Introduction: Xbox 360 Arcade Controller - Project Gyokusho

Picture of Xbox 360 Arcade Controller - Project Gyokusho

Well, this is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. I've torn apart a wired 360 controller, put the guts in a pretty box and soldered some arcade buttons and a joystick to it. Thought I'd publish this to give you all an idea of how it can be done and just for general inspiration.

If you're thinking of doing the same thing with a wireless controller, beardawg252002 has done just that over at the Xbox-Scene forums.

The name, Gyokusho is actually stolen from a japanese chess variant called Shogi. The equivalent of the king is called the Gyokusho or "Jade general". The short hand for that is the sign you can see in the middle of the controller (see image below).

Oh, and by the way, it's huge.

Step 1: The Disassembly

Picture of The Disassembly

First thing I did was to plug the controller into my PC, check out how the buttons were mapped and then I wrote that down on a piece of paper. Here's how they were mapped for me:

1 = A
2 = B
3 = X
4 = Y
5 = LB
6 = RB
7 = Back
8 = Start
9 = Left analogue stick click
10 = Right analogue stick click

Left analogue stick represents the analogue directions
X/Y axis are controlled by the right analogue stick and finally, the Z-axis is controlled by the left and right trigger. Right trigger increases X whereas the left one decreases it. Nice and simple.

I removed all the screws holding the 360 controller together, unplugged the vibration motors and presto, you've got yourself a nice and tidy circuit board. You don't have to use much force when doing this, if you can't get it open, you've probably overlooked the screw that sits under the sticker.

Removing the triggers takes a bit of effort but it can be done. Just make sure that the lever that's left is tied to the construction holding it (I just used some stripped wires and wound them around the plastic since superglue didn't do the trick). If you don't do this, the levers will move around and you'll probably get unwanted readings.

Step 2: Shiny New Buttons

Picture of Shiny New Buttons

Here are the buttons and the joystick that I used. Not the best ones I've ever encountered but they'll get the job done. They are all using microswitches from Zippy (which to me sounds like a dog from a cartoon). When you solder these microswitches, make sure that:

A: they work and
B: you solder the ground and the "closed"-pin, otherwise your button will always be active until it is depressed (and nobody likes a sad button).

Here are the images, enjoy.

Step 3: Woodwork

Picture of Woodwork

Here's the tedious bit, having to build the chassi. I had to use 22mm MDF even though I wanted 16mm. In retrospect, 10mm would have been more than enough but hey, you live you learn. Right?

The following images are just there to show you how it can be done. I cut the board, used screws to hold it together, ground down the edges and then I used plaster to cover up the... er... unexpected features. OK, mistakes. There, I said it.

Many a sandpaper had to be sacrificed for this to become what it is today.

Oh, and if you have a better place to do this in than the kitchen of a small apartment, use it.

Step 4: Paintjob

Picture of Paintjob

Painting a box black, slapping some numbers and letters on it and then giving it a clear coat of paint on top shouldn't be such a big issue, as it turned out, it was. I'm probably the worst painter ever.

Giving it the black base coat wasn't all that hard, I just used some spray paint and all of a sudden, it was black. The letters were what caused me all that trouble.

I took a piece of clear plastic film, I cut out the letters that I wanted and then I tried to use white spray paint. Unfortunately, all that happened was that capillary action reared its ugly head and turned the letters into blobs. I covered it up with a new coat of black and I hand painted the letters with a different kind of paint. It turned out quite well. Until I wanted to clear coat it that was.

When I had sprayed the whole contraption with clear paint, the hand painted bits started to dissolve before my eyes. I cursed and screamed but then I just thought to myself that at least you can see what it says. Perhaps I'll do it right someday (yeah right).

Step 5: Gentlemen, Start Your Soldering Guns

Picture of Gentlemen, Start Your Soldering Guns

This is where the actual soldering begins, Since I wanted to be able to use this with more than one system, I used an intermediate connection point so that the connections between the microswitches and the circuit board could both be easily tested and easily added to.

These shots are here to illustrate how I mounted the microswithces to the buttons.

If you are thinking of doing this yourself, remember to use several different colours of cable since this makes it so much easier when something turns brown.

