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CF 2.0 Arcade Style Control Box

The Fun Part

Ah, the moment you've been waiting for, ever since, uh, clicking the link on the first page. Here's hoping it's easy enough to follow this - I kinda rushed through this part of the construction and didn't document/photograph it nearly as heavily as the first half. Good luck.

Mounting Final Components

Button Mounts

At this point, we can go ahead and mount the buttons for the last time. The mounting mechanisms for each component should be fairly straightforward. The only tricky items will be the buttons with the light mechanisms - if your buttons are fully assembled, you will need to take them apart in order to get the locking ring on and tightened. To remove the lamp assembly, grab the main button housing with one hand and the switch/lamp assembly with the other. Rock the white part out of the black part until they separate. Happ Controls has a page illustrating this process. Make sure all the buttons are aligned properly before doing your final tightening.

Barrier Strip Mount

Now we get to put that 12 position barrier strip to use. Line it up parallel to the bottom of the circuit board mounts, halfway between the wall of the box and the edge of the circuit board. Using the two long screws from the Beat Pad retention clip (you still have those, right?), fasten the barrier strip down to the bottom lid of the box using the first and last mounting holes in the strip. If you tighten the screws all the way, they will poke out the bottom ever so slightly. This won't be a problem.

Power Mod Mounts

If you are doing the power mod, you will also need to do the final mount of the rocker switch and the power jack. Again, these are pretty easy to figure out. There is one other piece of the Power Mod that needs mounted, though. In a free space on the bottom lid of the box, mount the 2 position barrier strip. I just put mine about an inch to the side of the circuit board.

Wiring the Circuit Board

Circuit Board Prep

The first thing we're going to do is drill the holes for our wires. If you can, grab a light source and put it behind the circuit board so you can see through it and see where the non-conductive black gunk lines up with each switch trace. From the top side (beige), use a 1/16" drill bit and drill straight through the black stuff for each trace. From the top side, it'll look a little something like this. Note that there is a hole in the center where there is no switch label - that's the hole for the ground wire.

When you flip the circuit board over, you should have holes in each of the traces. If you don't, go back and fix it. You need one hole for each switch and one for the ground. With the board flipped over, it is time to clear off some of the non-conductive black stuff so our solder has something to adhere to. The easiest way to do this is to use a Dremel tool with a polishing bit at low RPMs - it will make those contacts shine like new. If you don't have a Dremel, use a utility knife or a standard/flat-head screwdriver to scratch off an area around each hole. Sandpaper will speed the process along, but only after getting the majority off with the utility knife. Steel wool might work, as well, but I didn't have any handy.

Wiring the Circuit Board

Grab some wire and cut 11 pieces about 2-3" in length. The length is largely determined by how much wire is required to go from the hole on the circuit board to the corresponding part of the 12 position barrier strip, so figure out how much length is required for that and add an inch. Once you have the 11 pieces cut, go ahead and strip 1/2" off each end of each wire.

With the wires prepped, push one stripped end of each wire through the top of the circuit board so that the stripped wire is sticking out the bottom (green) side. Then, solder each wire in place. If you have a multimeter, now is a good time to break it out and do some continuity checking by testing the circuit between the original solder point for each trace and the end of the wires you've just connected. If you don't have a multimeter, you can always hook the circuit board up to your Xbox and touch the ground wire to each switch wire in turn to make sure it responds appropriately in Ultramix. If you are going to do this, mount the board on the insulated standoffs first to make sure nothing gets shorted out during your testing.

Either way, at this point, go ahead and mount the circuit board on the standoffs. Feel free to tighten it down as we won't need to remove it from here on out. With that mounted, start pushing the other stripped end of each wire into the ports on the barrier strip. Just go right down the line, keeping the wires and ports in order from left to right. Tighten down the screw in the barrier strip that is on the side in which you pushed the wire - this locks the wire in place and keeps it from popping back out. So, once this is done, the ports of the barrier strip will be the following switches in the following order:


To avoid getting confused later, I taped a strip of paper inside the box noting that order and also noting the order for the D-Sub 15 wiring, which we'll be talking about...

Wiring the D-Sub 15 Connector

... now.

First up, you might notice in the pictures that I'm not exactly using the wire spec'd in the parts list. That's because I had a good size spool of CAT-3 lying around that wasn't doing anything, so I decided to save that expense and just use two strands of CAT-3 to cover the 10 connections required for the CF 2.0. As long as your wire fits in the solder points of the D-Sub 15, it'll be fine.

You will need 10 wires cut at about 10" long. This will give you some extra length for opening the box in the future should you need to make changes or repairs. Once those are cut and both ends stripped, you will need to solder the wires one at a time to the pins of the D-Sub 15 connector. Make sure you are soldering to pins 1 through 10 - the numbers are noted on the front of the connector in very small numbers. Also, if you're not using color coded wire (like CAT-3 or CAT-5) be sure to mark each wire so you know which pin it goes to. The easiest way to do this is probably with a piece of masking tape with the pin number written on it - just attach that to the wire.

Once the wires are soldered to the connector, you can attach the other ends to the barrier strip. The wires should match up like this:

Circuit Board Side
D-Sub 15 Side

For this design, the Back and Start buttons aren't hooked up to the CF at all. It is assumed that the functionality of those buttons is covered on the control box itself, so there's no reason to make connections from them to the D-Sub 15. On the flip side, there's nowhere for the center CF switch to go on the Mad Catz circuit board. All inputs are accounted for already. If you want to use the CF with this control box with something like StepMania for PIU, you can always wire a jumper from the Back button position to the 10 pin and use the B button position for the Back switch on the control box. This will, however, keep you from accessing some of the menu options in Ultramix and will make it so you can't dump out of a song by holding down the Back button (you can, however, use the Start button to abort songs). This is a limitation of using a dance pad circuit board as our main component - it only has connections for what a dance pad needs, which means we can't tap into a shoulder button or the white/black buttons to take up the slack since they aren't mapped on the circuit board itself.

