I just received a Madcatz Brawl Stick. I chose the 360 version, because I’ll mainly be using it on my PC. I opened the box and checked everything out, and it seemed good to go. But once I plugged it in, I noticed two strange issues, and I’m wondering if I got a bad unit.
The first thing came to my attention on the test screen of Windows’ Game Controller app. When the joystick is set to LS (left stick) and I start from any corner, I can make the stick position show as 0.5 (where 0 is Center, 1 is any direction). In the image below, I’m moving the stick along the bottom rail from Down/Right to roughly halfway back to Down/Center. The switches in the stick are digital, so obviously this shouldn’t be possible. Now, I can’t make the readout stay there, so it’s possible this is just a display bug. However, the fact that I can make it happen over and over again indicates otherwise.
The other issue was immediately noticeable when I plugged in the stick because it didn’t work at all. Windows 7 started installing the 360 controller driver, but then it gave me a “device installation failed” message and the player LEDs started flashing:
The Rock says, the hell is that?!
I then plugged it into my netbook (running XP) and the same thing happened except that the player lights just turned off. Thankfully, the installation message in XP showed the actual device name (“MadCatz 360 BrawlStick” etc.), so I knew it was at least communicating with the stick. After much wasted time, I have figured out that on certain computers, the stick will not work if there was something plugged into a “sibling” USB port.
To clarify, my main system (running Win7 SP1 64bit) uses an Intel P45/ICH10R chipset, and each of its USB “root hubs” controls 2 USB ports. If I have another device (ex: a mouse) plugged into port 1, and I plug the Brawl Stick into port 2, the stick won’t work and will be listed in the Device Manager as “Code 10 - Device cannot start”. If I remove the mouse and then connect the stick, the stick will work. If I then plug the mouse back in, everything will continue to work as expected.
I thought this might be a power issue, as the stick wants 500mA power (which is the maximum USB2.0 supplies per port). However, that’s the same amount of power a Microsoft 360 controller requests, and my 360 pad works 100% in these same ports. Also, if I leave the stick plugged in when it’s “Code 10” and reboot the computer, the stick will work normally.
So I started wondering if this might be a compatibility bug with certain motherboard chipsets. I tried the stick with my netbook, which is running WinXP SP3 and uses the Intel 945GSE/ICH7M platform. It had the same problem - except in this case the LEDs would just turn off. I then did the same test on other systems, making sure the Brawl Stick was being connected to a root hub which was already in use:
-Nvidia ION / WinXP SP3 - no issues
-VIA KT400 / WinXP SP1 - no issues
-Nvidia Nforce2 / WinXP SP3 - no issues
-Intel 945GSE/ICH7M / Win7 Starter (no Service Pack) - no issues
None of these other systems exhibited the problem, but the last one in the list throws a wrench into the theory because it’s the exact same netbook as mine, just with Windows 7 on it. I did notice that unlike my desktop and my XP netbook, the Win7 netbook seems to randomly assign the ports - each time the Brawl Stick is plugged in, it can show up on a different root hub. However, this should not make any difference; it still worked fine when it landed on a root hub with existing devices on it, and my desktop is also running Win7 (though it does not randomly assign ports to root hubs).
All systems tested have the newest 360 driver installed, btw. I called Madcatz’ support and they suggested I check the quick disconnect on the cable (already done), install Xinput (already done), and then offered to RMA the stick because they had no idea what could cause this. I’ve found other reports of this blinking LED problem, but they are all regarding the Xbox 360 and there are no solutions posted (other than unplug and try again).
So to wrap up, sorry for the long post, and if you have any ideas or have seen this issue with your own equipment, please let me know. I have until the 2nd week of February to exchange the stick (and the retailer will pay the shipping), but if there’s nothing “wrong” with it, then there’s really no point, and I might end up with something worse. As far as the actual functioning of this controller, it seems to perform just fine. No problems with stick or buttons, once I get it working…