How to destroy your PS3 controller

Sometimes, we all feel a bit adventurous when it comes to DIY. You know the logic - 'I'm an intelligent twenty-something man - why shouldn't I be able to fix a broken gadget?' However, thoughts like this almost always precede a trip to the shops to buy a replacement for said gadget.

It seems consoles and their peripherals are just like modern cars. In the past, you could open them up and see what's going wrong - these days you're just met with alien components and bewilderment. But that just made me more determined than ever to fix my broken DualShock 3.

I imported said DualShock when PS3 finally got rumble in the far-off lands of the Far East a couple of years ago. It cost a pretty penny, but it was and still is my favourite PS3 pad. But while playing Formula One Championship Edition over the weekend (I'm getting some practise in for the new Codies game), the car kept shifting down a gear without me asking it to. A closer inspection revealed a very loose-feeling L2 button. Time for some DIY.

Above: Apologies for the lens flare - it wasn't a very exciting picture so I sexed it up a bit

Upon turning it over, I discovered to my utmost surprise, the thing has normal Phillips screws to hold it together. Usually, you're met with security screws that stop you doing anything to the unit without some magical tool that's only available to hardcore modders, repair centre employees and Valiente-level witches. So in I went. Out came the five screws, and then (with a little mob-style 'persuasion') the thing came apart. And stuff fell out everywhere.

Turns out the joypad is designed to be held together by its own casing. The shoulder buttons have loose bits of plastic and no real seating, and the battery is pretty much loose over the top of the PCB. My immediate thought was 'gak!', which roughly translates as 'Oh, sweet Jebus, what have I done?!' but takes less time to say.

But after a little nosing about, I discovered the problem - a tiny piece of wire coiled once to make a spring, which was coiled slightly too far to function correctly. So I took it out and tried to bend it a little. Immediately, it broke in my hands with a cute little 'clink'. Damn. Well, I suppose that was the bit that was broken anyway, so it's no great loss...

Above: Stupid coiled spring that is really springy until you actually need to bend it

So, rather than give in at this stage and take the pad for repair, I rummaged around and found one of my old Sixaxis pads. Five screws and more gentle persuasion later, it was open on the floor with its insides everywhere. And there, accompanied by angelic 'aaaahs', I saw it - the same coil of wire, which fitted in the same way.

Above: Oh, really? You thought so too? Well, I am considering becoming a hand model...

Whoever puts these things together in Japan is extremely dextrous with their fingers. Trying to keep the tiny metal axle in place with the spring above the saddle while simultaniously aligning two loose pieces of plastic is ridiculously hard. And once you've done one, you've got to do the other side without touching the first, all before getting the case back on without disturbing any of the above. It took half an hour just to do this part.

But, in a triumph for twenty-something men everywhere, I prevailed. The case clicked shut. The lights blinked on and then synced to the PS3. All the buttons worked and the rumble was strong. And best of all, the L2 button was firm and responsive. I had won.

But just as the street parade was in full swing and the crowd outside had begun to chant my name, my eyes came to rest on my repaired pad's fallen comrade. It was bleeding heavily but its light were still blinking, trying in vain to sync with a console that no longer knew its name.

Above: Time to meet your maker, Sixaxis. Where's your tilt now? Eh?

'It's OK,' I thought. 'I can still save it'. All I needed to do was replace the spring in the old Sixaxis and I could put it back together. But alas, everything I tried was too thick. And it wouldn't go back together. But then, even when I tried to cut my losses and took the spring out altogether to just click the thing shut, I couldn't. Maybe the design was older, or perhaps I hadn't found the right positions for the shoulder buttons, but it simply wouldn't go back together. I had killed it.

And sadly, that is where the story ends. I saved my beloved DualShock 3, but at what cost? Can I really condone the sacrifice of one life to save another?

Still, you know what they say: Every Sixaxis dies. Not every Sixaxis truly lives.

Above: Perfect! All the bits are back together. Possibly not quite in the same order as they were at the start

Have you tried a DIY console repair that's gone horribly wrong? Let us know in the comments.

22 Jul, 2010

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  • super0sonic - July 25, 2010 7:01 a.m.

    So my Sixaxis trigger was acting up. and i had to go to the store. So i took it apart when walking around the store loss a bit, then made a new bit at home and put it together. still works to this day.
  • AA95mp - July 23, 2010 8:49 p.m.

    i tried fixing m ps3 controller recently nowit's still broken and i cant put it back together.
  • Craza - July 23, 2010 6:56 a.m.

    I remember fumbling with the joystick thingy on an N64 controller when I took it apart to clean it. I put it back together 6 different ways before finally finding the right one. Other than that, I haven't really had to be too investigative with my electronics.
  • top-d - July 22, 2010 4:17 p.m.

