The Beginners guide to planning a Mod like a Pro

The Beginners guide to planning a Mod like a Pro

I decide to make a quick guide to help potential modders build their projects.
Veterans feel free to add any info or correct my own. Please note I will go back and edit the content of this guide as time goes by.

To you beginners, before starting ANY project their are 3 things you need to consider.

*Your Goal to Accomplish
*Your Budget

  • Your Skill Level


Find out what you need to know. forums has a wealth of guides, FAQ and tutorials, use them. Use the Search function here, and find the guide you need and read though all of it. Read though all of slagcoin a few times (its recommended reading here on the tech talk board). Search the web for any additional info, including how other people did their builds. And if you still lacking information do not be afraid to ask.

Reference links [I will return to fix / add additional links later as we rebuild the Knowlage database]
]The official Cthulhu and ChImp thread
[]RJ-45 Multi Console Cthulhu Arcade Stick Tutorial Ver.2
]Dual Modding 101
[*]How to Solder (Ch 7 of Dual Modding 101)

[]Making Your Stick Pretty: A Custom Stick Art Guide/Tutorial
]Guide: How to put art under clear Seimitsu buttons
[]Installing an MC Cthulhu and Imp in an Xbox 360 SF4 SE stick
]Project Box Controllers: A Guide to Modular Controllers
[]The how to mod your Madcat SFIV SE, TE, TvC and Brawl SE FAQ.
]Painting the [Arcade Controller]
[]The Stick template/Layout thread
][GENERAL TROUBLESHOOTING & REPAIR GUIDE]('General Troubleshooting & Repair Guide
[]Intro, Rules, Tutorials & Info
]Sanwa and Seimitsu Wiring Diagram
[]Daisy Chain Pictures courtesy of rtdzing
]Nerrage’s How to Solder Video (You Tube)

[*]How and WHY to Solder Correctly (You Tube)

There are many others, but I think I hit up the main topics for “how-to”. (Under Revision)

After this point you might want to practice what you learn till you feel confidant enough to go ahead with your project. Example for soldering find a scrap preff board or old PCB to practice on.


What is your goal, usually with SRK members its to build/ mod a arcade controller or related item. If your goal is to just have a arcade stick you can accomplish that with buying a commercial stick. But if you have any plans of customization, repair or to teach your self/ challenge/ fun of doing so you first need to set some goals and what you want out of your stick.

Step 1:Identify your final goal. Lets say making a 6-8 button arcade stick.

Step 2: plan out how your going to make this stick and what parts, materials and skills this will require and how you acquire these things. Make a list of what you need.

Example list …
*6 to 13 buttons depending on your design remember to include buttons for Start. select, home and if required a synch button (for wireless Xbox 360 builds)
*case and any case materials
*required disconnects, wiring harnesses, header connectors, pin connectors, barrier strips and the like.
*Wire (buy at least 1 foot more than what you will need)
*Your Printed Circuit boards
*system cable(s) and any connectors and passthoughs you need for the disconnects
**Your written/ drawn plans on what your doing (including a pattern for your button stick layout)
*Electrical tape
Any tools you need that you do not already have.

If you are not Modding a existing stick , but building one from scratch make sure you have a lay out planed and drawn out. You later want to print an extra at full size as a template to where to drill/ cut for the case. I assume if your going with a pre-made case such as Art Hong’s tek case or Foe Hammer case the layout is already provided.

Break your long tern goal into smaller short tern goals you can accomplish.

  1. get all materials and parts.
  2. build case
  3. Paint case
  4. solder Xbox 360 pad to wires.
  5. wire xbox 360 pad to 2nd PCB board (like a cthulhu, chimp , Dual Strike or what have you)
    ect ect…


Find out how much this will all cost (plus any shipping and tax) take that value and add 10% to the total cost, this will be your budget. Taking in consideration how much money you got already to spend. You be usually looking at $75 to $200 for your budget.

Tip 1: only buy the tools you need, when you need them, Don’t buy RJ 45 crimmpers if you have no plans of using RJ45 connectors. Do not get a power saw and router if your not going to use them.

