Making a HAPP/IL arcade stick feel like the real deal: A few pointers

I recently purchased a Mortal Kombat PDP stick and it felt nothing like the arcade to me. The stick and buttons were both very stiff, the buttons had too much travel, and the joystick had a very hard time hitting diagonals. After a few easy modifications that don’t require buying ANYTHING, I’m at the point where it feels just like the arcade, which I visit monthly ;P. I know a lot of this is personal preference, but I feel that I’ve very closely matched the arcade feel. Here’s what I did:

**1. Cut the joystick spring down
**Cut the HAPP/IL joystick spring down incrementally (1/4 coil each time) until the resistance matches your preference. I ended up shortening mine by about 1/3 the height by cutting off coils. I simply used a pair of pliers with built-in cutters. It feels amazing now and still returns to center very quickly.

2. Widen the joystick actuator (square part)
The stock Suzo-HAPP and IL actuators are just small enough that the diagonals only engage within a very small/precise area. I’m sure this was intentional so that they operate well as a 4-way stick. The problem was that I was missing my horizontal jumps quite often. Making the actuator slightly larger on the 4 planer sides that engage the micro switches enlarges the area where two switches engage at the same time (inputting a diagonal). I simply wound a strip of electrical tape (4 layers) around all 4 sides. Ideally you would use something more permanent, but it actually works very well. This makes a huge difference from the stock set-up and makes jumping forward/back in fighting games feel just as it should.

3. Remove the button springs
I know this sounds crazy, but I never have a hard time pushing buttons quickly at the arcade. These HAPP buttons are super stiff due to the springs. The resistance and return speed in the micro switches is plenty enough on their own. I removed the springs completely and love the feel now (like seasoned arcade parts).

Hope this helps others who find the stock parts lacking the arcade feel.

Cutting a coil spring increases the spring rate.

But it decreases the tension on the joystick lever since it’s under less compression/tension. You just have to remove enough for that to happen. Try it. This Happ lever now requires MUCH less force to hold in any given direction.

I’ve tried this in the past, but found that the plungers then tilt at a slight angle, causing more friction on one side of the downward-travel then than the other.

Oh yeah yeah, I was thinking of a free length spring!

Pffff, it’s too early on Monday for these thoughts. I need more coffee! =p

Edit: My brains still not here in full force, but a linear coil spring should still give uniform resistance throughout its compressible length. So it doesn’t matter how much preload there is (one pound or a hundred pounds at centre), moving it will require the same force per unit of deflection. A cut spring will be stiffer unless it runs out of of free length, which would present as a floppy centre position.

Trying to explain why cutting the spring works in practice without that caveat points the finger at the mechanism under the spring being inefficient and binding with increased load. I can’t explain it otherwise. If it works it works!

I’m curious, did that cause some kind of issue? It’s at an almost imperceptible angle if I look very closely, but I can’t feel it.

I don’t have a scientific explanation to counter your points. I can only guess that since the spring is shorter in relation to the joystick handle that you have more leverage?. I have no idea lol.