How To: AES Sanwa Stick Mod

themisterfalcon

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Neo-Geo AES Sanwa Stick Mod Guide - Compiled by 'dubdubdub' (Feb. 15, 2009)

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DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for you screwing your stick up, blowing your face out with a dremel, burning yourself with a soldering iron, etc. etc. etc. If you don't have basic knowledge of power tools and soldering then have someone else (besides me) do this for you. MOD AT YOUR OWN RISK!

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Welcome adventurous traveler! You have decided to do a mod that was largely considered "impossible" due to the size of Sanwa sticks vs The Neo-Geo AES case size. A few people have tried this and done it by putting a nasty gaping hole in the bottom of the stick. Yuk! I've modded about 20 of these sticks to date the way I am showing you.

There are about 17 members on this site that are going to post "There is nothing wrong with the stock stick! It's superior!" To each his own I guess. While the stock stick sure is nice (especially compared to other sticks in it's day) the fact remains it is simply not as accurate as a Sanwa JLF. If it was, they would be putting these crappy things in candy cabs.

I have received close to 100 pms asking how this is done. Since this is the last one I will ever do I figured I might as well make a guide for everyone. Here we go...

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Step 1: Tools & Bits needed
- Soldering Gun
- Solder
- Wire
- Wire heatshrink
- Drill with pilot bit and 5/32" bit
- Philips/Flat Tip screwdrivers
- Needle nose pliers
- Wire snips
- Wire strippers
- Multi Meter
- Dremel with cutting bit and grinding bit
- 1 Sanwa JLF joystick (with balltop color of choice)
- 1 JLF wire harness
- 1 JLF Octagon gate (optional & recommended)
- 4 24mm Sanwa/Semitsu pushbuttons (snap in or screw in)
- 1 pack of Shorty's "Silverados" skateboard mounting bolts (hex head, can get them at any skateboard shop)
- 1 1/2" washer (VERY important)
- 4 small washers (for the Shorty bolts)
- Bottle of glass Coke (optional, highly recommended)
- 8 terminal disconnects

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Step 2: Disassembly

This is where the fun starts. Remember kids, this is 100% irreversable modification to your stick.

1. Using a flat tip screwdriver carefully pop off the rubber feet from the bottom of the stick. If you remove them cleanly enough, you can reuse/reglue them when you are done. Otherwise you will have to pick up some other rubber feet from the hardware store.

2. Remove the 5 screws from the bottom and remove the bottom shell.

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3. Remove the 4 screws holding the joystick in place. Disonnect all the quick connects.

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4. Using a flat tip screwdriver, remove the balltop from the joystick shaft.

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5. Remove the 4 screws holding the button assembly on, and the one screw holding the start/select button assembly on. You can leave the wiring on it for now as we will get to that part later.

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Step 3: Installing the joystick
This is where the fun part comes. NEO GEO PURISTS CLOSE YOUR EYES PLEASE. This is going to hurt. Lots of hacking and slashing going on here.

1. Using your dremel cutting bit remove all traces of the old joystick mounts. This includes the two fins running vertically along the sides of the stick hole, and the two fins on the base of the case.

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2. Using your dremel grinding bit, shave off a tiny tiny tiny tiny (I can't stress that enough) layer of plastic on the bottom base where the stick would hit. Thankfully SNK already marked this spot for us when the injection molding was done.

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3. This is where that washer comes into play. Basically, even with the grinding and such the Sanwa shaft is still about 1/32" too long for the case. By placing a washer in the top of the stick assembly, it raises it up just a hair (by pulling the spring assembly up).

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4. Place some markable tape on the top of your case in the approximate location of your mounting points. Place the joystick in upside down and eyeball the location then mark with a sharpie. I use duct tape for its strength and protection to avoid any slips that might scratch the case. The placement of the stick is strictly personal preference. I like the stick to be mounted straight like the original. Once I had someone request that I tilt it slightly outward because their hands were too large for this stick and felt they could do quarter circles easier that way.

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5. Drill your pilot holes.

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6. Drill your big boy holes. (Protip: Charge your drill before you start. Time to crack open that glass coke and have a few swigs ^_^)

7. Now it's time to mount the stick. You will notice the inside of the plastic is curved, while the Sanwa mounting plate is flat. Take your needle nose pliers (or any pliers for that matter) and gently arc the corners of the mounting plate upward.

