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PSX Joystick Project
Playstation Joystick Page 1
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Playstation Joystick Page 3
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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
The first step is to gather all the parts you will need. The tools are easily obtainable, but the arcade buttons and joystick are a little harder to find. You may have to mail order them from one of the sources I have listed if you don't live within driving distance of an arcade parts supplier. Check your yellow pages, or ask the manager of a local arcade where they get their machines from.You may have to make a phone call or two, but you should be able to track down the parts.
- 1 Playstation controller (Don't spend more than $20). Here are brands that should work fine.
- Small-gauge stranded wire (About $5, Radio Shack 278-1218 works well)
- 1 Happ Controls 8-way Ultimate Joystick (Part 50-7608-XX, $15. "XX" is for the color code.)
- At least 10 arcade buttons, with switches ($1.50 each)
- 1 large cardboard box
- 1 sturdy wooden box (an old speaker enclosure works well)
- 1/4" crimp electrical connectors. You crimp a wire into the round part of the connector, and the flat end then slides onto the tabs on the microswitches. (a couple of bucks at Radio Shack)
- Barrier strips (Radio Shack 274-670)
- #8 insulated spade terminals for 22-18 gauge wire (Radio Shack 64-3125)
- Double-sided tape (Radio Shack 64-2344)
- Project enclosure (a plastic VHS tape case works well)
- Wire and cable markers. I used old floppy disk labels. You can use masking tape, or pop for a specialized product like Radio Shack 278-1616.
You can check the Radio Shack web page to see images of the items with catalog numbers.
Before you start, make sure that the connectors you have purchased all interoperate. It would be unpleasant to discover that the spade terminals you have don't fit under the screws on the terminal strip after you have put 15 of them on already.
Tools & Supplies
- Power drill
- Small Phillips screwdriver
- Staple gun or hammer and tacks
- Multimeter (for checkng continuity of circuits)
- Soldering iron (low-wattage)
- Rosin-core solder (Radio Shack 64-006)
If you don't have the right tstuff around already you'll have to get it somehow. If you are forced to buy some items here are a few tips.
- Power drill - What, I know anything about drills? Mine was a gift.
- Multimeter - You won't need anything fancy for these projects. All the multimeter is for is checking circuit continuity; that is, are points A and B electrically connected? Radio Shack should have a cheap analog multimeter that has a continuity checking feature.Try to get one that beeps.
- Soldering iron - You can get a low-wattage iron at Radio Shack for under $10. Pick up something in the 15 watt range. Make sure you get rosin-core solder, not acid-core.
- Wire - You want stranded wire, not solid wire. It doesn't need to be very thick. You might even be able to improvise and use cheap speaker wire you have laying around. I did.
Opening the Controller
Open the controller by removing all the screws from the back. Take the halves apart and remove the printed circuit board from the inside. You won't be needing any of the buttons or the shell again. The main PCB has to small PCBs connected to it for the shoulder buttons. Pull them out so you can take out the main PCB,but don't cut the wires yet.
The underside of the PCB- not much to do here
The PCB, ready for action
Cut about 15 wires, each about 6" long; strip and tin each end. To one end, attach a U-shaped crimp-on connector (later it will get screwed down onto the terminal strip). Using the photos below, attach the other ends of the wires to the PCB. After you complete a connection, label the far end of the wire; put a piece of tape around it and write the name of the connection on it. The hassle it will save you later is worth the time it will take now.
Note that you do not have to make a conection to every ground shown. All grounds on the PCB are the same; you only need one good connection to one ground terminal.
The Center Console: Select, Start, Slow, Auto, & Turbo
The Shoulder Buttons
(Once you make connections to the PCB's shoulder button solder pads, you can snip the wires and get rid of the little boards with the buttons on them.)
Be careful not to stress the connections you have made; treat the wires gently. It's also very important to make sure there are no short circuits. Keep loose bits of wire and solder off the PCB!
