Making an arcade joystick.

First of all I’d like to thank the one who deserves it for all the help. Thank you my friend  Fábio Lutz for helping me doing almost all the wood working and helping me to understand and learn how to use an Autocad. Backing to the project, the main idea is basically what the title says, my intention in the very begining was to put an embedded PC inside it and connect it on a TV. The embedded stuff I will do in a next project. For now only the joystick, in this version here it is running SDLmame in a Gentoo Linux. I will try to show the steps.

Initial thoughts

My thought is to make a joystick to play all or most of games that make use of this kind of Joystick (a stick and as many buttons I can put on it). In order to do so I believe two sticks and eight buttons for stick might do the trick. Of course to make things even cooler, I will add buttons for player selection and buttons to simulate coin insertion.

Buying the materials for the arcade

After a little search about arcade and kinds of materials (there are a lot of information spread in the net and in all flavors), I ended with the following idea, to use Happ’s Joysticks and buttons. In this case, a Happ Competition Joystick and convex buttons. These all can be acquired and negotiated via e-bay, typing  something like “HAPP  BUTTONS JOYSTICKS”  in the search. After that you just have to deal with the seller.

List of used materials:

  • 2 pc joysticks playstation style.
  • 1/2 plate of MDF without texture.
  • A lot of wires (I picket mine from 4-way network cable).
  • 1 USB hub.
  • 3  12-wire conector.
  • 2 Happ Competition’s joysticks and buttons.
  • Hinges for the cover of the box.
  • Contact glue.
  • Wood rasp.
  • Hammer.
  • A drill with hole saw cutter..
  • Wood saw.
  • Wood nails.
  • Ink.
  • Varnish.
  • Border tape.

Steps to mount.

Adapting PC’s Joysticks.

I had bought for almost nothing in DX 2 PC USB joysticks. In the following image they are already took a part and all the wires are soldered.


Making the Joystick’s cover.

Starting from autocad’s project, when I defined the size and shape of the joystick, we just needed to use the wood rasp, the wood saw ( or a jigsaw ) and the drill with a hole saw cutter to make the top cover.


Assembling the remaining of the box.

Here we also just followed the project and assembled the box. As I did not want to embed a hole PC (this was a pre-raspberry pi project) inside the box the project wasn’t a 100% followed and adaptations were made to reduce the overall size. Assembling the box was basically put all parts together and nail’em. As nothing in the world is perfect,  two PC guys with a wood saw are no exception, it was necessary a  paste that ressembles  “plaster” in a wall.


With the cover on.

Without the hinges, just standing still for a shot.


Box 100% assembled.

This was a critical moment for the project becase the size of the box, even being projected and known, scared us a lot when was ready. The box spent the night in the side of my living room’s home theather when I was thinking how to tell the wife what does this stuff was for and where it would be stored inside our apartment (this step never was planed, huge flaw).

Appling the base ink.

Initial painting in the MDF with and ink used as base (I suggest one bought for this purpose, I used a normal ink and I had to use a lot of ink because of this ). Note, if you live in an apartment like me and do this in an empty room, like I did, you might end up “stoned” due the smell.


Painted , varnished, with the stick and buttons.

All assembled, unfortunally internally the box was still empty (in the middle of my living room).


Still in the living room, rear view.


Another angle, showing that there is still no border tape in the cover.


Adding the electric part.

With the stick and buttons wired, connected int the wire connectors.


Joystick boards assembled and screweds in the box, connected to the USB HUB (the ideal would use just a two port USB-HUB).



Image with the top cover opened where we can see the wire as an “spaghetti” due to my lazyness to not hold them together.



Working, with the border tape in the cover. Once again, still for a shot.


Another photo, side view (please excuse the mess).


Photo showing the connection to my PC.



An image of this project in Autocad WS (now it is called Autocad 360).



In order to make this joystick I took as base a diagram for buttons placement found in Portal Versus.

Regarding the project file I did not put to download because Autocad 360 does not have an export option . Those who really have interest may contact-me and I will be glad to share this project. By the way, as mentioned before, the project’s file results in a box slightly bigger than this one in the page. It is necessary some adaptation to have it in smaller sizes, but it serve as a starting point.