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Got it MADE?; Nintendo 64 controller origins
Topic Started: Jan 30 2016, 04:29 PM (5,215 Views)
LinusHofmann
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Upon closer look, the board inside is also made by HORI, and a standard N64 joystick housing, with the exception of having a black base.
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This is interesting, in my garbage man adventures of collecting worn out joystick modules to refurbish I've come across a whole bunch with black cases/bottoms. Didn't think much of it or check the board to verify anything before tearing them apart. Didn't notice anything different with them generally so I just assumed that some controllers were released with those.

Are they definitely from Lodgenet controllers if they are black or were some genuine Nintendo modules also released with black cases?

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LinusHofmann
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Here's some photographic evidence of the black cases I've collected.

I can't really see anything different apart from the colour of the case and serial numbers on the board. They could well have come from lodgenet controllers (I didn't extract them from controllers myself, just bought a big lot of worn thumbsticks that included them) Maybe I could ask the person I bought them from where they came from.


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and here side by side with a grey standard case.

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Note: I've also come across 2 different shades of grey material for the case (apart from black). There's a darker grey and a lighter more tan colour. So there was definitely some variation over the years or maybe between different batches / factories. Also the white cup material changed at least once, from a chalkier white to a more translucent white material. I assumed that was done at some point to try and slow down the degradation problem. Or perhaps to exacerbate it? who knows hehe :phear:

Fascinating stuff I know (where is my sarcasm emote?) :)

The "chrome-ing" and "Go-Bot-ting" is happening over here! :) Linky





Edited by LinusHofmann, Feb 22 2016, 09:47 PM.
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sanni
Feb 23 2016, 07:01 AM
The black thumbstick cases are regulary found in standard Nintendo N64 controllers. And the dark grey cases are from the last batch of controllers and also feature a shorter thumbstick cable.
Ah, good to know. Strange that I've never come across one in the 30 or so controllers I've disassembled in my time. Just got another batch of worn joystick modules today and sure enough about 10% of them were black again. :unsure:

Also interesting to know about the case colour and manufacture time, I noticed the shorter wires on some, thanks Sanni.

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sanni
Feb 23 2016, 12:29 PM
There is also a legend claiming those thumbsticks wouldn't wear out as quickly.
I can believe there may be some truth to that legend, at least in terms of how it relates to the two different cup materials I mentioned earlier.

I just picked two random modules, one dark gray and the other tan. What do you know, they have different cup materials!
Could be chance but I'll keep an eye out for it while I disassemble more in the future.

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The dark gray module has the cup material that's slightly denser (~0.2g heavier), less translucent (darker and slightly yellower) and more rigid. The other one feels like it is made of a different plastic and is lighter and more slippery to the touch (less chalky feeling).

Seems they did do something to try and affect the durability of the joystick at some point. It didn't really work but I can believe that one or the other might be slightly more durable when compared side by side.



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LinusHofmann
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I hope I'm not derailing this thread again but has anyone seen a joystick case like the one on the left before?

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I've gone through about 400 modules and I'm pretty sure this is the only one that has the wider raised area on top. Everything about it says OEM to me and the module it was attached to was also completely normal so i don't think it's a clone stick.

Any thoughts? Officially licensed Hudson controllers or Ascii maybe? Top secret one of a kind prototype...? Would love to know.

--

Oh and also, the dark grey case style isn't really the best/only indicator whether you will find the waxier style cup plastic inside. Some lighter gray cases also have those, but what does seem to be consistent of indicating which style cup material you have is long vs short connector cable.

Short indicates the waxier plastic cup material and is presumably the newer batch to match the redesigned PCB (White box capacitor)
Long is an indicator of the clearer cup material, ie. all Black case (MIJ?) joysticks I've seen have a long cable, no dark grey have the long cable.

If I'm wrong on any of this lemme know.

Linus

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No64DD
May 3 2016, 06:13 PM
That's a good one Linus. I just seen your post. My apologies.

Shouldn't it have a batch number like the one on the right?
The top thumbstick housing is the same dark grey shade, so if it's OEM, it isn't from a Nintendo made MIJ controller.

You've seen more thumbsticks than anyone i know, but that is about as much as i can help at the moment.
I'd hold onto it.
It's a good observation, thumbs up!
Thanks for the input! I'll definitely hold onto it and see if we can solve the mystery :)

I think all the other sticks have a batch number on the outside, so that's a difference definitely. Just had a look and it's got a number printed on the inside of the case. "7"

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Otherwise it definitely looks pretty OEM to me.
I wish I'd noticed it before parting out the internals to maybe see if there were any other clues from the rest of the components.

Another possibly noteworthy feature (only seen this on a few normal japanese imported thumbsticks) is the top two diagonal notches seem to have a depression in the molding. Usually the case bezel is nice and smooth and convex but on these there is a fairly noticeable dent/depression right on the notch. It's a bit hard to photograph but I may try this evening. You can kinda see it in the first photo I posted, but it's more noticeable in person.
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No64DD
May 5 2016, 01:32 PM
Interesting!
If you look right above where you see the number 7, the contour of the mold doesn't match the one on the right in your hand.

What do you make of that?
Yeah the inner contour/mold shape is different than standard OEM (the one on the right) as it matches the wider raised section on the outside. I think the cutout is probably maintained to keep the injection molding wall thickness relatively constant throughout the part.

But I'm really curious what the wider section might have brought to the design and why it was changed. :coffee:

Has anyone taken apart one of those licensed (hudson?) controllers that had the joystick module where you could change the angle?
Edited by LinusHofmann, May 5 2016, 06:59 PM.
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No64DD
May 5 2016, 09:50 PM
I took a closer look!

No matter which direction it's turned it will still be symetrical. Wouldn't it??


