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PSX Joystick Project
Playstation Joystick Page 1
Playstation Joystick Page 2
Playstation Joystick Page 3
Saturn Joystick Project
Saturn Joystick Page 1
PSX GunCon Pedal Project
GunCon Pedal Page 1
GunCon Pedal Page 2
Soldering (for all projects)
Which Controller to Buy
The Home Arcade Shop
You Don't Know Jack Game Show-Style Controls for your PC
YDKJ Project Page 1
YDKJ Project Page 2
YDKJ Project Page 3
Links & More
Cool Arcade Parts!
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Feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, or information & photos on your own controls projects.
Building a Playstation or Saturn Joystick
(don't laugh - it works!)
An aftermarket Playstation controller is sacrificed to provide the brains for the joystick. Each button on the control pad has two terminals inside; one is a common ground, and the other is a unique connection that is routed to the microchip on the PCB. Wires are soldered to the button terminals on PCB; they are then rounted to arcade-quality switches, which are used to close the circuit instead of the button mechanism in the control pad.The joystick and buttons are then mounted in a suitable encolsure.
Electronically, this is simplicity itself. You don't need to know jack about resistors, diodes, transistors, or digital logic. All you are doing is replacing the switches in the control pad with better switches on the end of long wires, and then mounting those switches in a sturdy box.
The Saturn Version
The same principle applies to the Saturn version of the project ñ and you can use an ordinary Sega brand controller, which is easy to solder to. Since a Playstation stick is what I first built, that's what will be detailed here.You should still be able to whip up a Saturn stick, though, by adapting the process.
- Why are we sacrificing a controller? You can't just wire up switches to the Playstation's controller port (or the Saturn's for that matter). The controllers all have a tiny computer inside them that translates your button presses into digital code; that code is sent to the console itself. We have to use the circuitry in the controller too, at least if we want to keep this project easy! We are just changing where the buttons are. Here's a list of good controllers for the project.
- Why not sacrifice a Sony controller? Good question. This is what I did at first, since I didn't like the way the Sony D-pad feels. The problem is that the PCB in the Sony pad is very, very delicate. There are no nice big patches of solder to connect your wires to, and it's easy to damage the board. Pull a little too hard on a soldered-on wire and you can pull a patch of solder right off the PCB, which can also break the trace underneath - and that can be fatal. In contrast, the Mad Katz and High Frequency pads (which seem to be nearly if not completely identical inside) have huge tracts of copper and solder on the PCB, making them very easy to work with. Illustrative photos are available.
- Where do the arcade buttons and joysticks come from and how much are they? I have listed a few suppliers that ought to be able to set you up. I personally dealt with California Games Inc., and was very happy with their service. CGI should be able to mail you whatever you need. The buttons (with switches) run about $1.50 each.You will need about 10. The Happ Controls 8-way joystick (with switches) is about $11. Mind you, this is the authentic arcade stuff - if you mount the buttons and joystick in a sturdy box, you will have controls exactly like you are used to in the arcade!
- How about an analog joystick or steering wheel? It is probably possible to adapt a PC analog joystick to use with a Playstation. It would be a lot of work, far more than a simple arcade-style stick. If I were going to try it, I'd take apart an existing PSX analog stick or pad and use it as the guts, as is done with this project. Depending on how the original stick is constructed, you might be able to replace the analog inputs with signals from another analog controller. In the same way, you might be able to use an arcade steering wheel to provide an analog signal to a PSX analog joystick or steering wheel controller. Most analog joysticks use potentiometers (variable resistors) to create the control signal. You would have to try to match up the resistance ranges expected by the native controller with the resistances produced by the stick you want to use. Maybe I'll try this one day. If I do I'll put up the plans.
- OK, how much are we talking total? How much this project will cost depends on how many of the parts you have laying around, and how nice you want it to look. If you are lucky, and have a lot of useful tools and junk in your garage, you may get out for about $40. See the next page, where construction actually begins, for a better idea of what you're getting into.
A Really, Really Important Note About the Safety of Your Console!
Do not work on your joystick while the contraption is plugged into the console! Keep the joystick and the console apart until you are done and have tested all the connections! No one but yourself shall be held responsible for damage done to your console, home, or local time-space continuum during the construction of the projects on this site.