Started building my warestick this past weekend. This log might be of interest to those who don’t have access to a power saw. I have a cordless drill and an orbital sander for my power tools and had to work around the sawing as best I could.
To keep things simple, I’ll post updates to this first post.
Saturday: Did some mockup sketches and went to Home Depot. The Home Depot where I live has a “cutting dept” where they will do “basic” cuts.
My design was for the following:
4" x 9" side pieces (2)
7.75" x 13" top and bottom pieces (2)
4" x 13" rear panel (1)
3.75 x 13" front panel (1)
The home depot guy wouldn’t do these and I sort of anticipated that. Because of that, I kept my design basic and I bought my internal parts from lizardlick in advance so there would no surprises with the dimensions of the internal parts.
I also considered a backup plan of buying some sort of project box from a place like Michaels Arts and Crafts. Michaels had some good shadow boxes for 15 - 20 bucks that would probably work for a jap stick. They had a depth of 2.5". Might try one of those next time if I make a jap stick.
I looked over my design at Home Depot and then settled on three basic cuts. Even for that, the guy kind of looked at me funny. So I pulled the happ joystick out of my coat pocket and said, “It’s for a good cause. Street Fighter 4 is coming out.” After that, he was cool.
From a 2’ x 4’ 0.5" MDF board he cut me:
1 long 4" x 4’ strip
1 long 3.75" x 4’ strip
1 long 7.75" x 4’ strip
Then he sort of followed me around the store and kept asking if I needed anything. It was kind of funny.
Got all the parts back to the crib and it was around 8pm. Off to the homey’s for some HDRemix till 3AM.
Woke up around noon and it took another hour or so and coffee to get my ass in gear.
I live in an apartment without a good work area for noise and saws, so I took this stuff to my parents’ backyard (they live pretty close to me). The rest I figured I could do with my hacksaw. I used bricks and other heavy backyard stuff to brace the pieces.
I carefully measured my cuts and then hacked hacked hacked away. I’m glad I went with 0.5" MDF instead of 0.75"!
Likewise, printed out a template for the holes. I used a 1.25" hole saw because they didn’t have a 1.125". Actually, they did, but it required buying an additional drill attachment. It was either pay $21 for all that, or around $6 for the 1.25" I got. I decided to take my chances.
This turned out to be a mistake. Given the lack of stability with a hand drill, the 1.25 ended up making holes slightly larger. A 1.0" would have been better. Slotting one of the buttons revealed the holes were too big. Not a problem for the control panel because I planned to put plexi on top and could compensate there.
The rear panel for the menu buttons was a different story. There would be no plexi there so the holes had to be right. There was nothing to do but go back to home depot.
This time, I got a boring-type drill bit, which they had in 1.125". Not only was this the correct size but it cut about five times faster, was cheaper and was much cleaner overall. Live and learn, as they say. But that’s part of what these projects are about, right?
After 2 hours of some measuring, careful sawing, drilling (had to re-charge the drill after 5 holes), and sanding the edges to get them back on their lines and smooth things out, I had my basic parts.
That was enough for Sunday. So I cleaned up my parents backyard and brought all the pieces back to the crib. Then I had homey duties so we went for gigantic salads at Intermezzo in Berkeley (when you get older, you have to mix salads into your diet or you get fat) and some more HDRemix action. I was pretty beat from the work and playing like shit. Plus, I had to be up early the next day to go to the new aquarium in San Fran, so I called it a night.
Monday (Holiday - thanks Dr. Martin Luther King):
I got back from the aquarium, which was awesome but crowded. Next I had to start gluing the pieces all together. I didn’t have wood clamps so I had to use good old gravity. I used generous amounts of glue and used the other wood parts to apply pressure on my craft desk back at the apartment.
Here are the glue WIP pics:
The front panel wasn’t cut quite perfectly by the home depot guy and so wasn’t flush with the top control panel. So I had to do some sanding. That, and after gluing, things weren’t perfect, so I sanded those edges, too.
Back to work so now I can only work on the warestick in the evenings.
