Arcade sticks

I've been playing fighting game for 20 years now, but only started using an arcade stick in 2006. While I was at a tournament, I managed to play some games on an arcade cabinet (the famous Sega Astro City) and discovered how comfortable and pleasant the experience was. I decided I wanted to play on an arcade stick.

A bunch of arcade sticks on a table
Different models of arcade sticks during one of our local fighting game sessions. | Full size

Back in 2007 most arcade sticks were not even sold in Europe and needed to be imported. They were not that cheap for their poor quality, and building one meant buying it opening it, throwing away all parts and electronics, then adding your own parts.

For the electronics during the PS2 era, most people would buy cheap controllers, open them and solder wires on the connectors and connect those to the buttons and the lever. When the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 came out in 2005 and 2006, most people would then build dual-mods. Two hackpads, both with a common ground, would be connected and powered at the same time (USB had one cable for power and one for ground). A manual switch was then added, whose role was to send the signal (green and white wires on an USB cable) to the desired controller.

A hackpad
A typical hackpad from the Xbox 360 era. | Full size

Around the early 2010 with the rise of DIY electronics, people started building custom PCBs that contained the code for several consoles in a single board. Today this part is way easier than it used to be, with boards being affordable for custom builds.

The three main quality brands for levers and buttons from Japan are Sanwa, Seimitsu and Hori. There are regional differences, with the US sometimes using HAPP models, or Korean players using Crown and Fanta models. All brands have different models, and all models have a different feeling. For most of my arcade sticks, I used the classic Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT lever and Sanwa OBS-30 buttons.

I had several models through the years.

An arcade stick
For some reason I decided to do a Guilty Gear x Raving Rabbids arcade stick on a Namco PS1 base for my first build. Overall this stick never worked super well. | Full size
A custom arcade stick with an art on it
This case was made by an artisan. I added a print of the famous Piranese prison on it for some reason. Note the manual switch for a dual mode. | Full size
A boxing glove on an arcade stick
This model is a Madcatz Standard Edition for the Wii, that was repurposed to to a trial-mod for the Playstation 2, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. | Full size
Several arcade sticks in a box
Tree of my arcade sticks. During a period I wanted to do a Mortal Kombat mod on the small Namco Yellow model. Note the Hexagonal buttons. | Full size
A box of buttons
There has been a few attempts to replace the classic buttons by using Cherry MX switches in buttons. Those are a set I imported from China, they were hexagonal in shape and were not working as well as I hoped due to poor wiring. | Full size
A cheap custom stick
Around 2017 I re-did a Playstation 2 stick with a hackpad, using a cheap bootleg case and leftovers buttons. | Full size
Two sticks side by side, one of them is very small
Ready-made arcade sticks prices have skyrocketed and are now luxury items, but sometimes you encounter some models that try to be cheap. They are often terrible, like this Hori Mini. | Full size
A hori rap 4 arcade stick
I haven't done a custom stick in years now, and use a Hori Real Arcade Pro 4 first gen. It's affordable and has good Hori parts. | Full size

Initially published: June 29th, 2021
Generated: March 3rd, 2023
Statistics for: Arcade Stick Time spent
Time spent
10 hours total
week 12 of 2020
Last update
week 12 of 2020
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