Joycard controller D-pad repair help

By wyrdwad

Paladin (931)

wyrdwad's picture

02-08-2015, 03:38

I've got something new I'd like to look into, to improve the "quality of life" of my MSX gaming, and was hoping I could get some advice from you guys on how best to go about this.

I have three MSX controllers at the moment: a Joycard Needs that looks like this:
http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/ODAwWDgwMA==/z/GUYAAMXQlbVSDdWh$%28KGrHqIOKosFIK2WFIkLBSDdWhHg6!~~60_57.JPG

...a more boxy Joycard Needs with shallower buttons (which I can't find any pictures of online, oddly enough, though it's not relevant to this topic), and a Joycont Turbo-IV.

Of the three, the first is absolutely my favorite because of its contour and because of its responsive, clicky D-pad -- the more boxy Joycard Needs is awful, and the Joycont is fine (and has the same sort of contour as the first Joycard Needs, which I really like), but its D-pad gives less feedback and thus makes me inclined to press it harder, which makes the controller less comfortable to use.

I've been using the Joycont lately, though, for reliability purposes, because the comfy Joycard has developed a slight problem: namely, when I hold the up or down button on the D-pad, the game sometimes registers a bunch of left and/or right presses as well. Even if I'm pressing the very tippy-top of the D-pad, my character will still start to jitter around as he randomly moves left and right in addition to (or sometimes instead of) moving up or down.

This doesn't happen all the time -- I've gone hours without it happening already -- but when it does, it continues to happen pretty much for the remainder of my play session. And while it's not a huge problem in most side-scrollers, it's proven rather deadly in overhead and isometric action games (most notably Borfes and Batman), as well as in Psycho World (where I try to hold the down arrow and press A to switch powers, only to find myself running off in one direction or another, usually to my demise).

I've considered taking my chances and buying another Joycard of the exact same model, but there's no guarantee it won't have the same issue -- for all I know, this could be a common problem with that particular controller type.

What I'm hoping is that it's simply a case of dirty contacts or a misaligned pad or something -- which definitely seems possible, since the controller I have is pretty beat-up -- but the problem is, I have absolutely ZERO experience working on hardware, and I remain terrified that if I open this thing up, I'm going to somehow destroy it irreparably. I've tried taking it in to my local mom-and-pop retro gaming shop, but they don't work with controllers, so they turned me away.

So my question is... if I open up my Joycard, what should I be looking for, exactly? And how would I go about fixing it, if I find it?

Despite my lack of experience, I'd like to try to fix this myself, since I'm living the MSX Lyfe(tm) now and should probably prepare myself for other minor tech tweaks to come... but I'm still terrified of breaking the thing, so any and all advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. And remember, I have NO experience with this sort of thing -- I've never soldered anything in my life, and have barely ever seen the inside of a computer before, much less worked on one. I have some degree of software and programming know-how, but no hardware know-how of any sort... so forgive me if I seem confused or require a lot more explanation than you might be used to. ;)

Thanks, to anyone who can help!

-Tom

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By anonymous

incognito ergo sum (116)

anonymous's picture

02-08-2015, 10:18

About joycont, I'm pretty sure that the tracks are graphite based like a normal remote commander (see here) so you only need to clean and apply a thin coat of this product to the pads where the buttons make contact. Don't forget to do it in the buttons as well. In my opinion is a good moment to check all of them (pads and buttons). Yes, the product is a big spray so you should extract some quantity into an small container and apply it with a thin brush.

About Joycard, probably it features an IC with abnormal behaviour, not sure.

By gdx

Enlighted (4628)

gdx's picture

02-08-2015, 11:29

The joypad failures are often caused by broken cable, carbon contacts, silicon split or the general connector of MSX.

Solutions:
- New cable.
- A conductive ink.
- To change general connector (often hard to find)

There is no solution when the silicone of buttons which is slotted .

By wyrdwad

Paladin (931)

wyrdwad's picture

02-08-2015, 12:02

If by "general connector of MSX" you mean the port on the system itself, that's definitely not the issue -- my other two controllers work fine 100% of the time using the same port. It's only this particular Joycard Needs.

I don't really understand your other three points, though. Is there any online resource I could check for these?

And PAC: Thanks for the detailed response! Again, though, if there are any detailed online resources you can link me to that show how to clean the pads and what tracks should have the solution applied to them, it would be appreciated. Like I said in the OT, I'm totally ignorant when it comes to technical things like this.

Thanks!

-Tom

By gdx

Enlighted (4628)

gdx's picture

02-08-2015, 12:21

The real name of joystick port is "general port".

By Pac

Guardian (6376)

Pac's picture

02-08-2015, 14:09

wyrdwad wrote:

And PAC: Thanks for the detailed response! Again, though, if there are any detailed online resources you can link me to that show how to clean the pads and what tracks should have the solution applied to t

First of all make sure the problem is no related to the cable. I assume that you don't have a multimeter so you can do some tests checking the cable length moving it while you are pressing a faulty button. If so, the button function switch on-off moving an specific area of it. We are used to coil the cables in a wrong way so is easy to find and area where there is a problem.

Once you are convinced it's a dirty contacts problem the process is:

1. Clean the pads (board and button) with a cotton swab and alcohol. Keep in mind that alcohol is abrasive so don't clean them too much.
2. Apply the GRAPHIT 33 product only on the areas of pads. Easy to indentify, black color and they are normally round shape or like those. Don't forget the side of buttons!

By wyrdwad

Paladin (931)

wyrdwad's picture

02-08-2015, 22:44

So I'd apply the Graphit 33 to the underside of the pads, but not to the board itself, right? And it won't hurt the circuitry?

I don't own a multimeter, but I might know someone who does, so maybe I'll call in some favors. Wink

-Tom

By Pac

Guardian (6376)

Pac's picture

03-08-2015, 00:24

I normally apply the product on both (board pads and buttons) to improve both surfaces. I forgot to tell you that this is a conductive product (similar to a paint but it dries in few seconds) so avoid to short-circuit the tracks if you don't want experience a pressed button. I mean apply the product ONLY IN THE BLACK AREAS, see this picture as reference. Anyway you can remove it easily with alcohol once is dry.

wyrdwad, one more thing. Before buying the Graphit 33, try just cleaning with alcohol maybe you are lucky ;) .

By wyrdwad

Paladin (931)

wyrdwad's picture

03-08-2015, 09:15

Yeah, I was planning on just cleaning first and seeing what happens. Unfortunately, I ran into a little snag: I can't get one of the screws out. It seems like it's been stripped bare, so my screwdriver can't grip it at all. I might have to buy some tiny tweezers or something and try to force it.

This is probably a really stupid question, but once I get it open, what parts do I want to swab with the rubbing alcohol? I assume none of the actual circuitry -- just the black pads again, right?

-Tom

By Pac

Guardian (6376)

Pac's picture

03-08-2015, 11:16

Yes, the black areas are where the contact with buttons is done. Precisely I've found this link about what you are going to find and where you have to clean, it's a perfect example :) .

By the way, I've found one more product suitable to repair carbon based pads and it's cheaper. Once again if you have to apply any of this products be careful with short-circuits. As you can see in the previous pictures, normally the pad is divided into two parts, respect this!

By wyrdwad

Paladin (931)

wyrdwad's picture

03-08-2015, 11:27

Ooh, that looks like exactly what I need! Thanks a bunch!

-Tom