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Best way to fix finicky controller buttons?


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I recall there being several threads about this back on the old site, but as it's virtually impossible to find anything on these days and I wasn't able to find a topic about this on here, I thought I'd ask.  What' the best way to fix, refurbish, etc., finicky controller buttons for older systems?  I've got a couple of white text 3-button Genesis controllers that my son wants to use when playing Sonic, but neither is as responsive as they (presumably) once were.  I've got an original red text 3-button controller that's still going strong, but even after cleaning both the board contacts as well as the carbon pads inside the white text controllers, one still flakes out occasionally and the other requires extremely deliberate, firm presses in order to register input.

I could be remembering incorrectly, but didn't someone on the old site suggest "re-carboning" the pads on the underside of the buttons?  I want to say I recall them saying you basically just needed to rub a pencil's lead back and forth over the old pads (or possibly get some graphite spray/paint) to get them going properly again.  However, this seems like it would be an extremely short lived fix and most likely end up causing more filth to build up inside the controllers.

Any thoughts, tips, tricks, etc., on this would be welcome.  If anybody has any sources on replacement pads (which doesn't involve sacrificing another controller), even better.  Thanks!

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I would suggest taking the controller apart and inspecting the rubber pads. If they are still good, you probably just need to clean the contacts with some contact cleaner, or even some alcohol with a q-tip. Then putting it back together. If the pads are no good, try finding some replacement pads or button repair kits online. I wish I had a source on these but I don’t. I’m sure you can find them somewhere on the inter webs. Good luck!

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On 11/19/2020 at 12:23 PM, joshdose said:

I would suggest taking the controller apart and inspecting the rubber pads. If they are still good, you probably just need to clean the contacts with some contact cleaner, or even some alcohol with a q-tip. Then putting it back together. If the pads are no good, try finding some replacement pads or button repair kits online. I wish I had a source on these but I don’t. I’m sure you can find them somewhere on the inter webs. Good luck!

Thanks for the response.  I did pop them apart and, as far as my eyes can tell, the rubber pads appear to be fine.  I cleaned them all with alcohol and a q-tip, getting some black gunk off in the process, after which they worked a little better, but still not completely reliably.  I've tried searching around online but only seeing kits being sold for the 6 button controllers, of which I have none.  There's one guy selling what could be a kit for the 3 button controllers (a dpad replacement plus four individual button replacements), but it's marked at $99.99 with no ability to make an offer on eBay, so that's straight out--I'll just buy new controllers at that point.  Fingers crossed I stumble across an appropriate kit or some info on how to refurb the conductivity of the existing (and seemingly good condition) pads.

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You can buy a solution to kind of paint over the old pads.  That price on the replacement pads is retarded.  I would give Retro Repairs method at go first, though.  I've also heard Voultar mention in one of his vids that you can bring back the snappiness to the silicone membranes by immersing them in boiling water for a few seconds.

 

 

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAIG-CaiKote-44-Remote-Keyboard-Membrane-Repair-Kit/222757405995?epid=1300170521&hash=item33dd60452b:g:urMAAOSwYxBaNCWP

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/KEYPAD-FIX-Permanently-Repairs-All-Rubber-Keypads/290658760252?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649

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1 hour ago, CMR said:

You can buy a solution to kind of paint over the old pads.  That price on the replacement pads is retarded.  I would give Retro Repairs method at go first, though.  I've also heard Voultar mention in one of his vids that you can bring back the snappiness to the silicone membranes by immersing them in boiling water for a few seconds.

 

Thanks for the heads up about the boiling trick.  Wasn't aware of that one, and while the rubber on the controllers feels ok to me, I'll definitely give that a shot to see if it's just them being too stiff.  Also, thanks for the confirmation for the paint solution.  I had actually done some more Googling this afternoon after my last post and found that the KeyPad Fix you linked too has reasonably decent reviews on Amazon as far as working properly and long-term, while the other options available (including the CaliKote stuff) had much less favorable reviews (most stating that it flakes off fairly quickly then gets everywhere, causing even more issues).  If the boil trick doesn't work, I'll definitely be Prime'ing myself some KeyPad Fix and seeing if that spruces things up.

Isn't it crazy how almost nobody has new contacts for these things?  Even Console5 seemed to have sets for just about everything except the Genesis.  I have to wonder if the stuff that's out there is simply NOS and the Sega stuff has sold out more rapidly than everything else or if Sega products have become so unpopular in comparison over the years that nobody bothers anymore.  Fingers crossed we end up with some solutions for new third party stuff in the near future, what with all manner of "retro" gaming becoming more and more popular.

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