When you are done, you should have 15 wires attached to your PCB: right, left, up, down, start, select, square, circle, X, triangle, L1, L2, R1, R2, and one ground. If you decided to add buttons for turbo, slow, and auto, you should have 18 total labeled wires. I never use those extra functions, so I decided not to hook up those buttons.
Once all the wires are attached to the PCB, use double-sided tape to stick the PCB and the terminal strip into the enclosure. A plastic VHS tape box works very well as an impromptu project box.
The the completed electronics assembly, mounted in a spare plastic VHS case
The PCB and terminal strip mounted in the case
(Note the cutouts in the plastic allowing the cables to pass through. In the front there are also a couple of nails visible, tacking the plastic box to the wood inside the enclosure. You don't want the project box sliding around.)
Screw down each U-shaped connector to its own spot on the PCB side of the terminal strip. Depending on what kind of parts you managed to find, you may actually need two terminal strips (also known as "barrier strips") to accomodate all the connections.
Shortly, you will attach the arcade controls to the other side of the terminal strip. The strip is there as a buffer; you don't want to be pulling on those delicate solder joints as you assemble the unit. If you like you can use other kinds of connectors to build the stick with. I know someone who used RS-232 connectors instead of a screw-down barrier strip.
Now it's time to get out the multitester. You will need to check and see that nothing is shorted, and that all your soldered connections are good. Put the tester in continuity-check mode. Depending on the model you have, it will either beep if the connection is good, or the needle will swing. If you can, get one that beeps.
Attach one lead of the tester to the ground wire at the terminal strip. Touch the other lead to another ground somewhere on the PCB. You should hear a beep, indicating that the two points are electrically connected. This is good. Leave one lead attached to ground, and touch the other to all the other wires, up at the terminal strip. You should not get a positive continuity check on any of them.Ground should not be connected to anything else.
If you do hear a beep, it means that that button's terminal has shorted to ground - the joystick will act like a button is stuck down when you power it up. Look at the PCB and check your connections. Did you attach your wires to the right place? Did some extra solder blob over onto a nearby connection?
Now, you need to test all the other wires like you tested the ground wire. Touch one probe to a copper pad on the PCB, and the other probe to the corresponding screw on the terminal strip. You just need to make sure that all of your connections are good.
To make absolutely sure that you don't have any accidental, unfortunate short-circuits, you should check each wire up at the terminal strip vs. all the other wires. Touch a probe to a screw at the strip; then touch the other probe to all the other connectors on the strip.Check them all this way, and hope you don't get a positive continuity check. Incidentally, this is where a multitester that beeps to indicate continuity is most useful. You can test all the connections very quickly that way.
If everything checked out - and if you followed the photos and soldered carefully it should - you can move to a hot test. Plug the joystick cable into your Playstation. Put in an audio CD and turn the console on. When the CD player screen comes up, you can simulate a button press by touching the ground wire to one of the other wires on the terminal strip. Do not short the ground wire to anything else on the PCB!
When you are sure of your connections, put some electrical tape over your solder joints on the PCB, as extra insurance against shorts.
Once the hot test is passed, it's time to wire up the other side of the terminal strip. How long the wires need to be depends on what kind of enclosure you will be using. Make the wires longer than you think you will need to, so you don't have to do any splicing later on. 12-14" is probaly ample for most enclosures. Strip and tin each end of the wires. One end gets the same old U-shaped screw-down connector. The other gets the slide-on kind, so you can attach it to tabs on the switches.
The ground wire is a special case. Each switch needs a ground connection. You can either run multiple ground wires from the terminal strip, or you can make one long ground wire with a connector about every 8" and daisy-chain it to all the switches in the joystick. This is what I chose to do, but either method will work.
Wiring up the switches
When you have all the wires done, attach the buttons and switches to them and test them all out. You may wish to use the continuity checker again. Once you have verified that all the buttons are working, it's time to move to prototype.
A note on the joystick
The Happ Controls 8-way Ultimate Joystick uses 4 of the same kind of switches as are seen in the photo above. Make the same kind of electrical connections. Assembly instructions are included with the joystickstick, and you shouldn't have a hard time putting it together.