Introduction: DSUB-15 to USB Adapter for Cobalt Flux DDR Pads

I recently got very into DDR at the arcades and wanted a pad of my own to play with Stepmania at home.

After buying a cheap mat on Amazon and not being totally satisfied, I found a Cobalt Flux DDR pad on my local OfferUp. However, it did not come with a control box and had a connector I'd never used before. After some research, I discovered that it was a DSUB-15 connector and that the control boxes were listed as Sold Out and the group did not appear to be in business anymore.

After searching through a few posts, I happened on this forum. From the advice here I was able to build my adapter, but the I found that the process had a lot of holes and lacked explanation of some aspects. While I was able to figure all of these things out, other people might struggle with some of the guess-work, so I created this tutorial on how to make the adapter.

Note: This is not a tutorial on how to make an actual DDR pad, but instead a tutorial for a DSUB15 to USB adapter.


Total cost: $28

Total cost of non-reusable parts: $21

Step 1: Cut Your Wires

Warning: Before cutting all of your wires, try this with 2-4 wires the first time. It will be slower but will reduce the risk that you have to replace your wires.

The blue and white wires that come with the arcade stick kit can be used with the DSUB15 connector, but we will have to prepare them first.

  1. Using your pairs of scissors, cut the metal connectors off of one pair of blue and white wires
  2. Use the pair of wire cutters to remove the ends of the wires. I use the .8 setting on the wire cutters linked in the supplies. I remove about a fingernail's length worth of shell
  3. Determine which wire is the ground
    • Plug a pair of wires into any of the slots in the arcade stick PCB on the bottom, long white row of plastic connectors.
    • Look at the back of the PCB to determine which wire is grounded. This will usually the wire soldered to the bottom row. You will be able to see connections running between all of the lines that are grounded. This is also shown in the attached images. If you are using the same products that I am, this is the blue wire.
  4. Replicate the first two steps for the rest of your wires depending on how many input pads you have.
    • If you have the standard (8 directional, 1 center) you will need 9 total connectors.
    • If you have the standard + start and select, you will 11 total connectors.
  5. Remove the grounded wire (blue in my case) from all but 1 of your connectors with your scissors. Only one is needed since they all share the same ground.

Step 2: Connect Your Wires

Connect to the Arcade to USB Encoder

This part is very easy.

  1. Plug your connector with two wires into the first slot on the bottom left.
  2. Plug your connectors with one wire one-by-one next to this wire.

Connect to the DSUB15 board

This part will be a little trickier, but not hard. Here is a breakdown of the pinout of the ports for the cobalt flux. They are also listed below for your convenience.

  • 1: Ground
  • 2: Up
  • 3: Down
  • 4: Left
  • 5: Right
  • 6: Up Left
  • 7: Up Right
  • 8: Down Left
  • 9: Down Right
  • 10: Center
  • 11: Start
  • 12: Select
  1. On the breakout board, unscrew/open the ports by turning left with your screwdriver.
  2. Place the wires in the appropriate ports. Screw each one in after you place the wire in and give it a little tug to make sure it is secure.
    • The ground wire (blue for me) goes in port 1 on the breakout board.
    • Each wire following this goes sequentially. Put the second wire from the left in port 2 as listed on the board. Put the third wire from the left in port 3.

Step 3: Connect Your Board and Test It

The next part is rather easy. Plug the connector into your Cobalt Flux board and plug the Arcade to USB Encoder into your PC.

To test it, I used the application I will be using it for - Stepmania.

  1. Go to Options -> Config Key/Joy Mappings
  2. Use your keyboard arrow keys to navigate to the buttons you want to map and press the enter button
  3. Tap each of the keys on your pad and confirm that they all work and have different mappings (eg Joy1_B1, Joy1_B4, Joy1_B6)

Step 4: Troubleshooting

This tutorial is pretty straight forward, but here are some things that may help if things go South.

  1. To test your arcade to USB encoder, plug the wires in as instructed but do not plug them into the DSUB15 board. Open open the Stepmania config menu. Go to map a key as directed previously but instead just touch the white and blue wires. If you see a mapping on stepmania, you are good. Perform this for every cable. For the other cables that have the ground wires cut, just connect them to the first ground cable.
  2. If you are getting the same mapping for every you probably have the grounds and inputs reversed. As I said in the intro please start small with 4 keys before you do the actual cutting of all of your wires so you do not have to purchase replacements.

Step 5: Credits