This instructable will go through the very simple steps to make an N64 controller act like it was new.
Old controllers tend to have some issues, but most commonly, these can be resolved by simply cleaning the contacts and inside of the casing.
The N64 controller has the added issue of the joystick locking up.
I will be posting restoration projects for several retro systems and accessories over the next few days, they are very similar projects because they function the same way.
Step 1: Opening and Cleaning
There are 8 screws on the rear of the controller. 7 are easily visible and removable. The other 2 are hidden in the rumble port. These last 2 screws are very small and can be a little difficult to remove. A magnetic and/or ratcheting screwdriver makes this part much easier.
Once the screw are removed, the controller can be easily opened.
Similar to the SNES controller, the N64 controller has shoulder pads. There are no metal pins to lose here, but the pins that hold these shoulder keys in place are thin plastic and are attached to the pads themselves. Careful, as these break easily.
Remove the circuit board and clean with alcohol.
The joystick box can be taken out if you open the 3 silver screws holding it in place, and unclip the ribbon cable.
If you have no issues with the joystick, do not attempt to open it up. It is very easy to break. If it is stuck (thank you, Dr Pepper), then open by removing the tiny black screw, and unclip the 2 clips at the top. Be careful, as these are thin and easy to crack.
Take apart, and gently wipe clean with alcohol.
If the joystick is unsalvageable, or you break it while attempting this, a replacement can be found on ebay for under $2.
The rubber membranes under the keypad and actual buttons should be VERY gently rubbed to get the dirt off. These tear easily so be careful.
The keypad and buttons get the brunt of the dirt, and they are most easily cleaned by actually just leaving them to soak in a some rubbing alcohol. A few minutes is enough, and they will usually be sparkling after. A Qtip or toothpick can be used for detailing but is usually not necessary.
After that, you can reseal the controller as it was before and it should work way better.