A quick guide working though my experiences repairing an old 360 controller for windows. This can be applied to most controllers that have been used well, aged and just need a little maintenance to get back on track.
The problems with my controller i wanted to look at
- Overall cleaning
- Squeaking from the triggers and analog sticks
- Analog sticks "sticking" and just not feeling uniform in the spring back
- Worn out analog stick thumb pads
Step 1: Disassembly
Disassembly for most controllers is usually straight forward. For me it was just seven small screws then the two sides come apart and away from the PCB, electronics and buttons. Perfect to then clean the plastics.
Step 2: Cleaning
Such a satisfying part, once all the electronics are out the way I could wash these properly.
Be careful with the top bar that the bumper buttons are on they could break off.
Be sure to scrub around the seams to get the dirt out and to use soap on the face to get rid of any grease.
Once clean and dry, if youve ever wanted to try out a paint job on your controller; no better time then now.
Step 3: Replacing
The thumb pads for the analog sticks were worn on the tops so i decided to replace them with something more robust.
I chose aluminum so they would be a more similar wight to heavier metals to not effect gameplay.
Then i decided to use a topper to them so it feels better on the thumbs. These can be replaced without needing to take the controller apart at all so ware on them is easy to overcome and cheap to replace.
For these toppers I cut off the small bumps because they felt too pointy, I tried with a sharp knife as shown, but you still need to go slow and use a sawing motion to slice consistently with a sharp blade.
Step 4: Fixing
To fix the analog sticks squeaking and sticking, I did have replacement analog components to replace them. That would mean desoldering.
Which is fine but i wanted to first see if I could clean and lubricate the axis to fix the problems. A small drop of silicon grease after; cleaning with tweezers anything you can see within the mechanisms, worked well for me.
For the analog triggers squeaking it was very much the same idea. i didn't have replacements for these because they feel fine. The mechanism is very straight forward mechanically, using hall effect sensors means it will last a very long time. They just squeaked, a small amount of grease worked great, wiping off any excess.
While the PCB is out and easy to see you will want to look it over for any signs of corrosion from having anything spilled on the controller.
If you need to replace any parts and need help soldering/desoldering, look for Ben Heckendorn or Dave Jones or the EEVBlog, both have great videos about soldering and even desoldering without a desoldering iron.
Step 5: Reassembly
Reassembly for most controllers works from the front back. For the 360 controller all the buttons and pads have alignment tabs so you cant even go wrong. The small top and bottom pieces can be a little tricky but also go together very well.
For cheaper or third party controllers they may not go back together quite as well, but once you start to screw them together it should bring the whole thing together again.
Step 6: Done
Works very well, maybe even better then it was new because its been worn in a little.
At first i thought the analog sticks had problems with their springs but once lubricated they eased up perfectly.
All replaced components talked about and used where found on popular auction sites.
What i didn't get to do but may do in future
I did want to modify the face buttons (A B X Y) but i couldn't separate the buttons from the inside opaque letter part. I would guess they are two part casted so sealed together. I did think it would look different to colour the letter black so they stand out but couldn't figure it out at this point.
Painting the casing. I did want to do this, even just with simple shapes or lines in solid white. But, i wanted to think about it more, maybe design something to mask on. The paints I have ready are enamel and hard wearing. Prepping for them its straight forward, use a scotch pad on the surface to key the surface, giving the paint lots of little scratches to stick to. Once painted use a clear satin coat to uniform the finish, protect the paint even more and to fill all the scratches in the spaces you didn't paint over.
I also thought about filling the tops of the aluminium thumb sticks with something instead of using the toppers. Either filling the circular indent with apoxy that I had coloured with use of paint. Or, finding something the right size to glue in. Maybe making a design then cutting it to size or something.
Adding a micro or mini USB slot for the cable would be great but the cable its fixed with has lasted this long so I wont fix something that isn't broken, yet.
Any questions feel free to ask.