Sanwa JLF+Octagon Gate+Kowal Actuator = WOW, WOW, WOW


Probably the BEST feeling stick I EVER used, rivaling…maybe exceeding the old IL sticks. It’s that good.
But first I’ll give my 2 cents as to why.

  1. Sanwa JLF+Stock square gate+stock actuator= too sloppy. Too loose. Throws are too long. Good for Street fighter/fighting games only. Klingon Pain sticks level for platformers and shooters.

  2. Sanwa JLF+Octagon gate+stock actuator= Um…I don’t know how 2 could be worse than 1 but it is.

a) still sloppy as all hell. b) STILL too loose. c) throws are even LONGER. 4) better than square gates for platformers–I can actually play Gauntlet II without accidentally going diagonally, so it’s actually playable, but for fighters, there’s an even BIGGER problem:
d) Gate 8 direction notches are FAR too sharply defined. There’s way too much resistance when trying to transition out of a diagonal into a main direction…this really messes up doing Ken/Ryu Dragon punches in anything except the simplified Street fighter 4+ way. The only way to avoid that is not to ride the gate at all, and if you aren’t doing that, a square gate would be better.

I know some of you will disagree, but absolutely DO NOT get an octagon gate for the STOCK actuator! It’s HORRIBLE unless you are NOT playing fighting games (Then well it’s better than square).

  1. Sanwa JLF+Kowal oversized actuator for JLF+Octagon gate
    Um…did I just die and wake up in heaven with beautiful virgins and petite, lovely, jet black haired Asian women?
    Oh my god…

The actuator COMPLETELY changes the stick! And I don’t think most people realize how: its massive:

  1. SLOPPINESS IS ALMOST COMPLETELY REMOVED. I don’t know how that’s possible but it’s probably related to 2:

  2. Spring stiffness is increased. Didn’t like the 0.9lb spring? Now it feels almost like a 1.5 lb spring! It’s not quite 2lb (I have a LS-55 spring and tried that with the square and octo gates, but only with the stock actuator, and it was just too stiff).
    I’d say that the spring feels just perfect. Not too stiff like a 2lb spring and not too light either. But it was rather shocking as to the improvement on BOTH the amount of “slop” and resistance.

  3. This will probably catch most people off guard:
    Not only are the throws and engage distances reduced, while the neutral zone feels basically untouched (so no more absurd wide throws), but unlike the stock actuator, for some reason, the Kowal actuator actually softens the effect of the direction corners considerably. If you softly wide the gate, it actually feels like a “smoother square gate.” if that makes any sense. There’s no longer any super sharp resistance out of diagonals like with the stock actuator+Octo, and you can feel the diagonals more than the primary directions. Both directions are softer and have less resistance and feel less “notchy”, which makes movements far more smooth, but you still keep the benefits of the square gate (diagonals), while being able to easily go to the primary directions without accidentally slipping to the diagonals. Greatly improves platform games. And I can do Ken/Ryu DP’s easier on this than I can on the stock square gate+stock actuator.

Needless to say, I have absolutely no reason to touch the square gate again now. I’m happy with this.
Note: I have not tried the Kowal actuator with the square gate. I don’t feel I need to.

I know some people suggested that I try the LS-56, but the throws and actuation are just a bit too short for me. I don’t want a joystick with small throws as it becomes too easy to go in an unintended direction in a fighter.

tl;dr: if you haven’t tried an octagon gate+Kowal actuator, please try it. You might be quite surprised.


not sure if troll thread


I had that setup for a client. He came back to me about 8-10 months later saying that his stick was no longer as responsive as it once was.

Opened it up, and because:
a) people ride the octo-gates HARD
b) Kowal’s actuator is made of ABS

Result: the octo-gate had ground down the Kowal actuator to the point where there was a deep/distinct notch (on the actuator) where it rides the gate. Also, the JLF body, microswitches, as well as the area in the casing directly below the JLF, was covered in fine ABS dust.


Yeah. That’s why you buy more than one actuator.
They’re what, $4 a pop?

