Custom Fight Stick – Version 2

A year or so ago, I built an arcade stick for my Xbox from scratch (here), and at the time there was a couple of things I wasn’t happy with when I finished.

  • As the top of the box was wooden, I had to fix the artwork in place using clear sticky backing, so interchanging the artwork was very hard work
  • It was to easy to snag the usb cable, and if you did it could possibly pull it out of the pcb
  • The internal wiring was very messy, and the pcb I used from the xbox controller wasn’t in a very good state
  • I had bought some LED’s for the buttons, but not done anything with them

So, I decided to rectify these issues and update the box to version 2.0!


So, I put together a list of what I was going to change on the stick:

  • New Top – Replace the wooden top with a clear perspex panel, so it looks better and the artwork can be changed a lot easier
  • Cable Plug – Instead of the cable coming out of the box directly attached to the pcb, put a plug in place to protect the cable and make it look cleaner
  • New PCB – Replace the existing PCB in the stick, as the one that was in there had ended up a bit of a mess
  • Light Up Buttons – As I already had some ArcEye II LED button inserts, i decided to try and add this into the buttons
  • Light Up Joystick Ball Top – When I looked at the Kaimana LED board, I figured I might as well light up the joystick ball top as well as the buttons

Shopping List

So, in order to put this all together, I was going to need some new bits. These are what I ended up buying, and where I got them from

  • 8 Sanwa OBSC White Clear buttons (
  • Joystick Harness (
  • 5mm deep clear Acrylic for the top (Amazon)
  • New PCB. I took this out of a Mad Catz street figher pad I had
  • Neutrik Reversible USB gender changer, so you can just plug a cable into the box
  • LED Controller board. I got kind of lucky with this, i was looking at what to use, and read about the Kaimana RGB LED Board. It had been in deveploment for a while, and had just been released when i started to look at my project.  Check out the Paradise Arcade Shop for more info.
  • Longer and hollow joystick shaft, clear ball top and LED insert for the joystick top
  • Some cables with male/female pin connectors to wire it all together.

First, the Case

The case was going to need stripping down and altering slightly before I could do anything. So removed the old PCB and wires, unscrewed the joystick and cleaned the hot glue from the inside. I then cut a hole in the side to fit the Neutrik cable plug. I then proceeded to cut a big rectangular hole in the wooden case top around the button holes. I had decided to keep the existing wooden top and just put the new perspex top over that, so I could still screw the joystick housing into the top. Once that was done I then re-sprayed it all black again to give the paint a refresh.

I then needed to cut the pespex for the top. I measured up where all the holes needed to go, and created a plan using the target 3001 software (here). As I work at a manufacturing place, I then took the plan to one of the guys in the shop, and the cut it out for me. Case mods done!

New PCB and LED Controller

The PCB I used orignally was from a wired xbox controller, and was a bit of a mess. I had a Mad Catz fight pad not doing anything lying around, so I decided to use that instead. It was a lot easier to wire this up then the old controller, as the board was a lot less complex, and there was no trigger buttons to turn into on of buttons. I still managed to take the copper of a couple of points, but it was much easier to work with than the xbox controller.

Now was a new bit, wiring in the Kaimana LED controller. Its pretty straight forward how it works, the board sits between the buttons/joystick and the pcb. This way the Kaimana  knows what buttons have been pressed. You then dasiy chain the LED from the Kaimana to each of your LED sources. As I was using my ArcEye II LED button inserts, I had to first drill some holes into my buttons to house the inserts (this was no mean feat!) and also buy some Kaimana Adapters (here) as my ArcEye II’s had no addressable index for the Kaimana  to find the led’s with. If you are doing this then just buy the Kaimana J RGB LED’s, these just fit over you buttons and are addressable by the Kaimana.

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Once I had tested all the wiring, I could then put the PCB’s into the case. Before doing that I put the Neutrik Reversible cable connector and screwed it into the case, then connected the end of the PCB and checked it was still working. Then I mounted the PCB on the feet and screwed it in!

Finishing Touches

Now all the hard parts were done, there were just a couple of things needed to finish off. First of all I had to load an animation program into the Kaimana. I got a version from the shoryuken forum, this tends to be the best place to pick the code up.

The version I am running is designed for Street Fighter 4, the button combinations (such as a fireball) trigger animations on the board. The beauty of the Kaimana is you can run a program to create animations for any game you want!

Once the program was loaded and tested, I screwed the Joystick into the Wooden top, and screwed the top to the main case. Next I had to decide on the artwork for the stick. As this time I can change it quite easily, I wasn’t as bothered if I picked something and then didn’t like it after a bit of use. I decided on a traditional looking Japanese layout with the rising sun as the background. Download it below.


And that was pretty much it! I can now enjoy playing (and showing off) with my new improved fight stick! It was quite a lot of work to rip most of it apart and re-build it again, but all in all I think it was well worth the effort!

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