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CF 2.0 Xbox Control Box - The Cheap Version


References and thanks:
ichiro for the CF 2.0 pin-out information maintained on his site
The CF forum regulars for tolerating my presence and enjoying my work

Intro

Some of you may be familiar with my original arcade style control box project for the v2.0 Cobalt Flux. You are likely also aware that it is both a time and cost intensive project.

The problem, then, was how could your normal, everyday CF owner use their pad with their Xbox (and have it disable the corner buttons and identify as a pad on Xbox Live) without spending $200? That's what this guide answers, as it will show you how to get an equally functional control box for around $35, assuming you have the tools already. It is also a far easier project and is much less time intensive. The whole project can be done in an evening, which might be a confusing statement for those people who waited weeks for me to build them Xbox cboxes. This guide was also done so those who are so inclined can cut out the middle man (me) and embark on this build themselves.

One thing I want to mention up front - in doing this for other people, I have now encountered three different controller designs when purchasing the Mad Catz pad. First, the housing itself changed, then the circuit board layout changed. So if the items in this guide don't perfectly match what you have, that's why. With that said, let's begin...

Parts and Tools List

Here are the parts you will need:

QuantityPartVendorPart #Price (ea.)
1Mad Catz Beat Pad for XboxBest Buy6053361$24.99
115-Position HD Male Solder D-Sub ConnectorRadioShack276-1501$1.89
1Mini SPST Momentary Switch - Normally Open - Pack of 4RadioShack275-1547$3.29
1Hookup Wire 22 AWGRadioShack278-1221$4.79
1Rosin Core Solder, 2.5 Oz.RadioShack64-005$3.99

The following tools will come in handy:

  • Electric drill
  • 1/4" drill bit
  • 1/16" drill bit
  • Phillips head screwdriver - standard and small sizes
  • Utility or X-Acto knife
  • Soldering iron
  • Wire cutters / strippers
  • Glue gun (for mounting and wire management)
  • Handheld vacuum (for cleanup)

Trashing the Majority of the Pad

As with my other guide, to speed up the page, any illustrations/images are linked in the text. If you wish to see the corresponding image, just click the link to have it open in a new window.

Take the pad out of its box, unfold it, and flip it over so you're looking at the back of the controller housing. Then, take out all the screws - set them aside and don't lose any of them. Flip the pad over so the top face of the pad is facing upwards again. Then, pull the top part of the housing away to reveal the circuit board.

Guess what? Yep, more screws. Go ahead and remove the circuit board mounting screws, setting them aside with the housing screws. Now flip the board down and out of the housing, exposing the leads that connect the board to the pad itself. Here it is... the moment of truth... Once you do this, there's no going back. Cut the leads with a utility knife so that you have a complete separation of the circuit board from the pad.

At this point, you can throw the soft part of the pad away. We're done with it. And if you want, you can peel off the leads attached to the circuit board. They're just stuck on there with adhesive.

Prepping the Control Housing

We need three holes in the plastic housing to accomodate the 15 pin connector and our two momentary switches (for Start and Back). The tricky bit is that our added components can't conflict with items already in the housing. With the newer style housing, the only place I could find for the switches were two points on opposite sides of the housing. This works out well enough since you normally step on those switches - the distance gives you plenty of foot room. Plus, you rarely have to use them in Ultramix. Drill those holes with the 1/4" drill bit and then cut away at the inside of them to widen the circumference just enough so that the threaded portion of the momentary switches will slide through.

With the connector, we need space not only for the presence of the connector on the housing but also space underneath for the wires we'll be soldering to it. Because of that, we need to find a position that does not conflict with any components on the circuit board. Fortunately, the Mad Catz board designers left us one space for this (and, depending on your circuit board, that space could be on the left or right - I've seen both varieties). Once you have that placement figured out, go ahead and cut out your hole for the 15 pin connector. The connector should slide in with just a bit of resistance.

