Sony PS3 Thumbstick Replacement

I’m not a massive fan of the Sony Controller, especially the PS3 one.  Thanfully you can buy extensions for the triggers to stop your fingers sliding off of them and it’s now quite easy to replace the thumbsticks on them.  In my opinion, Sony got it right first time with the Dual Analog Pad, with it’s concaved thumbstick.  It was quickly replaced with the rounded mushrooms/domes though.  You can get rubber covers for these to make them more grippy, but I still prefer concaved ones still!  When I first wrote this, it was hard to source a suitable replacement, but since controller modding has really taken off, and you can find all the colours you want, and if you buy the ones for an XBOX 360 pad, you can fit them to your Sony pad.  If you’ve got an original XBOX Controller S hanging around, you can always pinch the parts from that.

I’ve done this to a Sixaxis and a Dual Shock 3.  I guess it’s possible on the original Dual Shock and the Dual Shock 2.  My photos show this being done to a pad that I imported from Japan on release, Sony have since altered the design and it’s easier to put back together now luckily.

The first thing to do is rip apart the XBOX controller and pull the thumbsticks off, this is very easy to do so no instructions aren’t shown here for that. Taking apart a Dual Shock 3 or a Sixaxis can be trouble, work very carefully and in a clutter free area so you don’t lose any parts. Undo all the screws on the rear and then pull it apart slightly by the USB plug. Then squeeze the bottom half of the casing in between the thumbsticks, you should feel it click/unlock and you can now pull it apart.

PS3 Pad Opening

PS3 Pad Opening

The R1/L1 buttons and the bit of plastic between these and the triggers may fall out now, and if you’re doing this on the non-rumble Sixaxis then be careful of the small power button which may fallout (I forgot to take a photo of it, but the taller part rests against the battery). Under the battery is a screw holding the board in, and if you’re doing this to a Dual Shock 3 then remove the screws holding the motors in place, finally remove the inner workings.

PS3 Pad Exposed

Pull one of the thumbsticks off and replace it with one you removed from the XBOX controller. You may find that the round base of the XBOX thumbstick sits a little higher than the PlayStation one (you might be able to see it in the pic above, it’s fitted to the right), this may cause a problem with it rubbing on the casing when you put it back together. You can either file off a small piece pole that the thumbstick sits on, or (as I did) use a small screwdriver to make the hole on the bottom of the XBOX thumbstick a bit deeper, just scrape from side-to-side inside the hole to remove a small amount of plastic. Do a couple of test fits by holding the board back in the upper half of the case and moving the stick around to make sure it moves freely.

PS3 Pad Test Fitting

Once you’ve fitted both thumbsticks, it’s time to put the whole pad back together, this can be difficult! Put the board back in and slide the L2/R2 triggers back into place first…

PS3 Pad Re-assembly 1

…then gently lift it out a bit, not all the way out though, then put the button back in place – start by lining up the round part on the rear of the button with the round part of the rubber contact that it pushes in; then slide both the trigger and the button back into place. Try the L1/R1 button out, it shouldn’t feel like it’s stuck, it should have a very gentle click to it.

PS3 Pad Re-assembly 2

Here’s another image showing the rear of the button and the contact pad lining up before sliding them down into place.

PS3 Pad Re-assembly 6

Once you’ve got the triggers and buttons in place and they appear to be working properly then it’s time to get that small piece of plastic in that divides them. Squeeze the trigger to open the gap up a bit, then slide the plastic into place. To make the job a little easier use some sellotape to hold that bit of plastic and the L1/R1 button in place.

PS3 Pad Re-assembly 4

PS3 Pad Re-assembly 7

Don’t forget to screw the board in, and if you’ve got rumble motors screw them in also before fitting the rest of the case. Start with the rear of the case and line up the case around the triggers before clipping it back together at the front, put the screws in and your done!

PS3 Pad Re-assembly 8

PS3 Pad Finished

If you test fitted the thumbsticks whilst fitting them then you should be finished, if they stick a bit then take it apart and remove a bit more plastic from the hole on the underside of the thumbstick.