Bringing an old Nintendo N64 controller back from the grave

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Classic video game fans can now wiggle their joysticks in celebration

If you’re a fan of old video games, then good look with sourcing hardware that can keep up with your playing – Nam Le is such a fan of classic Nintendo games that he was having to hunt down replacement controllers every two months.

With the original N64 controller’s iconic design now out of production, Le decided to design his own replacement components, using SolidWorks to model the parts and even simulate where the structural faults of the original were.

His modelling found that the main manufacturing flaw in the controller was that the entire joystick assembly would wear down causing all of the piece to fail.

The three-legged legend – an original Nintendo N64 controller


“This assembly was made of three key components the gears, stick, and bowl. The gears wore down from the mating surface of the stick, the bowl wore down making the joystick offset from its main axis and the stick its self would wear due to abrasive dust,” explains Le.

With this in mind, Nam focused his attention on making these components as sturdy as possible with an option to easily replace the joystick (the central point causing the other components to break).

The reverse engineered controller parts

Using 3D Hubs, the gear teeth were built using from Visijet M3 Crystal material for high detail. The main body of the gear was made of brass using the lost wax casting method using 3D printing

Like the gear teeth, the Visijet M3 Crystal material was used for the housing since it would have been too difficult to cast the whole bowl by itself, while the main bowl is made of brass.

Through 3D Hubs the thumbstick redesign was made of Nylon (PA12) using the HP Multi Jet Fusion printer – with this acting as a sacrificial element that can be easily replaced and saving the rest of the assembly from heavy wear.

The gaming community at large has taken to his idea, with pro gamers in the Super Smash Bros leagues wanting to test it now the controller has been deemed tournament legal.

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