Soldering woes, any tips?


I have a PCB i’m trying to solder to that I ripped out of a clone (unofficial) ps3 controller. There is a mainboard, a large daughterboard that just acts as a panel for the buttons to press on, and two more either side for the shoulder buttons.

I’m having trouble deciding where to solder to and then actually doing it. I figured I should try soldering to the daughterboard because then if I make an irreversable mistake I can rip it off and try again on the mainboard. The contacts are also spread out (where the buttons press down) so in most cases there is little chance of bridging.

However I’m running into several problems.

  1. While the dpad and action buttons have some sort of ‘bridge’ style contacts where grnd and +5 meet, the start/select and shoulder buttons on the other hand have contacts where the two sides make a grid, kind of like a hedge maze. It’s nigh impossible not to bridge the contacts on these–to get an isolated bit of metal would mean soldering to a 1x2mm or so area. I’ve found away around it for the shoulder buttons (I can solder the grnd to a remote bit of the R2 contact that won’t go near the +5v, and then solder to either side of where the pins come through). But with the start/select, it looks like I won’t have a choice but to solder at the pins. (ps. i’m not sure if i’m using correct terminology here).

  2. The neatest-looking solution would be to solder at ‘where the pins come through’-- basically there is a ribbon connector that comes up from the mainboard and through the underneath of the daughterboard, and then there is what looks like solder holding it in on top. I say ‘looks like’ because it is impervious to either of my two soldering irons, and they melt other solder. So I guess it’s something else.

Said metal is also quite embossed from the board–I have a feeling if I tried to solder wire to these directly it would just run down the sides and easily bridge the adjacent contact.

  1. I’m wondering if it’s possible to scrape away the green from the board and expose metal underneath and solder to that?

  2. I’m using 22 awg wire, but it seems a bit too fat for this unwieldy work–though I can pull some of the copper strands away. Another problem is that it doesn’t sit completely flush with the board, partly because of the insulation raising it away, which doesn’t help with heat-transferance when soldering, and means more solder to fill in the gap underneath.

  3. If it will help I’ll try and get some pics, though i’m having difficulty finding my camera…

Not even mentioned that given the daughterboards ‘hover’ there is no firm sufrace when soldering, and the wires move around–I try to affix them in place with tack or insulation tape but they still move. I’ve soldered two wires on successfully so far but they took 2 hrs apiece and i’m dissatisfied with the amount of solder required, and it won’t be even that easy for some of the others.

I ended up getting the solder hot enough to separate the daughterboards from the mainboard. However the pcb has since started malfunctioning; I wonder if it may be static discharge that has damaged the chip. The ‘up’ button shows in Windows that it keeps triggering at random with nothing wired up to it.


Don’t double post. Edit your post and add stuff into it.

Also, pictures. No one can help unless they see exactly what you are working with.


Pity, I could use the free bumping. It took all day for you to reply after all. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that I would provide pictures later and then have people wait for them, as it turns out I can’t get the camera working.

PCB is broken now anyway. Time to rip open another controller; first one was free (I got a refund without return because of a fault on it), but the next one is my valuable genuine PS3 controller, so I can’t fuck this one up. This soldering is never as easy as people say; I can’t get any heat-transference through the copper wire no matter how long I hold it there, and I end up having to touch the solder to the iron directly just to get anything going, even though you’re not supposed to do that.

Before I broke the clone dualshock, I was inserting the copper wire through the hole(s) underneath the mainboard and trying to solder the other end, after desoldering the ribbon connectors that were there before. This is where I had the heat transference problem (didn’t get anything to truly hold), and discovered I’d wrecked the entire board when I connected it back to the usb port.

I hope someone proves you wrong about needing pictures to assist me. I’m sure they’re helpful and all, but not mandatory. Sometimes words are better. If there’s some detail I ommited feel free to ask. I was hoping for some back-and-forth tech support like “Did you try this?” or “Do you have this tool?” but if no such thoughts come to mind then so be it. I’ll just press on in the meantime.


I didn’t help you because I was waiting for pictures.
Bump all you want, but I cannot do anything without pictures.
I’m Asian, so it is not easy a lot for me to comprehend when reading.

The pictures would help.
Because I actually have in mind what happened wrong.
But I cannot confirm it because you do not want to post pictures.


I didn’t help you because I was waiting for pictures.
Bump all you want, but I cannot do anything without pictures.
I’m Asian, so it is not easy a lot for me to comprehend when reading.

The pictures would help.
Because I actually have in mind what happened wrong.
But I cannot confirm it because you do not want to post pictures.

