Introduction: Replacing the Joystick in a Xbox 360 Controller

Have you ever had one of the joysticks on your controller break that rendered the controller utterly useless? It's your lucky day because this Instuctable will show you how to repair your controller by replacing the joystick for a new one. This repair is great because for a fraction of the cost of a new controller, you can repair your old one. If you already have the equipment, this repair will cost no more than $5, much better than buying a new $50 controller. With some basic electronic repair skills and equipment, you can have your controller repaired in no time. The time required is minimal and can take 30-90 min depending on skill level. I hope this instructable will be of use to you and help you get back to gaming!

Step 1: Gather the Materials

Assemble and gather all needed parts for this project. I've provided lists of both the tools and materials needed for completion of this repair.

Tools:
▪ Soldering Iron
   - I'm using a Weller WLC100 soldering station with a Weller ST7 Tip. The ST7 is a finer tip that
     is helpful for those tight electronic spaces and works great for this instructable.

▪ Solder Braid and/or Desoldering Pump
▪ TH-8 Security Torx driver.
    - Two different drivers can be purchased either HERE or HERE.

▪ (Optional) Bowl or small container to hold small parts during repair. (Not pictured)


Materials:
• Broken Xbox Controller
• Replacement Joystick
    - I found two sources selling a replacement joystick module: Extreme-Mods and SparkFun.
      (Thanks to S1L3N7 SWAT for his instructable and the SparkFun find.) 
    - I ordered my joystick modules from SparkFun and they also came with replacement
      thumbsticks (Playstation Style) as shown in the picture.

• Solder (I'm using 60-40 Rosin Core Solder)

Step 2: Disassembling the Controller

In order to repair to joystick, the controller must be taken apart. Follow these step to
complete the disassembly.

1. Remove batteries from the controller
2. Locate and remove the 7 security torx screws located on the back of the controller

Tip: - The screws will be needed for the reassembly so the use of a bowl, etc will ensure
          that none of the screws will be lost.
        - The seventh screw is located behind a sticker inside the battery portion of the
          controller. Refer to the picture for a reference.  
        - The sticker can either be removed or just pushed through with the screwdriver. 

Caution: Breaking or removing the barcode - sticker will void the Microsoft warranty. 
                Unfortunately the sticker must be broken in order to repair the controller. 
                I believe the warranty is good for 1 year. If you are past one year then it won't
                matter anyway.

3. Pry the bottom half (the side with the screws) away from the top half of the controller.
 
Tip: - Try to keep the top half of the controller with the circuit board intact.
        - If parts do come apart, try and notice how everything goes together as it will help
          out in the reassembly process.

4. Locate the two vibrating motors and unplug them from the circuit board.

5. Gently pull the circuit board away from top half of the controller.

Tip: - If possible, keep all of the buttons and parts in the top half controller in place.

6. After the circuit board has been removed, locate and remove the thumbsticks from the
     joystick. To remove, pull them straight off of the joystick module.

Step 3: Removing the Joystick

1. Plug in your soldering iron and let it warm up.

Warning: While the soldering iron is plugged in, never touch the "metal" portion. Soldering Irons
                 can reach temperatures in excess of 650 degrees Fahrenheit which can cause major burns.

Tip: - Depending on your soldering iron, it will take somewhere between 1-5 minutes for the iron
          to get to the correct temperature.  

2. While the solder iron is warming up, flip over the controller and locate the pins that are connecting
    the joystick. (There are 14 pins) Refer to image for location of the pins.

3. After the iron is ready, apply the iron to one of the joints and simultaneously remove the solder.
    Do this by sucking up the solder with the solder pump or using solder to braid to draw up the solder.
    Look HERE for instructions on proper desoldering technique.

Caution: This can apply to steps 3-5. When desoldering or removing the module from the board, make
                 sure that none of the "traces" on the PCB are damaged. When incorrectly handled, they can
                 pull away from the PCB and/or break, thus destroying the circuit. If you carefully and
                 effectively desolder the pins, you shouldn't have any trouble.

