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DIY Arcade Sticks for Classic Consoles


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Making your own arcade sticks for home console use is a fun project for many retro gamers. This is particularly true if the console's original controllers are poorly designed or hard to come by. Fortunately, the internet is full of resources for those with little experience with the wiring and soldering required to build an arcade stick. Plus, thanks to the popularity of MAME, there are also several suppliers of quality arcade parts.

Have you built an arcade stick for a classic console? Ever wanted to try? Post pics and experiences here.

Below: My effort at DIY 7800 arcade sticks. The boxes are handmade from wood, buttons are Happ, sticks are IL (Euro-Happ). For the graphics, I went with a "Home Pong" inspired theme and transferred the image to wood. The button wiring was tricky but they work like a charm. If I ever do it again, I'll go for a shorter stick and a wider base. These have been my "go to" 2600/7800 sticks for almost a year.






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AtariLBC, those are incredible! The finishing on them makes them look so well done. When I first saw the pics I thought "these look wireless?" I love what you did with the 9-pin connectors. You may have just inspired me to start my own project.

Thanks, D.S.! I hope that you give making your own sticks a try. If you do, please share! :)

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While I'd prefer to play on real actual hardware and using real carts, I love using emulators to play games that I don't have. What I don't like about emulators is that I can't use the actual controllers. Something just isn't right playin a 2600 game with a logitech usb controller.

So what I did was build this.


this is my bluetooth atari 2600 controller.

The red button on the side is to re pair the controller to other devices and the black one is a game reset button.


I also installed a db9 connector on the side.


with this port, I attach a db9 cable to that port and attach the other end into an actual 2600 unit so I'm still able to use as a stock controller. The original cable that was on this controller went bad and that's why I used this controlder for this project. Not only can I use the db9 connector as an output port, but I can also use it as an input as well. So I did this.



I had to rewire the nes and genesis controllers. I'm able to plug those external controllers in and use the internal bluetooth circuitry of the 2600 controller. So I could use this with a genesis and nes emu later as well.

The controller also has a rechargeable battery. That's why theres a usb port on the side of it as well. Maybe soon Ill do a demo video if the controller in action!

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Sorry it took a minute to post back. The wiring for the 7800 stick goes like this:


Pin 1 = Up

Pin 2 = Down

Pin 3 = Left

Pin 4 = Right

Pin 5 = Right button

Pin 6 = Both buttons (for 2600 games)

Pin 7 = Not used

Pin 8 = Ground

Pin 9 = Left Button




If you haven't done this before, when wiring the stick it's important to think about how the actuator makes contact with the microswitches. Everything is wired in reverse. For example, (looking top down) when you push the joystick in the up direction, the actuator is hitting the bottom microswitch. Likewise if you push the joystick left, the actuator hits the microswitch to the right.


The 7800 buttons use 620 ohm resistors to maintain 2600 compatibility on 2600 games and independent two button control on 7800 games. To get mine to work correctly I ran separate ground wires w/ resistors from each button to pin 8 instead of including them in the daisy chain with the joystick ground. I also added diodes inline from pins 5 and 9 to their respective microswitches. I'm a total novice so there was a lot of trial and error but I had fun with it.


Here is an open bottom pic. It's tight in there and a bit of a rat's nest, but she's worked solid for a year. Heat shrink is your friend.



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That looks like really great work. What inspired you to build this @atarilbc? How did you decide on IL buttons?

Thanks, Zontar!


I decided to build these after getting into 7800 gaming and being frustrated by both the Proline and the Europad. I also went through a handful of 2600 controlled with brittle plastic. I thought that a stick made with arcade parts would solve the issue. It has! Plus, I have a garage now and wanted to get into woodworking just as a hobby. I hadn't done any woodworking since 7th grade shop class but remembered liking it. This was kinda my start.


I went with Happ buttons because I personally like concave push buttons vs. convex. It just seems more old school to me. I went with IL joysticks because the build quality is better than the Happ model. I started with a Happ Competition and it was a real let down so on my second stick I tried the IL. The difference was unbelievable so ended up ordering a second. The ILs are built in Spain and have a white nylon actuator (not pictured) and Cherry microswitches. The sticks feel more responsive and hit diagonals much more reliably than the Happ.

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