MadCatz Dreampad pcb questions

I have been looking into hacking a Dreampad pcb and finally went ahead and ordered one. I ordered this one off amazon: Mad Catz Dream Pad: Video Games

Well I heard they were common ground and easy to hack due to the soldering holes in the pcb and have been looking into the pcb diagrams. Imagine my surprise when I open the controller and it looks nothing like the diagrams I have seen.

Does anyone have any advice or diagrams for this PCB? How to I find the grounds or even if it is common ground? Sorry, this is my first attempt at pcb mods and this really threw me off when it wasn’t what I was expecting.

I had the grey version of this same pad until recently…

They were produced in at least 3-4 colors over the very short lifetime of the Dreamcast – solid grey (original), transparent green, transparent red, and transparent blue. Might have showed up in at least two other colors. I think I recall that Transparent Black/Charcoal was made, too.

I asked the same question you did about “common ground” around 2 years ago… I was told the PCB was NOT common ground by people who are authorities.

The pad is definitely worth keeping for parts. Doubt you’ll be able to sell it as-is because A) a lot of people here want easy, all-in-one PCB solutions and HATE soldering to small button/directional pad points on vintage PCB’s; B) the Mad Catz brand name still means mud to a bunch of people who bought their product and feel like they got burned when their joypads broke; and C) there are newer production PCB’s and Agetec Joystick PCB’s that are easier to work with (much less to NO SOLDERING required) for Dreamcast joystick projects.

The PCB could still be used for a Dreamcast joystick – just not an easy multi-console project. The VMU slot is certainly good for a joystick although I wouldn’t recommend using a Jump/Tremor Pak if you do incorporate the PCB and the VMU case slot into a joystick base. Vibration was abandoned for joysticks because A) the larger, heavier joystick bases tend to nullify vibrations; and B) long run, vibration feedback may not be good for stick parts. There were joysticks built with vibration built in PS1/PS2 era but that option’s been abandoned since.

At the very least, the controller cord is worth keeping for a Multi-Console PCB like the MC Cthulu. It has a nice 6+ foot length and can easily be prepped with an RJ-45 adapter head and Ethernet boot.

The advantage that your Mad Catz PCB, the Agetec Joystick PCB, or the DreamsPCB has over the MC Cthulu is that they have direct VMU support. MC Cthulu does not support VMU…

I’m looking at the DreamsPCB now. I’m guessing you mean the one from but I can’t find it. I only see articles about it coming out soon. Do you know where I can find this at? Sounds interesting.

The dreampads really are an inconsistent crapshoot. There is a common ground versions but guess what, there are no exterior visual markings to identify which ones are common ground.

My guess is that they have had at least 4 revisions of PCBs if not 20. I’ve seen a bunch of photos of the same pad and the pcbs seemed all a little different. My suggestion. I’ve taken apart 3 of them looking for a common ground one and to my dismay none where common ground and the pcbs looked totally different. The only thing they had in common was that they could fit in the same shell.

Would you recommend any custom pcbs (solderless or not) that retain vmu support?

Agetec arcade stick pcb.

The Agetec PCB is the best probably…

IF you have an intact PCB with ALL the wiring, you really don’t have to solder (the wire harnesses plug into the PCB itself). A well-trimmed, stock PCB should have enough original wiring where all you have to do – if you don’t keep the original green buttons – is cut the original female quick disconnects (cut close to them save as much original wiring as possible) and install 0.110 female quick disconnects for plug-in purposes with most 30mm pushbuttons out there.

… And I DO happen to have an Agetec PCB lying around I’d be willing to part with for a nominal fee!

On my original Agetec, I did keep as much of the original wiring as possible and used a labelled Agetec PCB photo to connect the old directional wiring with a Seimitsu harness through a terminal post. Worked flawlessly!

