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The ultimate N64 joystick refurb? SS + teflon; N64 joystick extensively refurbished and improved with metal and teflon components
Topic Started: Feb 17 2016, 05:46 PM (40,530 Views)
LinusHofmann
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Bamboozled
Mar 2 2016, 06:54 AM
Congrats! :applause:
I'm wondering, what camera do you use? Your pictures are always very well done! :yeah:
Thanks, but it's nothing complex, usually it's just a dslr (olympus e-30) with an external flash bouncing off the ceiling.
Works well enough if you can't be bothered with a big softbox light or something along those lines.

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sanni
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Received my thumbstick today, thank you very much. :w00t:

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Mini review:
At first glance the stick feels a little bit heavier compared to the original but when playing Goldeneye it seems to give you even more precise control because of the added weight. It's really easy to do small accurate adjustments when aiming, something all the previous replacement sticks fail at. This precision is further supported by the well lubricated analog stick that glides around with ease so that the only resistance you feel is coming from the spring.

Verdict:
Simply amazing. :yeah:
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bluedogrulez
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nintendo143
Mar 2 2016, 01:57 AM
If everything was recreated in metal, gimbals, gears, bottom and top housing, spring trim, etc, It would be really something.
Ah, but there is a rub. Remember, the movement is registered by a plastic wheel moving through the optical reader. Therefore, I do not believe any kind of reflective metal can be used for the plastic wheel.

@sanni: Thanks for sharing your first impressions!
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LinusHofmann
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sanni
Mar 2 2016, 09:24 AM
Received my thumbstick today, thank you very much. :w00t:

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Mini review:
At first glance the stick feels a little bit heavier compared to the original but when playing Goldeneye it seems to give you even more precise control because of the added weight. It's really easy to do small accurate adjustments when aiming, something all the previous replacement sticks fail at. This precision is further supported by the well lubricated analog stick that glides around with ease so that the only resistance you feel is coming from the spring.

Verdict:
Simply amazing. :yeah:
Hey Sanni, glad you like it and thanks for the mini-review! :)

Getting the stick tension/heaviness right is something I'm still struggling with a bit. Personally I've always preferred a lighter stick and modded the springs on all my thumbsticks to achieve that, so stock joysticks always feel a bit heavy to me in general.
I asked a few people if they preferred a heavier stick or a lighter one but most want it as close to stock as posssible. So that's what I'm aiming for.

Sounds like with your sample I got the tension a bit too high. Once you open it up you'll see there's some extra stuff inside that affects the spring tension a bit. So it's not just a matter of installing a stock spring and calling it done.

*Edit* It's Easy to reduce spring tension if it bothers you though, just have to squeeze the spring completely closed a few times with a pair of pliers. If you go too far you can stretch it back out a bit, it's not the best spring steel in the world ;) *edit*

I try to compare them as much as possible to my reference OEM stick but I think I need a way to actually measure the resistance of each individual spring accurately and then bin them so I can keep things consistent. They vary quite a bit even from stock. (may be due to age, or manf. variation?)
-

Of course there's also the fact that the stick itself being made of metal slightly changes the feel of it. Maybe that's what you're picking up on too?
I was wondering if people would pick up on the weight difference of the stick itself, it has some impact on control feel but I've personally not found it a problem to get used to. We'll have to see if crazy fast stick flicking smash players will notice a difference! ;)

Stock Stick : 1.07g
SS Stick (Standard cap) : 3.03g
SS Stick (Alu + Rubber cap) : 3.81g

The rubber cap is the most noticeably different since the weight of the aluminium + rubber is right at the end of the stick/lever so it has considerably more inertia than the stock plastic cap. I think it's worth it for the extra thumb traction but your mileage may vary :)

Cheers
Linus

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nintendo143
Mar 2 2016, 01:57 AM
If everything was recreated in metal, gimbals, gears, bottom and top housing, spring trim, etc, It would be really something.
Ah, but there is a rub. Remember, the movement is registered by a plastic wheel moving through the optical reader. Therefore, I do not believe any kind of reflective metal can be used for the plastic wheel.


An entirely metal mechanism certainly would be an interesting device, but it may not be that functional. As BDR says the wheels probably wouldn't work well with the optical encoders.
I don't see why the XY arms couldn't be made of metal though, bit beyond my skills to make however.