Before:
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After:
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8. Place the shorty bolts in through the top. They should fit nice and snug. Place the stick mount on, your washers and the nuts. Tighten in an opposite corner fashion (as you would when putting a wheel on a car). Do a little bit at a time on each post until they are nice and snug. Doing this slowly bends the corners the rest of the way. Don't tighten too hard though or you might snap the plastic case and have an ugly blemish to deal with.

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9. After the stick is mounted place the shaft cover on, screw the balltop on, put the PCB in place and the restrictor plate. Place the stick together and move it around. Do you feel any friction on the bottom of the case? If no, you did perfect. If yes, repeat step 3 very carefully.

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Step 4: The Start & Select button mounting plate.

The metal plate used to mount the start and select button PCB will not fit now because of the hardware mounting the stick. Time for more hacking.

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1. Draw a line with your sharpie along the select side of the metal plate.

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2. Cut it with your dremel cutting bit. Be careful. You screw this PCB up and you are in a world of hurt.

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3. Screw the PCB back in place. Yay it fits!

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Step 5: Wiring the buttons.

1. Remove all the wires from the button PCB. Take note of which color goes to which button or you will have to use the multi meter later. In the case of the stick being shown:

White - A
Yellow - B
Grey - C
Orange & Green - D
Black/Brown - Common ground (also shared with joystick and start/select buttons)

2. After removing and stripping the wires, start by adding quick disconnects to ABCD wires.

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3. Build your ground loom. You need 4 quick disconnects with enough wire running between each one that it will comfortably reach between your buttons. On the 4th quick disconnect, you will be connecting the ground wire from the joystick (Sanwa harness black wire), the ground wire that was connected to your button PCB, and the ground wire that serves your joystick switches.

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4. Hook your buttons up! Done.

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Step 6: Wiring the joystick

If you did everything right up to this point you will have 4 wires left. Black, Green, Blue and Pink. Almost all AES sticks wiring is colored the same. At this point it wouldn't hurt to use a multimeter and double check your pin outs though. Wire them to the Sanwa harness as shows. (S) represents the wire on the Sanwa harness.:

Ground - (S) Black (Already done)
Black - (S) Green
Green - (S) Yellow
Blue - (S) Orange
Pink - (S) Red

Tuck those wires in! Throw some electrical tape down to hold them in place. Put the base on, screw it all together. Then test it before you put the rubber feet on. If all works well, and you didn't screw the rubber feet up, hot glue them back on. Otherwise drag your sorry butt up to the hardware store and get some new rubber.

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Step 7: Rock your face off.

Put in Garou and do some Crack Shoots with Terry. Buster Wolf all over your friends faces. Put in KOF 98 and see how easy it is to pull off Iori's Eight Maidens. You will be pleased with the arcade quality accuracy of your stick now and will most likely become the best Neo player in your neighborhood.

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That's it. Please feel free to post any questions regarding this guide and I will edit as needed.
 

loegan43

I've served my time in the Dark Army., Have you?,
Joined
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Posts
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Wow, thanks. That's a very comprehensive guide, might have to try that, I have a few old NG sticks laying around.
 

68k

Tung Fu Rue's Prize Student
20 Year Member
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lol Neo?

Sweet, i'll try this on my supergun.
 

Electric Grave

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Thanks dubs, I remember asking you for this a while back. You're the best!
 

Ghosthand

Bashful Neophyte
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Sep 11, 2007
Posts
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Very nicely done guide! Too bad I already did my own mod a while back. Now can you do one for the Hori Neo Fighting Stick???
:A:
 

DanAdamKOF

Iori's Flame
Joined
Jun 15, 2002
Posts
8,245
This is great, and really comprehensive!

A few questions I had after reading:
Not trying to criticize but wouldn't it be better to use screws with a round top, like most arcades have near their joysticks? You could probably use the screws you used first to bend the mounting plate, then after that swap in hand-friendly bolts.

Do you have a particular method (with a level, measuring, a straightedge, I dunno...) for mounting the joystick on straight, or is it just eyeballing to see if it doesn't look crooked?

After swapping the buttons, wouldn't you have to be a tiny bit more accurate in hitting them, due to the ridge around them? You're shrinking the surface area used to actually press them from the old buttons' width.


