***Before you start this joystick mod, I should note that there is a similar Instructable out there that pre-dates mine. I found it after I completed most of this Instructable, so check it out (it uses a red Xbox joystick and it looks great too). For this Instructable, I happened to have a BANDAI Super Controller laying around, so I used the joystick from it. There are certainly many other joysticks that would work too, so be creative! Also, while I find that a joystick makes the NES MAX more user friendly, a D-pad mod would be far superior. Stay tuned, as I plan to post another Instructable that does just that.***
Ahh, the NES MAX controller. I've owned one since the early 90's and have wanted to love it ever since. It has standard "B" and "A" buttons as well as TURBO "B" and "A" buttons. The TURBO buttons are the real draw of this 1st party controller, but the directional pad (AKA the "cycloid") is terrible. Now, if there was only a way to replace that clumsy directional pad...
Upon taking my NES MAX apart to clean it, I discovered that it would be possible to replace the red sliding piece of the cycloid with a D-pad from a GameCube controller or a Game Boy Color (some modification to the D-pad would be necessary of course). Since I didn't have spares at the time, I looked for another alternative. The D-pads from most of my other controllers were too large, so I turned to a couple of old "Super Controllers" with a joystick that would do just fine. What's a Super Controller? It's a 3rd party accessory made by BANDAI for the original NES brick controller. It basically turns the D-pad into a miniature joystick. I've always found the Super Controller to be very... well... un-super, so I had no problem cannibalizing the joystick from one.
Step 1: What You'll Need
1 - NES MAX controller
1 - BANDAI Super Controller (not the Super Controller II)
1 - Small Phillips screwdriver
1 - Hand drill or rotary tool (like a Dremel)
1 - Grinding bit for the drill/rotary tool
1 - (Optional) Sheet of course sand paper
1 - Pair of snips or heavy duty scissors
1 - Pair of safety glasses to wear when cutting and grinding
1 - *Tube of epoxy for bonding plastics
1 - *Toothpick for mixing and applying epoxy
1 - *Metal bottle cap for mixing the epoxy in
*Optional. Only necessary if you wish to bond the joystick to the joystick base permanently.
Step 2: Removing the Joystick From the Super Controller
Pushing one of the plastic tabs outward with your finger pull out the joystick base. You can also try flexing the entire case to separate the two tabs from each other until the joystick base falls out.
Step 3: Choose a Joystick Type
The Super Controller came with two joystick varieties: fat and slim. I prefer the fat one, because it feels more comfortable on my thumb.
Step 4: Begin Tearing Down the NES MAX
Using the small Phillips screwdriver, take out the seven screws on the back of the controller. Remove the back and place it to the side.
Step 5: Removing the Circuit Board
Gently pull upward on the section of cord nearest the controller to separate it from the controller. The circuit board will come out with the cord, set it to the side.
Step 6: Removing the Cycloid
Remove the rubberized conducting resin from the back of the cycloid and place it to the side. Then remove the cycloid.
Step 7: Taking the Cycloid Apart
There are four retaining tabs holding the front of the cycloid to the back. One at a time and GENTLY, push the retaining tabs inward allowing the back to separate from the front. Then, remove the sliding thumb disc; You won't be needing it for this modification.
Step 8: Cutting the Joystick Base to Fit the Cycloid
Place the joystick base into the front piece of the cycloid allowing the two holes to line up with the retaining tabs (see picture). You can see that the joystick base is too wide to fit inside the cycloid.
Now, put on your safety glasses because you're going to cut hard plastic and sharp pieces of plastic could fly toward your eyes. It's time to cut the joystick base to size, but BEFORE CUTTING it's important to know that you don't want to cut off too much! The idea is to cut the joystick base to a size that fits tightly in the center of the cycloid. You might try shaving off a little at a time. Here goes, using the snips (or heavy duty scissors) make a straight cut across the inner most edge of one of the two holes (please see picture). For the second cut, do the same to the opposite side. See the next picture for the third cut, it shows where to line up the snips. For the fourth cut do the same as the third cut, only to the opposite side (you should end up with a piece like I show in the last picture for this step).
Step 9: Grinding Down the Bottom of the Joystick Base
You should now have a joystick base that fits snug in the center of the cycloid, however, the cycloid won't snap back together due to the fulcrum and four raised bumps on the bottom of the joystick.
With your safety glasses on, use the drill (or rotary tool) and conical grinding bit to grind off the fulcrum. Then, continue to grind (or sand) down the four raised bumps until the entire bottom side is flush and even.
Step 10: Put It Back Together
Put the joystick into the cycloid and snap the cycloid back together. Then put the cycloid back into the controller and put the rubberized conductive resin back in place. Place the circuit board and the cord back into the controller. Put the back of the controller on. Using the small Phillips screwdriver, fasten the seven screws to tighten the controller back together.
Step 11: *Optional* Glue the Joystick to the Joystick Base
Pop the joystick out of the joystick base. Then squeeze a very small amount of the two-part epoxy into the bottle cap. Use a toothpick to mix the epoxy together. Then, using the same toothpick, apply a small amount of epoxy to the hole in the joystick base. Also apply some epoxy to the bottom of the joystick. Put the joystick back into the joystick base and hold it in place for 3-5 minutes. Allow the epoxy to cure for 24 hours and then enjoy your creation!