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Arcade Stick Buildlog: Part 1

So I’ve started building a new arcade stick. Why? Mostly because I’m not that satisfied with my 1st one.

A while ago I decided that I wanted to build an arcade stick for myself, mostly to get that rich, arcade-y goodness in the comfort of my home.

I modified a Mayflash PS2/PS3/PC stick with a Seimitsu LS32 stick and PS14KN buttons. Also added art and an acrylic faceplate that I cut myself.

Why Mayflash and not TE? Because I play PS2 games and everybody mods TEs.

Modified Mayflash

Modified Mayflash

Rocking the Touhou art, as you can see, IaMP style. Also added LEDs that light on button press.

LED activation

It lights up!

It’s a good stick, but alas, there are also quite a few things that I’m not too satisfied with. Namely the wiring inside. Also, I’m not really satisfied with the LED circuit.

Wires everywhere!

Wires everywhere!

So… it’s been a while and now I want to try my hand at a new stick. But this time, I wanted to build the thing from scratch.

So lurking on SRK, I saw this one design that I really liked made out of black acrylic. The guy said that he had it made, but I figured that it wouldn’t be too hard to make it yourself.

The general idea is to take a big sheet of black acrylic and to heat the edges and make a sort of U-shape (more like a square bracket, though). Then, take wood blocks to make that shape into an open box. Then, put a bottom on the box and you have your arcade stick.

Something like this (forgive my awesome ASCII art):

”””””””””””’            ->              |””””””””””’|            ->              |”””””””””’|

The stick itself will have the same Seimitsu LS32 and PK14KN buttons as my last stick. I also plan to stick a MC Cthulhu in there and then dual-mod it for 360 use (just for fun). Of course, the whole thing will light up.

So, I ordered some sheets of 1/8″ black acrylic and clear acrylic and measured them out and cut them.

Measuring Acrylic

Measuring Acrylic

You can see my cutting gear below, which consists primarily of a Dremel Oscillating Tool and a bunch of phone books.

Cutting gear

Cutting gear

The Oscillating Tool is actually really nice for this kind of thing since it doesn’t generate much dust.

I used to use my normal Dremel, but it created a whole bunch of toxic dust and the heat created bunches of melted plastic along the edges.

I also used the tool as a power sander to help straighten the edges.

Cutting the acrylic

Cutting the acrylic

Then, it’s time to go inside and wet sand the edges until they’re all nice and smooth. Here’s a pic of the fully cut piece of acrylic. Note that the top and right edges are still kinda uneven.

Cut piece of black acrylic

Cut piece of black acrylic

Sanding is pretty straightforward, I just started with 120grit sandpaper and worked my way down to 600grit sandpaper. Using a sanding block is pretty much necessary.

Sanding the edges

Sanding the edges

Well, there are two things that I like to do while sanding.

First, to ensure a comfortable playing surface, I like to bevel the edges by also sanding at a 30-45 degree angle. This is especially important for the bottom edges where your wrists lie.

Beveling the edges

Beveling the edges

The other thing I like to do is to round off the corners by sanding away at them.

Rounding off the corners

Rounding off the corners

While you’re doing the sanding, make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. The dust that acrylic makes is toxic, after all. I was definitely getting light-headed after the first hour or so. It’s also surprisingly exerting, so that might’ve been why.

Although I only show the black acrylic sheet, I also followed pretty much the exact same procedures for my clear acrylic faceplate.

Next is to measure out the “legs’ of the main body and use heat to fold them into a U-shape. I marked out lines roughly 1.75” away from the edge lengthwise with a china marker. Those are the lines where the acrylic will bend and make the legs of the U (or square bracket).

Measuring out the main "legs"

Measuring out the main "legs"

Now here’s where it gets tricky (at least for me it did). Acrylic becomes soft enough to bend once heated to a certain temperature. So, by heating the acrylic at certain points, I should be able to bend the sheet into a U shape.

My first plan was to use my stove as a heat source. Put on high, hold the acrylic close to it, and then bend it into shape once it’s soft enough.

I did some small-scale tests on pieces of scrap acrylic I had, and it worked perfectly.

Small-scale Test

Small-scale Test

Well, after some practice I got it to work perfectly anyway. The trick is to be careful not to hold it either too closely or for too long, or the acrylic will start to bubble and/or melt. Not good.