Despite all these questions I still really want to do this. I was thinking before of modding my PS2 Tekken 5 HRAP-like sticks with Sanwa parts and making those Neo-compatible, and selling my Neo sticks to fund that in part, but now I'm sort of doubting that idea. Maybe I'll just hold onto those sticks.
 

Electric Grave

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Fixed!

;)

Nice write-up 3Dub!

Oh gezz, thanks there channelmaniac! You're the best!...douchebag!

DanAdamKOF, damn man! you are such a fucking noob sometimes...ruffles! Nervousnelly stuff like that is what stops mankind from growing you know.

One question dubs; what's with some folks drilling the bottom of the stick, is the shaft too long in this particular case, and I take the JLF isn't right?
 
Last edited:

Xian Xi

JammaNationX,
Joined
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About fucking time, it's been like 3 years since you did the first one.
 

themisterfalcon

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Not trying to criticize but wouldn't it be better to use screws with a round top, like most arcades have near their joysticks? You could probably use the screws you used first to bend the mounting plate, then after that swap in hand-friendly bolts..


I use skateboard mounting hardware for a couple reasons. The main reason being aesthetics - I like the matte black hex head look. They have a very small diameter too. I experimented using different kinds of screws, recessing, etc. and these seemed to work the best. Rounded screws would work just as well but I had a hard time (consistently, read: scouring hardware stores) finding them in matte black.

Also, these bolts are designed to fit as flat as possible. You don't want your feet getting caught on a bolt head - I feel the same way with my hands when using a stick.

Do you have a particular method (with a level, measuring, a straightedge, I dunno...) for mounting the joystick on straight, or is it just eyeballing to see if it doesn't look crooked?

Completely eyeballing it. The size of the shorty bolts vs the bolt holes on the Sanwa plate allow for 1/16" or so of adjustment from your drill holes. You just have to make sure that your stick is centered otherwise after you mount you might have to widen the joystick hole.

After swapping the buttons, wouldn't you have to be a tiny bit more accurate in hitting them, due to the ridge around them? You're shrinking the surface area used to actually press them from the old buttons' width.

These buttons require far less press to activate. It feels just like a miniature version of a regular Sanwa setup. The diameter of actual coverage doesn't differ much. The outside ring of plastic is more or less filling up gaps left by the previous buttons.

Glad everyone enjoys it. If anyone gets around to modding one themselves I would love to see your finished product as well as any findings you might have to make this process easier!
 

Shogeki

Neo Bubble Buster
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Dec 30, 2008
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Very nicely done guide! Too bad I already did my own mod a while back. Now can you do one for the Hori Neo Fighting Stick???
:A:

The hori stick is way easier, as I remember you don't actually have anything to mod beside drilling the 4 holes for the stick.
 

Syn

Just Short..., As always... :-(,
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How much easier or difficult would it be to do this on a kidney style controller?
 

ronald0

Crazed MVS Addict
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Great guide! I might do that mod some day. You should've chosen blue buttons and stick though. :)
 

themisterfalcon

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How much easier or difficult would it be to do this on a kidney style controller?

Pretty sure the kidney style really is impossible. That stick is just far too thin.

Then again, people said this case was impossible too. You'll never know unless you try :)
 

Syn

Just Short..., As always... :-(,
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Pretty sure the kidney style really is impossible. That stick is just far too thin.

Then again, people said this case was impossible too. You'll never know unless you try :)

Something to try if I ever break one of the one's I have. Not going to risk it on a working one. Thanks for the input and the How To...invaluable:buttrock:
 

Xian Xi

JammaNationX,
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You could probably take the stick from the classic and put it in the kidney.
 

Syn

Just Short..., As always... :-(,
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You could probably take the stick from the classic and put it in the kidney.

Another great thought!

Now all I have to do is come across a broken classic.

It's amazing the Neo Geo systems are the only systems whose controller's have worked for me (3 classic, 2 kidney & 2 cd). They all seem pretty solid in general.
 

themisterfalcon

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The guy I modded this for didn't want the old parts. You are welcome to them if you pay me for shipping.
 

WinkWink

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Nice write up Dubs! I always wondered how to fit long shafts in small compact places.
 
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