Reflex Arcade Stick Xbox Hack

This is a very easy hack which requires little or no soldering at all. All buttons are usable (even R & L). Live is also supported.

As you can see this thing is already an "arcade" stick. However, compaired to what we'll turn it into this is a child's toy.
Put a screwdriver to work on the bottom of this thing. You'll need to remove the rubber feet to get at a few of them. If your box has a Con-Tact finish I've found that these feet will easily stick to the bottom. Great for desktop use.

The Guts

Don't let this mess intimidate you. Your first mission is to continue unscrewing everything. Be careful not to pull any wires. Remove every screw you can find. You may notice the plug for Memory/Live has some tape over a couple capacitors, Do Not remove this tape as it prevents their leads from touching each other. Any other tape that's in your way may be removed.
In the above image you'll note some labels are in red. These are parts that will not be used. This includes the microswitches for the joystick. Your arcade stick will already have a set installed if needed (which tend to be slightly larger as shown below). So the next thing to do is remove the stuff you don't need. This is done by simply cutting their wires:

Action Buttons & Microswitches: Cut their wires as close as possible to the button/switch. You want at much excess wire as possible.

Back & Start Board: Cut these close to the Back & Start Board. You'll need these wires as well. The white wire here is Ground.

Motors: Cut these wires right at the board, you don't need them (the image shows more wire for illustration only).

Macro Board: Cut these close to the Macro Board. There's a set of grey wires and one white.

Make sure when you cut the wires that no metal is exposed. Here's a Bad example:

The above would cause a nightware of problems. And the Good example:

Control Wiring

The first thing to deal with is Ground.
This hack uses the Traditional grounding method, where you have one Ground going to All of your arcade controls. This is the way most controllers work. If your replacing an existing PCB (i.e. in a MAS or X-Arcade Stick) or think you may replace This PCB in the future then stick with this method.
The parallel method (for lack of a better term), has two wires from the PCB for each switch. This is how the Reflex Stick is wired originally. However this requires more wire, more connections and more work. Because this method is generally inferior, this tutorial will focus on the Traditional Method.

The first image shows the controls wired in the Traditional way. The black wires are all the same Ground. You'll notice every switch is connected together via these Ground wires.
The second image shows what's what on a typical microswitch.

Next on the menu is wiring each switch's Positive to the PCB. The length of the wires from the PCB are too short to safely go directly to all of the switches. So you will need to connect a new wire from each switch to each required wire on the PCB.
There's two ways of doing this. One way is to solder one end to the Positive of the switch and solder the other to the wire from the PCB.
If soldering isn't your thing, relax you have another option. You can use Barrier Strips to connect the wires from the PCB to the wires to your controls. Then use Quick Disconnects on the ends of those wires to plug them onto the control switches. These can both be bought at Radio Shack.
Image jacked from

Now we get to the good stuff...
Let's start with the 1st image. These wires all went to the Back/Start board. The White is Ground. This will connect to the Ground connections of all switches (as shown above). If your using a Perfect 360, you can ground it to this as well.
The Grey wire goes to Start, leaving the Red one for Back.

The 2nd image shows may Red and Black wires going all over the place. Good news, you don't need any of the Black wires! To make your life easier you may cut the black ones shorter so they don't get in your way.
The Red wires are marked pretty clearly. They are:
White, Y, X, L, Black, B, A, R.
You may want to label these wires since they're all the same color.

In the 3rd image you'll see colored wires in set's of two. Brown, Red, Orange, Blue. As before you only need half of these (the others are all Ground). In each pair, it's the 2nd wire that you need. Thus from top to bottom they are:
Not Used (Brown)
Right (Brown)
Not Used (Red)
Left (Red)
Not Used (Orange)
Down (Orange)
Not Used (Blue)
Up (Blue)

Perfect 360:
Only if your using a Perfect 360 joystick. The Ground connection for the stick is the same as the buttons. You can simply connect the ground wire to the ground on one of your buttons.
The Positive wire connects to the Red wire coming out of the gamepad's main cord. This connection can made from the bottom side of the PCB quite easily.

PCB Mounting

Due to the very small size of this board you have a lot of freedom with how you'd like to position it within your box. I've decided to mount mine on it's side to an interior wall.
The biggest thing to think about is how you intend to use the Memory/Live port. You have a few inches of wire to work with for this. Just make sure it is not being pulled/stressed.
I've clamped the main cord at it's rubber stopper to prevent a pulled cord from ripping apart the connections. If you don't use a clamp here, a simple knot where it exits the box will do.


Several people have e-mailed me about problems with buttons activating the wrong or multiple buttons at the same time.
I personally have had no such problems. However, I got an e-mail from a Mark Cook with a possible solution for those who are. The following is his conclusion. Any additional info or comments/additions are surely welcome.

1 - Keep the wires as short as you can - the original setup has relatively short wires.

2 - And avoid using a 2 stage wiring setup whereby you go through a connector. I positioned my reflex circuit board between the joystick and the buttons. And using only the amount of wire needed to reach, soldered the wires DIRECTLY FROM THE CIRCUIT BOARD TO THE SWITCH.

3 - DO NOT USE COMMON GROUNDS - use individual grounds directly from the PCB to the switches. In the exact order they were on the original reflex joystick setup.

I tried each of these things individually and it didn't fix the problem so I can only assume you need to do all of them - IE re-create the Reflex joystick as close as possible to the way it was originally.

As to why this would fix it - I HAVE NO IDEA. It just does.


Copyright © Kevin Reems 2003