Introduction: Fix Any Video Game Controller

Video games are awesome. Buying a $40-50 controller every time something small breaks is not. This Instructable will show you how to fix various problems with your remote!

Use the flowchart in the pictures above to help diagnose your problem.

Disclaimer:I am in no way associated with Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo, nor do I claim anything created, designed or manufactured by them as my own. This Instructable is purely for informational purposes.

Step 1: Anatomy of a Controller

The first step to fixing anything is to take it apart and understand its components.

Taking apart the controller is as simple as removing a few screws. See the "Screwdriver" row in the table below to find the screwdriver needed.

Now, we've got to learn about what's being taken apart:

Controller Facts

GameCubeWiiXbox 360PlayStation 3
CompanyNintendoNintendoMicrosoftSony
Screw DesignTri-wingTri-wingTorx T8Small Phillips
ScrewdriverFlathead
Flathead
Flathead
Small Phillips
# Physical Analog Inputs6064
# Physical Digital Inputs
12121517
Motion SensingNoYesNoApparently
Output TypeTumbleLED/Tumble/SpeakerLED/TumbleLED/Tumble
Power Usage Battery--3V (2xAA)3V (2xAA)3.7V (Li-ion)
Power Usage Wired5V--5V5V

Step 2: Controller Won't Turn On?

A typical reason your controller won't turn on is because it's not being supplied enough power (if any). The potential causes of this problem are numerous. Here is how to identify and fix it:

Testing Connections

Tools and Materials

  • Multimeter
  • Soldering iron/solder
  • Wire stripper

How To

  1. Use a multimeter's continuity testing feature to check certain connections (see pictures)
  2. If there isn't any signal through a certain connection, you may need to strip that wire and replace it
  3. If all the connections are fine, try the tests below

Testing For a Short Circuit

A short circuit is when the power and ground connections come in contact. This could lead to very bad damage to the controller's core parts or the battery.

Tools and Materials

  • Multimeter

How To

  1. Unplug everything and take out the batteries if possible
  2. Using the multimeter's resistance testing feature(Ω), place the probes between the controller's power(+) and ground(-)
  3. If the resistance is 0Ω or close to it, there is a short in the system. There are many ways this could've happened. They are very hard to fix, so you should check out step 8

Testing Voltage

Tools and Materials

  • Multimeter

How To

  1. Plug the remote in or put in the batteries
  2. Use a multimeter's voltage testing feature(V) to check the voltage coming from the console/batteries
  3. Compare the voltage to the ones on this table
  4. If the voltage is less than it should be, there is something wrong with the console, and beyond the scope of this Instructable (I have no experience with fixing consoles)

Step 3: Joysticks/Triggers Aren't Working

The joysticks of most controllers are analog components. They use potentiometers to change the resistance based on their position. Triggers are usually also analog parts, but some controllers (PS3) use a digital push button instead.

Replacement parts

ControllerInput TypeLink
XboxJoystickAmazon
XboxAnalog TriggerSparkfun
PS3JoystickAmazon
GameCubeJoystickAmazon

Tools and Materials

  • Soldering iron
  • Desoldering pump/solder wick
  • Replacement part (see left)
Replace the Joystick/Trigger
  1. Desolder all of the leads at a high temperature using the solder pump/wick
  2. If it can't be desoldered fully, you might need to rip it out (try not to damage anything else in the process)
  3. Solder in the new part chosen using the table above

Step 4: Vibration Motor/Speaker Is Broken

Some controllers have vibration or "tumble" motors in them for physical feedback. Others (like the Wiimotes), contain another source of output, like a speaker. These both are usually connected to the controller with thin wires, so they break easily. Yet, they are both easily replaced because they only use two wires!

Replacement parts

ControllerOutput TypeLink
XboxVibrationEbay
PS3VibrationTinyDeal
WiiSpeakerEbay
GameCubeVibrationEbay

Tools and Materials

  • Soldering iron w/solder
  • Desoldering pump/solder wick
  • Replacement part (see left)
Replace the Output Device
  1. Desolder the two wires from broken output device
  2. Solder the replacement part on (orientation doesn't matter because it's not polarized)

Step 5: Charging Port Is Destroyed

A friend of mine had a PS3 remote whose mini-USB port was completely mangled. A small plastic piece came off, making it impossible to bend things back into place.

To fix this, I ripped out the mini-USB (it was too small to desolder) and soldered a JST connector onto the power vias.

Then, created a USB to JST cable by soldering the USB's power wires to the JST's wires. Be careful—don't switch the connections!

Step 6: Customization

While your remote is apart, why not make it look awesome?! You can buy custom parts or just spray paint what you already have.

