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VOOT/Force Replica Arcade Sticks

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 07:00
by twistedsymphony
I've been wanting a set of VOOT Twin unit Arcade Control panels to upgrade my US OMG machine but they're damn expensive and they seem to get snatched up instantly on YAJ.

I happened to find a random auction for a single VOOT joystick on eBay and snagged it for $15

I decided to take it apart to see what makes it tick and I'm thinking it might not bee too difficult to build a replica using a 3D printer.

we have standard off the shelf micro switches, there a bunch of small bolts and other fasteners that are easy to source. The spring, clip, spacers, and anti-rotation pin on the stick could all easily be sourced from hardware sellers online.

the white plastic body housing, and the black plastic gate plate and a few other small plastic pieces would need to be made by 3D printer.

The grip assembly and buttons could technically be made by 3D printer though they wouldn't look as pretty as real ones as 3D printers can't really make smooth surfaces. Though it might be cheaper to just use the grip assemblies from Saturn twin sticks.

The rod could probably have replicas machined by a small machine shop, not sure how much that would cost, these could also be customized to better fit the Saturn grips

The only major part left is the mounting plate, though it's possible a replacement could be printed out of plastic, or even molded as part of the joystick body to reduce the part count.

Has anyone else looked into this at all? Is there any interest out there in replica arcade stick housings or is everyone content with just using console stick parts or importing from Japan?

Re: VOOT/Forza Replica Arcade Sticks

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 14:30
by Porcupine
I have no idea how 3D printers work and I wasn't even sure they existed. =D

Why can't they make smooth surfaces?

Re: VOOT/Forza Replica Arcade Sticks

Posted: 18 Nov 2013, 16:12
by ChexGuy
It's because of the way they "print." Here's a sped-up video:

Re: VOOT/Forza Replica Arcade Sticks

Posted: 19 Nov 2013, 06:15
by twistedsymphony
yeah basically it prints layers of plastic and you literally have print resolution which causes a small amount of stair-stepping. it's also a little more porous than normal plastic. It works great for simple parts where you care more about how they look than how they work.

Re: VOOT/Forza Replica Arcade Sticks

Posted: 19 Nov 2013, 12:02
by Porcupine
I did a tiny bit of searching so yeah I found out that it's basically because it's an additive process.

So then my question becomes, why can't you digitally create things using more traditional subtractive processes? (drilling out, carving, etc).

Is there no way to automate such processes via a computer?

Actually I had thought that we had the ability to do that for a long time now, but again I don't really keep up on these things.

edit: So after more searching and refreshing of my memory, it seems they call this process CNC or CAM?

Re: VOOT/Forza Replica Arcade Sticks

Posted: 19 Nov 2013, 13:11
by twistedsymphony
yeah CNC is a computer controlled subtractive process.

CNC is also A LOT more expensive because the equipment is 5 to 10 times more expensive, the materials are a lot more expensive and it takes a lot more time to setup the programming to make the part too.

with 3D printing you basically give the machine a 3D model and a few parameters (like print speed and resolution) and away it prints, with a CNC machine you have an arm with a rotating cutting bit on the end and you have to program the movement of the arm which can take hours even for a simple part. It's a complex enough task that it's usually done by an engineer.

CNC also has the pitfall that you need to be able to get your cutting bit into all the crevices and details of the part... I'll have to give it another look but chances are you wouldn't be able to CNC these parts because of the logistics of getting a cutting bit into certain areas of the geometry.

The original process for making these parts are injection molds, where there are who halves of a mold that are CNC machined and then they're bolted together and filled with liquid plastic and then cooled and hardened. One of these molds usually costs several thousand dollars to make. Which is ok if you're making 10,000 parts or more, but not ok if you only need to make a few of them.

It's fairly uncommon to CNC plastic, usually that's reserved for metal parts.... for instance the rod in these joysticks would need to be machined on a CNC lathe.

(I actually have a mechanical engineering degree and work at a aerospace bearing manufacturer, so I'm pretty well versed in these processes)

Re: VOOT/Forza Replica Arcade Sticks

Posted: 19 Nov 2013, 16:27
by Porcupine
Ah okay. For some reason I had assumed that CNC machining would be an equally automated process, going straight from computer 3D model to the product. But if I'm reading what you said correctly, there is some sort of an intermediate programming step which is non-trivial to do.

Maybe you could use the much cheaper resin molds like they do for garage kits. But then your sticks would not be made of the same plastic material and probably would be more fragile and/or heavy.