How to Build Your Own Fight Stick the Easy Way

The finished product.
The finished product.

In the fighting game community it is very common for players to play with a fight stick. What is a fight stick you may ask? Well, generally it refers to a controller that is similar to what you would find on an actual arcade machine. They are typically box-shaped and contain a real arcade joystick and buttons.

Have you ever wanted to build your own fight stick? Well if your just getting started there is a lot of information out there. It can honestly be a bit daunting if you aren’t the handy type. The basic parts you need are:

  • Some kind of enclosure. Usually wood, plastic, or metal.
  • Arcade buttons. There are a few different brands but Sanwa seem the most popular and recommended.
  • A PCB that can convert your buttons and joystick to game output.
  • Optional joystick. Most fight sticks use a joystick for directional input, but you can go for a joystick-less build. These are typically referred to as a hitbox, but keep in mind that there is actually a brand of joystick-less fight sticks called Hitbox.

I was looking to build my own hitbox and there are a wide array of options out there from building from scratch to buying a pre-built stick. Luckily I found a small vendor called Jasen’s Customs that create high-quality metal enclosures for fight sticks and hitboxes. They also provide kits for the DIY-ers that don’t want to do it all. The kits include all the parts you need except for buttons.

So I ordered a hitbox kit and off to the races I went!

Un-boxing

Fresh out of the box.
Fresh out of the box.

The first thing you notice when unboxing is how heavy the case is. These things are truly built like tanks just like it says on the website. Everything was packaged properly and nothing was damaged.

My kit included:

  • A metal hitbox case.
  • An EZ build board.
  • A Brook Universal Fighting Board, but this one is pre-soldered and ready to go.
  • All the wires and other hardware I would need.

The build

The full kit includes nearly everything you need but you need to provide a few things.

  • Buttons, which I obtained from FocusAttack.
  • A screwdriver. You need a few different heads so if you have a set or one that you can change the head on is great.
  • A small Allen wrench. I think it was 332 size.

There were no instructions inside the box but there are proper directions on the website. Being the first time I’ve done something like this the total build took about 1.5 hours as I followed the video on their website. Here’s the basic process.

Attaching the feet.
Attaching the feet.

First, you attach the artwork and plexiglass cover. Unscrew and separate the case top and bottom. Attach the feet.

Wired up.
Wired up.

Attach the USB port. This is kind of a pain in the ass.

Start fishing wire through the holes for the front buttons. Once that is done then attach the buttons to the wires.

EZ build board in.
EZ build board in.

Install the included EZ build board. This thing looks sweet and basically makes all this super easy to get everything hooked up.

Install your PCB. If you ordered one with the kit it’s ready to go out of the box, no extras soldering needed. Awesome!

Everything wired up.
Everything wired up.

Hook front buttons to the EZ build board. Hook ez build board to PCB. Hook the USB port to the PCB.

Wire up all your top buttons and feed them through the case. Attach to the EZ build board. Snap all buttons into place.

Put the case back together. This was the only part I thought was hard as the hole tolerances seem very tight.

The finished product.
The finished product.

Test it out!

Final thoughts

Overall, even though the kit was a little pricey it was very high quality and I now have a hitbox that will last virtually forever and work on many consoles as well as PC. I did not think it was very hard and I’m not really that handy.

Now I know exactly how the stick goes together, and this means that in the future I can fix or replace any of the parts.

If you’re in the market for your own fight stick or hitbox and have the cash, give Jasen’s Customs a look.

The pen name of the illustrious editor of this fine site. Randomly generated for a D&D game called Baldurs Gate. A chaotic good, male, dwarf, dual class fighter/thief.
BeepWee