Introduction: This is a whole lot easier than it may seem to be. This will show how to turn one Joypad into one official arcade style joystick. This can be used for PC, XBox, Playstation, whatever your little heart desires.
Essentially, I will be showing you how to make your own X-Arcade joystick. The thing is, if you are starting from scratch (as you most likely are) I would actually recommend just buying one. Between the cost and the hassle, your just better off getting a nice professional product for under $100. Why would you want to make your own then? Just for the hell of it, really. It is good experience before you move onto bigger and better things. Also, the real money savings would be if you built a 2 player version. They charge $130.00 and you can build a dual controller for about $80.00
WARNING: After posting this article, and seeing various people using it like a bible, I want to point out something very important about making a Dual-Machine controller. If you want an Xbox/PC stick, you need to use a "one way in, one way out" method. You cannot expect to split the buttons out to an xbox joystick hack AND a PC hack (or controller board). What ends up happening is, the current gets lost along the way. The best way to describe this is if you run out 2 separate lines (xbox and pc) then plug into the PC, your game will spin in circles because it has a broken connection by not being plugged into an xbox. Either this, or other strange things would happen (like keyboard no longer work, etc). Your best bet would be to hack an Xbox pad as described, then buy a PC adapter and switch that out depending on which machine you are using. Again though, for $120.00, you could just have a working PC/XBox X-Arcade just shipped to your door.
Step One: Buy Lots of Parts
For a one player joystick, you will need the following list of parts. Of course, a little more or less will depend on that you actually want to do. If you want to build a 2 player, you should of course buy twice as much.
(1) Wico Leaf
Style Joystick @ $13.00 or Happs Ultimate Stick @ $10.00
HAPP Arcade Pushbutton @ $1.75 = $17.50
(1) Roll of 22
gauge Wire @ $5.00
(1) JoyPad @
(2) Wood @ $2.50
Total = $50.00
Step Two: Plan it out and Build It
On paper, figure out how you want your console panel to layout, get the measurements, and make a trip to the hardware store. Once you have the wood of your choice, convert your pencil sketch into the final size on the wood. In my case, I had all the buttons, so I just moved them all around until I found something I was happy with. Then I had to figure out the height, width, depth and angle of the whole thing. Measure twice, cut once. In my case, it was measure twice, cut wrong, get more wood, cut again.
Step Three: Wiring
Ok, so at this point I have explained that all the negative wires can be connected together and have only one line running out to the joypad. I also told you that each positive wire needs to be run individually to the joypad. Now comes the mildly tricky part... where to connect on the joypad's board.
Each board is different. Even ones by the same company. So if you buy an Interact, you may or may not get one identical to the one shown. I bought 2 joypads, and they were similar, but definitely different, but more on that later.
Below left, is a picture of the board I am going to use. On the right, I show the same board ghosted, with colored traces on the board illustrating the distance from the button point, to the contact point we will be using. Let me explain how to read a board in very simple terms.
On the right side of the board, you can see some black "pads". Each of these is a contact point for the actual button when it is put back together, in this case there are A,B,X,Y, White and Black labeled areas showing where the 6 buttons will be. On each of these areas, there are 2 points of interest touching them... a positive and negative. The negative is identified as being the big light green areas that touch all the buttons. The positive "traces" are the thin light green lines that leave the button area, and eventually reach a solder point on the board. The "special" points of interest are the direction controls and the start and back buttons. While they look different, they act in the same way.
So, at this point I am assuming that you have one negative wire coming from the controls, and a bunch of positive wires as well that all need to be connected to the board. Starting with the negative wire (you don't have to) find a solder point that is anywhere in the big green areas. While it shouldn't matter which one you use, you might have to pick a secondary location at the end if some of the buttons don't work right (my first choice happened to be bad, so I just moved across the board and didn't have a problem after that).
With the positive wires, your best bet is to look over the board, think about how you will be soldering them, and start soldering in a way that you won't be tripping over wires you have already soldered on.
Step Four: Finishing Up
Anyway, you take the time to connect all the wires to the board, and you will get something that looks like this:
The only thing left to do is mount it into your new box, and test it out. You will most likely have some small problems like one button not working or something. Just check all your contacts for that button. If you have more than one go out on you, it may be the negative solder point you chose on the board not being a very good choice. Try another one. If the whole damn thing isn't working, it could be something not right back on the buttons with the negative wire. Remember, since they are all connected, it's like Xmas lights... one goes out, they all go out.
Conclusion: While it doesn't look like the prettiest Joystick in the world, it works wonderfully for minimal cost. What I have already begun to do is remake the wooden case. It could be a little smaller, and look a lot better if I just round out the corners, add some lights, and stuff like that. I realized a few things that needed changing once I got the whole thing together. I could cut the height down by 2" by raising the base of the joystick above the wooden top. This would solve a second problem of the ball being too close to the base for my taste.