Buy Custom Parts

Example Parts

ControllerPartLink
XboxAllEbay
PS3AllAmazon
GameCubeJoystick coversAmazon

How to

    1. Disassemble controller (see this table for screw type)
    2. Take out existing components
    3. Replace them with purchased items

      Spray Paint Existing Parts

      Tools and Materials

      • Spray paint
      • Newspaper
      • Outside workspace
      • Body of controller

      How to

      1. Disassemble controller (see this table for screw type)
      2. Take out parts you would like to be spray painted
      3. Put layers of newspaper down, just to be safe
      4. Spray away!
      5. Wait for the time recommended on the spray can (1 hour in my case)

      Step 7: For General Problems, a Few Tips

      • Sugru can fix various types of physical damage to you controller
      • Double check the battery voltage
      • Simply taking it apart might help you easily spot your problem, but it can create issues, too (just be cautious and you'll be fine)

      Step 8: Last Resort: Reusing the Parts and Buying a New Controller

      Sometimes, a problem can be complex enough that it's not worth fixing, or is just too costly. But there's hope!

      Inside every kind of controller, you can find useful parts to reuse in future projects! Examples of potential projects are listed below.

      Where to buy a new controller:

      Step 9: Conclusion/ Problems Already Solved

      If your controller still isn't fixed, be sure to leave a comment (with a picture), so you can get answers! I plan to update this Instructable with each new problem that arises, no matter the type of controller.

      Thanks for reading! =D


      Common Problems Solved in Comments

      (please read BEFORE commenting):

      I've officially stopped answering questions on this Instructable (80% of comments are now answered above).

      Please feel free to continue posting comments and HELP EACH OTHER out by answering them =D

      Comments

      author
      nodcah (author)2015-12-24

      Please read the notice above before commenting. Thanks!!

      -Nodcah:-)

      author
      edu.marquez.94 (author)2017-08-11

      The joystick of my gamecube controller stopped working partially, it only works up/down but not left/right. I thought it was a problem with the potentiometers and replaced them. It is still not working left/right. Id really appreciate any help! Thank you in advance!

      author
      torned00 (author)2017-06-30

      my controller stopped working while i was playing. it just stopped suddenly, what wrong?

      author
      AnkurK25 (author)2017-01-16

      ive got a xbox 360 contoller. I used to play with it on wondows 10 pro, i stopped playing for a couple of months due to health issues.

      i took my controller out and when plugged it in it barely works for two minutes

      i updated all drivers. now the controller works but it often freezes and RT sends messages to the pc continously even when i don't press it.unplugging and replugging works as a temporary solution.

      please help!!

      author
      AbhishekD119 (author)2016-12-20

      I have a Logitech gamepad F310 - AP. Its RB button is not working properly. I have to press it really hard to make it work. Is there any solution for this or i just have to buy a new controller?

      author
      gauzz (author)AbhishekD1192017-01-10

      You may need to change the switch, they are dirt cheap, you can find them online.

      author
      kehindea5 (author)2016-08-21

      i have a usb dualshock pc game pad that i bought 2days ago all of a sudden the second pad stopped working for games. the first pad works fine. it shows in the "set-up usb game controller settings page in the control panel" but it doesn't still work i've tried calibrating it but it's not responding. it didn't fall and nothing poured on it neither was it exposed to direct sunlight what should i do?

      author
      CamaroIsTheBest (author)2016-08-12

      What is this piece and where does it belong?

      image.jpg
      author
      nodcah (author)CamaroIsTheBest2016-08-15

      I'm not sure, but try putting it back together and seeing what doesn't work. Also, look to see if there's a similar piece anywhere else that can show you what it's used for

      author
      FaruqU1 (author)2016-07-08

      I just bought a Dual gamepad for my PC a month ago to play PES2016 that i recently installed to the PC. When ever i plugged in the gamepad while charging a message used to displayed at the bottom right conner saying "USB DEVICE NOT RECOGNIZED", the gamepad doesn't function anymore but if i unplugged the system from charging everything works fine. I'm frustrated when ever i whant to play the game i have to fully charged the PC before i can play the game, i need your help guy's.

      author
      ImomohA (author)FaruqU12016-08-10

      Change the charger

      author
      TheKatanarama. (author)2016-06-21

      Can someone please help me with my controller? It is a Tier 1 PS3 wired controller that I plan to use on my PC. Initially, I plugged in the controller and attempted to run it on my PCSX2 emulator. I couldn't set up the controllers, as there was no response from the emulator as I pressed the buttons to setup the controls. I tried to see if the PC was getting anything at all so I tried to check through the control panel to see if I could identify the problem. The troubleshooter gave me a pretty useless answer (that there was something wrong with my USB port, something that I knew was not true) I checked he controller settings and attempted to calibrate my controller. I found what could be the problem. For some reason the L2 button looked like it was being pressed down, even though the actual physical button itself was unpressed. I honestly have no idea how to fix this and would like some help finding a solution, I know my controller works and I opened it up and found nothing broken (albeit, a short examination, with no actual cleaning or thorough checking of parts) What should I do?

