Arcade joystick part 2: improving the look.

Continuing from the previous post the idea is to improve the box’s visual to make it looks more like what was supposed to be its main functionality. In order to make that happens let’s add in the box’s cover a decal as cool as the standard arcade’s. Let’s also improve the long term quality adding an acrylic cover as a final touch in order to make it looks even better and protect the decal.

Choosing a drawing for the decal

From the very beginning I knew I will choose a drawing based on the best arcade machine made by men:


Now the remaining task is to look for a picture that fits the joystick’s box cover. As one can see in the following image it is quite different from the original arcade.

Searching the net for related images, I ended up using and editing the image bellow:

This image is already edited (rounded corners) and its size was adapted to fit the box cover’s size. The next step is put the image’s file in a flash drive and take it to be printed out in a place that prints the size of the box and using an adhesive and  non-opaque paper.  It is important to point out that 3M makes, at least to the north american market (didn’t find it in Brazil), an adhesive paper that has micro-holes in its surface, really good for making a decal because it prevents bubbles.

Acrylic cover

Buying the acrylic wasn’t hard. Lucky me the shop cut the size I needed based on the measures I provided. Now  the challenge will be make the holes in the acrylic to match the same holes in the MDF cover.

A mold to the cover

After disassembling the cover, taking out the buttons and sanding a little a couple of waves  in the surface, it was the time to make a mold of the cover in order to transfer the holes of the buttons in the MDF to the acrylic. Using six A4 sheets glued together with tape, it was possible to fill all the MDF covers and using a pencil the holes could be drawn through the MDF to the paper.

Cutting the acrylic

A drying hack just like the following was used with two rubber sheets as a workbench to work the acrylic.

The next image features the paper mask over the acrylic during the cut process. It is important to point out the mask was fixed in the acrylic using a scotch tape. The initial cuts in the paper were made with a razor, also used to mark the dimensions in the acrylic. To drill the holes and round the corners in the acrylic a  mini drill was used.

The final assemble

In the end of this process, we only had to apply the decal and mount the acrylic on the top of all. The holes to tight the two sticks, were made using an electric drill after everything was assembled and in place, focusing precisely in the original screw’s hole. In order to avoid the screw head to touch the acrylic it was used some rubber spacers, but could be used nylon spacers instead.

This is the final view of  the updated joystick. There are more upgrades to come to this joystick. These updates will feature in future posts.