Introduction: Belkin Nostromo N50 Mod - Left Handed

The Nostromo N50 game controller for the PC.
Quite possibly the game controller by which all others are measured.
More have followed from Belkin and more recently Razr but this is the one I cut my teeth on FPS games with for many many years.

It is simply brilliant! (if you are right handed...)

And that is the essence of this instructable (my first one)
(a friend of mine is left handed and after some discussion I reckoned that this could be modded)
The original mod was done by me some years ago but recently died, therefore, by request i am repeating the exercise for him and this time recording the work in an instructable.
The following steps will show how I take this piece of kit designed to sit under my left hand (while the right hand holds the mouse) and switch left for right hand...
Essentially we only need to move the D Pad and that can be done by simply rotating that section across to the left after cutting it free and lengthening some cables..

What you will need:-

A Nostromo N50
Ribbon cable or equipment wire

Epoxy model compound (Milliput)
Hot Glue Gun
Soldering iron + solder (and the skill to use them)
Spray paint
Dremel type tool to cut casing open (or fine saw)
Small cross head/philips screwdriver
model knife to remove burrs/trim plastic back
wire cutters
wire strippers

Step 1: Remove Screws

The Nozzy has 7 screws holding the case together (circled in red).
2 are beneath the pads which you will need to remove first.
Put the screws to one side and lift the base section away to reveal the insides which will need to be removed.

Step 2: Remove the Innards

2 further screws (circled in red) will need removing before you can separate the electronics from the casing.
Once removed you will have:-
The USB cable
The mainboard
The thumbwheel
The indicator board
The D Pad
The keypad insert

We are going to have to lengthen the cables to the D Pad so i found it easier to cut this one (the grey ribbon cable) after making note of the orientation of the cable.

Also it makes sense to put the keypad membrane somewhere safe while you are soldering and hot gluing so remove that now.
Pull the housing forward towards the membrane to release (push back to lock in place later)

Step 3: Dremel Time!!

So with the delicate electrical bits out of the way you can now start carving the D Pad section off from the main casing.

I found the easiest way to deal with this was to re assemble the 2 halves of the case and put the 2 screws back in that hold the D Pad in place before starting to cut.
I also left the scroll wheel in place (after snipping the cables which i will replace later) and carefully cut around with the cutting wheel on my dremel

Step 4: Separated...

Now we can see the D Pad section is removed and the dremel work has been de-burred and tidied up.
The scroll wheel is fully operational (physically) and now needs to be covered up - we will come to this later when we get the epoxy putty out...

The 3 pieces of the D Pad section can be deburred and assembled once the cable is lengthened in step 5

Step 5: Soldering Time - Extended D Pad Cable

I had some small ribbon cable available and replaced the original with a 25cm length which will be cut to length once in place.
This is just a simple de-solder > re-solder job and you need a steady hand and half decent soldering skills when doing this.
The original cable is keyed with a red stripe on pin 1, i married this up with brown on my replacement.
Whatever you use just make sure you keep the order of the cbales 1>5.

Step 6: Re-Locate the D Pad

The D Pad assembly needs to be somewhere on the left side of the case now..
Note that the pad angle is shallower here if just connected side on (see 1st photo), I wanted it higher up like in its original position so after much shuffling around and a little dremel work i ended up using a hot glue gun to spot the assembly in place quite high up on the shoulder of the original case.
So high up that you can clearly see the screws that were underneath (in picture 2).

Dont forget to put your USB cable in place first (this cable needs lengthening also and as a result i had to remove the connector and solder on more ribbon cable. I spotted with a little hot glue to hold it in place.

Once you have soldered all of your dpad connections and your usb connections up you dont want anything shorting out so i found the easiest way to insulate everything was more hot glue.
One by one i sealed up each joint with the glue - it holds everything in place and is a great insulator.

Step 7: With Everything Mocked Up in Place - Re-connect

Time to get busy with re-soldering everything now.
Measure up your cable runs inside the case and cut to length.

I felt it would be easiest to solder the cables directly to the main circuit board and after removing (de-soldering) the original grey ribbon cable and the USB, i connected my extended cables directly to the board.
Also replaced the red/black cable from the scroll wheel.

take note of which colour cable went to which pin obviously (if you connect the wires up something wont work right somewhere).

Once everything is reconnected (soldered) i suggest you loosely re-assemble and test (i.e. plug it in and ensure everything is functional)
If you have any problems now is the time to start fault finding....

Step 8: And Now the Bodywork...

So assuming you have mock assembled and tested and all is ok....
time to start thinking about making this a permanent assbemly.
My material of choice is 2 part epoxy clay/compound (milliput is a readily available brand in the UK)

Now before starting this i needed to mask off the base from the top as i need to be able to remove the base.
Milliput has very good adhesion abilities so I covered the edges of the base with sticky tape in order to allow separation after everything had set.

Follow the instructions for mixing your putty and fill the spaces above and below with the compound, shaping to suit your assembly.

Allow each piece to set and then work on the next piece for best results

Step 9: More Bodywork

Again with the sticky tape masking on the base but this time we need to also mask the wheel assembly.
I used a simple piece of scrap card and shaped and taped it into place before adding the putty.

Once you are happy with the shape go ahead and cover the assembly to suit your layout

Step 10: Re-assemble and Clean Up for Finishing Off

Okay so you should now have the finished shape - the putty should have set and you can remove the base and discard your sticky tape masking.
Make sure everything is in place and works and re-assmble (for probably the last time)
any sanding of the putty or deburring should be obvious to your eye...

After this its just a case of masking and spraying to finish.

Step 11: Mask and Spray

This is fairly self evident.
masking tape, and anything (newspaper/plastic bag/ paper towel) to avoid overspray.

I sprayed initially with a grey primer coat and alloed to dry and as I didnt have any black I opted for a nice glossy mettalic blue.
(remember important things like ventilation, mask, not doing this in your house - use the garage or shed if you have that option)

Allow everything to fully dry

Step 12: Finish - Give to Friend and Receive Thankyou Gift...

So the palm rest is optional and down to personal preference...
I added 4 blobs of epoxy to the underside of the palm rest after removing the fingers with the dremel.
And carefully dry fit and shaped them to marry up with the case of the nostromo.
You could leave to set or remove and use sticky pads - (i did so my friend had the choice if with or without palm rest)

And now you are finished!

For the record the first one I did went a lttle further than this mod and included  blue led's under the keypad but I didnt repeat that element in this rebuild..

My reward? well im an adult and like a drink or two.. so my bottle of Jack is getting a little emptier as i write this!