XBOX 360 Wireless Arcade Stick




Introduction: XBOX 360 Wireless Arcade Stick

About: If it ain't broke, take it apart and fix it

After getting in the Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Beta (thats a mouthful), I realized just how much I didn't like the XBOX 360 D-Pad with fighting games. For example, I would try to hold backwards to block and I would jump. And with the release of Soul Calibur IV, and games like SF IV,SF HD, and Marvel vs Capcom 3 on the horizon, I needed an arcade style stick. So I started a search for a new controller, preferably an arcade style stick, and found out they tended to be a little on the expensive side: around $100-$200 dollars. So I came to and stumbled onto Pocket Universe's Project Gyokusho. I saw it wasn't that difficult and made up my mind to make my own, but I wanted to go the wireless route.

I used a bunch of sources to complete this project and I am going to list the appropriate links for each of those sources, if I feel the need to elaborate on a particular source I will do so. If anyone would like some explanation on a particular part they feel unclear on, please let me know and I will do my best to elaborate further. Also, read the entire tutorial first, including all of the notes on the pictures I included, because I actually did some of the electronics work while I was waiting for the wood glue to cure, paint to dry, etc.

***And just as a disclaimer, I'm not a pro at any of the things I am going to discuss. I'm just a 31 year old who never had something I didn't take apart at one time or another. I've never had any formal training with soldering or woodworking, but I do know that anything worth doing, is worth doing wrong until you can learn to do it right. With that being said, if you know of a way of doing something easier than how I have done it, PLEASE tell me, I'm also a firm believer in working smarter not harder. Also, some of the pictures are from my second and third controller since I forgot to take pictures of certain aspects of this tutorial when I started, I have noted them as such and included any differences therein.***

Step 1: Gathering Materials

The first step of any building project is gathering the materials. Its good to have a list of all the things you need and once you have gathered everything, lay it out in front of you and go down your list to make sure it is all there. There is nothing more frustrating than realizing you don't have something you need after the store is closed. You also are going to need a well ventilated room to do most of the woodworking. Its also nice to have a lot of room to work. In my experience, injuries or mistakes are more likely to happen if you are in a tight space.

You might not need all of the things that I used and you might need more, these are just the things I used. If you don't already have most of these parts it can get pretty expensive.

Things you can get just about anywhere
-Pencil and Notepad (for making your list of materials and any notes you might want to make, the pencil is also used for marking your wood for the cuts you will make)
-XBOX 360 wireless controller with plug and play adapter

Hardware Store
-1/2 in thick MDF (medium density fiberboard) I used a piece that was 2 ft x 4 ft
-Wood Putty
-Wood Glue
-Dremel Tool
-Circular Saw (preferably a table saw...I had to use a hand held and its not nearly as accurate in making cuts
-Sandpaper (60 grit, 120 grit, 250 grit for dry sanding, 400 grit, 600 grit, and 1500 grit for wet sanding)
-1-1/8 in Hole Saw for making holes for the arcade stick and buttons
-Hot glue gun and glue
-Safety Glasses
-Respirator (might sound funny until you inhale a mouthful of sawdust or primer)
-24 in Quick-Clamp
-Primer Paint
-Clear Coat Paint (I used a spray can of Polyurethane)

-Soldering Iron (I used a 25 watt Iron)
-Desoldering Bulb and/or Desoldering Braid
-Helping Hands (indispensable for soldering)
-Spiral cord wrap
-Tamper Proof #8 Torx Bit
-22 gauge Stranded Wire (I used three different colors to make connections easier to identify)

Arcade Parts
-9 Happ competition buttons (personal preference for this project)
-1 Happ Competition arcade stick (again personal preference for this project)
*DISCLAIMER* If you use other arcade parts there might be some differences in hooking them up and they might not work the same way as I describe in this tutorial.