Step 6: Soldering the Buttons to the Circuit Board

Picture of Soldering the Buttons to the Circuit Board

The first problem I encountered was that both sides of the circuit board have junk sticking out, this called for some craftsmanship (three wooden sticks, some HDD monts and some superglue) to raise it by an inch or so.

Now it's time to bring out the finest soldering tip you have since this requires a fair amount of precision.

Below are some images of how to connect the RB/LB-buttons as well as the A/B/X/Y/Start/Back/Guide-buttons.

As you can see, I had to cut off some pieces of plastic that covered the solering points for RB/LB but a Dremel and a steady hand gets the job done.

When you solder the A/B/X/Y/Start/Back/Guide-buttons you'll have to carefully scratch off the black stuff that covers the copper. I tried to solder the cables on without scratching but it just wouldn't stick. A word of caution though, don't scratch too hard or you'll remove the whole thing, copper and all and if you happen to expose one of the other cables running next to these soldering points, make damn sure that you don't short-circuit between them. A multimeter is your best friend here.

Step 7: Soldering the Directions

Picture of Soldering the Directions

For obvious reasons I wanted to use the digital direction pad for the joystick, the only problem was that the connection points for the directions looked nothing like the A/B/X/Y connection points. These had a wawe-ish pattern to them and they only had a small dot of copper, there wasn't copper along the waves (as I had been hoping). This resulted in several broken soldering points because when I shifted the cable ever so slightly, just to make sure that it had stuck, the whole thing came loose taking the copper with it.

Instead I had to retrace the wires leading to and from the directional soldering points and where they went straight through the circuit board, I had to scratch off the resin-like substance that covered the copper, peel the thinnest cable I could find, then run it straight through and then solder it in place. The greatest problem with this was that the cables snapped when the isolation wasn't there to protect it. Also, since the circuit board was already mounted in place, I had to use a mirror under the circuit board to try and find the right hole, get the cable through and then have a little stand hold the cable in place without snapping it while I soldered it in place. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done when it comes to soldering.

Also, since the way thin cables snapped so easily, I had to use the slightly thicker ones to connect to the buttons and then solder the two together.

For slightly larger photos you can visit my Flickr-page.

Step 8: All Done

Picture of All Done

With everything in place, I plugged it into my PC, made sure that the right key reacted when I pressed it and luckily, everything did.

I added a latch so that the bottom of the contraption would stay shut when it was on the table and then it was done.

Future expansions
I have been thinking of warm-glueing some optic cables to the LEDs that show you which controller number you have, drilling some holes around the Guide-button and then sit back and watch the pretty lights but I probably won't bother. It's actually quite nice to have a controller that doesn't glow.

Some day I will implement the LT/RT, after all it's just to put a resistor of some appropriate size on one cable and then have one cable that leads to the ground and there you would have eliminated the potentiometer but I just can't be bothered. It's quite good enough as it is.

Some of you may have noticed that I had drawn Playstation-symbols on the controller, that's because I'm thinking of going for a dual-system kinda thang. Perhaps some rainy day I'll do that.


kerryavance (author)2013-02-12

I wired up the A button but it will not read when plugged in to the xbox. I wired up the B button and it worked just fine. The controller worked fine prior to dissasembly. Is there anyway to troubleshoot the button itself?

vvela (author)2011-08-16

can i use sanwa joystick and buttons? also i dont have any wired controllers but i do have a usb cord to connect it to xbox 360. should i use that cord or can i make it "wireless" (hells ya)

argitek (author)vvela2011-09-28

I think you can use Sanwa. As long as they have contacts, you can use any kind of switch, even on/off switches; despite soldering looking scary, this is a relatively easy job: what the author did here, at least with the digital buttons, was to just "transfer" the circuit board contacts somewhere else - in this case the arcade joystick and buttons.. The analog buttons are a bit more complicated, as you can see, but the overall basis of the work isn't a big challenge.
About the wireless, what you'd be doing with this mod doesn't affect the controller itself; it still works the same way, just in a different casing. So, in theory you could use a wireless controller and you'll have a wireless arcade. As long as you don't mess with the wireless circuitry.

