I’ve been thinkin up ways to build a better mousetrap for guys like me that want:
- A stick that can be used on several different platforms
- Something that can be easily converted to suit another player’s style with minimal effort
- A way of doing so without unsightly hinges, external project boxes, etc.
If you’re the kind of person that’s into really slim and compact cases with intricate woodworking, these probably aren’t for you, don’t bother reading any further. But I think you can still come out with a nice looking and functional traditional looking stick.
Now, first and foremost, I’m not a stick builder, and I have little to almost no technical know how, just a guy with a couple of ideas to toss around, looking for suggestions and revisions to improve the overall design.
So I applied my professional drafting skills and came up with this:
Pro ass shit
Fuck you, MS Paint is all I have available, diagram obviously not to scale.
Best thing to do would be to examine the picture, then read through the thread, cause it’s a long read and might be kind of confusing without the visual aid, and vice versa. I tried to color code everything in the diagram so it’d be a bit easier to follow. Oh and the weird ass button layout is my own design, just ignore it.
On to the stick…
Assume you start with a traditional wooden box frame, 3/4" MDF or whatever.
Measure and cut your 4 side panels, and prep them for gluing and screwing.
Now comes one of the most important parts, the corner braces.
Leave exactly 1/2" (assuming you use 1/2" wood for the top panel) + the depth of your Lexan/acrylic clear sheet between the top edge of the side panels and the top edge of the corner brace itself.
This is so you can slide the top panel right down on top of the corner braces and have it be flush with the side panels.
We’re doing this so the top panel will have some support without needing to be adhered to anything, you’ll see what I mean later.
If you want a slant to your stick be sure to cut the corner braces to the proper angle.
Also, be sure to measure the length of each brace so it ends up about 1/4" - 5/16" from the bottom edge of the side panels, you don’t want it to be flush and you don’t want them to end up too short either.
The bottom panel would be made of a thin and light weight but still rigid material, probably plastic or even another clear sheet if you’re confident with the internals, maybe 1/8" to 3/16" thick.
Drill a small hole in the center about the size of a dime.
The idea is to have a quick access back panel, and the hole is so you can stick your finger in there if need be to pull it out.
The back panel will rest against the bottom edges of the 4 corner braces and be recessed into the stick very slightly, probably no more than an 1/8" or so.
I’m still thinking of ways to keep the panel secured, probably some type of spring loaded clip that will provide enough force to keep the panel locked in place but can easily be unclipped at a 90 degree angle in a matter of seconds to allow the panel to be pulled straight out (which is why I drew small cutouts in the diagram, so the clips don’t get in the way when flipped out).
But I’m not sure what such clips would be called, or even if they exist, so I’m open to suggestions on other methods.
We’ll be dividing the inside of the stick into 2 sections using a clear sheet, or another thin plastic plate if you’d rather not see your wiring.
It’ll be mounted with just enough room to clear the bottom of the joystick, a series of elbow joints screwed into the side panels should work.
Notch out the 4 corners of the dividing plate to fit around the corner braces, and leave one more opening on the side for the joystick and button wiring to slip through.
We’re doing this to protect the joystick/buttons and wiring because we’ll be mounting project boxes inside the case containing the PCBs wired up for DB15 or whatever you prefer.
The idea is to have a quick access back panel for when you need to get in to switch your DB15 connection to a different PCB, and the lower section of the stick can possibly be used for cord storage as well.
Since PCBs are so thin an inch or so should be plenty of space for the lower section to house the cords and project boxes while still maintaining a relatively slim profile for the stick.
It will have to be a bit deeper than a typical one system stick, but probably no more deep than a Happs box, and I think the size trade off is worth the gains.
I guess this would be about where we start to assemble the case.
Double check your measurements, a good place to start would be screwing the corner braces to the side panels.
Be sure the braces are of a decent size and a strong, quality wood because we’ll be drilling a hole all the way through em, and we don’t want the wood to split, or the screws to be in the way of the hole we drill, so plan properly.
Once the side panels and braces are all glued/screwed and held in place, slide the top panel down onto the braces.
Mark and drill your holes in the 4 corners of the top plate where the clear sheet will be held to the wood.
Don’t put em too far out to the side or you’ll fuck up the braces, we wanna drill a hole that goes down through the top plate and all the way through each brace.
We’ll be using long carriage bolts to hold both the clear sheet and top panel in place.
Personally, I prefer the look of a rounded bolt head (like those found on Hori sticks) to wood screws because I think they ruin the artwork.
At the bottom of each brace use a Forstner bit to drill a hole large enough for the washer to fit, and deep enough so the nut will sit recessed inside each brace.
This will allow the back panel to sit flush against the braces without the nut interfering.
You’ll probably have to cut the bolts to the proper size.
After that you should be ready for the puttying, sanding, and painting, then the actual padhacking and wiring.
And you should have a finished stick with a modular top plate that can be replaced with others containing different sticks and button layouts, and an easy access back panel to get to your DB15 connector.
Whenever you wanna replace the top plate with somethin different just pop the back panel, unplug the DB15, and unscrew the nuts.
Putting a small notch in the back of the stick can help when you wanna lift out the top plate, or if you used an overhanging front end design you can grip it there too. You could also tilt the stick slightly and let gravity do it’s work.
If you’ve ever seen a nice stick and thought, damn I’d buy that if it had this layout, or this joystick, or was for this system, the modular stick should fix all that. Nice for when it comes to resell time but you play a whackass way that nobody else would.
Obviously there’s still a few wrinkles to iron out, like the best way to secure the back panel, but I think these sticks can be built pretty easily with some careful measurement and good planning. The basic design should work with a few different styles of casing, and depending on the dimensions there may be ample room for a number of PCBs to be housed in the stick at any given time. And I guess you could get fancy and put like a vinyl skin on the backplate, or use Lexan and get creative with the project boxes if you’ve got tidy wiring.
Again, I’m not gonna pretend to know shit about shit, I don’t have the tools to build one of these myself, but I’d love to see somebody else take the basic principles and run with it. Chime in with areas that need improvement if you’ve got a good idea.