Make Your Own Joystick/Controller Plug

The NES64 instruction sheet assumes you have a ready-to-use cable with a 9-pin joystick plug already attached to one end. This is by far the easiest and most compatible solution. However, these cables can be a bit harder to obtain, especially if you don't want to take one from an existing joystick, thereby rendering the joystick unusable.

If you would prefer to make your own plug, here are two ways of doing so. The parts should be quite easy to get by. Alternative 1 is easier to assemble, but there are some classic computers that it will not fit into. Alternative 2 will fit in all compatible computers, but the assembly is more complicated.

You need:

Alternative 1: Easier, But Not For All Machines

If your D-sub connector is of the wide kind which has "wings" and fastening screws in the sides, you will probably have to trim off these wings. Otherwise the connector will most likely be too wide to fit in the game ports of a Commodore 64 or Amiga -- especially two at a time. Take a measurement to see whether it will fit in your specific retro computer, and if it does, you can of course use the plug as-is.

Be aware, though, that on some Amiga computers the joystick connectors are slightly recessed which prevents this version of the plug from fitting all the way in and making contact. More specifically, there are some pieces of plastic in the way, but those are also what keep the metal connector from falling out of the plastic casing when you unplug the controller. If your computer has a recessed joystick connector, you might want to follow the instructions for Alternative 2 below instad.

Assembly Instructions

  1. A standard D-sub connector can be fitted by trimming off excess plastic from the sides of the casing by use of an X-Acto knife, a Dremel or similar. Likewise, the metal flaps of the connector itself can be bent in to fit over the newly created hole in the plastic cover, using a set of pliers.
  2. Strip both ends of the cable, and tin the ends. Solder the 6 leads to the D-sub connector, so that each of the pins 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 have a lead soldered to it. The remaining pins are not used.

    Connector pin123468
    Board pad1 UP2 DN3 LF4 RT6 Fire8 GND

    Now, align the lead colours with the board pads such that the pad numbers match up with the corresponding pin numbers on the connector. Pin 1 to pad 1, pin 2 to pad 2, etc.

    The pads labelled "Select" and "Start" are not used for this application but are supplied for convenience with other uses. Solder the leads to the back-side of the board.

Alternative 2: Advanced, But Better Compability

This guide will show you how to make a more advanced plug where the pieces of plastic described above are replaced by a metal wire pull strain relief. This will be necessary if your computer has a recessed connector, such as several Amigas. It should fit everywhere an original joystick plug does.

Assembly Instructions

  1. The connector consists of two metal plates that are "riveted" together at each of the two holes. Drill out these two holes, insert a knife or another sharp object in between, and then very carefully pry the two metal plates from each other. Do not disassemble the blue plastic part.
  2. Using a pair of pliers, bend the sides of the larger metal bearing piece to ninety degrees as close to the extruded part as possible. You can throw the other metal piece with the smaller extrusion away as that will not be needed. Trim the sides of the blue plastic plug with a sharp knife or a file so that it becomes rectangular shaped and fits snugly in between the two bent metal "wings".
  3. Attach two pieces of thin metal wire—one through each hole—which is going to act as a pull strain relief. Use a pair of pliers to twist the wire as tightly and as closely to the hole as possible. Snip off any excess wire and add a small bit of solder to secure the wire twist. Try not to make the twist and solder blob too bulky, but instead as small as possible while still retaining its strength, keeping in mind that it must fit into the plastic casing in the end.
  4. With a fine saw, cut the plastic casing in half, immediately behind the "wings". Make sure to cut off only enough so that there is still enough room in the case to fit the actual plug and its leads. Smooth out any rough plastic edges after the saw with a small file or a sharp knife.
  5. On both halves of the casing, mark where the twisted metal wire goes, and with a sharp knife or similar cut away enough plastic for it to fit. On one of the halves, only, mark up and drill two small holes near the back end of the casing, only just big enough for the metal wire to pass through smoothly. Fit the extruded metal bearing part into the casing and let the metal wires through the two holes. Straighten the wires as much as possible, making sure they go around the casing screw hole pillars.
  6. Solder the leads to the plug as per the Alternative 1 instructions above and add the small strain relief metal bracket to the cable. You might need to add a piece of excess cable isolation or similar for the bracket to get a good grip of the cable. Then fit the plug assembly into the metal bearing and casing. While holding the plug and casing tightly together (for instance by means of a rubber band), add as much hot glue as will fit behind the plug. Make sure to add glue beneath and between the leads as well, not just on top. While the metal wires act as a pull strain relief, the glue will act as a push strain relief. Cut any excess hot glue away with a sharp knife after it has cooled down in case you added too much for the casing to be able to close properly.
  7. Assemble the casing halves using the screws and nuts. Tighten the metal wire and twist the two ends. Optionally, add a bit of solder to secure the twist.