AbramTiros (author)2010-07-02

I have tried this 3 times and always get the same results.The controller works fine for 2 or 3 weeks the stop working at all. I have kill 3 controllers already what do you think is the cause

It could be any number of things but I'd bet its either a "cold solder" which happens when you don't heat up the two surfaces that you are going to fuse enough before applying the solder. This makes for a very brittle solder and it usually breaks very soon. The other possibility is that you allow for the cables to move around. This is a problem since the pads you have soldered to are so very delicate, thus breaking when the cables rattle around. I hope this helps.

Time_To_Paradox (author)2010-04-25

Man... this is some complex stuff.  I'd really, really want to attempt doing this, but I have absolutely no knowledge about circuits, PCBs or anything other than simple high school stuff.

It's not all that difficult really, if you've never tried to solder before, I'd say that you should perhaps practice a bit first, but electronically this is quite simple.

hahadamn (author)2009-04-09

Actually, you performed a lot of unnecessary soldering with regard to the common connections. You only needed to solder one wire off one common point for the buttons. That pretty much cuts your solder points in half. Check this diagram for the points:

KayDat (author)hahadamn2009-07-07

Actually, he has an early X360 controller, which has 6 common lines, 7 including the real ground.

biagio.lembo (author)KayDat2009-07-26

Hallo, I have a question for you.
I opened my 360 pad and the PCB looks exacly like the diagram you gave us:

but I can't understand this nice coloured circles. BLU is listed as SIGNAL and all the other colors are listed as COMMON. Does the word COMMON means GROUND? If the answer is "yes" I just have to solder the points with the blu circle. Am I right? Where is on the PCB the ground point I should chose?


I found this picture as comparison<br/><br/><a rel="nofollow" href=""></a><br/><br/>Here all the indications are the same as the diagram less the "back" button that is not specified and the down direction is the opposite :(<br/>

KayDat (author)biagio.lembo2009-07-26

I can personally attest that the slagcoin diagram is correct, since I recently modded an early X360 controller into a stick. Using the contact points ontop of the shoulder buttons *are* a good idea though; that's what I did as well. I recommend you use a multimeter and verify yourself whether or not it is correct. I think that diagram is drawn like that because the creator soldered one wire to every single button on the pad. If that's the path you choose to go, it doesn't matter which is signal or ground, since you aren't sharing.

You should read through this page by slagcoin. I highly recommend you read through the entire guide if you're thinking of making your own stick though, since it's full of awesome info.

Common means common line. You can't just solder all the commons together and call it a day, since that's not how the electronics work. You're going to need to use either optocouplers or switches to convert the signals. The optocouplers route is easier, but more costly depending on where you source the optocouplers. Here's a link about it.

KayDat (author)KayDat2009-07-26

Argh didn't finish the post. But yeah, this is the link on how to use optocouplers. The cheaper but harder method is using IC switches. That's the path I chose. I expanded bancao's four signal diagram to cover 12 buttons. I later modified the plan slightly so that the common lines are grouped together on the board.

biagio.lembo (author)KayDat2009-07-27

ok thanks! I read all the instruction very carefully so now I know something more. I also found the scheme I wanted to implement on my arcade stick:

I connect together all the common ground terminal for the stick and the buttons and then I connect one of them to one negative terminal of the PCB (LB or RB negative terminal for example).
Is it enough? what this optocouplers stand for? Do I need them?

SigThrottle (author)2009-07-09

Very Nice!! I didn't see anything about your joysticks, did you just use the xbox parts???

I honestly don't understand your question, soldering the stick was exactly the same as soldering the buttons.

I am curious where you got the joysticks, and my first question was whether you used new joysticks or kept the pair that come on the controller.

There are no joysticks on the controller, I bought an 8-way joystick and applied it the same way as I did with the buttons. I bought it at some online store. Ebay ought to work as well.

