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Author Topic: Ready-Made Arcade Controllers (Experiences and Buying Help)  (Read 2649 times)

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Ready-Made Arcade Controllers (Experiences and Buying Help)
« on: March 27, 2016, 06:52:27 am »
Hi all

I'd like to start a new topic about ready-made arcade controllers
here that are currently still available.

I'm building my own arcade controller at the moment and I already
have a Hanoho Hot Rod (which apparently went out of production
or bankrupt and is no longer available). All the same, as a backup
and spare, I am looking to buy another ready-made arcade controller
and I would like to pool information on this topic here.

This time I'd like a 2 player unit with two 8-way joysticks, a trackball,
and if possible, a spinner and one or two dedicated 4-way joysticks.
I want the trackball, the spinner and the 4-way joystick (if there is only
one) to be easily accessible by both players, so you don't have to
change seats when 2 people play after each other. Or, if playing alone,
arranged in such a manner, that you can use the trackball, the spinner
and the 4-way joystick with either your left or right hand, and access
plenty of push-buttons with your other hand.

It seems there are quite a few new vendors, products and manufacturers
of ready-made arcade controllers popping up, while others disappear.
Some offer completely standardized arcade controllers, some very
inexpensive, such as X-Arcade, and some let you design and customize
what they will build for you.

I'd like to ask everyone to share their experiences with products and
vendors of ready-made arcade controllers which are currently still
available and in business as of posting. What are people's experiences
with ready-made arcade controllers or custom-built and sold controllers
by the various producers and companies of today?

I have searched the internet and so far have found the following products
and vendors which I am considering and which offer an interesting product.
I would really appreciate any experiences or thoughts and knowledge
about them and their producers or vendors:

- The "Tankstick" from X-Arcade (

- The "CO2" controller from DreamAuthentics ( ):

- The custom build controllers from MonsterArcade (!control-panels/c1h4d

- The ready-made but customizable controllers from WestControls (

- The ready-made controllers from RecRoomMasters (

- The ready-made but customizable controllers from North Coast Arcades

Has anyone ordered a ready-made arcade controller in the last few
years and what are their experiences?
Is the quality of X-Arcade really so bad? What about the others?

Kind regards,


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Re: Ready-Made Arcade Controllers (Experiences and Buying Help)
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2016, 04:55:34 pm »
I have an XArcade Tankstick. I brought it to work for the last 6 months where it gets some heavy use playing the early 80s MAME games. I converted one of the joysticks to 4-way. You are suppose to be able to do this by merely flipping a spacer - but I wound up also rebending all the micro-switch blades so they don't contact at the same time.  But.... It's held up great with only a left joystick "button" a little intermittent - so I purchased a set of 10 more joystick micro-switches from XArcade for $5. Other than that, the control looks new - after all the beatings. It's pretty heavy and doesn't slide around much.

I have the trackball acting a the "spinner" and "analog joystick" so that we can play Tempest and Star Wars. It's a good substitute for the spinner, not so much for the analog joystick. It can be confusing with all those buttons and they are all black - I cut out a set of vinyl labels for all the buttons. I could have also swapped out the black buttons for colored ones - that would help too. There are a couple of companies out there that can create custom artwork for the control surface.

I'm not a fan of how these ready-made controllers look in a cabinet. But they look great on a table top.


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Re: Ready-Made Arcade Controllers (Experiences and Buying Help)
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2016, 03:23:21 pm »
For the price and function, the X-arcade seems to be the best option.

Most of the ones you listed are far higher priced and don't slope/angle down for the playing surface, which makes a BIG difference if you are playing on your lap.   If you put it into a cabinet, you can adjust for it, but if playing on the couch, you definitely want one that is angled.

The x-arcade also has 4 switch settings, 3 of which are configurable so you can set different settings for different playing.   My buddies bought them for their arcades and I set them up with 1 setting for most all normal games, another if you want to use the controller as player3 and 4, and another setting with the side buttons as the flippers for pinball games.   It makes it nice to have all those options.


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Re: Ready-Made Arcade Controllers (Experiences and Buying Help)
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2016, 05:13:55 pm »
Just an FYI - X-arcade tankstick is currently on sale for $169 right on their website - which is $30 less that the regular price.  This is because they have it on backorder so you will have to wait a month or so for delivery. 

I have a tankstick that I bought on CL about 6 years ago.  Its well built, and was a great starting point for my inexpensive mame cabinet build.  I will eventually replace the joysticks, but I am happy with the button quality and with the trackball.  Overall I don't have any complaints.  For a budget build its a great starting point.  For those seeking the best of the best, I would absolutely recommend building your own CP over any of the higher end pre-made options.  My next project will be a bar top and I will build my own CP now that I have some experience under my belt and know what I can make on my own.

Lastly I will echo the concern for aesthetics when using the tankstick in a cabinet.  I got around this by removing the bottom structure of the tankstick and mounting only the CP portion.  I think it makes a much cleaner and more integrated look for my cabinet.  Just food for thought...
« Last Edit: March 30, 2016, 05:21:37 pm by smass »


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Re: Ready-Made Arcade Controllers (Experiences and Buying Help)
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2016, 01:20:27 pm »
I have owned an X-Arcade Tankstick for almost a year now, and like it overall, but it has some pros and cons:

- Very sturdy and fairly heavy. Has a good feel to itself, overall. Can definitely take a beating from kids/drunks/whoever.
- Integrated trackball seems to work very well.
- For casual gaming and retro games, it's a great joystick.
- It's easy to mod. I have no technical skills and no experience with arcade hardware, but I was able to swap out most of the micro switches, the buttons, and the two joysticks with relative ease.
- You get a license for Maximus Arcade, which is a pretty nice front end that is easy to set up and use.

- The included joysticks are bad for fighting games (this is my personal opinion, and opinion of many others).
- The included buttons are good or bad, depending on your personal opinion. I swapped mine out for Happ Competition convex buttons and like them a lot more. The included concave buttons felt a bit too "loose" for me, and not always super responsive.
- The aesthetics of the X-Arcade are rather boring. Black joysticks, black buttons, black surface, etc. You can get decals to completely change the look of it, though.

Hope this info helps. Here's a pic of how I recently modded mine:


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Re: Ready-Made Arcade Controllers (Experiences and Buying Help)
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2016, 03:30:37 am »
Hey, thanks for all the answers! :-)

Thanks DocHolliday about your comment about the angle. Indeed, I think this is
very important to me because I will use the joystick for emulators on the PC,
so it will be standing on a table most of the time, where people are sitting at.
So yes, I can see that I really need an angled joystick. Great comment thanks!
I will consider that, even if I get something else than an X-Arcade.

Yes, I saw that the X-Arcade is at a reduced price at the moment because
they're all out and waiting for a next batch. I am considering the Tankstick,
but it won't ship till April 30'th according to the webpage and me being in
Switzerland and paying by credit card that's just not an option. If something
goes wrong with the order, I need to be able to get my money back within
2-3 days. That's just not possible if I'd order and pay now and then wait
till April 30'th until I know if the order works out.