Links for Arcade Parts:
Suzo Happ Group
Lizard Lick Amusement

Step 2: Making the Cabinet

First off, I'm much better with electronics than I am with wood. I don't have any pics of the actual woodworking, sorry, it was very HOT and sweaty work (I live in FL and was working in my garage) and I didn't want to stop to take pictures. =P Basically, you need to cut the wood into the following pieces:

2 - 16 in x 12 in (These will be the top and the bottom)
2 - 17 in x 3-1/2 in (These will be the front and back sides)
2 - 12 in x 3-1/2 in (These will be the left and right sides)

You should have some wood left over in case you make a mistake, but not very much, so measure twice and cut once.

I've got a very simple layout of my box. Using the picture below: the green piece is my top, the burgundy pieces are the front and back sides, and the blue pieces are the left and right sides. They are NOT drawn to scale. I wanted to show them as big pieces for clarity, not for accuracy. I don't have any pictures of the actual woodworking, but I think the layout is pretty straightforward.

Some people might want to go ahead and drill out the holes for their joystick and button layout. (I personally didn't, but if you want to, I have links on the next step where you can get some nice layouts)

Once you have your pieces cut out, break out that cardboard and lay your box on top of it...this is to protect whatever surface you will be working on. Get your Quick Clamp ready. Now follow the directions on the wood glue and get everything glued and placed together. Get your Quick Clamp and clamp and place it in the middle of the two burgundy pieces below (your front and back sides). Its best to use two quick clamps, one at each corner, but mine worked fine with one. Just be sure you are clamping all the way down to the green piece (your top). The force from the clamp should keep the entire thing together if done properly. Just be careful not to put too much force if only using one clamp so you don't cause the front and back piece to bend (this is why I suggest using two clamps). Now just let the whole thing sit for the time suggested on your wood glue. You want to follow the full cure time.

Step 3: Finishing the Cabinet

Now that your cabinet has fully cured and the clamp/clamps can be removed you will probably notice some imperfections. If not, good for you, go to the next step. Everyone else, you will probably want to clean up some of these imperfections to improve the overall appearance. You will get out of this step exactly what you put into it. Don't be impatient now...this part can determine whether you have an OK custom stick or a GREAT custom stick. Any sanding done to the MDF should be done while using a respirator, it produces a LOT of harmful dust

I spent about a weeks worth of nights working on cleaning up my cabinet; but as I said before, I'm no pro and it needed a LOT of cleanup. Fill in any holes and gaps with the wood putty and sand away any rough corners. Also, now is the time I laid out the position for my arcade stick and buttons. Some might want to lay those out first, in case any mistakes are made.

Sites for button layouts: I used the official Capcom layout for this project (with a modification for the distance between the joystick and buttons to make it more natural for me) Mostly Japanese Layouts (I'm using one of these for my next project)

Once you are happy with your cabinet and the layout of your buttons you will want to start priming your cabinet. I used a spray can primer for speed and ease of use. I just feel like I'm getting a more even coat that way. I used 4 or 5 layers, can't remember how many. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area and there is nothing around that might be ruined by stray primer. Use of a respirator is a good idea as well.

Next, I used a 600 grit wet-sanding paper to get the finish VERY smooth. Once I had everything smooth and I was happy with the way it looked, I handed it over to my roommate and let him do his magic.

I will show the progression of his art, but as far as the paint job goes...thats all up to you. Again, you will get out of it exactly what you put into it. If you have an airbrush I would suggest checking out a few of the airbrush tricks they have on this site...some really cool stuff. My roommate free-handed the art on my cabinet with a fine tip sharpie. (He's good) I also included some pics of my second cabinet project on the last step since my roommate is taking a bit longer than I anticipated.

Once your paint job is done you need to mount your buttons and joystick. This is a pretty straightforward step: you just feed the bottom of the button through the holes you made and screw on the plastic nut. If your buttons came with the cherry switches already attached, you will probably need to remove them first before you try and mount them.

