I’m sure in the world of video games, the greatest and most powerful thing about the Personal Computer is it’s versatility. You can use your mouse and keyboard, buy a controller, plug in a fight stick, get super expensive flight sticks, hook up some virtual reality mumbo-jumbo, but hey, nothing quite beats building yourself a custom joystick, with the buttons where you want them, in the colors and design that you want. We live in a world where people are all shapes and sizes, and my wife happens to require a little bit of customization if she’s going to interact with a computer device, thus, a very large and unwieldy Super Nintendo controller was needed.
I started by going to the internet to purchase some equipment that I’d definitely need made by someone other than me. Luckily, my associate Dr. Plague and I had been discussing building custom cabinets and such for awhile now, so, it wasn’t too difficult to put together that I needed a joystick and a few buttons. Luckily, buttons aren’t super difficult to find, and with a little bit of effort, you can actually find combinations of joysticks and buttons that are sold in packs so that you can build custom cabinets with ease.
Personally, I grabbed a set of cheap parts from Amazon (here’s the Link) so that while I was doing something for the first time, if I butchered anything, I wouldn’t be out a bunch of money or annoyed I wrecked anything.
Next thing I did was drive to my local big-box hardware store and look at wood. You’re gonna want to know what you want when you get there, because nobody in the store can help you. You might have less need for large, sturdy computer devices than I or my wife do, but, we’re hard on our equipment, so she’s got a half-inch thick box, made of medium density fiber board (MDF) and particle board. Honestly, the reason we went with particle board was price, as I’m notoriously cheap, so, I wanted to get this thing together as fast as possible for as little as possible. If I was going to rebuild it, it would entirely be done in MDF, as that’s a bit nicer.
I knew my holes were 30mm for the standard buttons, and 24 mm for the smaller buttons (that ended up being used for Start and Select), and, while a bunch of people suggest using a spade bit, I think that’s a load of hot trash. I used a hole saw and it worked great, but I’ve heard that Forstner Bits work well too. No matter what you use, I suggest clamping a second piece of wood to stop the wood from breaking away on the other side. You want clean holes. Another option is drilling about halfway through on both sides to maintain those clean edges, either way, you want to keep it as clean as possible, especially if you’re using thick wood and won’t have anything actually keeping the buttons in, as in my case.
This is a piece of MDF on top of regular particle board. You can see the quality difference.
I did a little check to make sure all my buttons would fit, and most importantly, made sure that my joystick would click all 4 buttons while centered in it’s hole. I used a 24mm hole for the joystick, but, I only did because I already had it out for the smaller buttons, you can get away with a 30mm hole for it if you only want to drill with one size saw/bit.
Next up was painting, and we just grabbed a can of spray paint and went to town.
Once your boards dry, you’re ready for assembly. The whole mathematics of a box thing is slightly confusing to me, but, no matter what I did, my box ended up being awkwardly sized, so I had to re-cut my side pieces to make sure it fit together. I just figured it out after awhile, but, for those of you who aren’t mathematically inclined, here’s a link to instructions on how to build a box. (This would have helped me out, honestly.)
So, with the whole box portion out of the way, I turned my attention towards the top, where the buttons come through. The only real major things to consider are getting screws that are going to catch enough wood to hold, and not poke through the top side of your box. You can find screws in your local hardware store. The setup I purchased was VERY user friendly, but, because of the build, I had to do some wire cutting and splicing, which, is much more simple than one would normally imagine. It’s just chopping wires in half, stripping back the plastic, and then taping the two wires on top of each other. Electricity is basically magic, so, as long as the two exposed wires are touching and you cover it all in electrical tape, you can keep the Zeus juice inside the wire.
After all that work, I just nailed the top of the box down, and made sure to only use wood glue on one side, because… Y’know, sometimes you just forget to wood glue everything, but as long as the nails are holding it together, that’s fine.
After that, it was ready for use!
She’s in the process of playing Earthbound for the first time, and, she’s enjoying it. About to finish Giant’s step at the time of the article. Heck, maybe I’ll get her to review Earthbound when she’s done.
I don’t have anything to link you to here, so… watch this funny video!
Disclosure: I received no money for making this controller for my wife.
Developed/Published by: The SNERDAPERDS
If you’ve never heard of Earthbound, you’re missing out on a classic!