3ds Circle pad fix (Hopefully…)

The Nintendo 3ds is a weird thing!


I personally don’t like the way the 3ds dose a few things:
1- region locking (Cant play games from usa/ japan, annoying for travelers or for games that never came out in your region.)
2- circle pad felt too slippery / lack of second stick (I assume this was done to fit the “analog into the clam shell design but its rubbish and can break under moderate use”)
3- 3d tracking (Having to keep your head straight on to maintain the 3d effect is straining and i usualy just turn it off, Nintendo also releced a 2ds which as the name would indicate has no 3d and still runs all the games fine. Head tracking has been added to the new 3ds but it just adjusts the point of the 3d effect to follow your head, whitch feels weird as if it was reality moving your head to the right would allow you to see more to the left etc (amazon fire phone), I feel this type of 3d is better and more involved than the 3dses )
4- having to play on small screen ( I know this comes with the territory of handhelds but its annoying sitting in front of a big tv in your living room and having to play on the little screen which is also a lot less engaging to share the gaming experiences with friends.)

Some of these thing are really hard for me to try to fix but one of them is the circle pad, I would much prefer a proper traditional analog stick. I would like to look into any of the other things i dont like about it in the future but for now I’l focus on the sticks.

Lucky ish Nintendo released an add-on called the circle pad pro which plugs into the 3ds and adds another circle pad  and another shoulder button.

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I thought this would be grate to use as a cheep way to test if simply changing out the circle pad with a regular analog from an old broken controller without the risk for breaking my 3ds with no chance of it not even working. Annoyingly I ordered the xl version to match my 3ds xl but got sent the normal size one but I’m gonna take it apart anyway so it shouldn’t matter.

So i took apart the circle pad and looked for points to connect the replacement analog to and found 4 wires coming from the pad , I hooked them up to the 4 wires on the c stick of the game cube controller, I just guessed and got it right on the second attempt(lucky me :D) While testing i just head the infra red sensors together.

Then i went on to adding the shoulder buttons L,R , Z. These were pretty straightforward but i didn’t know if the z was working as i didn’t test what it was supposed to do in the game i was testing.

After this I tried to imagine a design that would fit around the 3ds and feel comfortable. I drew round the 3ds on a piece of cardboard and styled it to look like the gamecube controller.
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Then remembered this weird design for a gamecube controller , so will just try to match this. it’l be big but it will have comfy buttons and sticks.

I cut the game cube controller in half using a soldering iron.
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Then put it all together and trimmed the circle pad pros plastic back a bit and built it up to line up with the infra red sensor on the 3ds so i didn’t have to keep holding them together. I also snapped the controllers board in half so i could just hijack the button traces which are already there.
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Here it is in action
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To go further  I found this project witch allows players to play 3ds with a game cube controller, it has a good walk through of all the solder points which i will hopefully use in this project.

So going any further could potentially break my 3ds  :S. Why not , i have found out that the thing i didn’t like is technically fixable so might as well and that link above is pretty in depth so i should be ok.

I did it and it seemed to work, I forgot to take pics but might fill them in later , as i accidentally got a wire stuck under the right d-pad button so u have to push hard to make it go and it will probably over time damage the board.

Here is the franken 3ds with loose wires hanging out of it.

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Now I’m remembering why i used this game cube controller in the first place , it was broken , the left analog constantly went up and i realized this was also happening on the 3ds , so I’l have to scavenge another one from another broken controller, and would preferably take another c-stick as it has 4 definite contact points appose to the left one which has 6, i think i know how it work s but this one is broke so cant be sure.
I also need to find some kind of easy male female connector to plug the 3ds into the adapter, was first thinking Ethernet as there is loads of broken routers at the maker space and theirs a good number of cables in each of them.

I opened it up agian and moved the wores away from the button , turned it on and the bottom screen didint show anythign   :S
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Thankfully it was just a ribbon cable i hadn’t pushed all the way in.
After opening up and fixing this problem i somehow offset the circle pad so it cant be used properly now , but it’l get fixed next time i have to open everything up.

I found another controller and its a 3rd party one , which is made a lot more cheaply but also more human friendly , ie its got buttons etc written on it and its in English  :D.
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Also the button contacts seem nicer than the ones on the official controller so I’m probably gonna use this board instead.
I linked up the d-pad to test if everything was gonna work the way i thought and when it worked i did the same for the buttons on the right side.
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The big problem is still the left analog which was the real reason i was doing this in the first place , if i link it up in what i think is the same way as the one from the circle pad pro it only goes up when u press up and right when you move it left :(. I might have soldered to the wrong place on the 3ds but I’l figure it out later.

So then i moved onto a making the case look a bit better and easier to handle.
I laser cut an inlay to match the hole of the 3ds and the couture of the game cube controller and cut layers to build ip an edge for the depth of the 3ds.
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This pic is  a bit later on but it shows the case before painting.

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Heres what the layers look like. the layers were super glued together and heald with masking tape while it dryed.

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Spray painting
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sadly some paint flaked of so i sanded it down and will repaint the bad bits later. but this step realy made it look more together.
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I knew i needed to connect a lot of wires and I wanted it to still e portable , so i de-solderd an ethernet port from an old ruter and snipped a ethernet cable and conected all the wires so they matched up. I realy want to make a nicer looking connector .
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To connect all the rest of the buttons i solderd to the points on the board and then used a common ground to get all the buttons to work. And initaly i ripped or some of the connections so i had to sand other parts of the board to make some of the connections. Also its a bit anoying but the mapping for the 3ds controller and the gamecube one is a bit different , i moved the buttons around and so they felt right.

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So at the moment everything works apart from the initial aim of the projects , the circle pad :(.
It ether only goes in 2 directions or scrolls forever .
As things go forward i might actually try to redo some of this and make do the stuff from the tutorial and use an arduino.

Iv had a look at the tutorial i was loosely following again and think the main problem is that the uk circle pad is different to the one in the rest of the world, so iv ordered a new one with the correct solder points , fingers crossed it works :).

In the mean time , iv strengthened the lower case a bit with some Milliupt which seemed to do the job ok but its now a bit harder to get to the wiring but , its mostly done now anyway and all the connections have been extended for easy acsess.

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Some cosmetic changes are that I sanded the front again and re sprayed. sorry for the fuzzy pic.
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And because the button layout was getting confusing i sanded off the letters and will come up with some way of puting the right ones back on , mabie with the laser cutter and come carefull menurements.
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To be continued!