Tweak3D - Your Freakin' Tweakin' Source!
How to Fix a Broken Game Controller (Page 2/3)

Posted: January 21, 2006
Written By: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy

Disassembling and Cleaning Time

My Xbox controller occasionally had issues during Halo 2, particularly a sticking A button. Also, the right trigger was much harder to push than the left and sometimes the right analog stick did weird stuff. I believed it was due to either a broken piece inside or heavy dirt and grime. It turned out it was dirt that was stopping me from playing. Before you begin disassembling, make sure you know how to put it back together and what parts you aim to fix in this process.

1) Unplug the controller from the console. If it's wireless, remove the batteries.
2) Inspect the controller for disassembling. The Xbox controller had 7 screws on the backside. One was hidden by a silver seal.

The backside of the controller.

3) Remove all screws and set aside. The Xbox controller used phillips-head screws. I used a long skinny screwdriver to remove the screws.
4) Carefully pull the controller apart. Most controllers should fall apart easily after all the screws are removed. Some have tiny plastic fasteners that lock the pieces together. Others may require more force applied at the joints.

I enjoy tearing things apart.

5) Separate and sort the major pieces. Usually you'll have two outer pieces, an inner piece (the circuit board and analog sticks), rubber pads, and several buttons that will fall out as you take it apart. Controllers that rumble from Force Feedback will have motors that must be removed or disconnected.

The top (cover) and center (circuit board)pieces.

6) Fill a sink with soapy warm water. Make sure there's no way the buttons will slip down the drain.
Before you clean the pieces, take a file, sandpaper, or even a sharp knife to scrape the area around any buttons that been sticking or problematic. Scrape the outside of the buttons and in the inside of the cover pieces where the buttons move. Don't scrape too much - just enough to remove any crap that's accumulated in the buttons' path.

Shampoo is better! It goes on first and cleans the hair!

7) Individually wash all of the components EXCEPT the electrical pieces. The buttons can be washed thoroughly and so can the case of the controller that you hold onto. Once soaped and scrubbed, wash the pieces off with warm to hot water (hotter water will dry faster). Towel the pieces off and set aside to dry. Blow them out with compressed air or your own breath to speed the process.

Mmmm, Skittles...

8) Be careful with rubber pieces. The Controller 'S' had rubber pads that act as a damper and spring for the buttons. If these rubber pieces rip or puncture, the buttons will never be the same. Make sure you remove any stuff that's stuck to the rubber pads or your problems will not be solved.

Since the analog sticks and triggers are probably connected to the chip, you can clean them with alcohol, Q-tips and water, or another solution. There will probably be dirt under the hat of the sticks and the D-pad will probably be gunked-up with all kinds of stuff. The triggers are easy to observe and determine where a chunk of debris is causing problems.

While diassembled it would be a good idea to clean the electrical connections. This is easiest with a spray electrical cleaner or Q-tip and rubbing alcohol. Clean the board where the buttons meet the contacts.

Next Page - Advanced Fixes and Reassembly

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