****Note: When I went to put a clear coat of polyurethane onto the artwork my roommate painted we found that using a brush makes the paint I had to sand the box down and re-prime it =( (My roommate is in the process of painting it for the second time) So when you get to the clear coat process, use a spray can clear and spray a couple of VERY light layers first!****

Step 4: Electronics and Safety

The reason I saved the electronics part for last is because it took me a LOT less time to do this part and it is fairly straightforward. Not to mention, you don't have to wait hours on end for wood glue to cure or paint to dry. It would actually be a good idea to work on the electronics part while you are waiting to work on your cabinet. Just make sure you follow proper ESD safety!

ESD safety links:
A bit of overkill on info
Less info, but helpful

Step 5: Helpful Tutorials

I can't claim anything on the electronics side of this project because I used a few tutorials that explained and laid out the PCB of the XBOX controller. I will explain what I did, but I want to use this step to link all of the people who helped make it possible for me to even attempt this project.

Great Tutorials for wiring your XBOX controller:
Beardawgs tutorial, where I got most of the info for this instructable
RDC's soldering points...this thread showed me how keep the triggers in the off position
XBOX-scene tutorials: anything and everything you might want to know about modding your XBOX & peripherals

Step 6: Taking Apart the XBOX 360 Wireless Controller

Not a whole lot to do here...there are 8 visible screws and 1 hidden screw on the back of the XBOX controller. The first step is to identify which type of controller you have which is most easy while the controller is still together. [RDC's soldering points...this thread showed me how keep the triggers in the off position Check it out here. Its towards the middle of the page.]

****Note: I used the matrix style controller for this build. There are some major differences between the matrix style and common ground controllers. If you use a common ground controller you might have issues if you try to make the connections exactly like I did in this instructable.****

One way to loosen the screws is with a tamper-proof T8 Torx bit. I also found (thanks to beardawg) that you can use a small jewelers flat head screwdriver to loosen them. You can also sometimes break out the center piece of the screw (the piece that makes it tamper-resistant) which allows you to use a normal T8 Torx bit.

Once you have the back plate removed, disconnect the small rumble motors and remove them.

Step 7: Removing Any Unecessary Parts From the XBOX Controller

I removed the analog triggers (thanks go to Grim D) from my controller because I'm only going to use this controller for fighting games which generally only need at most six buttons. The procedure for keeping the analog triggers in the off position can be found here. (About half way down the page between two pics headed with *NOTE:) You can also remove the analog pads, but I left them on for no reason in particular. If you are going to remove them you need to solder in the proper resistors in the correct configuration. This procedure can be found here. (courtesy of RDC)

Step 8: Soldering Your Wires to the XBOX Controller

There are a few different schools of thought on this subject: soldering directly to contact pads, soldering to vias, or soldering to diodes. I chose to solder directly to the contact pads for all of my buttons just because it seemed the most straightforward way. If you follow Beardawg's tutorial he uses a couple of different ways.

I will only be discussing soldering to the contact pads for this tutorial, except for the left and right shoulder buttons since they do not have contact pads like the other buttons. The first thing you need to do is prepare the contact point for soldering. Take a razor blade and lightly scrape away a good portion of the black material covering the contact pads. You want to leave some around the edges or else they will detach from the board. I scraped about half of it off toward the center of the contact pad. There will be two wires for each button, a signal wire and a ground wire. With these Happ parts its not important to know which wire is which, as long as you connect the corresponding pair of wires to their respective buttons.

The left and right shoulder buttons don't need any prep since you will be soldering directly to their connections to the PCB.

Once you have the contact pads prepared its time for some soldering. I can't really go into the intricacies of's a skill that must be learned and practiced and could easily make up an instructable on its own. In fact, there is one here!

I can give you a few tips for this project though:
1. Tin the tip of your iron and the wires to be soldered
2. When connecting to the D-pad contact VERY careful.
3. Once you have tested all of your connections, cover your connections with hot glue to keep the connections secure.
4. Once you have covered your connections with hot glue, use the spiral cord wrap to separate the wires in pairs so you can more easily make the connections to the buttons. (for example: I wrapped the signal and ground wires for each connection.)