Tip 2: Do not order additional extra parts. You do not need 4 JFLs 3 PCBs and 56 push buttons. Order just what you need. What you can go extra on is consumable materials, wire, solder, crimp connectors, things that can be consumes easily especially if you make mistakes.

If you lack the money, you might have to buy a few pieces at a time, once a week or 2 till you have what you need. If this is still too much for you to afford, go back to your plans and see where you can scale back, this might mean skipping out on Kino’s printed insert art and printing the image at home or going with a stock gate and springs for a joystick or removing extras like LED lighting.

Beginner Tips:

Take Notes. Like the Pros, always take notes. Have a piece of paper and a pencil or pen handy at all times.

Never ever trust someone else’s identification for wire color in system cables. On various extension cords and system cords from various manufacturers, never trust the wire colors to identify pins on the cable connector. The colors of the wires change from product to product and manufacture to manufacture. Use a multi-meter or other continuity tester to test out each wire for its correct pin number. As you test, write down your findings. I once had a USB cable that did not use “standard colors”, the colors were red for VCC (+5 V), brown for data -, yellow for data + and blue for ground.

If possible use multiple colors of wire. This is to color code your wires for your work.
if multiple color wire isn’t possible use bits of different color shirk wrap, tape or some other indicator.

Alternatively use small labels on your parts/ wires. If you do not have any parts that are see-though go ahead and write on the inside of your case or use post-it notes to label what goes where.

Always make you Projects where you can dissemble your work if you need to go back a step or repair. This means using screws (or other fasteners such as latches) instead of gluing a case shut. Use quick disconnects, barrier strips, pin connectors headers and the such on your wiring so you can undo your work with out unsoldering or cutting anything. Leave the the LETS SOLDER EVERYTHING mentality for the few elites who “know” they can get away with this. Terminal strips and disconnects are our friends.

If you have to hack a pad, cable or connector, always go 1 wire at a time.

  1. so that you keep track of what wire/ component your on.
  2. if you got to back track, you only have to undo 1 wire instead of possible dozens
    If you modding a cable or ribbon cable, cut, and mod only 1 wire at a time and test to see if the cable still works. Sometimes the different properties in a wire can effect how the cable works.
  3. Do not leave the soldering iron for too long on a button pad or a trace of your controller PCB. Too much heat can lift pads, solder points and traces right off the board.

Always test your game pads you going to hack before you disassemble. Nothing is worst than having a broken pad PCB and not knowing till too late. Do the same for PCB kits such as the PS360, Cthulhu and other devices to see if they work.

Before cutting at or soldering to a Controller PCB, test for common ground if you are going for a common ground project. I already have 2 extra PCBs I can’t use because this over sight.

If you have a digital camera, take pictures. This is not just for later to show off, but also to document what you are doing and how pieces fit together.

And remember, take you time. if you get too frustrated, take a break and come back when once your head cools off.


Planing is a woodworking operation :bgrin:

nice write up and use of sources :slight_smile:

I remember my first build…
I planned that baby out for a good month before i even touched my pcbs or made my case. Also practice your padhacking on unsuspecting controllers that you know you won’t use ever. I trashed an Intec wireless gamecube controller to practice my padhacking and learn common grounds and common lines from that pcb.



Before I got into pad hacking, years ago I practive soldering on a old busted Radio Shack brand AM radio

Update: because of the forum server move I have to update all my references.
PM me if there is any broken links or links you feel I should include.

Wow, this is an excellent collection of resources. Thanks for compiling it!
It’s made me more interested in some of the topics (case-painting!) and more intimidated in others (dual-modding!)

I need to pick up some terminal strips and cable insulators. :slight_smile:

Darksakul, any of those threads deal with creating the laminated paper templates and how to make them, supplies needed, computer programs used, etc.?

Is there a tutorial on how to put LED buttons into TE sticks?

Here is a photoshop guide by D3v

Photoshop is preferred but gimp would also work. I personally use MS Publisher for printing but its done in a complicated and convoluted way compared to how must people do there own printing

As for paper a medium to heavy weight is preferred. For most sticks people prefer putting paper art under plexy, but you can also ask for Lami-Label from Kinkos.
Or use a good spray adhesive

I am sure there is. Guides vary with what kind of LED product are you using. There are small boards that fit into Seimitsu buttons, KN Inserts, Uila RGB, and a few others, names now escape me.