    I`ve opened my ps3 3 times to clean the cooling fan due to overheats which was as easy enough but opening the ps3 controller is much more difficult!!!!!
  • reverandglass - July 22, 2010 1:25 p.m.

    I vaguely remember fixing one of my DS3's a while back or maybe just taking it apart to be nosey. I didn't struggle putting it back together though, maybe that's thanks to my girly small hands. Shame I can't do the same with my xbox pads one has a broken A button and the other's battery connetions are dodgey. :(
  • Crofto - July 22, 2010 1:04 p.m.

    Heh, the timing of this is pretty weird since the exact same thing happened to my imported DualShock controller a couple of weeks back. Unfortunately I didn't have another spare controller to steal the flimsy spring from, so tried using a clicky pen spring (to no avail) and then even some foam ripped straight from my PC chair! After about 2 hours I had the trigger in a working condition, but after attempting to get the controller back together several times the mission was a failure. =[ £35 down the crapper just because of a little bloody spring. Seriously!
  • philipshaw - July 22, 2010 9:37 a.m.

    I think my dad tried to fix our PS2 when it broke, he opened it up but when he saw the void warranty sticker he didn't want to touch anything. Only cost us £60 to get it fixed by Sony anyway
  • jakery22 - July 22, 2010 7:55 a.m.

    Attempted to fix my PS3 last night. Following a huge hour long video tutorial. I spent two hours doing it exactly the same way as in the DVD. Time to test it. The DVD's PS3 works just fine, no YLOD. I turn mine on, exactly the same as before. Still got The YLOD. :'(.
  • Brutus - July 22, 2010 4:08 a.m.

    lol recaptcha: fully twenty anyway last time I tried a DiY I was cleaning pudding from my favorite PS1 controller.
  • XSgtShootemupX - July 22, 2010 2:26 a.m.

    Taken apart and upgraded/fixed my computer many times. Tried to do it for a friend... failed miserably. I'm always willing to try and fix broken stuff. Apart from my G25. That's my baby.
  • NinjaJamez - July 22, 2010 1:03 a.m.

    i use to open my ps2 and its dualshock 2 for cleaning, but not for trying to repair stuff
  • PipGirl - July 22, 2010 12:45 a.m.

    I've always wondered what the insides looked like. Never been game enough, nor patient enough to try it though. Great article.
  • Eultima - July 21, 2010 9:22 p.m.

    @banjokazooie *repair* I've never seen such a horrible spelling error lol awesome article! :D
  • joabbuac - July 21, 2010 8:54 p.m.

    I did the exact same thing about a month ago...
  • alexhuzar - July 21, 2010 8:48 p.m.

    I had to repair the Guitar Hero World Tour drumkit due to the snare, blue and green toms not responding. Yeah I unscrewed that bitch and stuck some lolly sticks under the sensors in there. Closed it back up. It worked a charm. Shit was SO cash.
  • QWERTYCommander - July 21, 2010 8:23 p.m.

    I tried to take apart my N64 because it wasn't working correctly, but it used special screws. Fuck you Nintendo. Fuck you and your special screws.
  • Dorito72 - July 21, 2010 6:37 p.m.

    how peculiar. my L2 has gotten pretty loose too. theres no way im trying this though!
  • Clovin64 - July 21, 2010 6:21 p.m.

    I felt really sorry for your sacrificed controller Justin. I think I welled up a bit when reading your heartbreaking account of its final momments. I had a PS2 controller that I had used for years and it had been with me through many great games. I even gave it a name for christs sake. It eventually broke for reasons too complicated to go into here, and I was very sad. I tried to bring it back to life with a spot of DIY. It did not fare well. The most tragic part of this tale? I can't remember the pet name I gave to the controller.
  • crumbdunky - July 21, 2010 5:05 p.m.

    We had a PS2 slim that we used to take EVERYWHERE with it's ageing Trinitron brother for beach, BBQ and camping gaming. WE have both a huge battery pack AND a tiny generator so as long as the PS2 was working we were fine. Let me just say that that must be the most opened console in the history of the world. Sand, burger grease, feathers(?)and a selection of other guff was found to be the culprit for DRE we couldn't blame on Sony on many occasions. Always a big cheer when it started reading SSX though! Got kicked into a MASSIVE puddle at glasto, sadly, a couple of years back(oddly at a pretty dry festi overall but there you go)and is now deceased. Well, I've still got it but it has to be dead this time.
  • miked00d - July 21, 2010 4:54 p.m.

    EXACT same thing happened to me just yesterday. THANK YOU GOD.

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