Keep the diagram above in mind when connecting Seimitsu/Sanwa harnesses through the terminal post to the Agetec signal lines… the orientation of the JOYSTICK’s PCB is key to determine which Sanwa/Seimitsu harness signal wire lines up with its Agetec counterpart. Your concern is with the orientation of the JOYSTICK PCB, not the Agetec PCB. The Agetec PCB can be upside down or oriented however. It’s the position of the joystick PCB in relation to the 30mm button positions that’s important.

As mentioned before, all the wiring was preinstalled in harnesses. Very easy to tell which harness plugged into each position because of size.

The old wiring was perfectly fine with the 0.110 female QD’s installed. One of the easier PCB’s to work with.

Sold that first Agetec PCB to another SRK member around a year ago… Just recently got another Agetec PCB with my second Agetec Joystick. Don’t have a personal use for it – I prefer using the MC Cthulu in the Agetec case and have a Dreamcast Saturn controller adapter for the VMU support – but people still like the old Agetec PCB for Dreamcast joysticks so it certainly did NOT go in the trash!

P.S. – As I said in the body of the text, I HAVE all three harness with the original wiring – joystick directional wires, button signals, and the system connector cord. You’d be amazed that some people throw out two-thirds of their harnesses (the button and joystick wiring harnesses). Unless you’re planning to put the PCB halfway across your joystick case, the original wire harnesses are long enough to reach the 30mm pushbuttons and the original Agetec joystick signal wiring can be connected to Seimitsu/Sanwa harnesses wiring through a terminal post. Easiest way to connect the PCB without soldering, period!

To save yourself some money, you could also reuse the VMU plastic slot from your Dreams Pad. The VMU end of the Agetec PCB should fit into it perfectly! Just make sure the Agetec PCB is secured well and positioned/anchored so that it doesn’t get warped when you plug in a VMU into the slot area… I also have a spare grey plastic VMU holder from my Dreams Pad for sale, too…

  1. That pcb just might be common ground; it certainly looks it in the fuzzy picture that was posted.
  2. Agetec pcb is a rocking pcb for dreamcast work. Common ground, easy to use, has VMU connector. Hopefully the dreams pcb will be all of that but I dont have any info on it.
  3. MC Cthulhu is always an option as well. If you’re willing to give up the VMU connector in exchange for having the stick work on damn near every console, its something to consider.

Agetec would be your best bet (only for VMU support) with the MC after. that particular Dreampad is common ground (i’ve wired my fair share, lol)

Do you have any examples of this pad that I could see? Or maybe give me some advice about where to look for the grounds?

Sorry about the fuzzy pics, I’m trying to get a better pic now. How do I find the grounds on the pad? I have a multimeter so I can find out which grounds are for which signal, but I just don’t know where to look for the grounds to begin with. Any sites that could give me the basics of studying pcbs?

if you look at the traces for all the buttons, the ground is the one that connects to all of them. in which case you would only need to solder wire to one spot for that. the signals would be the other side of the trace usually having it’s own path and require a solder point for each signal. once you get a more clear picture up, myself or someone else could help give you an idea of what is what =)

Good luck fitting it inside a TE…

Let me know if you need closer ones or anything.

Up, Right, Down, Z, Y, X, C, A: Upper half is GND, bottom is signal
’P-M’, B, Start: Upper half is signal, bottom half is GND
Left: Left half is GND, right half is signal.

Probably easiest to solder to that junction where the VMU connector is, but I can’t swear on trying to pin it out from photos. I’d be willing to bet that a good tech could get rid of all of the U shaped board and just use the daughterboard with the VMU connectors. It looks like all of the brains are on that board, and not the large U shaped one.

Thanks a lot man! I’ll get to work on this ASAP!

I’m thinking about dual modding this with a PS1 or one of them Chinese PS2 pcbs. Does anybody know where the VCC is according to the pictures above? I have one with holes.

Look up the Dreamcast Controller pinout to know which pin supplies voltage.
Using your multimeter figure out what wire in the cable supplies voltage to the PCB.
Where that wire is soldered to the PCB is your VCC point