Acrylic Bubbling

Acrylic Bubbling

The other thing to be careful for is to make sure to bend the edge with some sort of straight edge. If you try to bend it by hand, the bend will very likely be uneven. I used a plank of wood and a yardstick while bending the acrylic to ensure that the bend was straight.

So I tried bending the main sheet of black acrylic using the stove, but it turns out that the surface area of the stove simply isn’t long enough to heat the entire leg part evenly.

I tried anyway, and I heard a nice “crack!” as I tried to bend one of the legs.

(T_TT )

So I re-did the entire process and made another main body. This time, I made a strip heater using a $4 toaster oven from Goodwill and some scrap metal and wood.

Here’s the instructable I used.

Be really careful with this thing though, although the heating elements are insulated, the connections aren’t, so you run the very real risk of shocking yourself since you’re using the mains to power the heater!

Using a strip heater was much easier, since it evenly heated the whole line that I was going to fold. Though, it does take some time for it to heat up. You’ll kinda see the acrylic flop a bit when it’s ready.

It takes some practice to get used to it, so make sure to practice on plenty of scrap acrylic!

Here’s the bent main body:

Finished Main Body

Finished Main Body

And here’s the acrylic faceplate on top of the main body:

Faceplate + Main Body

Faceplate + Main Body

The hardest part, of course, is choosing and making the art for the stick.

I stole this from moe.imouto.org and edited it a bit:

Arcade Art - original

Arcade Art - original

Still rockin’ the Touhou, of course, despite my friend’s insistence on making a Nanoha stick. (He made a really nice Mayflash mod like mine feat. Shuffle!, btw). I couldn’t find a NanoFate picture that jumped out at me though…

Here’s a shot with the art in:

Main Body + Faceplate + Art

Main Body + Faceplate + Art

Art was printed at Kinko’s on matte paper.

Next step is to use templates stolen from slagcoin to determine exactly where to cut holes in the art.

I used the Astro City template since that was the primary machine at Arcade UFO in Austin, except that I moved the joystick hole to its alternate position further right since I hold the stick wineglass-style and my fingers tend to hit my right hand sometimes.

Figuring out button position

Figuring out button position

Hole-cutting template

Hole-cutting template


There’s not much to say except to go slow and use a sharp x-acto knife. I also saved the cutout circles since I’m going to use them later in my buttons.

Holes cut in art

Holes cut in art

Next step is to clamp down the faceplate and main body and mark holes for cutting later. I’m not sure whether or not I should cut through the faceplate and the main body at the same time or do it separately.

Faceplate taped to main body

Faceplate taped to main body

I plan to use the art itself as a template for marking where the hole saw should go. To mark the acrylic without scratching it, use a china marker.

Holey art + Faceplate = Main Body

Holey art + Faceplate = Main Body

Next Episode:

Drilling is a man’s romance!

Believe in the me that believes in your holesaw!

Cut that shit!

Next time on Arcade Stick Buildlog: Part 2!

Biribiri!

Posted in Buildlog.

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23 Responses

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  1. Rick says

    Ohh i wanted to ask wht is a Terminal Strips and Organization????
    and is it required????? if i want to make a Arcade stick?????

  2. Rick says

    or can u send me a link to Buttons and arcade stick u recommend for beginners i dont mind if it Requires Soldering work??? I want to Learn:)

  3. Rick says

    Or how about this one http://www.xgaming.com/store/arcade-parts-and-accessories/product/arcade-parts-bundle-2-joysticks-20-buttons/
    or wht would u recommend???

  4. The Bonkler says

    What kind of stick are you planning to make? A stick for 1 player? 2 players?

    For parts, there are a lot of choices, and there isn’t really a “right” or “wrong” one. I’d suggest personally the Tournament Edition parts (Sanwa OBSF-30 buttons and Sanwa JLF joystick). But if you want a bat top, I’d suggest that Happ joystick and Sanwa buttons.

    Nowadays, people mostly play on Sanwa parts, but US arcades use Happ parts, so that’s why a lot of people like using them (like MvC2 players for instance).

    If you’re going for a joystick, I’d suggest looking at layouts to get an idea.

    http://www.slagcoin.com/joystick/layout.html

    I’m not sure why you need 4 joysticks and 18 buttons, in my opinion, don’t bother trying to get every single stick and button on your arcade stick. Especially not sticks, a 2nd stick is kinda useless unless you’re doing a 2 player stick.