Once your holes are cut, go ahead and mount those components. The switches have nuts and lock washers to hold them in place, but the 15 pin connector does not. To rectify this, you can either use small screws or just hot glue it in from the underside. I normally just scavenge screws from other pad controller housings. I have a few lying around. :)

Wiring the Control Box

Now that the hardware is mounted, we can start the wiring process. For my purposes, I used spare CAT-3 wire left over from a home wiring project as it allowed me to use color coded wiring. The color coding makes it just that much easier to keep track of which wire is which. As a result, my wiring ended up like this:

CF v2.0 Pins
12345
White/OrangeOrange/WhiteWhite/GreenGreen/WhiteWhite/Blue
GroundUpDownLeftRight
Circuit Board Solder Points

CF v2.0 Pins
678910
White/OrangeOrange/WhiteWhite/GreenGreen/White--
BAYX--
Circuit Board Solder Points

The obvious question here is: Hey, where's the wiring for pin 10, the center panel? Unfortunately, Xbox dance controllers come equipped only for those buttons required for playing Ultramix - there are no extras (like mappings for the Black or White buttons). The only way to add support for the center panel would be to co-opt either the Start or Back buttons for that task. As pressing either for an extended period of time would likely dump you out of a song during play, having it permanently mapped is problematic. The only way to solve the problem is to install a switch that allows you to turn that center panel mapping on and off. It can be done, I've done it, but I don't cover it here because if you're a Pump It Up fan, you're probably already using the CF control box to play it.

Back to the wiring here... You'll want to cut 9 wires into 10" lengths. Strip about 1/8" of the wires at one end and solder those ends to the 15 pin connector (from this perspective, pin 1 is the pin in the up-right corner).

If you're feeling like being a neat freak, you can then lay the wires flat along the inside of the housing and glue them into place. I don't typically do this, but I was taking pictures this time and felt compelled to clean things up.

With the wires in place, go ahead and put the circuit board back in place with the printed side facing up. This will give us access to the various solder points on the board. Again note that you might have a different circuit board revision than was used for this guide. If so, you'll need to follow the traces yourself to figure out which solder points correspond to which triggers. When you're ready to solder, cut the appropriate wire so that it just reaches the solder point, then solder it into place. When you're finished, you'll have something like this.

Be sure to remember to wire up your Start and Back buttons, too. You'll need two wires coming from each. One wire on each will go to the Ground solder point. The other wire will attach to the Start or Back solder point depending on which switch you're wiring.

Closing up the Housing

If you made your wires sufficiently long enough, you might actually be able to mount the circuit board back onto the controller housing. Give it a shot. The worst that will happen is that you'll have to resolder something. However, if you have a glue gun, it can come in handy here. Grab your Xbox Live Communicator (if you have one) and shove it into the Communicator slot in the housing so that it connects up with the mount on the circuit board - this will make sure the Communicator will fit later. Then, just hot glue the circuit board into place around the edges that touch the housing itself. It's easy, quick, and doesn't require juggling screws. If we mounted the 15 pin connector from the underside of the housing, we could avoid this mess, but I prefer to have the connector mounted on the outside in order to make available as much space as possible on the inside of the housing.

Once the glue is dried and holding the board in place, put the back of the housing on and screw it down. You'll notice a slight gap between the two halves along the bottom of the housing. That's normal. That's the space that used to be filled up by the pad itself. You can probably fill it with something or tape it up or whatever, but as long as nobody spills anything in there, you'll be okay.

Testing your Control Box

With everything assembled, hook up your Flux, plug the control box into your Xbox, and boot up Ultramix. You should now have your corner buttons disabled during play and have your CF identify as a pad on Xbox Live.

If things don't work right during play - buttons don't work or pressing Up makes Right trigger - chances are good that you made a mistake while soldering, attaching the wrong wire to the wrong point. Just open the control box back up and go over your work again, resoldering where necessary.

Done

Assuming everything worked, you're done. Welcome to the wonderful world of hard pads on Xbox Live. Well, as it stands right now, anyway. There is always hope that somebody (likely RedOctane) will make a control box with full Live compatibility. When that happens, this will all be a lot easier. Until then, this painful method is the only way to do it. Buy hey, enjoy your control box! And don't make the n00bs cry into their Communictor microphones too much.