as well that the clicky tact switches are only usable for single buttons. I tried putting tact switches under the Dpad in my Saturn pad and could never quite get it to feel right, so I went back to the original rubber membrane. Clicky buttons are fine because you only have a single point of contact, but Dpads rely on multiple simultaneous presses to get the diagonals, and the travel distance on activating the tact switch is so low that it’s easy to unpress a direction while moving to another.

For anyone looking to recondition the Dpad, you should consider using rubber membrane switches like these. Unfortunately they’re discontinued, but eBay seems to offer a lot of alternates or knockoffs.


I seen people get the d-pad working with tac switches. The challenge is to get the d-pad balanced correctly on the switches, and how far up is the d-pad’s fulcrum or pivot point is


logitech F310 's dpad uses soft tact switches like those.


The GBA SP uses tact switches for the D-pad. I loved it.
I believe the PSP Go does as well. Love it as well (the D-pad, that is; not necessarily the PSP Go as a whole).


I don’t recall the SP using them.

Anyway, I wonder what it would be like to make custom 3D printed D-Pads made for tact switch mods with new pivot joints that can be lubed?


i’ve been thinking about doing a microswitch mod on some cheaper usb SNES controllers. from what i read in the reviews the dpad membrane is really crappy.

definitely. 3d printers are getting so much exposure nowadays. i wonder if it would be possible to recreate whole controllers. after seeing the funky designs in another thread i’d be tempted to create my own. though it looks like the only printers in my price range don’t offer the resolution i would need.


You can get stuff 3D printed online easily now a days.


Lets make our own pads. Where we’re going…we don’t need membranes.


yeah i’ve looked into that too. but given the trial-and-error process that comes along with designing i’d be a few hundred dollars in on materials and delivery charges before i get a working end product. a kickstarter printer i was looking at just a few days ago is up to 3million today. i really wish i wasn’t on a student budget, i could’ve funded like 4 different printers already.