I haven’t seen anything just for the TE, but once you wire up one stick for lights, other sticks wire up the same way.

Here is a button light up guide that runs on the complicated side of things.

Easier way is to get the following


It is still complicated, and still requires lot of soldering

Right now the preferred buttons for light mods are Seimitsu, Rollie, and Transparent IL push buttons.
Sanwa is making their line of clear buttons but they will not be out till (apparently) this fall.

All the guides on Teck Talk are found on this this link

Thank you so much Darksakul :slight_smile:

You’re gunna have another sticky here Dark.

I think this thread is linked on the Intro, rules and guide thread, with all the other guides.

Only guide of mine that is sticked is what stick to buy guide, Moderators all wanted a What stick to buy guide for a while but ether didn’t have the time or didn’t know where to begin. I managed to step up for better or worst and hammer out my most ambitious post for Tech Talk, and man was it a TON of work.

But thank you just the same.

lol not me my first case was a random ass lets build a box in my buddys barn at night. i wont post pics, i only play with her at night when no one is around.

Just so I don’t have to type this out again when someone makes the post
"Why my stick don’t work" or “my stick isn’t powering on”

so I am leaving this here.

The idea is to point people with USB cable problems back to instead of typing a whole lot of stiff for a small and common issue. I figure I stick it inside of this thread as its a related issue and this thread already sticked in the lists of Guides and FAQs

Actual Tech Talk OG thought process.

  1. Ask yourself “How hard can it be?”
  2. Prep work
  3. Discover that “it’s pretty damn hard.”
  4. Pull it off anyway.
  1. Drink beer like a baws.

Pasting this here for future reference. Note I am simplifying the explanation so those who lack the electronics/programing background would understand, assuming of course they passed High School Math.

Dark Sakul Explains the science of LS lag on a arcade stick.

The issue with LS (left analog) on many arcade sticks is that LS is a emulated analog instead of actual analog input.
On a video game controller, by default everything is digital. Analog input is turned into a Digital notation of that analog signal.
Analog works on a gradient, think of it like a older turn knob Volume control on a radio or TV or a light dimmer.

For the sake of simplicity we’ll focus on only 1 axis, the X-axis or left and right. At the far left end (for example) we for a full five volts, and the far end on the right we got zero volts, with dead center being 2.5 volts.
(Analog doesn’t actually run on a full 5 volts, I am just using 5 as its a easy number for me to work with here).

Right 5 volts, center 2.5 volts, Left  Zero Volts

Sample of voltages from Left to Right

You analog stick does any value in between that 5 to 2.5 to 0 volt values, but your console or PC does not understand this. So they assign numerical values for each amount of voltage.
The scale is Zero for the center, negative numbers to the Left and Positive numbers to the right. The actual max value isn’t necessary but for lets say for our purposes we give the max an arbitrary max of 5 in each direction.

 -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

Mathematical values of the X axis from Left to Right

So 5 volts (hard left) translates to -5 on the scale, Center 2.5 volts is a Zero and so on.

IF we add the Y Axis and make a 2D grid, the information would look like this

The actual point on the chat is where your X and Y (or Right/Left and UP/Down) values are.

This is how your controller Data is read on a Windows 7 PC via the Gamepad Properties window.
Note that cross hair is the approx location on the X/Y axis chart is where you Joystick is supposed to be. In this picture the Joystick is at 0,0
The far left would be lets say -5,0 far right is 5,0, Far Up would be 0,5, far down would be 0,-5. So a Far Upper right is 5,5 and far upper right is -5,5.

Theses are the digital values the computers expects out of the analog stick.

Pure digital input from the d-pad would be shown on the point of view Hat, with 8 directions.
More often a d-pad data input is own if one of each direction of Right, Left, Up or Down is in the On (button pressed) or OFF position (button not pressed)

So when you set your Arcade stick to LS (left analog more) you are trying to force your Stick’s PCB to represent the on off states of UP, Down left or Right as a X/Y grid axis value.
This takes a moment for your Stick’s PCB to figure this out and send the correct info to your PC or game console. Hence the Lag

^ No idea if that post is true or not, but it looks boom.