Step 9: Making the Connections

This part is fairly easy, especially compared to the last part. All you are going to do here is run the wires from their connections on the XBOX PCB to their respective buttons and directional pad. If you use Happ parts: the buttons and the arcade stick use cherry switches. There are three connection points on each switch. "But I only have two wires?" you say.

You are only going to connect to two of the three connections. One of the connections is for NO (Normally Open), and the other is for NC (Normally Closed), and the last is for the ground. You want to use the Normally Open connection and the ground so that when you push the button it closes the circuit causing the button to be activated. (If you use the NC connection it will think the button is always being activated until you push the button causing it to open the circuit.)

Step 10: Mounting the XBOX PCB

To mount the XBOX PCB to the cabinet I made two little posts out of some of the left over MDF and glued them to the interior of the box using the two outer holes in the PCB as mounting guides.

I then used my dremel tool to cut the excess plastic of the controller around the battery pack to make it fit nicely on the back of the PCB allowing me to use the outer holes on the PCB as mounting points. I also used part of the front piece of the controller to mount the battery pack to the PCB.

With the battery pack installed on the PCB and everything ready to go I used two screws to mount the PCB to the two posts. Make sure it is secure, then secure the bottom panel of your cabinet and your...

Step 11: All Finished!!!

Congratulations! You're done with your first custom made wireless XBOX arcade controller!

I have already finished my second stick, and have made a few upgrades to make things a little easier/cooler looking. I put the battery pack on the exterior of the cabinet to make changing out/charging the battery easier, I used all Japanese parts (to change things up a little), and I made the front buttons flush with the cabinet.

The finished pics you see are of my second project. My roommate has gotten swamped with artwork, so I decided to finish my second project myself. It's much more simple as far as the paint job is concerned (first attempt at using an airbrush), but I wanted a finished stick I could use while waiting for him to finish it up. As stated above I wanted to try out the Japanese hardware and layouts as well as adding a microphone jack and placing the battery pack on the exterior. I will post pics of my American stick as soon as he has finished the artwork. Just wanted to show you an example of how it looks finished.

****New Pics added from my third controller based on Stephen King's The Dark Tower****

Step 12: ***UPDATE***Mounting the Battery Charger

Alright, I've had a few questions about how I mounted the battery pack to my second controller. I'm writing a ver. 2.0 of this instructable as I build my new controller, but its just taking too long and some people need it now. we go!

***I have lots of notes on the pics as well so don't forget to give them a good look through...sorry about the quality, my good camera crapped out.***

The first thing you need to do is trim down the controller until you are down to just the battery pack like I've shown in the pictures below. Next, take your battery pack and lay it out on your box where you want it to be. Take a pencil and make a rough trace around the battery pack. It doesn't have to be perfect, but you do want to give yourself a little bit of room so that the battery pack will fit inside the recession you cut.

The picture below named "BatteryPackPCB" shows the four points on the PCB you need to desolder in order to remove the little white power component on the other side of the board. Its in the dead center of the PCB and pretty hard to miss. Once you've done that, just solder in some wires and run them to their respective points on the little white power component. But you'll want to mount the power component first. I'll get to that in a little bit.

You also need to desolder the (+) and (-) terminals. They're the two little metal wires with the springy tips sticking out of the bottom of the PCB. Check out the notes on the picture "BatteryPackBack" to see how I mounted them to the trimmed down battery pack.

"BatteryPackTape" and "BPPowerComponent" are the pictures you want to look at now. I basically taped the outside of the trimmed down battery pack with some painters tape to give me an idea of where I needed to mount the power component. Then I placed the power component to the other side of the tape through the hole on the inside of the battery pack.

You're gonna hot glue the power component in place now. You'll notice the brass connectors facing the tape tilt it a bit out of true. While you're hot gluing you'll want to use a finger to make sure the power component is flush with the other side of the battery pack. You can't see it very just have to kinda guess. Before the glue gets too dry you want to remove the tape on the other side and make sure the two pieces line up flush. You might even want to pop a battery in and make sure its not sticking out too much.

