Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How to Mod the Hori EX2/Hori Wii Fighting Stick with Actual Sanwa Joystick and Buttons

Here's one of my walk-through articles on how to modify your Hori Wii Fighting Stick/EX2 that I originally wrote for Pineconeattack back on 03.07.2009. I hope this article will still be useful to those still modify and upgrading your fightsticks. I will keep it up here for archival purpose. 


The Hori EX2 walk-through seems to be a huge success with the community but I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails on people wanting a walkthrough on two topics: How to add a Sanwa joystick in your Hori EX2 & how to mod the Hori Wii Fighting Stick. Well since I was in the need for a good joystick for Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and I wanted a joystick that played better than the stock stick, well good news, I finally finished modding my Wii Fighting stick with Sanwa push buttons & an authentic Sanwa joystick. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected but it defiantly was time consuming to figure out what needed to be trimmed, but more on that later.

The Wii Fighting Stick and the Hori EX2 are practically the same stick so this walkthrough will cover both sticks and probably the PS3 Hori EX2 stick as well. The main difference between the Xbox 360 Hori EX2 and the Hori Wii Fighting Stick is the addition of buttons on the Wii stick. Additional buttons means a different PCB. The process to modify each stick is identical so do not let the different boards confuse you.

Please note that the PCB on the Hori EX2 & the Wii Fighting Stick is very sensitive and has a tendency to commit suicide and like most PCB: do not touch the board unless you’ve grounded yourself and not charged with static. Static kills boards.  Also do not over heat the solder because it will splash on the board which may cause a short.

This mod is more difficult than the first Hori EX2 and you will need a Dremel tool or something equivalent that can cut through plastic because you will be doing a LOT of cutting & grinding to the Sanwa joystick mount to get it to fit inside the Hori EX2/Wii Fighting Stick. I will not be replacing the joystick art because I want my Wii Fighting Stick to keep with the Wii’s sterile aesthetics, ie: I was too lazy to care.

The only noticeable exterior changes I made was replacing the last two blue buttons with white ones because I loathe 8 button configuration but I refuse to just plug them up because you never know when you might need them for a game. With the end buttons white, I can easily ignore them during game play. I also had to use some photos from a previous project to fill in the missing photos that I forgot to take, so hopefully this will not confuse anyone.


Attempt at your own risk!

DO NOT ATTEMPT unless you have some technical skills and can follow instructions. This walkthrough is as simplified as I can make it so if none of my instructions makes any sense then please DO NOT ATTEMPT.

This project will void your warranty.

[Pineconeattack (Outdated References) will not take any responsibility if you kill your joystick.]

You are going to need your usual tools for this project.

  • One (1) Hori Wii Fighting Stick
  • Six (6) Blue Sanwa OBSF-30 Pushbuttons with Vertical Micro-switch
  • Two (2) White Sanwa OBSF-30 Pushbuttons with Vertical Micro-switch
  • One (1) Sanwa JLF-TP-8T Ball Handle Joystick
  • One (1) Sanwa GT-Y Octagonal Restrictor Plate (Optional is you want a smoother 8 way feel. Perfect for Street Fighter; not so much for Virtual Fighter)
  • Soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • Solder Sucker or Solder Braid
  • Phillips and Flathead Screwdriver (4-in-1)
  • Dremel Tool (with grinding bit & cutting wheel)
  • 18 gauge wire 18 gauge wire (In this walk-through I used solid wire, but now a days I prefer stranded wire because it's easier to solder, in my opinion)
  • Wire Stripper
  • Straight edge blade (box cutter)
  • Side Cutter

Step 1: Clear off an area for your work space. More area to work in the better due to the nature of this mod, you will be doing a lot of cutting and grinding so keep your work area clean. Use safety equipment like goggles to protect your eyes.

Step 2: Flip the controller over to reveal the six (6) screws that are holding the bottom plate. Unscrew them and place the screws in a container.

Step 3: With the bottom cover off, you will see the three (3) main components to this joystick: the Main PCB, the smaller brown PCB (which I am just going to call the control board) and the Hori joystick.

Step 4: BEFORE DOING ANYTHING: write down the colors that are going to each directional micro-switch on your joystick.

With a grounding strap on, deinstall the control board & Hori joystick by unscrewing the seven (7) screws hold them in place. Take your soldering iron and apply heat to each button and unsolder them one (1) lead at a time for a total of sixteen (16) leads to unsolder. (Two (2) leads for each button) Remove the C clip on the Hori Joystick to disassemble the shaft, spring and agitator. Carefully take the guts of the joystick and set them aside for safekeeping.

Step 5: Now all of the electrical components of your joystick has been removed and set aside. Don’t forget to locate the three (3) white control buttons (Minus, Plus and Home) and eight (8) blue switches.

Step 6: Remove the rest of the buttons and place them into a container, careful not to bend the pins.

Step 7: Use a flat head screwdriver to press the Hori push button tabs to remove. You can trash these since they will be replaced by better Sanwa push buttons.

Step 8: Use the grinding bit on the Dremel tool to grind away the tabs and widen the button holes. Take your time and do not rush or you will hurt yourself and/or damage the faceplate.

Step 9: With the tabs grind away and make the opening slightly larger, assuming your joystick is brand new, peel back the protective film that is protecting the white faceplate.

