Earlier this week I received my Xbox 360 back from Microsoft for it’s RROD. Eagerly I sat down to play on my console only to discover that in the two week period of not having a 360, my controller was stepped on and a analog joystick was broken. Yes, I was disappointed that my controller was broken and I set out to work out a way to fix it.
I did a little research and found out that if you have an original Xbox S type controller that you are willing to part with, you can fix your more expensive 360 controller on the cheap.
You see it turns out that the analog joystick pickups are the same in each controller, so it is simply a matter of cracking each open and swapping in the working part.
Things you will need:
- One original Xbox S type controller
- One Xbox 360 Controller (the one with broken thumbstick)
- A small phillips screwdriver
- A T9 Security bit or wrench
- Soldering tools: a de-soldering wick, solder, soldering iron
Skills to have:
Simple soldering skills
First, to crack open the Xbox 360 controller you are going to need to get a security Torx wrench size 9; that’s a T9 Security bit if you need to Google it. I recommend buying one that has a long skinny shaft in order to open the controller easily. If you are not able to find that but have found the smaller bit you will have a little more work in store for you just like I did.
Take the battery pack out and peel back the serial number sticker as there is a screw hidden behind here, this one is easily removed. So are the two near the triggers of the controller. Now if you only have the smaller T9 security bit you will need to make these holes larger in order for the bit to fit. I used a method of scrapping the holes out with a screwdriver as the plastic is very weak and this seems to work quite well, however it does leave plastic ridges that will need to be smoothed down with sandpaper before you go to play again. In the future I plan to do just a little bit of drilling with an appropriate sized drill bit.
Now, take the controller apart from the back with the button laying down so they stay in place and do not fall all over the place. The shell separates easy taking the circuit board and rumble motors with it. Pull the motors off the board carefully, making sure to separate the plastic connectors from each other and not just pulling them off the circuit board.
Your Xbox 360 controller is almost ready to be de-soldered, but first disassemble the original Xbox S type controller in a similar fashion. However, this only requires a small phillips screw driver making it much easier to do. Now both controllers will be ready as soon as you pull off the thumbsticks, lift straight up and they pop right off.
Take a minute to locate where the solder pads are located for each thumbstick pickup. If you are replacing the left thumbstick on your 360 controller or plan on taking out the left thumbstick on the S controller then you have a littler more work ahead of you as you will have to remove the left trigger as part of it covers some of the pads you need access to. The trigger mechanism needs to be de-soldered first and then it simply snaps off by pressing on the two white snaps holding it in place.
De-soldering wick is easy to use and cheap to purchase costing around $3.50, which also happens to be around the same price for a small container of solder. Simply take your hot soldering iron and press the de-soldering wick down onto the pad you are trying to remove. In a short while the copper heats up the solder and sucks it into the wick. Be sure to remove the solder from both sides of the pad as sometimes some from the back side of where you placed the wick will not be removed. Repeat this action for all soldering points that you located. There are 14 of these and you will soon get the hang of it. I suggest you start on the old controller just in case you feel you might make a mistake. To remove the pickup you might have to pry on edges to break some small leftover threads of solder loose, DO NOT CONTINUE TO PRY ON ONE SIDE AFTER IT IS LOOSE OR YOU WILL BEND AND POSSIBLY BREAK THE PINS. Once each side is free, the part will be able to be removed and is ready to be soldered in place.
Once both pickups are removed you will be able to put the working part in your 360 controller. Its fairly easy as it only goes in one way with the pins. Be sure that it is flush and you are ready to solder, if not take the soldering iron over it with the wick as I am guess there is some leftover solder that is preventing it from going in place. Flip over the circuit board again and begin soldering. I shouldn’t have to explain how this works as you should have this skill before even starting this project.
Pop the thumbsticks back onto the pickup and reassemble the controller. Put the circuit board on the back of the controller shell. Re-attach the rumble motors. Then hold it over the front shell which is still face down to prevent the buttons from spilling out. The motors will have to be placed into the front of the shell first and then you will be able to seat the rest of the controller on it. Put the screws back in place and you should now have a fully functional controller once again. Congrats!
For a Twist: Instead of the gray thumbsticks and d-pad why not use the ones from the original controller. It gives the Xbox 360 controller a new look and is easy to do.