Monday, April 20, 2009


It's a beautiful baby... uh... well joystick. But hey, it works! It took a few trips back and forth from the workshop to get the solder points just right though...

First I had to grab some extra HAPP buttons for my Start/Select/Guide (pictured here in that order). With the case built it was time to wire up this bad boy. I went with a cheapo brand Madcatz wired controller for this build, which I read is one of the ideal ways to go in this scenario. Basically what I had to do was rip away the circuit board and solder wires to all the correct contacts (using a diagram from the web) and connect them to my stick/buttons).

Well, it's been about 8 years since I last did anything remotely close to soldering so you can imagine how... intimidated... I was. Sure enough, I applied way too much solder on my first run through so that I accidentally connected a terminal and a ground. I knew I messed up with every single button activated UP.

I also messed up the guide button on my first run through. There must've been a short or something because the xbox dashboard kept coming up randomly. Some spirited scratching of the contact with a knife fixed that little snafu.

This project took a little longer than I originally thought, but the results look fantastic. I'm someone who has no REAL wood working OR electronics experience, and I was able to make a perfectly working product that I'm incredibly happy with. Honestly, I think anyone can do this with a little time and effort and it's so rewarding.

Now to go pwn some n00bz!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I would've gotten a D in shop class...

...a D that is, for "D"amn awesome!

So here's the story. In February I, along with apparently thousands and thousands of other people, pre-ordered a joystick for, what was then, the impending release of Street Fighter 4.

Fast forward to April 14th, and I am still sans said joystick.

Apparently Madcatz (the company producing these sticks) fucked up huge with a little calculation concerning supply and demand. Even now as sticks are just starting to ship to the US, there still seems to be no clear answer for Canadians besides going to ebay and buying these things at a ridiculously inflated price ($400?? No thanks).

So fuck that. It was time to get preemptive.

It was time to build my own.

Now, I haven't done any woodworking since, oh, grade 11 I guess? But making a box should be pretty simple right? Well, uh, turns out... not so much. Let's just say, mistakes were made.

After planning and re-planning, measuring and re-measuring, I eventually cut myself something that looked pretty good.

Except I encountered mistake # 1. I decided to cut L-brackets to fit the wood into, rather than just a butt joint. Technically this should've been a bit stronger since I can apply more glue, except I failed to cut the L-joints straight, so it left big gaps that I had to fill in with glue. The gaps were big enough that I had a HELL of a time trying to get the glue to set (stupid gravity getting in my way!). The final result DID eventually dry, albeit a bit messily. With some work, I'm hoping I can sand it flush.

In retrospect, next time I will fill it in with a glue + sawdust mixture. Oh and um, cut the L-bracket straighter. <_<>_>

Oddly enough I did a pretty good job routing my console. For the button holes I used a 1-1/2" cylindrical cutter drill bit. For the joystick mount, I decided to forego using a router (that thing looked frighteningly beastly) and went ghetto by drilling a bunch of gigantic holes and then sawing them together using a jigsaw.

Cutting the plexiglass was also pretty simple. For these I used a 1-1/8" bit (a customizable bit I had lying around) since 1-1/4" was too big. I went with a Hori EX2 template since that's the stick I'm using now and I'm very comfortable with the button arrangement. You might notice in earlier pictures there are buttons on the side as well. Those are for Start/Select and the Xbox Guide button (side mounted so I don't accidentally hit them during play).

My next problem was routing a mount for my joystick's mounting plate. I wasn't too sure how to cut out a portion that was exactly 7mm into the surface of the wood (normal joystick mounting height is 9 mm, and the plexiglass was 2mm). Again, I didn't want to use the router. Luckily I found an attachement for my drill that a.) kept the bit straight and b.) locked at a certain height. So I basically drilled a bunch of holes and then wiggled it around to cut away the wood. It wasn't the smoothest, but acceptably flat for mounting.

And with that little problem solved, the stick's construction is essentially finished!

This project was a ton of fun, and was an absolutely awesome learning experience about woodworking and construction planning. As a testament to how easy this project is, I had VERY little woodworking experience prior to this (although I was lucky to have all the tools). I already know where I can fix some mistakes for next time too! But for now, bring on the wiring!