Author Topic: Help with custom game controller build  (Read 1708 times)

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Offline delatroy

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Help with custom game controller build
« on: Sat, 02 June 2018, 03:51:36 »
I would like to create an arcade controller with this layout:


Does anyone know if it's possible to buy / fabricate metal backplates for 6 keys and the 4 arrow keys together or separately? If so, my plan is that I could cut out rectangles and bolt them onto the bigger plate and case like this:


Am I going about this the right way?


Online suicidal_orange

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 02 June 2018, 06:36:53 »
It's possible, you could use two plates or one big one as the whole top.  Design your layout (or two) here then use Swill's awesome website to converted it into a CAD file which any cutter can use, the one linked in is guaranteed to work, if you go elswhere you'll need to find out the kerf (width of the cut) required or the switches will be too loose or won't fit.

Assuming you're using MX switches you want it cut in 1.5mm steel or aluminium so they clip in nicely.


Alternately you could buy a 'dead' keyboard on ebay and cut the plate up yourself if you have the tools (dremmel or similar is usually the tool of choice) - doesn't have to look pretty if you're bolting it below another plate :)  This could get you the required switches too...
« Last Edit: Sat, 02 June 2018, 06:40:17 by suicidal_orange »
                               
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Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 02 June 2018, 10:35:17 »
Thanks I created the layout and CAD file that I need now: http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/##@@_y:1.5&x:19.5%3B&=1&=2&=3%3B&@_y:1&x:1.75%3B&=A&=S&=D%3B&@_x:2.25%3B&=Z&=X&=C&_x:11%3B&=%E2%86%91%3B&@_x:15.25%3B&=%E2%86%90&=%E2%86%93&=%E2%86%92

I'm looking at this and thinking that the metal plate that the switches go into is only a small part of the story :)


  • Do I need a plastic or acrylic plate that goes on top of the metal plate?
  • Do I need a bottom plate to support the top plate?

I've seen that lasergist and other do the metal parts. Is there a similar service for plastic / acrylic?

I think the most practical thing would be to buy an arcade case and replace the metal plate with my own like this:
« Last Edit: Sat, 02 June 2018, 10:40:32 by delatroy »

Online suicidal_orange

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 02 June 2018, 12:04:41 »
I would just cut the whole top as one piece, if using metal you could add six screw holes and replace the top of the 'arcade case'.  Alternately you could use the 'sandwhich case' option on the plate website which gives you a top and bottom plate the same size, then you just use spacers and bolt from the top and bottom.  Would need some supports in the middle then though, especially if done in Acrylic.  With a sandwhich case dust can get in the sides but you can see your handywork which may/may not be appealing.  Example in the first post

The problem with acrylic is that 1.5mm isn't strong enough to support switches so either you'd need to file the plate thinner at the top and bottom of each switch hole so the switches clip, in or you have to glue them in.  As you have few switches either method sounds doable?

I found laser hive while looking for custom computer cases, they were quick to respond and the price seemed reasonable but I was using an entire sheet which may help considerably.  I have not bought from them (still might) so can only partially recommend but they stock acrylic in 3mm and 5mm, I'd probably go with 5 as it's stronger.

Your first picture in the second post doesn't show up so I cannot guess what the story is, or which parts you're missing :))
                               
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Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 02 June 2018, 13:54:11 »
Thank you.
Yes at this stage I agree that I should buy a case and just replace the entire top with a custom piece that I get fashioned. Would be easy enough.

Now I just need to find a suitable case, figure out how big the case plates are in mm and adjust the CAD accordingly. Maybe this is easier than I thought?

Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 03 June 2018, 11:10:06 »
Quote
I found laser hive while looking for custom computer cases, they were quick to respond and the price seemed reasonable but I was using an entire sheet which may help considerably.

Great tip on LaserHive bro. Cheap.. and very good service on Facebook Messenger. Provisionally they are quoting £20.  :)

Online suicidal_orange

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 03 June 2018, 11:39:47 »
Glad to hear it - please keep us updated.  Also don't forget the supports if you're going acrylic.
                               
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Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 03 June 2018, 18:11:27 »
Iím planning to go for stainless steel plate inside a walnut case that Iím talking to some carpenters to get made locally. The price of metal cases and shipping is crazy. Thereís not many sources.