Plastics aren't evil, they're perfectly adequate and often superior to metals in a lot of applications. Many materials like nylon or ptfe are actually self lubricting when in contact with metals so that's a pretty good combination.
Certain plastic on plastic friction without lubrication however, that's another story... similarly, metal on metal without lubrication is also a bad idea.
In an all metal stick you might have to work in an oil pump and reservoir/sump to keep things running smoothly!
Mandatory annual Joystick oil changes! jk :D

Another thing to consider is the slight shock absorption and flex of plastic components, they give the stick quite a nice feel. Less harsh and hard.
A wholly metal mechanism might result in a stick feel more akin to a manual gear change in a car than a joystick. We won't know until someone tries it.

I played around with doing more metal components early on, here is one with a brass sleeve bearing and steel registration pins to capture the joystick sphere.
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It worked, but apart from being considerably more complicated and precise to make, it just didn't feel right. I also don't think it would be adding much to the durability to be honest.


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bluedogrulez
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LinusHofmann
Mar 2 2016, 10:55 AM
I don't see why the XY arms couldn't be made of metal though, bit beyond my skills to make however.
In thinking about this, I have always been concerned that metal x, y pieces with (obviously) metal gear teeth would meet (and grind against) the plastic gear teeth of the plastic optical wheel, which I think would be a disaster (for the plastic gear teeth). But with "military grade" plastics been made for retail use, maybe I am wrong for thinking that ???
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LinusHofmann
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bluedogrulez
Mar 2 2016, 12:22 PM
LinusHofmann
Mar 2 2016, 10:55 AM
I don't see why the XY arms couldn't be made of metal though, bit beyond my skills to make however.
In thinking about this, I have always been concerned that metal x, y gear teeth against plastic gear teeth of the plastic optical wheel would be a disaster. But with "military grade" plastics been made for retail use, maybe I am wrong for thinking that ???
Keep in mind that there is almost zero resistance on the optical wheels themselves. So pressure on the gear to gear interface is very low. I'd say that makes everything easier from an engineering point of view. Making the metal gears to the correct tolerances won't be easy/cheap though.
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sanni
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Today I played through the hardest difficulty of Wave Race 64, my favorite racing game, and it was amazing. I felt in control at all times.
With the other replacement sticks I had major difficulties driving through the buoys while the waves trying their best to throw you off course.
Even beat some of my previous high scores. :yeah:

Edited by sanni, Mar 3 2016, 02:48 PM.
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LinusHofmann
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sanni
Mar 3 2016, 02:43 PM
Today I played through the hardest difficulty of Wave Race 64, my favorite racing game, and it was amazing. I felt in control at all times.
With the other replacement sticks I had major difficulties driving through the buoys while the waves trying their best to throw you off course.
Even beat some of my previous high scores. :yeah:

Now that's some good testing! Awesome to hear :)

Btw I'm heading to the post office to ship a couple more samples tomorrow so I'll send those replacement rubber parts to you as well. (we had a bit of a shipping calamity with the rubber cap! :-8 )
Edited by LinusHofmann, Mar 3 2016, 03:30 PM.
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Platinum
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Thanks a million for your amazing work ! I've been dreaming of this perfect joystick and i hope i could play with it one day ! :omg:

Did you see this kickstarter project? It looks meh compare to your work.
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bluedogrulez
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Ha, Platinum, I saw that and had the same reaction. (Great screen name, btw, awesome developer)
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LinusHofmann
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Mar 4 2016, 01:22 PM
Thanks a million for your amazing work ! I've been dreaming of this perfect joystick and i hope i could play with it one day ! :omg:

Did you see this kickstarter project? It looks meh compare to your work.
Hey! No problem :)

I've seen the kickstarter yes, MrSir posted a thread to his project in this forum a while ago. I wouldn't call it meh, it's filling a sorely needed aftermarket part gap and I really hope they manage to pull it off. Only a couple months ago I would have been all over it :)

Also I think it should be pretty obvious that the two projects aren't exactly targeting the same end of the price/performance spectrum. ;)
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sanni
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Today I tried the three different thumbstick caps. My least favorite was the all metal cap since polished metal feels a little slippery and cold, I didn't like it.
Second place goes to the original plastic cap, it makes the thumbstick feel like a stock thumbstick and it is really good, I like it alot.