THE_LEGEND_x7x (author)2009-05-21

Dear Mr P-Universe,
I'm in quite a pickle... lol.. I want to re-create your project; however, my controller does not match the one you are using, nor can I find any websites that offer the break down of where to solder for each button! Any help? Maybe you know of a site? Here's the link to the pics of my controller.
Thanks brother

Hi there. Just the image of the PCBs don't tell me anythig about the make of the controller, but it's really not all that difficult. Just check where the buttons/directions create their connections and solder your button over it. Just try to understand why the buttons work and you'll have no problem replacing them. Your PCB seems to have nice, big connection points so you'll have little to no problems soldering. I'm sure you realize how a button works, using that knowledge you should be able to figure it out. Sorry I couldn't point you in the right direction.

heyy.. thanks for the reply.. Its been a while but I was thinking of trying to put this together again.. lol.. I kinda put it aside a while ago. I just had one question about the grounds.. Do you even have to set them up? if so, where and where do they go?.. thanks

Yes, you do need the grounds, or your circuit won't be complete, it'll just be cables led out into thin air. If you solder both points of the buttons, ground will be one of them, in you case it won't matter which is which.

check1984 (author)2009-06-15

Hey I noticed that you said you haven't linked up the LT/RT yet. However, you also appear to have eight buttons... So where are the other two buttons coming from? Or are they just for playstation and may be linked up to the Xbox controller later? Also, I read your entire instructionable thoroughly and still have a question on the triggers... I really would like to use them. My purpose for building the controller is for Street Fighter IV and soon Marvel 2. That being said, 8 buttons is ideal. I get that I need the resistors in the three holes... but what do I solder to in order to create a LT or RT button? I appreciate all your help and time that you've put into this. Very cool.

As I've said, the potentiometers must be replaced with resistors that match the end points of the resistor. Also, you must connect the reference one in the same manner as the original potentiometer. Your button will have to be able to complete a circuit both when it's depressed and when it's not. It's all covered in enough detail in the instructible and if it's unclear, read up on potentiometers.

logicbox (author)2009-05-06

is there a chance you could please post a close up pic of the circuit board finished, front and back? before i jump in and start soldering i want a clear image of where i need to solder and all that.

Pocket Universe (author)logicbox2009-05-07

You already have a good image on step 8, that one really gives you a good overview. However, if it's unclear how you should solder everything, I'd recommend that you'd practice your soldering skills a bit before attempting this. It's not a very hard project, but if you've never worked with electronics before, it might be quite daunting.

ddukesterman (author)2009-04-13

I dont see anywhere in here where it says anything about resistors or anything for the LT or the RT. if possible, what are the specs on the resistor u used??

I omitted the triggers, the instructions on how to measure and replace the potentiometers are all in the instructible.

hahadamn (author)2009-04-09

Also, the use of a hot glue gun to secure brittle connections like this is very useful.

washn2hiphop (author)2009-03-24

and also i dont think you mentioned what size wire you used. I am using 18 awg i might think it is too big because i am trying to solder it on an original xbox controller for practice but it does not seem to be sticking correctly any advice?

I don't remember the exact gauge, but just use the smallest one you can find, the holes are absolutely tiny, probably just a mil-unit or two (mil not millimeter).

washn2hiphop (author)2009-03-24

Do you have to scrap the black coating off of all the connections points?

If you don't expose the bare metal underneath, the solder will not stick.

achild (author)2009-03-21

Can you send me a link or something explaining how to implement the RT and LT buttons? I cant find it and I'm trying to get those working on mine, but I guess u need some kind of diode or something to get it working? I emailed Happ thinking the buttons were defective! :( Thanks!

Pocket Universe (author)achild2009-03-22

It's all explained in my instructible, you'll have to replace the potentiometer with a set of resistors which match the different depressions of the potentiometer. Try a multimeter to get the right size ones.

ivanx (author)2009-03-15

Hello again P-universe,
Yes!!! I just finalized my project..
"the way I fixed the broken pads, I just traced the pads and they all lead me to their individual whole. so all I had to do was just to get a 30g wire and put it in the trough the whole then glue it with a Heat gun -I have to say though some of the wholes couldn't go trough but I held it down while I was using the glue gun on them"
For the rest of the other non-directional buttons it was pretty ez to actual solder them however I still put hot glue on top of the solder just in case.

I also manage to include the vibrators. everything works like it should.