  5. Rick says

    Hey How is it Going Iam Making 3 One Player arcade Sticks:) one for me one for my brother and friend wii,xbox,ps3

    thts y i was asking if i can use the Buttons and stick
    http://www.xgaming.com/store/arcade-parts-and-accessories/product/arcade-parts-bundle-2-joysticks-20-buttons/

    I play alot of Fighting Games iam trying too spend the Least amount of money on the Parts?? since its my forst time building one:)

    yeahh as for the layout i already got it planned out like this
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://mk.ediko.net/pics/mk3_umk3_arc_layout.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.mksecrets.net/forums/eng/viewtopic.php%3Ff%3D2%26t%3D4213&usg=__xPwgEUSt2dpuIJm2jmY9-YQHjqg=&h=332&w=848&sz=59&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=iRhL6KZUYTQEkM:&tbnh=67&tbnw=172&ei=JYg3TafnJJPksQOX5r2FAw&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dumk3%2Blayout%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1T4RNSN_enUS391US391%26biw%3D1345%26bih%3D532%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=701&vpy=100&dur=171&hovh=140&hovw=359&tx=145&ty=53&oei=JYg3TafnJJPksQOX5r2FAw&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=19&ved=1t:429,r:4,s:0

    and for the Ps3 like this http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.slagcoin.com/joystick/layout/cluster36_s.png&imgrefurl=http://www.slagcoin.com/joystick/layout.html&usg=__Rf4TeB_T5jGpsvTEiW47kUmijhE=&h=317&w=640&sz=57&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=dQLq4aUVAm05mM:&tbnh=89&tbnw=180&ei=a4g3TfuqMJCisAPRn5z_Ag&prev=/images%3Fq%3DArcade%2Blayout%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1T4RNSN_enUS391US391%26biw%3D1345%26bih%3D532%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=343&oei=a4g3TfuqMJCisAPRn5z_Ag&esq=1&page=1&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:8,s:0&tx=151&ty=42

    and wii like this http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v60/BustaUppa/Blog/layout360.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.cheapassgamer.com/forums/blog.php%3Fb%3D5985&usg=__kW5pALOXWe5tSjlyUjtk__di2pQ=&h=549&w=777&sz=42&hl=en&start=44&zoom=1&tbnid=oPlYDgGar_FXnM:&tbnh=104&tbnw=147&ei=iog3Tf6yO4-WsgOc78j9Ag&prev=/images%3Fq%3DArcade%2Blayout%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1T4RNSN_enUS391US391%26biw%3D1345%26bih%3D532%26tbs%3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=328&oei=a4g3TfuqMJCisAPRn5z_Ag&esq=3&page=3&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:20,s:44&tx=63&ty=65

    Dont worry iam not going to Put all the Buttons and stick one on Arcade Stick i got it all Planed??

    thts y i asked if any arcade stick?? and Button??? can be hooked up and Set up Like for any System Controller???

    Wht are the Strips for??

  6. Rick says

    Sorry i ment to say Terminal Strips and Organization??

    Wht is the best way to take off HotGlue from the Pcb Board???

  7. The Bonkler says

    I have heard not-too-good things about the X-Arcade parts. So I’m not sure about using them.

    I’d suggest using Happ or Sanwa (or Seimitsu) parts. Might cost you more though.

    For taking off hot glue, I find it easiest just to try to peel it off, lol. I usually just use my fingers or a really small flathead screwdriver.

    So terminal strips are nice for organizing stuff. As you can see:

    http://www.wiringproducts.com/contents/media/30a_terminal_block.jpg

    It lets you connect wires without soldering. It also lets you cleanly split wires (turn one wire into 3 or so), which is helpful for the ground connections.

  8. Rick says

    ok thanks can u check this Pics and tell me if iam soldering the wire Right or if used to Much solder?? Soldering PCB Board is a little More Difficult then I thought the wire Keeps Moving away when i try solder it and the Solder wont stay attached to the PCb Board???

    Can u give me some advice iam Using my Xbox PCB Board for Practice

  9. Rick says

    Hey can u please check my Pics if Iam soldering right cause soldering a PCB Board is not easy as it looks http://s1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd386/UltimateGuyverx/

    can u please tell me wht is the Proper way in soldering this PCB

  10. The Bonkler says

    Looks like there’s a bit too much solder and your wire gauge might be a bit too thick. But that’s just nitpicking, I think it’s fine.