      author
      ThatBenderGuy (author)2016-06-20

      Okay so I have a 360 Wired Afterglow controller that I am using for PC and one day my Right Bumper button just stopped responding. It still clicks and everything but no reaction on my computer from it. Could it be a driver issue (Windows 10) or is it a physical problem?

      author
      nodcah (author)ThatBenderGuy2016-06-21

      It's almost definitely a physical problem but you can check the driver by going to Control Panel->Devices and Printers->Right click on your joystick->Properties->Game Controller Settings->Properties->Test.
      To fix the physical problem, you'd want to take apart the controller and look at the pad under the bumper and wipe down that connection with some isopropyl alcohol. Hope this helped!!

      author
      Luis RobertoQ made it! (author)2016-05-02

      Hey everyone, I have a simple question. I have an xbox 360 afterglow controller (4 actually, I love them) There is one I always use, the others I use when friends come and want to play. SO my problem is the rubber(?) on my controller's stick is peeling off and its loose, its starting to hurt my thumb, is there a way to paste the rubber(?) back on the stick again?

      PD: I tried some super glue but it didn't seem to work

      20160502_054207.jpg
      author
      ShawnR45 (author)Luis RobertoQ2016-05-18

      Either replace the joystick or buy some joystick pad grips. They fit easily over the joystick pad

      author
      AnonY7 (author)2016-01-17

      I just bought an afterglow controller for my 360. It worked perfectly the first time, but the second time, the home button wouldn't respond to being pressed, and it randomly opened the little dashboard thing or the 'turn off console' prompt on its own frequently. It even kept turning my 360 back on after I turned it off, so I had to unplug it altogether. The button can be pressed, but it doesn't do anything. The controller hasn't been dropped or damaged at all. It completely interrupts any game I'm trying to play with this constant pausing.

      author
      ShawnR45 (author)AnonY72016-05-18

      Take the controller apart and look at ur home button, clean if needed and check the rubber piece. Make sure it's in right when putting back together.

      author
      AyhemG (author)2016-01-20

      When i connect my USB PS3 CONTROLLER to my Windows 7 PC it recognizes it as Unknown Device

      author
      ShawnR45 (author)AyhemG2016-05-18

      Update ur driver software for the ps3 controller

      author
      BradK26 (author)2016-01-23

      Alright this is what's going on with my ps4 controller it wont turn on without the cord being in it but when I take the cord out and I press the PS button it won't turn on like at all it won't even blink I tried resetting it and its not working what do I do

      author
      ShawnR45 (author)BradK262016-05-18

      Take the back cover off and see if the connection from the controller to the battery came loose. If it's still intact u may need to replace the battery

      author
      Mr_Tjr (author)2016-03-09

      Hello there my ps3 controller analog stick popped out of place any ideas on how to fix it

      author
      ShawnR45 (author)Mr_Tjr2016-05-18

      Take ur controller apart and replace the joystick

      author
      ChristopherH85 (author)2015-12-23

      I have a 360 afterglow controller and I don't use it on a console I use it for PC gaming but when I connect it to my computer the lights blink once and don't turn on after that and then my computer said that "your device has malfunctioned". Can somebody PLEASE find the problem?

      author

      Hi Christopher, I have exactly the same problem. Could you let me know if you had the problem fixed somehow?

      Thanks

      author
      ShawnR45 (author)thanhnguyen_ly2016-05-18

      Update ur driver software for the afterglow controller

      author
      ShawnR45 (author)ChristopherH852016-05-18

      Have u tried updated ur driver software for the afterglow controller? I have a green afterglow and it works fine on my laptop and my desktop.

      author
      Wii Tink (author)2016-04-11

      Could anyone possibly help out? I have a Gamecube controller and it pauses and unpauses to the point where you can't play any games. Any suggestions?

      author
      LeeT44 (author)2016-04-08

      hi nodcah,

      I have several PS2 dual shock 2 controllers which are all experiencing the same symptoms despite being tried in different consoles. When plugged into the ports the analog lights up, the sticks work as do start, select and mode alas none of the other buttons do anything? I'm unable to get past any game menu without atleast the X button working. I managed on one occasion to get gta up and running and the controller behaviour was similar although it was as if one of the buttons were stuck resulting in the character repeating the same action over.

