How To Make Your Own Arcade Stick?
- Buy or make your own case
- Get good buttons for your arcade stick
- Buy a USB encoder
- Get Basic Tools and Saws
Introduction: DIY Arcade Stick
Whether you ever held an arcade stick or not, this guide will help you do it by yourself with no hesitation what so ever! Follow the instructions step by step and your new diy arcade stick will be ready in no time!
What case do you need?
There are three options when considering your case: Buying one, Building one or Reusing one! If you are going to buy or reuse a case, it’s pretty straight forward.
It depends on what you already have or what you wish to buy! You can check focusattack.com, aliexpress or amazon for buying a case. They all have good and decent cases!
If you are planning on making one yourself, things are going to get a bit more complicated, but nothing to worry about! First you need a good sturdy case, something like Hammond Project Box Black on Amazon or maybe you have something other in mind. Just make sure the thickness of the box is big enough for the screws! Secondly you need to drill holes for your buttons and stick. An important note to have is to make the diameter of the screw hole a bit bigger, so you avoid cracking.
What are the best buttons you can get for a DIY arcade stick?
If you look around the web, everywhere you go, you will see people are always recommening Sanwa, Seimitsu, Convex or Concave Buttons 30mm. This is because they are famous for having the best response time and are easy to set up!
The size shouldn’t be always 30mm. In fact it’s about personal preference. Usually people with smaller hands will be more comfortable with 24mm, whilst people with bigger hands will probably prefer the 30mm.
Convex buttons have smooth tops, which provide more surface area for your fingers to make contact with, as well as it is easier to move across from one button to another. Convex buttons react faster to a press than Concave buttons. I guess there’s a reason behind why they call them competition buttons. Concave buttons are used mainly for nostalgic reasons, for they own the qualities of those old curved-in buttons. All you generally press on a concave button is the rim /which can also make your fingers hurt/. The button’s sensor is located in the center, and thus you have to push a little harder to get a reaction, making them slower.
30 mm vs 24 mm
Japanese arcade buttons consist of two sizes: 30 mm (millimeter) or 24 mm. 30 mm buttons usually act as your “action buttons”. These are the more important buttons on your Arcade stick. 24 mm buttons are used for the “option buttons” such as “Select” or “Start” and are usually placed away from the action buttons.
Brands: Sanwa buttons are more sensitive than Seimitsu buttons, as they require a slightly harder press. Some players however prefer the Seimitsu buttons for that very reason, which avoids accidental presses. Hori pushbuttons are very similar to the resistance of Sanwa pushbuttons.
Both these Japanese buttons come in both 30mm and 24mm sizes. Korean pushbuttons are offered by Samducksa aswell and have an even stronger
resistance than the Seimitsu buttons. The buttons with the highest resistance are Suzo Happ or IL
What stick should you choose?
There are basically two options which you have to consider here! You can either get a Japanese or a Korean stick.
However if you want to go all in with your stick, you should consider getting the Korean lever, since it is known to have the best response time, because of it’s connectors and it also uses a “Gateless” gate, which allows it to make a circular motion when using it!
Your other option is getting a Japanese Sanwa stick, which has two models: the JLF & JLW.
Both of these options are expensive, but promise good quality in return! The JLF, or the more popular option, uses non-levered microswitches and there are no quality difference among JLF part numbers. They come with microswitches set in a PCB, but it can be replaced with individual microswitches with open terminals.
What is the difference between a Korean and a Japanese Fight stick?
The first thing you are going to notice is the ball top stick, which is the Japanese one and the other, which is called the Bat top is the Korean stick. Internally they are much different on how they operate. If you push the stick to a direction and let go, it will go back in its neutral state because every stick has whats called resistance. Now with the Korean one, the resistance is far better, because they use a rubber pad, unlike the others which use a spring.
The second difference is the gate of the stick.
American, Japanese and European Stick usually have what is called a square or octagonal shape of the stick. This is basically the corners of where the stick can go. With the Korean stick this is not the case! In fact they have what its called a gateless stick meaning it does not have any corners and if you try to move it, it will have a circular motion. Besides that the structure of the Korean stick is arguably better made and more responsive than the Japanese one.