But the first place has to go to the metal cap with the rubber edge. The ruber makes the stick feel just marvelous. Not that the original Nintendo stick has bad grip but the added rubber gives you even more control, it's like something you never thought you were missing until you tried it once. No wonder all modern console's thumbsticks are rubberized, it's a really noticeable improvement.

One thing I noticed, the countersunk screw hole of the rubberized cap isn't as deep as in the other two caps, so that the screw gets effectivly shorter and you have to be careful to not overtighten it or it will jump back to the beginning of the thread.
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LinusHofmann
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sanni
Mar 7 2016, 02:34 PM
Today I tried the three different thumbstick caps. My least favorite was the all metal cap since polished metal feels a little slippery and cold, I didn't like it.
Second place goes to the original plastic cap, it makes the thumbstick feel like a stock thumbstick and it is really good, I like it alot.

But the first place has to go to the metal cap with the rubber edge. The ruber makes the stick feel just marvelous. Not that the original Nintendo stick has bad grip but the added rubber gives you even more control, it's like something you never thought you were missing until you tried it once. No wonder all modern console's thumbsticks are rubberized, it's a really noticeable improvement.


Glad you got to try the rubberized cap, I find I really can't play without that extra grip now! ^_^
If you're anything like me you'll notice that on extended sessions it's also much less taxing on the thumb because you don't have to apply as much downward pressure while playing. It's really nice.

Playing a good few hours of Mario kart timetrial last night and only one thumb had any pain, it wasn't the one working the joystick! :P

I'm really pleased with it, hopefully it holds up to extended play.
I may also be able to offer the rubber in a bunch of different colours so that could be neat.


sanni
 
One thing I noticed, the countersunk screw hole of the rubberized cap isn't as deep as in the other two caps, so that the screw gets effectivly shorter and you have to be careful to not overtighten it or it will jump back to the beginning of the thread.


Yeah, I'm afraid these prototype sticks are suffering from a case of "Screw-shortitis"! :facepalm:
I have a better solution for the screws going forward that will eliminate any chance of stripping the threads out.

--

On a different note, here's the latest batch of prototype sticks hot off the lathe! We'll call this one batch No.3

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Edited by LinusHofmann, Mar 7 2016, 02:54 PM.
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sanni
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Ok, so I thought long and hard on how to improve the stick even further based on my experience so far and the only thing I could think of is using a tension gauge to make sure that the force needed to move the stick is the same for all 4 directions and equal to an original stick. Basicly use it to test and tweak the spring by moving the stick with the tension gauge like the person in the image uses it to press a button on a phone.

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Example: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dial-Tension-Gauge-Gram-Force-Meter-Single-Pointer-500-g-/221218417750?hash=item3381a52c56:g:m40AAMXQwKdRd6A-

And one other idea: For the thumbstick cap did you try black Delrin(I think it's also called Acetal or POM) instead of metal? It would be lighter, probably would improve grip even further and wouldn't be so cold in winter and it would color match with the black rubber.

Oh and since the stick already is so perfect it's hard to make suggestions without making it sound like nitpicking, so I hope nobody gets that impression because that is not my intention. :)
Edited by sanni, Mar 8 2016, 10:25 AM.
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LinusHofmann
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Thanks for the detailed feedback, and certainly don't worry about nitpicking. That's the whole point of these samples! :blasphemy bat: :coffee:

The tension gauge is a great idea, that's exactly the right thing to test an assembled stick. It might also help show any small amount of binding and stuff like that as well. I'll have to get one. :)

For now I've got a little rig and a set of digital scales that compresses the springs equally far each time and gives me a figure that I can compare. At least like this I know the springs are in the right zone before assembling.
It's interesting, if I rely on feel to subjectively test the stick tension it highly depends on what I've been doing that day. If I spent the day working on machinery and moving heavy tooling around, the sticks all feel super light and smooth! If on the other hand I spent the day writing emails or tinkering with joysticks they feel so much heavier and I can pick up on lack of smoothness much more acutely. ;)

--

As for different materials for the cap, I quite like the aluminium + rubber combo myself but pretty much anything will work.
Delrin certainly is a nice option, I just feel if I'm going to the trouble of machining a part like this it should be made of a material that has a bit of quality look/feel to it.