I have to say THANK YOU for all your support. I actually did this project with the purpose of to challenge myself and also to see how much knowledge I have in electronics as well as carpentry and not mention the creativity "I really learned a lot"...

here some pictures of what it looks like now

but I don't know I might make myself another one, since I still have another set of HAPP buttons and now that I have exp I won't be a real pain.

"you were one of my inspirations on this project"

Cheers!! Mate

Pocket Universe (author)ivanx2009-03-15

I'm glad you managed to finish your project, I'm glad I could help.

ivanx (author)2009-03-12

Hello pocket universe,
I finally got the solder to stick "I had to scraped a bit more" , however I was still using the 24g then just when I thought everything was settled I put some of the regular epoxy to keep everything in place... however I guess the gauge was still too thick and the liquid started moving some of the solder bonds that's when I decided to stop. And when I was trying to clean it all up the epoxy from the soldering bonds, some of the pads just came off and left me with this

Then I was following those lines(buses) from the soldering pads that I had broken and they took me to the other side of the board to this chipset

but one thing I noticed those lines (from the front side) always end up in a tiny whole then to the other side..., should I stick in like a really thin wire (like jumper wire) trough the whole then solder ? (by the way I was looking you had something like that in your gallery procedure looking at the gray wires..

By the way Do I really need to solder every "ground solder point from the controller to the Arcade button"?
'cause I seen some other projects where they just solder the "signal from the controller point" to the arcade and within the arcade butons they just made a "ground daisy chain" for example:

Looking forward for your response


Pocket Universe (author)ivanx2009-03-13

Each of your questions has already been answered in my instructible, please read it again. About the epoxy-idea of yours, that is a very VERY bad idea. If your soldering job isn't up to par, do it better instead. Your attempt to use surface mounted connections rather than the through and through version I suggested goes to show that you didn't pay attention to the warnings in my instructible. That last bit about the ground, I guess that your question is whether you can use a common ground. Sure, use a potentiometer and try to find one. I tried but after having failed a few times, I decided that it's much easier to use two connection points for each direction and button.

ivanx (author)2009-03-09

Hello Pocket Universe, what kind of solder type you recommend to solder these buttons? (cause right now I'm stuck in I can't get neither of the buttons to stick with solder and the wires...Wold you think that EPOXY will also be a replacement instead of solder? Thanks in advance

Pocket Universe (author)ivanx2009-03-11

I used the lowest gauge solder wire I could find. If you are having problems with the solder not attaching you probably haven't removed all the resin from the PCB. Unless you can come up with some epoxy that conducts electricity, I'd say no way.

spunky424 (author)2009-03-10

what dimensions was your woodworking box?

Approximately huge*large =)

It's roughly 50*90*12cm.

Fxzero (author)2009-02-24

Did you do a 4 or 8-way directional joystick?

Pocket Universe (author)Fxzero2009-02-24

As you may see from the pictures, it acts just as the pivoting D-pad, if I go diagonally, two directions are activated. This can be accomplished with an extension to a 4-way joystick (causing the microswitches to extend beyond their regular reach) or by using an 8-way switch and making the diagonals connect to their corresponding two directions.

Hi! Great explanation but my horrible english drive me crazy on this point about soldering the direction... could you explain in an easy way? Thanks and great works!!

I'm sorry, I don't understand the question, are you asking me about whether to use a 4-way or 8-way joystick or are you asking me how to solder the D-pad?

Sorry, my bad. I don't understand this whole part: "Instead I had to retrace the wires leading to and from the directional soldering points and where they went straight through the circuit board, I had to scratch off the resin-like substance that covered the copper, peel the thinnest cable I could find, then run it straight through and then solder it in place. The greatest problem with this was that the cables snapped when the isolation wasn't there to protect it. Also, since the circuit board was already mounted in place, I had to use a mirror under the circuit board to try and find the right hole, get the cable through and then have a little stand hold the cable in place without snapping it while I soldered it in place. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done when it comes to soldering. "

Follow the cables to the directional pad until you reach a hole. Scrape off the plastic around the hole and put you wire through. Solder your wire in place. Was that easier to understand?

Thanks for the info!!

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