  1. Many pads are like that. The solder doesn’t really like to harden on any plastic. It will always run to hot metal surfaces. As long as you use the right size wire, and don’t go crazy with the solder, you should be able to do it.

  2. That could still be solder. Pcbs soldered by a machine usually use a solder with a higher melting point than what we use. It can be difficult to melt, especially with a low wattage iron.

  3. Yes, that’s usually possible. This is where pictures would come in handy.

  4. Try using 24 or 26 gauge wire. 22 is a bit large for this work.

  5. Yes, pictures always help, especially when someone doesn’t understand exactly what you’re asking.

If you’ve fried the board, and are about to try and hack a six axis or dual shock 3 or something, I’d advise against it. They’re not beginner mods, and there are fairly cheap, very easy solutions for a ps3 stick. I mean, you’ll be risking 50 bucks vs. spending 35 and being positive you can wire up your stick because it requires little to no soldering and comes with complete instructions. Search for Chimp, Dual Strike or PS360.


I did get the solder to melt in the end, but only one of the two irons could melt it. It’s how I got to separating the daughterboards from the mainboard as I was finding it a pig to solder on an unsupported surface, but in retrospect I might not have broken my PCB if I hadn’t done it.

Actually did try it on the daughterboards of the now-defunct pcb, using a razor, and was successful.

I’ve already bought 50 meters of 22 awg, on advice of a tutorial thread on this forum. :confused: I’m going to try and make it work.

I’d submit them if I could. I know it’s not as easy without pics, and appreciate whatever help people can give without them.

I’d rather not increase my budget if I can avoid it. I’ve got the figure at the half-way point now to where buying a new hitbox would cost (making a stickless stick). I’m also not very patient, and it feels like giving up to, um, give up on the soldering.

What I don’t get is why if I stick the iron on one side of the copper wire, it never gets hot enough to melt the solder at the other end? Would this be normal for 22 awg wire?


I’m not sure if I did kill my PCB with static discharge. See if anyone recognises the symptoms. Basically, if I plug it in it shows “up” steadily; if I move the board around it will start flickering. Button 4 will also start rapid-firing. If I touch any of the holes where the pins go with my fingers, they’ll light up too (permanently).

I just desoldered an analog stick from the same board and now the analog directions are rapidly firing!? I’m wondering if there’s something about the desoldering i’m doing that’s affecting it, like heat running through the circuit and into the microchip?

[edit] in fact if I do as little as run my finger along the holes on nonconductive side of the pcb it registers button presses. I guess that is static, though I get it even if I earth myself?


I can get that…but…honestly, why make it hard on yourself? Those boards are what professional modders use. The ONLY reason someone would tear up an actual sony PS3 controller is if someone wanted a wireless stick. And still, they buy a board called Axis-Adapter, which has a ribbon connecter and gives you real solder points or screw terminals. If soldering it is that big an issue to me(which, I can understand, we gotta start somewhere), you can desolder the screw terminals, and work on it as it’s a normal pcb.

All I got on your solder issue is to make sure as much of the solder tip as possible is contacting what you want to solder. Might even be your iron. Is the tip clean? Old? Might need a new one. Have you read any general soldering guides? The tutorials on here don’t teach you much about how to actually solder something, but just how to connect everything.


I don’t like spending a lot of money or waiting 20 days for something to arrive (ETA of the ‘dual strike’), if I feel I can have it working the next day.

Could you link me to a product like that? Googling ‘axis-adaptor’ wasn’t very helpful to me.

I’m not sure what you mean.

It might need replacing. Right now i’m thinking of doing a tape-job on the ribbon thing with the sensors (what’s the proper name for it?) out of my ps3 controller, just to have something working. I started buying parts since October and It’s making me mad that I haven’t made it yet. Be it pride or frustration that I get out of this project, in the end I only care about gaming with the end result. After it’s working i’ll figure out a better solution with more permanency, at my leisure. If I can get the old PCB from the clone working again (got another thread open to figure that out, need resistors) I might be able to continue with trying to solder wire to it, then rip the tape off my PS3 pcb and reassemble the controller. Then I’ll still be able to happily say the budget stayed at under £55.



Why are you wasting your time soldering to a unofficial PS3 pad? Most of us modders don’t even bother soldering to 3rd party pads because most of the time they have dodgy reliability and more of a pain in the ass compared to how easy it is to spend $30. I recall that early madcatz ps3 pads the dpads failed to work after soldering wires to it.