      Any help would be greatly appreciated on account of having bought another controller and console with the same issue.....?

      author
      nodcah (author)LeeT442016-04-09

      If your controllers are wired, try plugging them into the slot for player 2 (it may be a problem with the connector). Otherwise, I'd say try taking it apart and checking the connections inside the controller.

      author
      J4JOKER (author)2016-03-09

      Hi! I have an issue with my PS4 X button that is not functioning, at all. I took it apart and cleaned where the function buttons pads are and I put the controller back together. But to no avail the X button still don't work. Is it something that is not making contact on to the function buttons pads? plz help

      author
      BradK26 (author)2016-01-23

      Alright this is what's going on with my ps4 controller it wont turn on without the cord being in it but when I take the cord out and I press the PS button it won't turn on like at all it won't even blink I tried resetting it and its not working what do I do

      author
      AshtonH1 (author)2016-01-19

      im trying to use my wired xbox 360 controller on my PC, but the left analog stick is always acting like its being pushed to random directions

      author
      messi12 (author)2016-01-16

      my wii classic controllers wire came out a bit what should i do

      author
      ChristianW36 (author)2016-01-15

      I opened up my xbox one controller to change out the shell now my right bumper dosent work any advise

      author
      SébastienG25 (author)2016-01-08

      I've been using the Xbox360 controller for pc in the past few months. I've encountered a strange problem, and it's really frustrating. It works fine on some games, but on others it's impossible to play with. For example, on the Witcher 3 (which states that it supports the controller), my left joystick acts as my both my left and my right Joystick. When I try to go forward, I also go upwards, and I end up spinning.

      I tried reinstalling the game, the drivers, using a different controller, calibrating my controller, deactivating the HID compliant game controller. Nothing works. Please help !

      author
      nodcah (author)SébastienG252016-01-11

      So this definitely sounds like a software problem. I would look into some sort of key mapped for your controller to act as pressing buttons on the keyboard. This should fix the issue with the game you described

      author
      SébastienG25 (author)nodcah2016-01-12

      What kind of software. You mean a software that lets me play games with a controller that aren't normally playable with one ? Like Xpadder ? Or would using an emulator work ?

      author
      nodcah (author)SébastienG252016-01-13

      Yeah, I meant one like Xpadder!

      author
      GiorgiM2 (author)2015-12-17

      I have a problem: I use PS2 - PS1 Style USB gamepad. Right analog is always showing down... I have a soft, which shows which buttons are pressed. If I press RS (Right stick), "R3 pressed" is shown, or if I move RS, move is recorded, but RS Down is always "pressed". Only if I move RS with less than milimeter (even moving up doesn't help, only one dot where it works) and find Golden Point, RS down is off. SoS!

      author
      nodcah (author)GiorgiM22015-12-21

      Hey sorry for the delayed reply! I'd try replacing the joystick (link for a replacement is given in step 3). It sounds like one of the sensors in the joystick is broken

      author
      GiorgiM2 (author)nodcah2016-01-03

      ... And, is there a way to fix it without any purchases? I tried and opened to find if there was some dust or an easy thing to solve, but I've finally broke my vibration motor cable... I don't care for vibration, I want the RS! I cannot purchase anything cause my country restrictions...

      author
      nodcah (author)GiorgiM22016-01-03

      Joysticks are pretty commonly found. I believe if you have any old game remote with a joystick, you can just pop it in the new controller. If a part is broken, though there's no way to fix it without replacing it or buying something, sorry.

      author
      GiorgiM2 (author)nodcah2016-01-05

      Maybe it isn't broken??? I have a veerry old PS1 joystick with horrible joysticks... Also, how can I understand my USB Joystick is a PS1 one or a PS2 one?

      author
      GiorgiM2 (author)GiorgiM22016-01-11

      Finally fixed by bending some irons under the sensor. Thank you for support and such a good tutorial!

      author
      nodcah (author)GiorgiM22016-01-11

      No problem! I'm glad I a could help =)

      author
      1josefelix545 (author)2015-12-30

      if a cable tore off inside my ps3 controller is there a way to fix it or do I buy a new controller overall?

      author
      nodcah (author)1josefelix5452015-12-31

      See the step above about vibration motor wired breaking. You'll need a soldering iron and some replacement wire

      author
      ChristopherJ14 (author)2015-12-27

      Can anyone tell me what to do if my xbox one scuf stealth controller won't turn on? I changed out the batteries, turned Xbox off and back one! Used the usb cable direct and it still won't come on! Please help!

      About This Instructable

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      Bio: I am a freshman in college studying computer engineering and an alumn of a FIRST robotics team. I also love to tinker on my own ... More »
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