Iím trying to figure out if I should get two small steel plates or one big one and screw the whole thing on top. Maybe the wood case could be made to have a 1.5mm inlay for the plates so they sit flush. One big metal plate on top of walnut may look ugly.

Online suicidal_orange

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 04 June 2018, 04:49:30 »
Yeah I wouldn't want a big bare metal plate with wood either, you could paint it matt black but walnut's quite pale so maybe not.  Could have a wood top and bottom with cutouts for the switches and a metal plate sandwiched in the middle?  Prettiness isn't my specialty and I'm no carpenter so no idea if that's expensive, just thinking aloud.
                               
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Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 04 June 2018, 08:47:23 »
Yeah I hear you. I did consider not having the metal plate and just going into wood with the switches but I'm concerned on the accuracy and stability long term. Now I'm thinking to have one big metal plate that's bolted on the bottom of the wooden top so the keys are the only things that are visible from the top if you follow me. This way the top of the case looks clean but still have the desired accuracy and stability.  :cool:

Offline fpazos

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 04 June 2018, 14:16:21 »
Hi. I built an arcade controller some years ago. Acrylic and MD wood. It is solid as a rock. I just drilled the holes and it is fine. I give you more details if you want tomorrow morning gtm +1


Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #11 on: Tue, 05 June 2018, 03:48:49 »
That looks like indestructible haha  :)

Where did you get the case and top plate?

Online suicidal_orange

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 05 June 2018, 03:56:22 »
That's a beast, more details required :thumb:
                               
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Offline fpazos

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #13 on: Tue, 05 June 2018, 07:25:45 »
I uploaded a gallery to Imgur with detailed info, I didn't find any original blueprints, button layout nor WIP photos, but I commented some details on the gallery, and yes, it is almost indestructible  :), I made it with live last in mind, maybe a part break but you can replace it easily.
https://imgur.com/gallery/3nnoSSs

As I see your project, here you have a nice problem, the arcade buttons holes can be drilled on any material (steel too) just using a crown drill. They will fit fine and be stable, same for supporting holes and joystick holes. I could say that you have a +-1mm margin of error, the same for a simple wood case. The problem is to include the keyboard switches, that need at max +-0.1mm error. I realized that now by the hard way working on my first keyboard, It is a completely different approach, pieces are smaller and need a fine work, even not allowing a manual/artisan approach (unless you are a master).

Another problem is the tools you have, I have some basic tools as driller, gouges, patience and a circular saw, good for big pieces (you can set a measured fixed width) but not for small ones, when I started working on the keyboard I missed having a flat sanding machine, laser cut/mark, a dremel with a good set of tools, basically more precise tools for work and measure/draw.

I think that if you have a dremel with a cutting disc and a driller, you could try to do your own plate and case, and maybe use the method commented by suicidical_orange, using a laser cut plate, reuse part of another keyboard plate only for the switches and put the two plates together.

Doing the case and plate isn't that difficult (at least compared to a keyboard), also fibreboard is cheap and easy to work with (very heavy too).
« Last Edit: Tue, 05 June 2018, 08:06:21 by fpazos »

Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #14 on: Tue, 05 June 2018, 08:24:32 »
Quote
As I see your project, here you have a nice problem, the arcade buttons holes can be drilled on any material (steel too) just using a crown drill. They will fit fine and be stable, same for supporting holes and joystick holes. I could say that you have a +-1mm margin of error, the same for a simple wood case. The problem is to include the keyboard switches, that need at max +-0.1mm error.

My plan is to get a metal plate(s) laser cut and then to have a professional carpenter make the case. I wouldn't attempt either of these by myself. I think the hardest part will be for the carpenter to precisely cut out the asdzxc and arrow key shapes. I'm planning to have him cut out the of both key shapes rather than trying to cut out individual keys to reduce complexity.

Offline fpazos

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 05 June 2018, 17:29:31 »
My plan is to get a metal plate(s) laser cut and then to have a professional carpenter make the case. I wouldn't attempt either of these by myself. I think the hardest part will be for the carpenter to precisely cut out the asdzxc and arrow key shapes. I'm planning to have him cut out the of both key shapes rather than trying to cut out individual keys to reduce complexity.
That's perfect for a perfect finishing. Expensive for me but you'll get an amazing result. My arcade plate is a bit wobbly but nothing noticeable while playing games, not valid for a keyboard

Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 06 June 2018, 03:46:23 »
I got quotes from 2 different carpenters and they are saying Ä100 and Ä135 and this is using birch and pine MDF. I've heard elsewhere that it'll be hard to get a good finish with MDF.