    Try tugging at it gently and see if it’s secure, if it is, that’s a good enough solder joint.

    Here’s my process for soldering:

    1. Tin your soldering tip by melting solder over it. (Do this every so often, it keeps your tip working and makes it last longer)

    2. Tin the wire you’re gonna use by melting solder over it with the iron.

    3. Prepare the surface you’re going to be soldering by scratching it a bit to expose the copper underneath.

    4. Place the wire on the surface, solder it by using your iron and a bit more solder.

    Most important thing is to always make sure that your tip is tinned.

    I also find it helpful to have some needlenose pliers and a small flathead screwdriver around to hold wire, probe joints, etc.

  11. Rick says

    Hello the wire iam using is solid:( AWG 22 gauge Wht is the Rosin Solder Flux for??? and would u Recommend it??? and how do u use it??? cause iam Having problems Soldering the wire:(

    Someone told me i had scratch of the PCB Board contacts untill i see Silver but i think i over did it so i can solder them???:(

  12. Rick says

    i will send u pics later:(

  13. Rick says

    i saa this thing also but do i need it its really expensive and small:(
    http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062721

  14. Rick says

    Hey Stupid question for u again how do i use the Multimeter??? Find the ground connection on a game controller and the Pad signal???
    i cant figured it out:( its diffucult

    i mean for example i want to map this out like this so i know wht signal is wht
    http://www.youtube.com/user/esLangvin#p/u/9/b7UpJQ9Be2k

  15. Rick says

    when i said signal i ment to say buttons so i can find the signal for each button tthen ill know were to solder the wire directly:(

  16. Rick says

    hello here are the pics when i scratch the contact pads of untill i see silver
    http://s1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd386/UltimateGuyverx/?start=all

    I mean the d pad has like some sort of Metal lines attached to the pcb Board when I scratch them odd they seem like Thin Foil or some sort of elctric thin Line

  17. Rick says

    this is the multimeter i have:(
    the manual doesnt show how to use it:(
    http://www.harborfreight.com/7-function-multimeter-98025.html

  18. Rick says

    Hello the wire iam using is solid:( AWG 22 gauge Wht is the Rosin Solder Flux for??? and would u Recommend it??? and how do u use it??? cause iam Having problems Soldering the wire:(

    Someone told me i had scratch of the PCB Board contacts untill i see Silver but i think i over did it so i can solder them???:(

    Rick says:
    January 22, 2011 at 11:06 pm
    i will send u pics later:(

    Rick says:
    January 22, 2011 at 11:09 pm
    i saa this thing also but do i need it its really expensive and small:(
    http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062721

    Rick says:
    January 23, 2011 at 2:02 am
    Hey Stupid question for u again how do i use the Multimeter??? Find the ground connection on a game controller and the Pad signal???
    i cant figured it out:( its diffucult

    i mean for example i want to map this out like this so i know wht signal is wht
    http://www.youtube.com/user/esLangvin#p/u/9/b7UpJQ9Be2k

    Rick says:
    January 23, 2011 at 2:03 am
    when i said signal i ment to say buttons so i can find the signal for each button tthen ill know were to solder the wire directly:(

    Rick says:
    January 23, 2011 at 9:00 am
    hello here are the pics when i scratch the contact pads of untill i see silver
    http://s1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd386/UltimateGuyverx/?start=all

    I mean the d pad has like some sort of Metal lines attached to the pcb Board when I scratch them odd they seem like Thin Foil or some sort of elctric thin Line

    Rick says:
    January 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm
    this is the multimeter i have:(
    the manual doesnt show how to use it:(
    http://www.harborfreight.com/7-function-multimeter-98025.html

  19. Rick says

    Hey Just Ignore everything i said i figured out how to solder the Proper way
    my Problem was i was Using the wrong type of solder and i wasnt tinning the tip properly on my Soldering iron stupid me:(

    any way Iam using a Spare sanwa Button i have and i solder 2 wires to to each action button and now there worinkg fine every time i Click it using the arcade Button:)

    Now I solder 1 wire to the d pad directions and the Start Buton and select button??? but when i use the sanwa arcade button i have it wont respond when i push the button??:(

    now My question how do i test d-pad?? and start?? and Select??? to see if its working when i solder
    the wire already

  20. Rick says

    Hello how do i fix this:( iam half way done with my arcade stick

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