Custom Xbox 360 Fight Stick


I have been playing Street Fighter/Super Street Fighter 4 recently on my Xbox360, but was struggling a bit with playing it on the Xbox Joypad. While the joypad is well designed for most games, it doesn’t lend its self very well to 2d fight games.

Wanting to remedy this, i started looking round for a reasonably priced arcade stick. I was quite shocked to find they most of the high end ones (such as the Mad Catz stick) cost well over £100. Not the kind of money i really wanted to spend. Granted there are some cheaper ones out there, but none seemed to have the same build quality and genuine arcade parts.

So, as I hadn’t tackled a  good hardware project in a while, I decided to make one myself, after all how hard could it be!

The Parts

So, first of all i needed to decide what parts I was going to use. For the main guts, I used a wired Xbox controller. I got the pad cheap and hardly ever use it, so it was a bit of a no brainier. I just needed to open it up and rip the pcb out, which I could then wire up to my other parts.

Next, I needed a case. This (for me) was probably the hardest bit to source. I had nothing lying around I could use, so I would have to make one. This was a problem, as my woodworking skills leave a lot to be desired! Luckily I have a friend who is ‘good with bits of wood’, and he agreed to help me.

Lastly, I needed some buttons and a joy stick. Reading around I decided on Sanwa Japanese Arcade parts. They are used in all the arcade cabinets for the big fighting games, and everyone in the communities couldn’t give them enough praise.

I bought all my parts from arcadeshop.de, their prices were very reasonable and the service was very good. My shopping list consisted of:

  • 1 x JLF-TP-8YT (Sanwa) in violet  (joystick)
  • 4 x Sanwa OBSF-30, violet
  • 4 x Sanwa OBSF-30, dark blue
  • 1 x Sanwa OBSF-30, Black
  • 1 x Sanwa OBSF-30, Green
  • 2x PCB Mounting Feet

Next I needed some signal cable to wire the pcb to the buttons and joystick with. You can buy it of arcadeshop.de, but instead of this I just took them out of some old cat 5 network cable i had lying around.

So, now I had everything I needed, it was time to start putting it together!

Disassembling the Controller

My first job was getting the pcb out of the wired controller. This was quite easy, but you will have to cut of the plastic casing of from around the shoulder buttons, there’s no other way of getting it of. If you are struggling to get it out, there are quite a few vids on Youtube. Once I had got the pbc out, I was ready to start soldering the wires onto the board.

Soldering Wires into the PCB

Before I could get started on soldering my wires to the board, I needed to work out what needed to go where. I was going to get the multi-meter out and work it out myself, but there was already a wealth of info on the web. Probably the most useful thing I found was this diagram below, witch basically tells you all the wiring points.

You will have to get a scalpel/craft knife to scratch of the black resin from all the points you want to solder onto, scrape away the top until you can see the metal underneath, but be careful not to scratch to much of, or you might end up with nothing to solder to.

First of all I scrapped of all the points I was going to solder, then I soldered the points under the board. I used a hot glue gun after soldering the joints to hold them in place, if I made a bad job of soldering with the glue over it at least the joint wouldn’t break.

Then I flipped the board over and started doing the wires on the other side. Every time I put the wires on I plugged the board into my Windows 7 PC. It will see the board as a game controller,  so you can use it to test the buttons are working.

The only buttons that needed any special attention are the trigger buttons. These are analog buttons, and need to be set to neutral so when you put a normal push button on the end they flip of and on. In order to set them to neutral, you need to put a 10k resister in line, this will bring the voltage down.

To wire these buttons, look on the diagram to see where the trigger points are. You should see 3 points, the resister needs to be soldered onto the board between the middle and bottom points. You should be able to see what I have done from this photo

Once I had soldered all the wires in place, I put a blob of hot glue on each joint so give them a bit of strength, it was now ready to drop into the case.

The Case

As I mentioned before, I got help from a friend of mine in making the case. The case is just made of wood, and measured 40cm(wide) x 21cm(long) x 16cm(deep).

To get the location of the holes for the buttons and joystick, I used a template I found online here. The top will be screwed in after the pcb is in place, and everything is wired up. We also made 3 holes in the back of the case for the guide, start and select buttons, and one for the wire to go through. The case now looked like this:

Next, I screwed the mounting feet in (under the buttons) and paint the case. I put a coat of primer on the case first, then sprayed it jet black. It took 3 thin coats before it looked good.

Once the paint was dry it was time to put my artwork onto the case. I designed my own custom artwork for the case based on the template I had already found. I printed it out on photographic paper, got some spray mount and stuck the artwork to the lid.

Once it was dry, I got some clear plastic backing, and put this over the lid to help protect the artwork. I then flipped the lid over, and carefully cut the holes out for the buttons and joystick.

Putting it together

Now I had my case, and pcb with all the wires soldered on it was time to bring the two together. The first thing I did was solder the direction wires up to the joystick. This was a bit tricky as I struggled to get a good solder joint on one of the points on the joysticks pcb, and again I tested it as I went along by plugging it into my pc.

Once the tricky joystick was done, I screwed the pcb onto the feet, fed the wire through the hole in the back of the case, and one by one soldered all the buttons up. This is what I now had:

Now everything was all in place, It was almost done!

Finishing Touches

Before I screwed the lid on, I plugged it into my Xbox, and surprisingly enough everything seemed to work ok! I fired up Super Street Fighter 4, dropped into training mode and tested all the buttons, all seemed pretty sweet so it was time to screw the lid on!

Once I’d screwed the lid on, It was good to go, the finished article now looks as below:

I’ve had it for a couple of months now, and not had a single problem with it, now I dont have an excuse any more for when I get beat playing Street Fighter!