Step 10: This is the part where you arrange the color of your buttons. I’m keeping with the Capcom eight (8) button design and only changing the color of the last two buttons to white so they can blend with the stick better. I’m only keeping the last two buttons because some games like Tatsunoko vs. Capcom requires them for the move list. Plus most plugs come in black and it would look ugly with an all white joystick.

Step 11: Take your straight edge blade and trim the four (4) nubs on each of the push buttons. This will make the buttons go in much easier. Once trimmed, install your buttons in the order you want them to appear.  They should install real smoothly.

Step 12: With 18 gauge wire*, cut sixteen (16) pieces of wire at one (1) inch length then strip each end. Solder one end to the push buttons till all the buttons have a wire attached.

*The reason for this is that the Sanwa button leads are too big to directly solder onto the board and the only way too fit is to cut down the leads. If you trim too much, the button will be damaged. I prefer the solid wire method because it gives to play when attaching the leads to the PCB and it will keep the PCB from moving during play.

Step 13: Install your PCB. I found that soldering the top row of buttons first then focus on the bottom row seems to be the easiest and quickest method. Take your time and if you get frustrated, walk away and relax. This is probably the most annoying part of this mod so no worries.  Install the Plus, Minus and Home buttons and the eight (8) switches.  Place the control PCB over the buttons and switches and secure it with the three (3) tiny screws.  Now your two PCB’s are secured.

Step 14: You will need to modify your Sanwa joystick to fit inside the Hori stick.  Disassembling a Sanwa  joystick is real simple. There are four (4) tabs that are holding the restrictor plate. Push in the plastic clasps to loosen the resistor plate. Pull up to remove.

Step 15: With the restrictor plate remove, you will see the micro-switch PCB underneath. Pull up on the micro-switch board and the whole thing will separate from the black mount.

Step 16: Remove the C-clip to separate the joystick shaft form the black mount.

Step 17: All that is left is to separate the metal mounting plate from the plastic mount. Remove the four (4) screws that are holding the pieces together.

Step 18: This is where the mod gets a tab bit more difficult. You see the Sanwa joystick shaft is much longer than the Hori joystick shaft.To  actually use a Sanwa shaft; you will need to use the black joystick mount…

Step 19: The problem is the mount is too tall to fit inside the casing so now it’s cutting time!

Step 20: This is where the fun starts. Install the cutting wheel on the Dremel tool and cut off the two big tabs on the black mount. You want the mount to be as square as possible.

Step 21: This is where the fun starts. Install the cutting wheel on the Dremel tool and cut off the two big tabs on the black mount. You want the mount to be as square as possible.

Step 22: Take a drill bit and waller out the four (4) targeted points. You need to make the four (4) points fit into the pegs in the joystick casing. Take you time and make sure the mount fits into the joystick casing very snug.

Step 23: Keep adjusting the black mount to the four (4) pegs inside the joystick casing. Your back mount should fit inside the joystick casing like the picture above. Notice how the four (4) clasps have been neatly cut away and the four (4) points that you drilled fits tightly into the pegs inside the joystick casing.

Now that the mount is finished, lets move on to the micro-switch PCB.

Step 24: Hori EX2 & Wii Fighting sticks DO NOT have common ground which means each switch in the joystick has a their own ground wire. The Sanwa micro-switch PCB has shared ground which is a problem if you want to use this in your Hori joystick. To remedy this minor speed bump is to break the connections on the PCB.
Using the grinding bit on the Dremel tool, carefully grind away the contacts on the PCB. This will separate the ground circuit.

Step 25: Solder your joystick wires directly onto the tabs on the micro-switches. Looking from the perspective like in the photo above you should have you wires (starting from the top and going clock-wise) Gray, Red, White and Yellow.
Take your time and solder each wire one at a time.

Step 26: Now take your Sanwa GT-Y Octagonal Restrictor Plate and carefully drill out the four (4) targeted points. This is where your screws that will hold the complete joystick assembly.

Step 27: There are two small tabs protruding from the restrictor plate, due to depth issues, you will need to grind away at them and me them level.

Step 28: Install the restrictor plate onto the micro-switch PCB. The plate should fit perfectly into the four (4) Tabs protruding form the black modified mount. Install the joystick shaft , spring & agitator.

Step 29: Place the metal base onto the bottom of the joystick. Don’t screw down just yet! With your hands providing the pressure to the base, move your joystick around. You will notice a slight contact with the joystick shaft and the metal base.

Step 30: Take your Dremel grinder and start to slowly grind away at the base where the stick made contact with the base. When you think you’ve grind away enough, wipe the base clean of all metal shavings and test again.
Does your stick grind against the base?
Yes, well then keep grinding!
If it doesn’t then move on to step 31.

Step 31: Install the six (6) screws to secure the base. Make sure the base is wiped clean from all metal shavings before installation, of course.

Step 32: You’re done!!! You will notice a huge difference from the crappy Hori stick joystick from the Sanwas. Now go, play…
--Nathan Bias


  1. Same here, I own an old 30€ XBOX360 Hori EX2 stick and this will help me tremendously in modding it with the Brook Universal Fighting Board + Sanwa parts. Thank you very much for this article!

  2. I remember these articles back in the days. Really good stuff back then, and now. Never really got around to modding the Hori EX2 with Sanwa JLFs, only the lever switches and buttons. Really hated this HORI PCB. Pad hacked a Sega 6 button controller inside it instead.