With all the button positions connected to the proper D-Sub 15 positions, the mapping is complete and the D-Sub 15 itself is ready for use (assuming that all the cables were connected in the right order - an assumption I made until I noticed two of my buttons were reversed).

Wiring the Pushbuttons

Your buttons should all be mounted and secured in place before starting this portion of the process.

Making a Common Ground Wire

Because all of our buttons go through the same ground on the circuit board, it makes sense to create a single cable to ground all 5 buttons in the box. Cut 5 wires to 10" in length. Strip about 1/4" from each end of each wire. Then, using three 1/4" quick disconnects and two 3/16" quick disconnects, crimp them into a chain leaving one end without a connector. The chain should be: 3/16" - wire - 3/16" - wire - 1/4" - wire - 1/4" - wire - 1/4" - wire with open stripped end. Start with the very end 3/16" connector and slide it onto one of the prongs of the Start button. Take the next 3/16" connector in the chain and connect it to one of the prongs on the Back button. Take the next connector in the chain, a 1/4", and slide it onto the Ground prong of one of the larger buttons. Do this for the remaining two buttons and 1/4" connectors - connect both to the Ground prongs. The stripped end that is left should be inserted in the Pin 1 space on the barrier strip. It will reside in there along with pin 1 from the D-Sub connector - that's fine.

Wiring the Individual Buttons

Go ahead and make another 5 wires, 10" in length. Strip 1/4" off each end of each wire. We are not making a chain with these, so don't start crimping wires together. Instead, crimp a 3/16" connector on each of two wires, then crimp 1/4" connectors on each of 3 wires. Take one of your 3/16" wires and slide the connector onto the remaining open prong of the Start button. Connect the stripped end to the Start port on the barrier strip. Take the other 3/16" wire and connect the Back button similarly, connecting the stripped end to the Back port on the barrier strip. Take one of the 1/4" wires and slide the connector onto the Normally Open prong of the Left button, connecting the bare end of the wire to barrier port 4. Connect the Right button to barrier port 5 in the same manner. And, finally, connect the Select (center) button to barrier port 7 using a 1/4" connector wire. The buttons are now wired and should work if tested with the Xbox.

Wiring for the Power Mod

If you're incorporating the Power Mod, we now have to do the wiring for it. All of the lamp assembly wires will use 1/4" quick disconnects on individual wires, so go ahead and make six of those according to the same lengths we've been using all along. I have created a diagram of all the wiring since I neglected to take photos of this process. It might help to look at it while I describe this process.

Wiring the Lamp Assemblies

The arcade button lamp assemblies have one prong on either side that run the power to the lamps themselves. If you look at the assembly, one side is marked with a plus (+). This side is the positive terminal side. The other side is the ground terminal. It's important to make sure that when you connect up your wires, you get the right sides on all of the assemblies.

Connect your newly created wires to either side of the assemblies using the provided prongs. Then, take the ends of all the wires going to the positive terminals and twist together their stripped ends. Fasten these ends to one of the terminals on the 2 port barrier strip (the pairs of terminals are separated by a plastic barrier). Next, take the ends of all the ground terminal wires, twist them together, and fasten them to the 2 position barrier strip, but not to a terminal that connects to the first terminal you used (so, one on the opposite side of the barrier).

Wiring in the Power Jack and Rocker Switch

Create one wire, long enough to reach from your power jack to the rocker switch, that has 3/16" quick disconnects on both ends. At the power jack, connect one end of this wire to the center pin (see the back of the power jack packaging for pin descriptions). Then, connect the other end to one of the prongs on the rocker switch. Next, make a wire long enough to get from the power jack to the ground terminal of the 2 position barrier strip (the terminal to which you connected your lamp ground wires). Strip it at both ends and connect a 3/16" disconnect to one end. Slide that disconnect onto one of the shell prongs on the power jack and fasten the stripped end to the barrier strip so that it connects up with the lamp ground wires. Now make a wire long enough to get from the rocker switch to the barrier strip and do the exact same thing, connecting its stripped end to the positive lamp wire terminal.

With that done, you should be able to plug in your DC power supply, flip the rocker switch, and see your lights come to life.

Assembling the Control Box

Nothing particularly tricky here. You just need to make sure to position your Xbox controller cord, tuck in any stray wires, mount the D-Sub 15 connector to the box, and then use the screws included with the project box to fasten the lid in place. In order to keep the standoff screws on the bottom from snagging on things, I recommend attaching four rubber cushion feet near the corners of the bottom of the control box. However, make sure you don't cover up any of the screws with them. You want to make sure you can get back into the box should you need to change or fix anything.

You're DONE!

That's it! At this point, you should have a fully functioning Cobalt Flux 2.0 compatible Xbox control box that shows up as a pad on Xbox Live. All you'll need to connect it up with the CF is a standard male-to-male VGA cable, which can be found just about anywhere that sells computer cabling (Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and yes, Radio Shack). However, the cable must be wired for all 15 pins. I've already come across two that were not and were, therefore, useless. So I made my own cable.

If you have any questions along the way of building your own, please feel free to mail me about any aspect of this project. I can also be found on the DDRFreak and Cobalt Flux forums as, obviously, Sinistar.

Suggestions on improving the process of creating this box are also welcome, as are corrections to any errors in this guide.

Some photos taken during this project were not used in the article, but if you would like to see them, please visit the Xbox Control Box gallery.

Return to Part 1