custom controller project

Making your favorite controller work on your favorite system

Here's the story: I've been playing a good amount of Capcom vs. SNK 2 on PlayStation 2, and lamenting the decidedly non-Street-Fighter-friendly design of Sony's Dual Shock 2 controller. Now, it's not a bad controller by any means. It's perfectly suited to, say, Devil May Cry or your RPG of choice. But when it comes to Street Fighter, I really missed the 3x2 button layout and smooth directional rocker of the 6-button Sega Genesis controller. So after a couple of visits to GameSX and Atari Labs, excellent video game tech sites, I set out to see if I could conjure up some way to be able to use my old Gen pad. My new custom pad and this page are the result. Keep in mind that this technique should work with pretty much any controllers that have chips in them. Controllers without chips can be modded much more simply. Also keep in mind that I had no idea what I was doing when I made this monster, and that there are probably more elegant solutions. Here we go!


One six-button Sega Genesis controller, one regular Playstation controller. Please pardon the awful photos. Also, old soldering iron I found in my garage, solder, electrical tape, scissors, crappy wire stripper that came with my speaker wire, kitchen knife.


This is what the Gen controller looks like inside. The PSX controller is similar, but more complicated, and it has little black "bridges" that allow lines to pass over one another. I'd include a pic of the PSX pad, but I used the last normal one I had in this project. We're interested in the little green "wires" that are coming off the buttons. The main operation here is soldering wires onto those green lines. So, the first thing I did was chop the cable off the Gen pad and pull all the little colored wires out of it. You need a wire for each button, plus one for the common line, so I actually had to cut the cord in half to get enough wires. Then I cut the little L and R board thingies off the PSX controller(sadly I wasn't going to be able to preserve the functionality of this controller, though it is possible to do so).


Once you've got your insides ready, you find the lines you need. There will be one line that connects to every button contact, and that's the common line. When the line for a button is connected to the common line, it changes the voltage going through that line, and the game knows you've hit the button. The idea is to take Gen button presses and send them to the PSX pad's chip and down the line to the game. Here's the series of events: First, the system sends a voltage down the common line of the PSX pad. It reaches the wire we have stuck on the PSX pad's common line, and proceeds to the Gen pad's common line. There it is connected to the Gen pad's Z line when we hit the Z button. Now the voltage meets the wire we've stuck on the Gen pad's Z line and goes to the PSX pad's Triangle button line(or whatever button you want Z to correspond to). This voltage reaches the PSX controller's chip which goes, "Aha! Someone has hit Triangle!", and tells the PSX (or PS2 *^_^*). So you just need to connect all that stuff together and it'll work!


Okay, so you want to find some good spots to solder your wires. Find a good spot along the line you're using, where the wire won't interfere with the others. The PSX controller already has some solder points cleared for use, and I used some of them, but a few were too close together and I made my own. You can scrape the green stuff off with a sharp metal item(I used a kitchen knife my mom gave me for cooking at school; I'm ghetto) and reveal the copper surface to make solder points. Once you have all the wires soldered on one controller, do them on the other one. Keep a list of what color wire belongs to what button. Of course, too much solder means your connections might cross, and too little makes for weak seals. Also, don't strip too much off the wires, and cut them to the exact length they need to be to reach the solder points; I messed this up, and now my wires cross each other all the time. Secure the wires into a big cable with electrical tape.


Once all that stuff is connected, you're pretty much done. Carefully put the casing back on the Gen pad(or whatever pad you're using). Test it out and see if all the buttons work. Sometimes a button won't work, and you'll have to check the soldering. Sometimes hitting one button activates another, and that usually means you have a cross. Once it's all done, you can make a cool enclosure for the PSX guts so they don't get busticated while you're roughing people up in your game of choice. Mine's made of Legos. I think that does it. If you've any questions, or if you want to show me your own project, email me: jet fuel at metal bat dot com.


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