How to extend the life of a N64 gamepad

The texture of the Nintendo 64 joystick didn't degrade over time: it wasn't made of soft plastic, as the PS2 joystick. But, as all of the N64 controller users know, the joystick becomes somehow loose after repeated usage.

Nevertheless, N64 gamepad owners are lucky to extend the life of N64 controllers, because spare parts are sold to replace the complete Nintendo 64 joystick (not just the stick, but the whole inner mechanism too), at a lower cost than a new N64 gamepad.

Nintendo 64 thumbstick (click to enlarge)

You can purchase a Nintendo 64 joystick online. Each N64 joystick costs around 5 or 6 euros at ebay. You can even get some discount purchasing a pack of some N64 joysticks. The keywords to find these articles through ebay are "N64 thumbstick" (and be sure to perform a worldwide search).

How to open a Nintendo 64 controller and replace the joystick is pretty simple. Just remove the screws of the N64 gamepad, remove the old joystick, and put the new thumbstick in its place. And that's it: your gamepad now feels like a new one.

Curiosity: inside the N64 joystick

The installation of a new joystick in a N64 controller does not require to dismantle a gamepad as much as is shown in the following image. On the other hand, I always felt curious about how a Nintendo 64 joystick works and what's inside a gamepad. Will there be springs? Elastic rubber bands? ... Why do joysticks feel loose after some usage?

Inside a N64 joystick (click to enlarge)

So I opened the Nintendo 64 controller. The joystick itself just rotates 2 pieces that move 2 gears. The displacement of the stick from the central point is calculated according to the position of these 2 gears.

There is just 1 spring that makes the joystick come back to the central point (so the N64 gamepad does not have a spring for each direction, as some pads or buttons do). Such single spring is placed in the middle of the mechanism (so you cannot see it in the image), but it really pulls both gears towards the center.

Video in!

How to repair a PS2 controller

How to open a PS controller is really a quite simple task. But we tend not to open PS controllers because we don't know how, or because we fear breaking the gamepad if we open it. We fear that the pieces inside the controller could be dismantled and be hard to place again in their original positions (which really happens with many other things).

An open PlayStation controller (click to enlarge)

This isn't just a tutorial. It states that you can open a PS controller, without fearing the feelings of "What if I open the controller and leave it worse? Now it's so-so, but not bad after all". So I have attached the photographs that I have taken of my own open controller.

As they don't sell spare joysticks for PlayStation controllers, we can just swap the PS left joystick and the PS right joystick, because the right stick is less used, and it's often in a better condition (while the left stick usually loses the bump texture, which enhances the grip of your thumb).

Inside a PS controller (click to enlarge)

Replacing the PlayStation joysticks (click to enlarge)

To open the PlayStation controller just remove 5 simple screws with a Phillips screwdriver (a cross-point screwdriver). The PS joysticks are attached without any weird system or screw: the sticks just fit like Lego blocks.

This can also be useful to replace worn out buttons by the buttons of a broken irreparable controller that we could have laying out there.

Nevertheless, there is just only a situation in which we won't be able to mount again the open controller, as it happened to me: if your housemate (a member of this blog too) sits on the bed where you put the screws, spreading them through the floor and losing them...