Need advice repairing pad (Saturn PS2 model)


#1

A while back, I bought a Darkstalkers edition PS2 Sega Saturn pad here in the forums. I’ve put it through some pretty heavy use, mostly Marvel, and now the right shoulder button microswitch (which I use for L+M+H, so it’s important) is starting to crap out on me. A casual tap does nothing, so unless I really jam on it in the middle of a match (which can only be making it worse), I get no response. So I can press really hard and get it to hit, but even then it either lets up or hits twice at random. It does seem like it’s better if I press from the side of the button as opposed to the top.

The way I’ve been dealing with this is to add padding - a piece of double sided adhesive - between the switch and the button to make it more sensitive. I have NO idea what to do with these kinds of things; I don’t have the first clue about soldering or wiring. But I know a guy who does, so I’m trying to get some extra input on this before we try to fix it. The idea we’ve got now is to take a new original Saturn pad I got on eBay (to my knowledge, the PCB and parts are nearly identical and should be compatible) and gut the microswitches on that, use them to replace the ones on the Darkstalkers pad. Essentially desoldering each switch, swap them, and resolder.

Will this work? Here are some pictures to get started:


#2

yes desolder the switches and swap them. Also might want to swap the rubber contacts that feel the freshest for the dpad and buttons.


#3

Yeah, actually when I got the Darkstalkers pad, I swapped in the rubber contacts from the new original Saturn pad. At first, it almost felt too stiff (I think the D-pad “shaft” construction on the DS edition pad is even tighter than the original), but it’s broken in now and the face buttons feel good.


#4

There’s one thing I didn’t realize. The switches on the original Saturn pad are a little different (pictures below). The way they’re attached and how they’re placed are identical, but they are a different style. The fit with the button won’t be an issue, but will there be any problem with them being compatible across PCBs? Also see PCB comparison picture.


#5

It’s nice that you were able to fix your problem BUT long-term that’s the only way it’s going to be practically fixed.

The pads are long out-of-production and you had to cannibalize another one to fix it.
Think about it – you had to sacrifice another pad to fix one… That essentially takes another controller out of circulation. Yeah, they made millions of these things, but there’s still a limit to functioning pads and how many of them have already ended up in landfills or destroyed by some little kids??? (Over the years, I’ve seen TONS of control pads destroyed by “little tykes” on demo systems at every store from Toys 'R Us to Software Etc to Babbages to GameSpot. Some people have it in them to ruin other people’s fun because they just have to destroy everything they run across!)

(To be frank, I’ve owned both PS2 Saturn pads and USB Saturn pads in addition to the Sega Saturn pads. The original Saturn pads are much better than the the PS2 and USB pads. The weakness of the D-pad in the renewed productions pads is something that always made those pads less comfortable for me to use. I can’t say I actually miss owning those pads after I sold them. Good for the new owners to get use out of them! I have seen the light and switched to joysticks for everything that doesn’t need analog controls! Now, as for the Sega Saturn pads, I’m keeping those forever!)

(To me, it was a big disappointment Sega got out of hardware accessories… How many years has it been since they OFFICIALLY released anything that was hardware-based and not software? Too bad because they really did release some of the best controllers ever made for their last 3 systems…)

Long-term, I think I’m going to look into a joystick solution for my Saturn needs. I’m getting so used to joysticks that I think this is the way I’m going to go for Saturn games even if the system(s) breaks and I end up using an emulator to play the games.

The Saturn has a unique 8-button configuration (9-button if you count START) that has to be taken into account. Although you DON’T need it for every fighting game (SF Alpha anyone??), the problem is that there are still plenty of other games that use all eight buttons or combinations of them. Heck, I can remember playing Starlancer on the Dreamcast and that game used EVERY button on the official Sega DC pad plus combinations of buttons and the analog triggers, D-pad, etc.!

The restriction for 7-buttons ( X Y Z A B C START ) that the MC Cthulu has is one of the few weaknesses of that particular PCB which is otherwise great and one of the few third party PCB’s that supports the Sega Saturn. There are some good reasons to keep a few control pad PCB’s or at least project-box some of the Sega Saturn PCB’s for the official joysticks and any other modded joysticks you might use.


#6

That kind of microswitch is something you might be able to find at mouser or digikey.


#7

Compatible switch replacements would save a lot of pads in the long run… Just gotta say.

However, joysticks are definitely more durable long-term.
I don’t think any manufacturer was thinking that pads would still be viable 20 years after a system debuted.
Heck, the flatscreen TV’s we have today probably won’t last as long as the first-model American Sega Saturns have thus far.
A lot of the cheaper brand flatscreens die out in as little 3, 4 years tops. You really can’t expect even a quality flatscreen to last beyond 10 years… (Plasmas got such a bad reputation early on that they purposely keep the prices lower on them to attract interest…)

Even a well-used joystick can be rehabbed and brought back with parts similar to the original OEM or gutted and modded to fit new parts like many Agetec and Namco Joysticks have been.

Don’t know that it’s as viable for pads long-term.
To my way of thinking, the art of manufacturing a DURABLE control pad has gone the way of the dodo. There are just too many stories about control pads breaking, buttons getting damaged, etc.
I’ve always been someone who took care of their toys and was surprised to have a PS2 pad break on me in less than two years. (If I’d know about the RJ-45 mods back then, I would have at least kept the controller cord for reuse…)
Manufacturers want goods to break after a certain amount of time so that consumers will buy replacements.
It’s not so bad when it’s a $20 controller that breaks, but when it’s a $300-$400 system, let alone a $100 joystick controller…!


#8

I get what you’re saying, but… if I DO decide to “cannibalize” one pad to save the other (which I haven’t done yet), would there be a compatibility issue?


#9

no a button is a button it has a ground and a signal as long as the the size and location is the same you are fine to swap them