By wider, I'm talking about the larger (wider) raised flat section on the non-standard case.

--

Yes of course, the joycard/hudson would have an arrow. Didn't think about that. :facepalm:
I don't know much about these various licensed aftermarket controllers. But I do know my ascii pad just had a standard joystick installed so it's not from there.

The turning adjustment never made a lot of sense to me but I think it has to rotate the entire assembly to make any sense at all.
Probably so you can find the ideal angle that's most comfortable/precise for your thumb sweep? Or maybe for those few people who hold the controller by the left and right prongs and stretch their thumb over to the joystick (seen some smash64 players do this). I dunno.

Anyway I saw one going on ebay for ten bucks so I'll have something to teardown if no-one else has done so in the meantime.
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I found another one! :yeah: :dance:

And this one I didn't tear apart without taking some pictures along the way!

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A few things I noted.

-Black base (I believe all black bases are Made in Japan?)
-Medium length wire. (Not sure if they always vary a bit in length but it's not as long as the usual long ones)
-Clearer type bowl plastic
-Number 6 molded inside the case
-Dents in the bezel around the gate (see first image by the top two diagonal notches, similar to the other one but more pronounced here)
-The diagonal notches seem slightly deeper or at least more pronounced than normal!

So what do you guys reckon? I'm starting to think this was maybe an early production run (dents in the molding process seems like something you'd want to fix for a second run :P ) Can anything be figured out by looking at the serial number on the PCB? Ends with 94, could that be the year of manufacture?

I'll leave it to the experts! :)





Edited by LinusHofmann, May 10 2016, 07:15 PM.
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No64DD
May 11 2016, 04:45 PM
I'm following what you're saying.
Is this what you mean by diagonal notches ?
Yep. Notice how the dust accumulates in there more than normal. It's like the notches/corners are slightly deeper so the stick doesn't bottom out as much. Even though this one is quite heavily worn.

And where the top two diagonal corners meet the smooth surrounding of the case that's where the dent in the molding is.
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Interesting on the black cases, thanks for the details!

Hmm the hori commander, those are also interesting. They use completely standard OEM joystick modules do they?

--

The dents in the bezel are definitely either intended or show up as a manufacturing or molding flaw. As you say it's unlikely that nintendo would let something like this slide so my bet is on them being intentional. They're definitely not worn into the casing since the whole surface drops down towards the corner.
My thoughts atm is that they might have anticipated the way the edge of the cap rubs against the case bezel after it has worn out the bowl. Putting a dent into the case to give the cap more clearance isn't the strangest idea. However if that was the intention, they put the dents at the wrong spot...in the first image you can see that the cap edge still rubbed against the case.

The diagonal notches being different I can't yet verify until I do some measuring, it may just look that way because of the dents in the surrounding area changing the perceived geometry at the intersection. I've just seen a heck of a lot of worn sticks at this point and something feels wrong/different about the geometry in the diagonal notches.

What I find most interesting, is that both of the sticks with that case style have similar pronounced dents.
It's also not something that shows up randomly with normal sticks (from what I've seen, I haven't gone through all of my sticks yet)

So if that's really a defining feature, maybe it would help with tracking down the source of these sticks. It can be quite obviously seen from the outside of even a fully assembled opaque controller. Otherwise it would require complete removal of the stick to check the top of the case.

Anyone got any controllers with weird dents by the front two diagonal corners of the joystick housing/case/bezel? :wacko:

Edited by LinusHofmann, May 12 2016, 06:47 PM.
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If you think this should go somewhere else let me know.

--

I got my Hudson/Joycard controller today so I did a quick teardown.

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The joystick module case is very unique and has a special shape allowing it to rotate. There's no screw tabs, instead a large spring holds the module down and registers it against a serrated pattern. Lifting the stick up by the cap raises the whole module and allows it to rotate through about 30.

Internally the joystick is identical to a normal one.
Made in Japan as pointed out earlier.
Interesting stuff.

##################################################################################
Many more photos here.
Joycard Teardown Album

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Edited by LinusHofmann, May 26 2016, 10:40 AM.
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Yeah I think that's probably why they wanted to make a swivel able stick.
The way I have my left hand oriented on the middle prong my thumb is perfectly straight so I find doing straight horizontal input arcs very natural. But if you hold the controller a bit more loosely with your hand to the left of the central prong then it might just be useful.

I'm actually quite liking the stubby arms, they're weird but give a good sense of authority over the buttons when gripped. Most suited to a control style where the controller is tilted quite far away from you.
Not too sure about the extra hump near the Zbutton though :P

The stick is basically new so I probably won't be upgrading it, I like the novelty of it so I think I'll leave this one stock.
It's also a pain to open and close this controller because of the spring and unusual z-button bracket.

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Mystery solved?

Check out the case style of the stick in one of these competition pro controllers.

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Definitely looks like one of my mystery modules.

I've never used one of these controllers but the cap looks different (i.e not genuine) while my strange modules have a completely normal stick/cap. Could these controllers be using joystick modules designed to be clones of my modules? Or do I indeed have a very high quality clone module with this style case.



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Well I didn't buy one myself but courtesy of a guy on twitter we have teardown photos of the Competition Pro Controller.

The case looks similar to my mystery stick but it's not quite the same and internally it's clearly a knockoff of an OEM stick. Many small differences, the kind of stuff I'd expect to see from a copy.

PCB is also quite different not to mention the wires are directly soldered to the main board.

Teardown Gallery of Competition Pro Controller by Ogran

Could this competition pro be a ripoff based on my mystery OEM stick? That would explain the similar case design?
The mystery deepens :coffee:
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Ooh oooh oooh!! Amazing! :dance:

I think the mystery is solved boys! Nice one!
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