4. Repeat step #3 for all remaining joints/pins.

Tip: - Keep the soldering iron on and hot, as it will be used again in the next step.

5. Once all of the pins have been desoldered from the board, gently pull the joystick perpendicularly
    away from the PCB.

Step 4: Attaching the New Joystick

1. Locate the new joystick module and, if necessary, remove the thumbsticks using the same
    procedure as the original disassembly.

2. Orient the joystick module according to the PCB holes and insert the module into the PCB.

3. Flip the PCB around while keeping the module inserted into the holes.

4. Using your soldering iron and the solder, solder one of the pins to the PCB. For proper soldering
    technique, check HERE.

Tip: When soldering the first pin, make sure the module is firmly seated flush against the PCB board.

5. Repeat step 4 for all remaining pins.

6. Inspect each joint for proper soldering application making sure each joint is seated properly and
    that there is no shortage between the various pins.

Step 5: Reassembling the Controller

1. Locate all parts and screws.

2. If any buttons or pieces fell out during the disassembly, reinsert those components into the
    top cover. (Again, the top cover is the half you see when holding it normally in your hands.)

Tip: - Thankfully Microsoft designed the buttons to only be inserted into the correct slot. So, if
          you forgot which slot a certain piece goes in, just try the different slots until you find the
          correct one.

3. Place the thumbsticks back onto the joysticks.

Tip: - If you ordered the joystick module from SparkFun, it came with PS3 style joystick thumbstick.
          (At least mine did.) You can reinstall the original Xbox thumbstick or attach the new PS3 style
          thumbstick.

4. Place the PCB back onto the top cover, ensuring that all of the button "contact pads" are
    in the correct positioning.

5. Plug in the vibrating motors. (If you removed them from their slots, re-insert them back into those
    slots.)

6. Place the bottom half of the controller cover onto the top half and press together until it snaps
    into place.

Tip: - Make sure all wires and/or any components are out of the way so they don't get "sandwiched"
          between the two covers.

7. Reinsert the screws.

Tip: - For troubleshooting purposes, it's okay to only put 2-3 screws in, just enough to hold it together.

8. Reinsert the batteries.


Troubleshooting: After reassembling the controller (except for some of the screws), test the joystick
by playing a game. Make sure that all range of motion is accounted for and that the "click button" works
as well. If something isn't working quite right, take the controller back apart and check some of these
suggestions:

- Double-check all of the soldered joints. Especially make sure that there is no shortage or "touching"
  of the soldered joints.
- Make sure that none of the traces have been damaged. If they have been, there will be an incomplete
  circuit. This can be fixed by finding a small piece of wire to patch the damaged trace.
- Ensure that all of the buttons are firmly seated and are the button "contact pads" are in the
  correct locations.


9. After troubleshooting is complete, repeat steps 1-8 (if needed) replacing all screws this time.

Step 6: Conclusion

Barring any major setbacks, you should now have a working controller again! You can now continue gaming without having to buy a brand new controller. Hopefully this instructable was helpful and clear in it's presentation and instruction. Please comment with any questions or suggestions. Thank for your time!

Comments

author
Satchmoe09 (author)2016-02-24

My controller will not go to the bottom right very well. So I took it apart and without the casing on works 100%. But when I put back on the casing same problem. Could something be bent or does something need to be replaced?

author
blueblobbs (author)2012-03-19

Where did you get the TH-8 torx sercurity screwdriver?

- blueblobbs

author
trevroose (author)blueblobbs2012-03-19

blueblobbs,

Check in the materials step and there are two links where drivers can be purchased. But the one I have, I purchased from Amazon at the link HERE. This is the same as one of the links I posted in the instructable. If you do a Google or Amazon search, you should find plenty of options if those two don't suit you. Hope this helps!

author
blueblobbs (author)trevroose2012-03-20

Thank you very much

-blueblobbs