september 04, 2014

Hudson Famicom Stick HJ-7 repair

I recently got one of these for the first time.
Hudson Famicom Stick, HJ-7

It has small rubber pads for the joystick, and these had gotten stiff and it was hard to move.

I read some some recipes on how to fix them, such as boiling them for a couple of hours and then putting them in glycerol, or boiling them in an ammonia solution. Anyways, I put them in boiling water to soften them up. I don't know if it is such a good idea to do with conductive pads, but I didn't have much choice.

While it was boiling, I thought that if I could replace the pads with identical, I wouldn't have to worry about the pads being worn out or not being conductive. They look pretty identical to the pads in a MD1 controller. So tried to replace.

After a little of testing of one of my favorite games Bomber King, it seemed to work perfectly. The MD1 has nice and soft pads that move with little restistance. However! When moving the stick left and releasing, it would bounce to the right and move slightly right... The MD1 controllers are too soft! This was annoying, at least to me. So I was thinking, would this be acceptable to a customer? After some more testing I found it to be too annoying.

So I searched for other pads that would be better.

At the bottom here you can see the MD1 pad (left) and the original pad (right).
My first replacement attempt after MD1 was to cut out pads from a Super Famicom (SNES) controller. They worked alright, but I think they are slightly too short and soft, and gave a little of the same problem as the MD1 pads. Also, they didn't always make contact. I think that because these original rubbers are second hand, one can't trust them.

A video game seller needs to have many skills, such as cutting.

I looked at some other rubber pads.

The Saturn and MD2 pads are completely different and wouldn't fit. I also stabbed myself trying to open an MD2 controller when my screwdriver broke right through the plastic. Evil SEGA design.

Alright, but the SNES pads were still decent so I tried these third party replacement pads. They are stiffer than the original and new, so there would not be a concern about them making uneven contact (when some side might work worse than some other side).
The pads for the A and B button to the left are original and work as they should.

And now the stick seems to work great again. I won't bother boiling the original pads as these pads work great.

The best thing with sticks like these is that they make it much easier to move diagonally. They are also removable unlike original famicom controllers, and you can use an extension cord to make them longer.

Famicom sticks are hard to come by and I don't really know of anyone who owns one. On eBay these sticks are for sale at around 45$ with shipping. Due to my restoration work I'll list mine for 60$ (incl 25% VAT) plus shipping.

I don't know if this will be necessary to do with all of these sticks with time, but I suspect that the type of rubber they used is more likely to have this problem. Maybe it won't happen if it has been stored differently, or used regularly.

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