How to make a Wii arcade stick

Win friends with your own arcade-quality joystick

Step 8: Wiring

Pressing buttons on the joystick won’t get you very far in a game. You need some way of enabling the joystick to communicate with the Wii, so you’ll have to sacrifice a classic controller for the greater good. Use a tri-wing screwdriver if you have one, but if not then you could always just drill out the screws - you’re not going to be needing the plastic case or buttons again anyway. You could also use a GameCube controller, which is slightly easier to take apart.

What you’re going to do here is wire your newly constructed joystick to the buttons and D-pad on the classic controller. The buttons in your joystick take two contacts and short them together. So, if you take the two contacts sticking out of each of the buttons and wire them to the two contacts on the CC then the button on your joystick will act in place of the button on the CC.

Why are there only five contacts sticking out of the joystick? Well, that’s because only one of the two wires that each button shorts out is unique - the other is called “ground” or “common” and, as the name implies, is a common wire. When you crack open the CC and look at the printed circuit board (PCB) inside, you’ll notice that the copper traces coming out of the D-pad contacts also have one side in common. Actually, every single button has a common side. You’ll want to wire the common contact from the joystick to the common copper contact. As for the buttons, it doesn’t matter which side you wire to common.

Once you have the PCB out of the case, you’ll find there is nothing to solder to - the contacts are underneath a black substance which you’ll have to scratch off with the tip of a screwdriver. Also pop off the metal covers where the home, plus and minus buttons are, and cut and strip the wires going to the shoulder buttons. You should now see a bunch of nice places to solder. Solder the wires onto the PCB and then the other end onto the buttons on your joystick and you’re done. Now wipe away that tear in your eye and play.

How to solder

If you’re not confident with soldering then it might be a good idea to get help from somebody more experienced. This particular job isn’t hard - soldering parts as large as the contacts on this joystick is very simple.

First, you should “tin” the ends of the wires and the contact pads where you’re going to attach them, by applying a small blob of solder to each one.

Then hold the tinned wire to the appropriate tinned contact point and heat the joint until the solder flows. It takes seconds - avoid applying too much heat to the circuit board. And that’s all there is to it.