Now just mount the battery pack in your box and fill it in with wood filler. Sand it to fit in with the rest of the box and paint.

***Coming Soon: Microphone Input Flush Mount***

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    5 years ago

    Hi, i try the same proyect, but i think i messed up my controller it wont conect on the pc receiver neither the Xbox itself, and i dont know were is the part that i ruined for the antena of the controller.

    Thanks and great proyect!


    Hey! I'm working on something similar to this except it will be plugging into a computer instead of an xbox. The controller worked fine before I started. I just finished all the soldering last night and it turned on and recognized all the buttons. I used hot glue to stabilized everything to prevent the soldering from breaking. Now when I plug it in it will not power on, connect, recognize buttons, or anything.

    Anyone have an idea of why this could be?????


    8 years ago on Introduction

    awesome! how do you get the wireless arcade stick to sync?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Issues: When I added the right and left trigger button, ( desodering the 3 points and taking off the triggers , exposing the points )
    I added the 10 ohm resister and tested ..... worked LT and RT.....but x,y,a,& b are not responsive in gameplay, but works in the menu section.

    Note: when I go in button config and press the buttons x,y,a,or b nor does LB or RB they do not light up as if I was going to change them/ used as a 2nd test to confirm that the buttons were not working during gameplay. ALL LISTED BUTTON ABOVE WORKED B4 ADDING TEH TRIGGERS !

    ?: Could this be a grounding issue ?, has anyone else had this issue or am I over looking something!?


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I checked this out because I also build arcade controllers / MAME cabs, but also because of the awesome Dark Tower image you used...which also happens to be what I use as my avatar everywhere online. :)


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    That is my all time favorite dark tower picture...I think it encapsulates the feel of the novels better than anything. I get chill bumps just about every time I look at it.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Now you just need the "Ka is like a wheel" steering wheel. :)


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Not sure what you mean...if you mean not putting a resistor where the analog sticks were removed, then no, it will not work because the resistor zeros out the stick so it thinks the sticks are at a neutral position. You can leave the sticks on to save some desoldering work, but if you take them off you must put the resistor there or else you will get some intermittent problems or it won't work at all. Hope this helps.


    12 years ago on Introduction


    awesome build.congrats.was just wondering how u mount the u have to router?


    13 years ago on Introduction

    Great writeup of a fun project! I made one waaaaaaaay back for playing stepmania (dance dance revolution) on the computer with a usb logitech pad...


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    note at the top - paper towel for pizza pop remains on fingers, lock cylinder for practice picking, smith and wesson handcuffs, usb smart-card read/writer. ...and the necessary 'microsoft is the spawn of satan' markings.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    and may you have twice the number


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    You couldn't wait 2 more days for a full anniversary reply? :P That's funny.


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comment...I did have a lot of fun with this project. And it was good for me, a novice woodworker and intermediate solderer, to hone my skills and also try a few new techniques.


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    One thing I did do with mine - may not apply to your buttons, is I removed the return springs built in to the buttons. In order to make the buttons easier to press, I simply relied on the return spring in the micro-switches. My buttons were designed for gambling machines - as such they had a very firm press and click. I needed very fast response time to work with stepmania.


    13 years ago on Step 11

    Hi, I've soldered all my buttons and I'm having a few problems. When I try and kick while playing street fighter 4 nothing happens. These are the A, B, RT and LT buttons. However, when I'm selecting characters or messing around on xbox dashboard, buttons A and B work. I have no idea whats gone wrong. I've recently reconnected button A to the correct pads instead of diodes like I originally had and still having the same problem. Can you help me?


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Mrblonde, I also had this problem to start with. Its related to the triggers. You will see that if you set your LT & RT to "No function" in the button config, all your other buttons will work ok. I have finally figured out the problem with the triggers and have all 8 buttons on my panel working effectively, however this came at a price of messing up the triggers on my first PCB. So, if anyone wants to purchase my first PCB, which is prepared and fully functional except the triggers, (will support 6 button set up) let me know. Its the late (CG) wireless version and is intact apart from the left trigger.