How to Customize an Arcade Stick




Introduction: How to Customize an Arcade Stick

When on the fighting game tournament scene, there are fewer ways to stand out than with a custom arcade stick. It not only shows how dedicated you are, but it also lets you show off what you like, whether it's your favorite character, favorite TV show, or anything else you might want to represent on your arcade stick.

In the following set of instructions, you will learn how to customize your Madcatz TE2 arcade stick so you can show up to the tournament in style. Ordering parts will take a few days, depending on the speed of the shipping process, and printing the artwork will require a visit to your nearest or most convenient printing shop, but the rest can be done within an hour.

While the specific example used here is the Madcatz TE2 arcade stick, many other models have very similar processes for customization, so this guide can be used for the general steps as well, only ignoring the model-specific details. If you are attempting to do this with a different model, consult your manufacturer's website and manual for instructions and art templates to help you with customization.

Step 1: Purchase Replacement Parts

To customize your Matcatz TE2 Arcade Stick, you will need to chose your parts that you wish to replace.

The following parts that will change your stick's appearance will be:

  • 30mm face buttons
  • Joystick handle
  • Joystick shaft
  • Joystick dustwasher

There are quite a few websites that sell these parts, and will ship them to you. Below are the links to the sites I regularly use to buy arcade stick parts. They both provide previews and specs of the products they sell, so you know what you're buying before you purchase them.

Step 2: Gather Tools

To complete the following steps, the following tools will be required:

  • 1 hexagonal screwdriver
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 1 Xacto knife or ballpoint pen
  • 1 flat head screwdriver
  • Your choice of image editing software
  • 1 pair of needle-nose pliers

Step 3: Dismantling the Arcade Stick

  1. Remove the joystick from your arcade stick.
    1. Open the arcade stick and insert the flat head screwdriver into the groove on the bottom of the joystick shaft.
    2. Hold the screwdriver in place with one hand and rotate the joystick top counterclockwise with the other hand until the joystick top comes off.
    3. Remove the joystick shaft now that is no longer connected to the topper.
  2. Remove the face buttons
    1. Disconnect the button wires from the bottom of the buttons with a pair of needle nose pliers.
      • Lightly pinch the plastic contact protector with the pliers and pull away from the button. This may require some persistence, as the force required to remove the wires varies from time to time.
    2. The Sanwa Denshi buttons that come with the TE2 arcade stick can be removed by pinching the tabs on both sides of the button, then pushing the button out of the arcade stick's frame.
      • CAUTION: Pushing too hard on the tabs may break the button's tabs. Slowly apply pressure until the button naturally pops out. Breaking the button's tabs will result in loose buttons, which may fall out when you don't want them to.
  3. Dismantling the frame.
    • Use the hexagonal screwdriver to loosen the 8 screws holding the Plexiglas frame in place.
      • You may want to keep the default artwork as a stencil to help you prepare future artwork for use in this arcade stick.

For different arcade stick models, consult the manual or manufacturer's website for instructions regarding dismantling your arcade stick.

Step 4: Preparing the Artwork

  1. Download the Madcatz TE2 artwork template at the following address:
  2. Depending on which console version of the TE2 you have, open the .psd file from the corresponding folder.
    • If you have a PS3/PS4 arcade stick, open the "FacePlate_PS3" folder and open the .psd file found in that folder.
    • If you have an Xbox 360 or Xbox One arcade stick, open the "FacePlate_Xbox" folder and open the .psd file found in that folder.
  3. Edit the template using your image editing software of choice.
  4. When you're finished editing, print your artwork at a local printing shop.
    • CAUTION: If you can give instructions to the printing shop, ask for them to print to actual size. If you do not give them these instructions, they will likely print it on a basic 8" by 11" sheet of paper, which will not fit on your TE2 arcade stick.
    • You shouldn't worry about the pricing, as a single sheet should cost less than, or around $1.
  5. Cut the artwork so it will fit in your arcade stick.
    • For the outer border of the artwork, a simple pair of scissors will do. Simply cut around the black border.
    • For the joystick and button holes, use the artwork that came with the arcade stick as a stencil.
      1. Align the art stencil with your printed art.
      2. Use a Xacto knife or press hard with a ballpoint pen to cut the joystick and button holes.
        • If you use a ballpoint pen, you will have to press hard and trace the outer circle of the stencil multiple times until the holes are removable
        • In either case, do this on a flat surface that you wouldn't mind being cut or written on.

For different arcade stick models, check your manufacturer's website or do a google search for your specific model's artwork template.

Step 5: Reassembling the Arcade Stick

  1. Placing your new artwork
    • Place your frame components in the following order on top of your dismantled arcade stick's frame, from bottom to top:
      1. Metal frame
        • Unmovable, will be on the bottom by default.
      2. Your new artwork
        • Be sure to line up the button holes with the metal frame.
      3. Plexiglas cover
        • With the completely flat side facing down, lined up with the button holes.
      4. Plastic outer frame
        • With the flat side on top, and the screw holes facing down towards the plexi and artwork.
  2. Placing your new buttons
    1. Simply press the buttons into the button holes from the top, with the metal contacts facing down. The buttons will click into place when they are correctly placed.
    2. Reconnect the button wires to your metal button contacts on the inside of the arcade stick.
      • There is a color-coordinated chart on the inside of the arcade stick that will help you figure out which wires go to which buttons.
  3. Reassembling your joystick
    1. Place the flat head screwdriver back into the groove of the joystick.
    2. Hold the screwdriver in place with one hand, and place the joystick top on the opposite end of the joystick with the other hand.
    3. Twist the joystick top clockwise until it is difficult to move.

Once you finish that last step, you're done! Now you can show off your skill AND style at your next fighting game tournament. If you decide to use a different piece of artwork or hardware in the future, you can always come back to this guide.

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    4 years ago

    Very cool! These modes look pretty straight-forward. Great first instructable!