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Fix Your NES Controller & While You're At It, Customize it!

I love customizing my gaming hardware especially gaming controllers. They are one of the easiest to get parts for and the NES Controllers are also one of the easiest things to customize. You really don't need to be a "professional modders" to make you NES controllers look great. Granted, you can always buy a premade controller but if you do a quick search on Etsy or Ebay, you see a lot of people are selling premade customized controllers for some outrageous prices. I like the feeling that with a little effort and some fairly cheap parts, I can be playing my NES with a controller that not only plays well, but looks awesome. The one thing I can confirm right off the bat to all you import Famicom gamers, is that the controller membranes are 100% compatible with the NES kits. The inside of the controllers are the same, with the only exception being the 2nd Controller on the original Famicom due to the microphone.

What you will need:

  • (x1) NES Controllers 
  • (x1) NES Controller Membrane Kit
  • (x1) Small tipped Phillips Screwdriver
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Old Toothbrush
Optional Items if you want to Customize Your Controller. 

Step 1: Flip the controler over to reveal the back side and removed the six (6) screws hold the controller together.

Step 2:Carefully unravel the controller cable and remove the controller PCB.

Step 3: Now that the PCB has been removed, you will see the stock Dpad, buttons and membranes. Remove the membranes and gently pop the dpad and buttons out of the front.

Step 4: If you are just planning on keeping the controller stock, wash the buttons and the case with warm soapy water and dry off. I am cheating and using my work's ultrasonic cleaner to scrub away the dirt stuck in the nooks and crannies.

Step 5: While the parts are drying off, take a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and wipe down the conductive pads on the NES PCB.

Step 6: Placed the Dpad and buttons back and install your new membrane. (I forgot to take a photo of the NES controller with just the pads installed so I'm using a photo I took of a Twin Famcom controller.)

Step 7: If all you needed was to install new membrane, then that's it! You are done!!! All you need to do now is to plug it in your NES and enjoy. But... If you are like me and have that creative itch, move on down to the next step.

Step 8: If you don't want to stain your controller case skip to Step 8-9.  Remember, vinyl dye doesn't not coat like paint so if the surface is all scratched up, you will need to sand down the surface and make it as smooth as possible. Let the dye dry for at least one hour before adding another layer.

Step 9: Eventually you will have your parts ready for reassembly. Please note these parts were not sanded to show your the draw back to Vinyl Dye. You will see all of the surface scratches. The main reason why I choose vinyl dye over paint is that, I have yet to have a controller's color rub away with heavy use. Vinyl dye is way more durable because is seeps into the plastic instead of hardening on the surface of the plastic.

Step 10: I didn't take a photo of applying the decal, but I find applying the decal before assembling is easier. Once the decal is applied, reassemble the controller and install the new membrane and reinstall the 6 screws. You are done!

Bonus Step 11: You can always buy newly molded dpads and buttons in all sorts of colors, which you can mix and match fronts and backs and all sorts of variety.


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