Next step is to fill any errant gaps and coat the cut edges with drywall compound. I got this idea from this guy, and I hope it’s right:
I slathered it on with my finger and pushed it into the cracks. Not a necessary step if you want a quick and dirty build, but this will hopefully mask the edges where the wood comes together and show no gaps come painting time. Drywall compound and MDF? I wonder about the durability, but…
**Wednesday:(Raining :arazz:) **
After an incredibly beautiful weekend in the bay area with temps in the mid-60s, we got a little rain today. That’s okay because my car is really dirty. So I had to limit my activities to sanding and vac’ing.
I used 150 grit on the drywall compound for the first “round” of sanding. Then I used 220 for the finish sanding to keep everything smooth. In addition to sanding the drywall comp with 150, I also sanded the square edges of the box to soften them. Nothing dramatic - just enough so you don’t feel like you’re getting stabbed when you touch an edge or corner.
Next step is priming and painting!! Before that, I need to cut a hole for the USB cable, make holes for the joystick bolts and make more holes for the plexi-to-control-panel.
The plexi holes will require a bit of thought. It may not be obvious from the pics, but my design has the top and front panel slightly recessed. Ideally, I can get a single piece of plexi which will run over the top and to the front in a nice, clean way. But if that’s possible, my screw holes would go two in the front panel and two in the top panel. Otherwise, if I go two pieces, it’s four in the top and four in the front. I suppose I could cut four in both pieces since once the plexi is in and art installed, the excess holes will be covered up anyway. However, I might also want to keep the plexi with no art underneath and then they would show.
Maybe a call to TAP plastics is in order to see if they can make the single panel for me. Also, I might want to use plexi (clear) screws for that for a nice look. And I don’t know the optios as far as sizes.
Thursday (still raining):
Still can’t prime or paint because of the rain.
Measured the location and drilled the holes for the joystick. Then I counter-sunk the screw holes for a nice clean fit below the plexi. I had the counter-sink drill bit from a previous project making picture frames. The bit is shown in the pictures.
Called up Tap plastics and they will make a plexi cover with a 90 degree bend for around $13. Not bad, and should look a lot nicer than two seperate pieces.
On a sidenote, tap plastics has a “throw aways” bin and you can buy plastics for around $2/pound. This might be a cheap plexi alternative for those with the tools to work it. Here’s a couple previous projects I did with those:
Went to TAP plastics and had them make my plexi cover. Also found a 1.5" spade pit and a brace at work. That got me thinking… I could countersink my system buttons like all the young people do these days. So I braced to a spare piece and got to work. That didn’t go so well. Got my countersinks but they’re off to varying degrees. I’ll say they give the case… uh… character…
Yikes, this project is getting downright EPIC! Sunday the weather finally eased for a few hours so I took my creation up the roof of my building and primed. As you can see, my sanding isn’t the greatest. I ended up re-sanding the whole thing. That helped, but it wasn’t perfect. Oh well. Have to accept some mistakes the first time around, and the limitations of using a crude hack saw.
I also took the plexi up there and measured and cut the holes with the spade bit. The plexi is 0.2 inches. I started the cut on one side, then flipped it over to complete the cut. That worked very well and I didn’t have any problems with cracks.
Lastly I took an old poster and did some basic artwork on the back (white, glossy side). It’s quite… different from the artwork you normally see on sticks. And I don’t know if the white paper is a good match. But I always do my own thing, so let it stand! Let it stand! Can always change the artwork later. Given my design, the next time I would probably design it to accomodate 11" x 17" artwork (with margins). Mine is a little too wide and long for that size paper.
The last pic I am testing the fit of the plexi to the primed case. The plexi holes aren’t perfect, but close enough.
**Monday: **: Since I knew it would be dark when I got home, I took the piece into our work warehouse and did the painting. Ugh. I’m not sure if I like the color now that it’s on the box. Might repaint it at some point, but for now, I want to complete the project. Endurance failing. Must complete project! Also, this project feels downright ostentatious given what’s going on in the economy. Just watched a Dateline (or was it 60 minutes) show of a bunch of people losing their jobs in Delaware.
Stopped off at the hardware store and picked up some quick disconnect crimps. With luck, I can move on to the wiring tomorrow.