The metal case from allfightsticks.com is $120 and $52 in shipping. I think I will pay the extra and go for the metal case instead. It would be different if we are talking walnut or something very nice like that but it will be less risky and more sturdy if I go with metal.

Offline TomBodet

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 06 June 2018, 07:26:58 »
Never heard of MDF being called by anything more specific than...MDF.   Birch or pine?  Sounds more like plywood.  MDF is a compressed mess of fine particles and stuff to hold it together.  It can't be finished short of painting over it or adding veneer.  It also can't get wet; the stuff holding it together can't hang on to the particles when they swell so it basically starts to crumble when it dries out.  So if you have a spill you're screwed.

Metal case sounds like the clear win here.

Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #18 on: Wed, 06 June 2018, 08:38:19 »
Never heard of MDF being called by anything more specific than...MDF.   Birch or pine?  Sounds more like plywood.  MDF is a compressed mess of fine particles and stuff to hold it together.  It can't be finished short of painting over it or adding veneer.  It also can't get wet; the stuff holding it together can't hang on to the particles when they swell so it basically starts to crumble when it dries out.  So if you have a spill you're screwed.

Metal case sounds like the clear win here.

Thanks for the input to strengthen the case for metal :)

Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #19 on: Sat, 09 June 2018, 06:32:07 »
Got the Brook UFB in and wired up some keys to test the inputs. Everything works great.
I think I have everything in order now to go ahead with the build  :)


Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #20 on: Tue, 03 July 2018, 13:20:28 »
I would just cut the whole top as one piece, if using metal you could add six screw holes and replace the top of the 'arcade case'.  Alternately you could use the 'sandwhich case' option on the plate website which gives you a top and bottom plate the same size, then you just use spacers and bolt from the top and bottom.  Would need some supports in the middle then though, especially if done in Acrylic.  With a sandwhich case dust can get in the sides but you can see your handywork which may/may not be appealing.  Example in the first post

The problem with acrylic is that 1.5mm isn't strong enough to support switches so either you'd need to file the plate thinner at the top and bottom of each switch hole so the switches clip, in or you have to glue them in.  As you have few switches either method sounds doable?

I found laser hive while looking for custom computer cases, they were quick to respond and the price seemed reasonable but I was using an entire sheet which may help considerably.  I have not bought from them (still might) so can only partially recommend but they stock acrylic in 3mm and 5mm, I'd probably go with 5 as it's stronger.

Your first picture in the second post doesn't show up so I cannot guess what the story is, or which parts you're missing :))

Metal top plate arrived. Really happy with it! Only £20. Laser Hive rocks. Ordered an arylic top plate also to cover the stainless steel!  :)





Online suicidal_orange

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 06 July 2018, 06:41:52 »
Glad to hear it went well - £20 for that big sheet sounds cheap, though there's not much cutting.  Is it as perfect as it looks (no scratches/dents?)

I am concerned by the blue stems though, clicky switches are not usually good for gaming as you have to fully let go before you can press them again but maybe they're one of the many new switches I'm not familiar with so not clicky...

Looking forward to pics of the finished board.
                               
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Offline Synjin

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 06 July 2018, 06:55:09 »
Nice to see that there are other arcade stick enthusiasts out there.  :thumb:

Offline delatroy

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Re: Help with custom game controller build
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 06 July 2018, 13:39:09 »
Glad to hear it went well - £20 for that big sheet sounds cheap, though there's not much cutting.  Is it as perfect as it looks (no scratches/dents?)

I am concerned by the blue stems though, clicky switches are not usually good for gaming as you have to fully let go before you can press them again but maybe they're one of the many new switches I'm not familiar with so not clicky...

Looking forward to pics of the finished board.

Yes £20 is a great deal. Show your support to Laser Hive boys.

I ordered Cherry Reds for the switches. The blues were just to confirm that the dimensions were okay!