In conclusion, when deciding whether you want a Korean or Japanese arcade stick, obviously the Korean stick has the advantage, but that does not mean it is the best arcade stick!
Getting a PCB
Again, you will face another decision making when choosing your PCB. People in the DIY community of arcade sticks are very creative in salvaging PCB from old or broken controllers they find around. This is not exactly the easiest way of doing it, since you are required to do some soldering, but it definitely is the most cost effective one.
Otherwise you can just buy or order one online from various stores, which does not require any soldering.
Artwork for your Stick
The tools needed for replacing art on your Fighstick are the following:
- – Scalpel
- – Flathead screwdriver
- – Powerdrill
Before starting out your project, you need to make sure that your design goes outside the borders of your fighstick at least a little bit, which will make the process of cutting the edges off easier in the building/fitting process. After you are done with your artwork, print it out, and place the plastic cover of your Fightstick over your artwork so it can be used as a stencil. Follow the border of the plastic casing with a scalpel. Make sure to take extra special care at curves and edges.
Once you’ve cut it to full outline, carefully pull the excess paper from the edges. Use the same technique when cutting out the inner circles of your artwork. Gently remove the inner circles that you cut out. Make sure to cut out any scruffy leftover pieces of paper with your scalpel.
Using the drill or a screwdriver remove all six screw from the back of a fighstick. Gently remove all the coloured wires from your buttons. To remove the fightstick hold the ball with one hand and twist the back with the other. Pinch the clips on either side of each button to remove them. You can remove the face plate through one of the gaps.
Put your artwork on and make sure it fits. Carefully put the face plate back on and make sure its secured. Line up the buttons and push them in. You should hear a click. Follow the labels for each wire to find out which buttons it corresponds to. Thats it!
The Tools Needed
Depending on what your DIY project will be, there are a number of tools you will need:
- For the enclosure it depends on what material you are going to use.
- A power drill & Hole saw (24mm and 30mm)
- Wood saw
- Wire cutter and stripper
- Soldering iron (depending on the PCB as mentioned earlier)
Guide on building your arcade stick
ARCADE STICK MAINTENANCE
Just as any piece of tech, one of the most important factors is maintenance as it not only preserves the Arcade stick, but it also keeps it in check as far as mechanics such as fluid movement of the joystick are met.
Another problem that occurs over time is button sticking. It is pretty common, and its good to remember that dust really doesn’t hold back going in between all the little holes and crevices.
Usually you would like to clean your Arcade stick probably once an year, but of course this depends on how frequently it is used, so I’ll leave it up to you. The tools that you will need are fairly easy to get:
- A piece of cloth
- Compressed air
- Rubbing alcohol (optional)
- ShinEtsu grease (optional)
The compressed air is used to blow away the dust from inside the Arcade stick that is flowing freely. Some dust particles stick to the surface however, and that’s exactly where the piece of cloth comes in play.
Dab the cloth in some rubbing alcohol and walk it around all the inside and outside parts of the Arcade stick /being careful around the PCB of course/. A lot of people seem to be against using rubbing alcohol, as they claim it breaks down the plastic, however you will not be using an amount that should cause such worries.
ShinEtsu grease /lubricant/ finds its use in much more than Arcade sticks, and in this case it is used on the shaft of the Joystick, to provide fluent movement. This substance can be found in small quantities, which is what you will essentially need ( you don’t need to buy the 100g one).
Some people take apart their whole Arcade stick, and clean every part separately, but if you do not have the confidence to do this (As there are quite a bit of parts involved in the joystick for an example) you don’t have to resort to this method. If you do wish to indulge in this method however, there are many tutorials that you could find on Youtube for the specific model of your Arcade stick.
Now outside of this yearly clean-up process you could try to maintain your Arcade stick on a daily/weekly basis. This involves a simple wet wipe run around the case, which takes a few seconds. Another great tip is to keep your Arcade stick in a bag, as this prevents dust getting in the first place, while it is not in use.
In the end, you did invest in this piece of tech, and taking care of it is rewarding!