Ahh, the NES MAX controller. I've owned one since the early 90's and have wanted to love it ever since. It has standard "B" and "A" buttons as well as TURBO "B" and "A" buttons. The TURBO buttons are the real draw of this 1st party controller, but the directional pad (AKA the "cycloid") is terrible. Now, if there was only a way to replace that clumsy directional pad...
Upon taking my NES MAX apart to clean it, I discovered that it would be possible to replace the red sliding piece of the cycloid with a D-pad from a GameCube controller or a Game Boy Color (some modification to the D-pad would be necessary of course). Since I didn't have spares at the time, I looked for another alternative. The D-pads from most of my other controllers were too large, so I turned to a couple of old "Super Controllers" with a joystick that would do just fine. What's a Super Controller? It's a 3rd party accessory made by BANDAI for the original NES brick controller. It basically turns the D-pad into a miniature joystick. I've always found the Super Controller to be very... well... un-super, so I had no problem cannibalizing the joystick from one.
Step 1: What You'll Need
1 - BANDAI Super Controller (not the Super Controller II)
1 - Small Phillips screwdriver
1 - Hand drill or rotary tool (like a Dremel)
1 - Grinding bit for the drill/rotary tool
1 - (Optional) Sheet of course sand paper
1 - Pair of snips or heavy duty scissors
1 - Pair of safety glasses to wear when cutting and grinding
1 - *Tube of epoxy for bonding plastics
1 - *Toothpick for mixing and applying epoxy
1 - *Metal bottle cap for mixing the epoxy in
*Optional. Only necessary if you wish to bond the joystick to the joystick base permanently.
Step 2: Removing the Joystick From the Super Controller
Step 3: Choose a Joystick Type
Step 4: Begin Tearing Down the NES MAX
Step 5: Removing the Circuit Board
Step 6: Removing the Cycloid
Step 7: Taking the Cycloid Apart
Step 8: Cutting the Joystick Base to Fit the Cycloid
Now, put on your safety glasses because you're going to cut hard plastic and sharp pieces of plastic could fly toward your eyes. It's time to cut the joystick base to size, but BEFORE CUTTING it's important to know that you don't want to cut off too much! The idea is to cut the joystick base to a size that fits tightly in the center of the cycloid. You might try shaving off a little at a time. Here goes, using the snips (or heavy duty scissors) make a straight cut across the inner most edge of one of the two holes (please see picture). For the second cut, do the same to the opposite side. See the next picture for the third cut, it shows where to line up the snips. For the fourth cut do the same as the third cut, only to the opposite side (you should end up with a piece like I show in the last picture for this step).
Step 9: Grinding Down the Bottom of the Joystick Base
With your safety glasses on, use the drill (or rotary tool) and conical grinding bit to grind off the fulcrum. Then, continue to grind (or sand) down the four raised bumps until the entire bottom side is flush and even.