Noob reaching out (360/MAME Stick)


Ok, here goes

First off this site is AMAZING! My ambition to build a retro style arcade stick is now burning brightly but I am dogged by my poor knowledge of electronics. I have a good idea of what I want to achieve, but have many questions and lack confidence in my own ability. My aim is to build a 9 button arcade stick for my 360 and MAME. I want to use Sanwa (JLF stick) and Sanwa or Seimitsu buttons and possibly the Madcatz Microcon PCB.

I have researched this site extensively, however I find that the more I read the more lost I become. The only thing this site seems to lack (unless I am mistaken) is a collection of step by step tutorials for the electronically challenged like me. So, I have tried to piece things together bit by bit. I have a lot of patience and determination to get this done but am really reaching out for help.

From what I can understand the Madcatz Microcon lends itself particularly well to hacking with the JLF stick, with pre-drilled holes and a common ground. However, I have found conflicting information regarding the need to use resistors. I was already overwhelmed by the prospect of soldering. When I read that I need to introduce resistors I was ready to throw in the towel.

The issue concerned using the stick with SF2 AE (Xbox original) on the 360 and its inability to recognize digital bumper inputs. Now SF2 AE is a major source of inspiration for this project so I need to be clear on what I need to be able to play this. My question is, do I need to worry about resistors or not. I only need 9 buttons (6 + start, select & guide button) so is it practical to use the triggers instead or are they digital too?

I guess my next goal is to get a clear understanding of the mapping I will need. From what I can gather, I just solder the 5 wire JLF harness to the 5 inputs on the Microcon direction pad, as shown in this pic from vanRijn (though this is an Xbox controller I think, not 360). Though this pick only shows 4 wires, is there one missing (the ground)?

As for the rest of the buttons I am not sure. Do I then use twin wires from each button on the PCB (G&S) to the Sanwa buttons? In vanRijns pic below, there appears to be only one wire going to each play button, so does that mean that they have a common ground also. Or is this completely different to what I need to do with the 360 Microcon?

If anyone knows of a tutorial or links to more detailed info regarding how to make a 360/MAME arcade stick using a JLF controller and Madcatz Microcon please point me in that direction. Or if someone knows of a better way to build a stick, e.g. different PCB please enlighten me.

I do have 1001 more questions regarding construction and design. But I feel that if I cannot overcome the first hurdle of gaining a fundamental understanding of the electronic basics, then those questions are wasted.

Really appreciate any guidance with this. Please feel free to PM if you can help. At this point I am contemplating whether I have bitten off more than I can chew. But I have been inspired by the Newbie-friendly forum and comments by others that have said it is really not that hard.

I felt the same way before I hacked my 360. I new nothing at all about firmware and hacking, but after perseverance I was successful. So I guess I am encouraged some way by that, but I realize this is a VERY different kettle of fish.

All comments gratefully received both positive and constructively critical.

Kind regards,

S.B., South Australia.