The best thing you can do and have a reliable arcade stick is to buy a cthulhu ps3 board. It is often cheaper than a shit 3rd party controller that may or may not work and so long as you only care about ps3, it is fully solder less. You just need a USB cable, wire and a wire stripper/ terminal crimper/ cutter

The cost of staying on such a slim budget, is that you are are dealing with the frustration of trying to force something that isn’t designed to be used in the way that you are using it.

I am advising you right now to avoid soldering the dualshock 3. Out of maybe 6 people I recall that have posted threads asking for help on how to solder dualshock 3’s only 1 of them did it successfully, and everbody else ruined the controller beyond repair, one guy even stomped on it because he realized that he should have spent the $35 on getting a cthulhu/dual shock instead of bricking his good dualshock 3.

If you insist on trying here is slagcoin. I believe the ribbon connectors are now gone on new dualshock 3, but the ribbon cable ordering is the same.


Actually I intend to dualmod in future, but not right now. I’m a PC gamer, in the future I want to be proofed for tournament attendance.

Why would attaching wires cause a PCB to stop working? I mean what’s the technical reason behind the phenomenon?

I’m trying with the unofficial pad because it was free and it also has the nicest contacts for soldering on–which I’ve since stupidly removed by snipping the daughterboards off, prompted by the fact that one of the wires on the strip had snapped away frmo the mainboard anyway and I was fed up with soldering to a floaty surface–I didn’t count on resistors being needed. I don’t mind trying to fix it by putting new resistors in, if I know where to insert them.

I’ll see what the cost adds up to in the end, emotionally and financially. If I don’t try and be stubborn now I’ll forever wonder if my stubbornness could have paid off and saved me money. At least this way i’ll know.

This is the genuine dualshock I have, so it does have ribbon connector:

I did try taping wires on: It doesn’t work. I don’t know why-- I tape one of my sanwa buttons down and touch two wires to the right places and it registers but only in a fickle way, like there’s some very precise point; when I tape the wires to the same spots I get nothing. Seems unfeasable.

Btw I also have two other controllers in disuse: a usb saturn controller (I’m guessing this won’t work on any current-generation console) and a dualshock 2 with a usb adaptor, which stopped working (which is the reason I now own a dualshock 3), but I don’t know if it’s the controller or adaptor at fault. I don’t know if this would work on a console either.

UPDATE: It seems that, while it may be a 0% dualmod instead of 50%, I can best get my immediate desire of something working achieved by soldering to the saturn pcb. It has a single common ground for everything, isolated frmo everything else, and in fact i’ve already soldered that in. 11 wires later and i’ll be done–oh that’s something, there’s no select button on this pad. Oh well.


The screw terminals on these 30 dollar boards people are talking about are just soldered on. What I meant was that you could remove them, and solder directly to the board, if you wanted to. I understand wanting to practice soldering.

Your Saturn pad should be fine for a PC stick. When you go to add console support, remember all these comments. There’s a reason you see basically the same parts in the mods here. They’re the easiest to obtain and easiest to work with. They’re also the easiest parts for the people here to help you troubleshoot.


Not all official dualshock3’s have the ribbon connector. Only a Dualshock 3 from the first few months have a ribbon connector. The newer ones have the membrane glued or soldered on from the pictures I’ve seen. Once you remove the membrane from the spot it is connected to, I think there is no going back.

So you will have to make sure you have an old controller or find a Sixaxis.

See here:

Also with the DualShock 3, with no ribbon connector, forget about dual modding.
To dual mod a Sixaxis or Dualshock 3 with the proper ribbon connector, a dual mod isn’t going to happen unless you have a Leo board, or are as smart as Gummowned, the maker of the Leo Board.


I agree with rtdzing, get a Cthulhu and be done with it. The difference in cost from a shit 3rd party PS3 pad and a Cthulhu you would save time, frustration and the added cost of replacement PCBs that you might have ruined.


get the $15 no solder usb pcb…comes with wires and quick disconnects. its 100% lagfree(I have one)

u gotta sign up and PM vigo


I’m trying to solder to the saturn pad now, but the solder isn’t adhering to the contacts. I wonder if they’re even made of metal? They’re black. Solder doesn’t stick to it at all; got a huge blob on the wire and it just slides off. What can I do?

EDIT: Seems I can scrape it away and expose copper underneath. This is good as it will mean the solder won’t bind to the contact right next to it, which I was afraid of. What is that black stuff btw?


You are supposed to.
Is carbon.


Thanks. Seems teh tip is at fault in regard to heat transferance; if I lean the iron even slightly so that the sides are slightly touching, the solder starts flowing, but touching with just the very tip does little to nothing. Are tips standardised?