Tuesday: Well, for better or worse, the painting is done. Looking at the initial finish, I headed back to home depot and picked up some 320 grit sand paper and some gloss clear coat. Unfortunately, my sanding still left some things to be desired and the final finish isn’t fantastic, just okay. Will save the pics for the finished product.
Could have started the wiring tonight but basically I had to make an appearance at my ceramics class or not take it this semester. I debated, since I really wanted to work on the stick, but then came to my senses. Here’s one of my ceramics creations, my nacho bowl:
I am the king of nachos. Might bring some to my bro’s superbowl party. Might bring the stick, too, if it’s ready, for some after superbowl entertainment.
Hmm… a control panel made of porcelin… hmm… now THAT is something no one has ever done. Would be tough, thoug, since clay shrinks during firing and tends to lose it’s flatness. Would take several test rounds. Plus, I can just imagine the reaction in my ceramics studio when I show up with my drill for the holes. LOL.
Packed it all up and brought everything back to the domicile.
Started on the wiring. Used some old CAT3, which is 24 AWG and solid core. I hope that’s okay. Looked up some reference builds on joystick vault and copied those. Also checked the info on slagcoin.com and it mentioned the pluses and minuses of both types.
Slagcoin, btw, is without a doubt the greatest and most complete joystick building site, not only in the age of the internet, but ever. That guy should reformat his info into a book, I think. If you’re interested, I can talk to my aunt, who worked in the writing/publishing industry and maybe get you some info.
At a minimum, slagcoin person, I think some good use of title pages and meta tags would be in order. When you search for “how to build your own joystick” I can’t even find your site. I only found out about it by reading this forum. Other than that minor complaint, it’s an awesome, awesome site.
As always with a first wiring, it was slow going. By the end I was getting the feel. It wasn’t 100% foreign to me since I make CAT5e/CAT6 cables all the time, so I have a bit of familiarity with stripping and crimping.
Stripping the wires was a lot of trial and error at first but I eventually worked out a little system with the scissors that worked fairly consistently and didn’t rip apart or otherwise destroy the cable ends. Also, crimping the QDs wasn’t going well on the non-ground wires. Had to “blunt crimp” to get the wires to hold, as opposed to using the sized holes.
Forgot to install my system buttons in the back when I finished my ground route. So I did a second one for that. Luckily the Chthulu board has a couple grounds.
Then, since I’ve “picked up and set down” my parts so many times, I couldn’t find one of the button nuts or the joystick!! Finally found them, and of course, they were staring me right in the face on top of a book shelf.
Then I noticed an unfortunate thing. Lizardlick sent me a regular happ button by mistake. So I used that “odd” button as my middle system button so it looks the least out of the ordinary. Might switch it out later.
The unintended side effect, though, is being able to see the difference between the two. I would definately say go with COMPS. There is much less distance between the button actuator and the switch (a good half mm). Not an issue with system buttons, but definitely a performance distance on your playing buttons. Having never played on them, it should be a real treat! Could probably also use a variation of the jap joystick mod with the sticky notes to even further reduce the play on the happ comps. That’s for another day, though.
Saturday: The finished product:
Lessons learned so far:
Costs: Way more than I thought. I bought the internals from lizard lick for around $75, not including wiring stuff. I’m up to $130 so far on the rest. Looks to be about $150 when I’m done.
If you want to build your own stick, it’s a multi-day(week) event and takes quite a bit of work.
A power saw would have made a big difference and gives you a ton more options.
If you’re not the “patient, measuring” type, I don’t recommend this. I built a lot of models growing up, so that experience helped.
If you ever bought a good quality custom stick with good parts for less than $200, you got a great deal!
Planning and research are about 50% of the time, maybe more. I spent a good ten hours reading up on the chthulu board, buttons, etc., wood types, reference designs, looking at pre-built cases, designing my own case, etc. Part of the fun in building a stick is the process. You learn a lot and put in a great deal of effort. But there’s something about building something with your own two hands that is just really fun and satisfying. You take some things that are really basic and make them into something more. In the end, that is something no pre-built or bought-custom stick can offer.
Once you start building the stick and putting the time in, you get addicted to the project and it becomes a money pit! Although at first it seems you’re building a basic “box with holes and paint”, in reality, you’re building something that requires a fair amount of precision. That precision requires precision tools and they get costly fast.