I just ordered in some delrin stock to try instead of the teflon sleeve. So I'll have a bit of play around with it for the cap as well.
A solid black/rubber cap could look quite good, or a completely delrin cap instead of the solid aluminium one. Hmm, must try it.

For a lighter/warmer cap feel with the rubber grip I was planning to do a standard OEM cap machined to accept the rubber strip. As like a basic version since there's less machining involved.

--

Anyway, cool stuff. I really enjoy hearing this kind of feedback, look forward to more once the others start receiving their sticks! :)

Edited by LinusHofmann, Mar 8 2016, 11:10 AM.
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Cabanon
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sanni
Mar 7 2016, 02:34 PM
But the first place has to go to the metal cap with the rubber edge. The ruber makes the stick feel just marvelous. Not that the original Nintendo stick has bad grip but the added rubber gives you even more control, it's like something you never thought you were missing until you tried it once. No wonder all modern console's thumbsticks are rubberized, it's a really noticeable improvement.
ok ok ok, I can't control myself anymore. i want one !
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ddr2nite
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Mar 8 2016, 11:15 AM
ok ok ok, I can't control myself anymore. i want one !
Ever since I've returned from my 2-3 year hiatus away from this board I've been lurking and reading up on this thread... (Linus, you are doing FANTASTIC work).

I'm definitely going to put myself on the list for getting 1 or 2 of these sticks once the experts + Linus has come to some type of consensus regarding a "release candidate" or "beta" version that is closer to a finalized version of the product (I consider this to still be in the "alpha" phases of development at the moment).

Keep up the fantastic work + creative back & forth between all members! :yeah:
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LinusHofmann
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I've put you both on the list! :)
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LinusHofmann
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How bout a transparent rubber strip instead of the all aluminium cap? Looks pretty nice I think :)

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This material is also available in a whole bunch of different solid and translucent colours btw, got some more on order to try out the different looks.
Do you guys like the idea of having a choice of rubber strip colour?

Edited by LinusHofmann, Mar 9 2016, 06:54 AM.
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Bamboozled
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Could you post some examples of colored strips?
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LinusHofmann
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Mar 9 2016, 07:00 AM
Could you post some examples of colored strips?
I don't have the materials yet. Just got the clear variant in today so I tried it out.

This is the kind of colour range you could expect though.
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sanni
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Visually the clear rubber sleeve is a huge improvement over the black ... can we try anodizing next? :dance: :yeah:
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LinusHofmann
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sanni
Mar 9 2016, 10:20 AM
Visually the clear rubber sleeve is a huge improvement over the black ... can we try anodizing next? :dance: :yeah:
You know what anodizes in lovely colours too... Titanium :rollseyes:

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bluedogrulez
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I've seen some Playstation/XBox thumbstick caps on amazon recently made of metal and tinted brass/copper, and they look AWESOME. Goodness I can foresee quite the thumbstick buffet being offered by LinusHoffman, thumbstick fabricator extraordinaire!
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Cabanon
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black or clear would be the best choice or a matching color with the controller.
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Conker69
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Can I buy a few off of you ?
Just a simple guy with an average collection.
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kartmaster
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Yeah, just let me know when I can give you my money. Haha.
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LinusHofmann
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Patience guys. :D
I've put you both on the list, but as of right now I'm not accepting payment for these sticks.

The current list of interested people may be offered sticks for the next round of testing or will be first in line if I end up selling off the rest of these early modules. Promise :)

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Will Cheyney
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Pop my name on the list as well! These replacements look the absolute business.
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LinusHofmann
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Sure thing Will.

--------------

Last night the Mario64 speedrunner "Biinny" was the first to stream runs on twitch with one of my sample sticks.
Was awesome seeing it put through it's paces and I'm delighted with how quickly he was able to switch over and pretty much seamlessly go on pulling off all the super precise movement and tricks without a hitch. Good stuff :)

"Screwshortitis" reared it's ugly head at one point and the cap came loose due to the bolt not being tightened enough. Think I need to supply some loctite with the sticks, there's not time for pitstops on these runs! :facepalm: :D

That and longer bolts that can be snugged down without worry about stripping threads is going to solve this issue.



Edited by LinusHofmann, Mar 11 2016, 07:17 AM.
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