Do you know how many spare actuators, gimbals and potentiometers I have (and STILL have) sitting around from my pilot dogfighting days? A shame they have no use now though :frowning:

Try using one and then talk shit afterwards, please.


I like the combo, but still very much prefer the 56. Try it when you can before considering it’s engages to be too tight.
As for the dust with a kowal, a) don’t grind the fuck out of it, and b) clean the lever and switches every few months or so.


Or a.) Use delrin actuators and throw mod them or b.) see a


Or don’t ride hard on a octo gate and circle gates


That is the reason why we use octa gate, we ride the gate, HARD!!


Or just play the fuckin game, and you will feel any stick is good enough after some time


have fun buying Kowal actuators every 6 months and cleaning plastic dust from your sticks.


I think he was joking about how hard he rides the gate. Gates are definitely made for riding.


Don’t you hate the jlf anyways? I have never had to replace a kowal actuator either.


Been using for 2 years never had to replace it. Have another 2 in spare. Thanks for the input though.


I have, quite a few times actually. The plastic dust gets into the microswitch contacts fowling up the switches and it gets into the joystick lube.
Unless the client specifically requests it, I ended up replacing the actuator with one made of derlin plastic instead of ABS (that includes Kowal actuators).

I actually get one guy I see every few months for about almost 2 years as the always wants a Kowal Actuator, he only wants parts from Focus attack, and I end up replacing his actuator every time.
I replaced the TP-MA board in his stick a few times as well. I am not spending the time to unsolder those microswitches and repeat the process in a few months.

Ha ha, you are real funny dude.

I don’t think the joke is funny. And no gates aren’t made for riding.
But I don’t care, it brings me plenty of mod work. I willing to take people’s money for stuff they constantly break.


He must be slamming the shit out of it. I definitely saw much more dust in mine after having a couple friends pummel the p2 lever on my cabinet. I should throw a Korean lever (which is made to be hammered) on that side.


I’m actually using a modded venom with all sanwa stuff. While the buttons are really perfect for me, i think that the stick (stock JLF-TP-8YT) is actually too loose and with a long throw, that i dislike. I know that sanwa seems to be good with fightining games, but i find the stick too chewing gum even in street fighter 5. I already tried with a square gate, and with an octagonal gate (a really nightmare because of the throw wich is even longer). So now i’m finding a solution to enjoy my stick; i’m not planning to buy a seimitsu for now, because i heard that adding a KOWAL 1mm Oversize Actuator with an 2LB TENSION SPRING could improve the feeling (reduce the throw and feel tighter in general, reducing the dead zone) Does anyone tried this little mod? Is it better than the stock sanwa?




I tried similar mods before the Kowal stuff came out, oversized actuators of various materials (ABS, Nylon, Metal, Derlin) and makes, springs from everywhere including combining or doubling up on springs.
Taking springs from Seimitsu joysticks, looked into options from the hardware stores. I looked into shims, electric tape mods, putting in various switches, heavier ball tops, I was one of the first to use a circular gate.
Pretty much every mod in the book for the JLF, in reality I found nothing really changed the feel of a JLF, it just feels like a JLF with a mod rather than something I felt was great for me.
I ended up switching to Seimitsu joysticks and I never looked back.

Why mod a terrible Sanwa JLF when there so many other (and if you ask some people) better joysticks out there.
Hell even the now discontinued Sanwa JLW is a superior joystick to the loose JLF in my book.
I don’t even get why Sanwa discontinued the JLW.


Then what’s the purpose of having different shapes to slide the actuator on and use the shape to find proper positions? That’s literally the whole point to having a gate, otherwise there wouldn’t be gates. There would be no reason to have square gates. If you don’t ride the gate you don’t know what position your lever is in and you might as well not have one at that point.

I ride my gates all the time and my parts are good as new.


There is a difference what you are talking about and actual grinding which I am talking about.
You allow the gate to be a guide, nothing more.

There a difference between allowing the gate to be a guide and actually riding the gate.
Perhaps a better word would be grinding into the gate.

What I am talking about is avoiding this

This isn’t my photo, and its out of focus but you can see the dust from the actuator grinding it self to death.

My only mistake not having the foresight to document the issue in more detail.