Genuine arcade fightsticks are generally expensive. A lot of the more popular ones are made for fighting games and cost around the $200 mark. There are cheaper ones that don't last as long but will still give you a playable experience. But what if you want to go cheaper?
There are a large variety of cheap DIY kits on ebay and I decided to make one since I've never used anything more than a controller or keyboard and mouse. I managed to learn a lot more than I expected making this and had some fun doing so.
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Step 1: Finding a DIY Kit Online
For this project I used a 'Zero Delay USB Encoder DIY Kit' from ebay I got from ebay for just $25 AUD. I ordered a red kit and a white kit which ended up being useful for color coding with the buttons. The ones I chose are replicas of the Sanwa brand joysticks and buttons, which work well with the encoders wiring.
Extra note: The joysticks I got come with a square gate pre-installed.
Step 2: Finding Your Button Layout
There are many variations on how people lay out their buttons. You can find various pre-made layouts on Slagcoin.com
When downloading the file, choose either 100ppi or 300ppi. If you want to use a laser cut case, use 300ppi for later instructions.
Step 3: Designing Case
Originally the controller was set up in a cardboard box that had been reinforced and cut out with a safety knife. But the final version uses a lasercut wooden box. The box was created through makercase.com which creates laser cut box templates. Create one to your own liking but make sure your buttons fit. Save the template and open it in illustrator. From there use your button layout template to place holes for your buttons and joystick. You also need holes for the pause and select buttons, screws for the joystick, and for the usb cable on the back.
Step 4: Finding Where Each Button Connects To.
On the bottom of the encoder diagram you can see a number on each of the connector slots. These numbers correlate to the blue numbers on the other image. The pause and select buttons are also included and are put at the end. This way, most games should automatically be ready for playing on their default bindings.
Step 5: Wiring the Buttons.
In the accompanying images I have flipped the front face upside down to show the wiring. The red and black wires for the buttons doesn't matter. However, keep note of the positioning of the connector for the joystick and the blue side of the cable. The connectors to the encoder board will only fit in one way so if they aren't fitting, turn them around. The usb connector is on the very edge next to the joystick connector.