Within a couple weeks, I had the misfortune of having two gamepads that I’d had for years both die on me. One, a Logitech Dual Strike, clearly had its cable split open and one of the wires severed. The other, a Microsoft Sidewinder Plug & Play, just started crapping out randomly then suddenly died for no apparent reason, but it was well over a decade old.
The cable on the Dual Action split right at where it went into the gamepad itself, so there was no room to strip and then splice the wires together. And the Sidewinder I had no hope of fixing without a multimeter and some luck. So given that I knew what was wrong with the Dual Action, I decided to sacrifice the Sidewinder (which I unfortunately liked better) to save the Dual Action by replacing its cable with the one from the Sidewinder. Plus the Sidewinder’s cable had reinforcement at the base of the cable to keep it from splitting there—would have been nice if Logitech had thought of that.
After I opened up the gamepads, I noticed two things different about their USB cables. The Sidewinder’s cable connected to the PCB using a crimped wire terminal (you know, the plastic ones with the reconfigurable pinout) whereas the Dual Action’s cable was just soldered to the board. Also, the wires were in a different order according to their colors. I decided to take advantage of the terminal on the Sidewinder so I could easily rearrange the wires if I got the pinout wrong.
Removing the terminal took forever since I didn’t have a solder sucker. I found out that copper has the ability to absorb solder, though. So, I cut open an old AC cable, striped a wire, and used that. It actually worked pretty well once I got a technique figured out. Once the solder liquified, I jabbed the tips of the copper cable in there and rubbed it around, making sure to remove the copper before removing the iron (or the copper gets soldered to the PCB, naturally). Also, I had to hold the copper with pliers as it’s a great conductor of heat.
The rest of the soldering went a lot smoother. I removed the split cable from the Dual Action, then put the terminal in its place. I just used the solder that held the wires in place to hold the terminal as well. Finally, I changed the order of the wires on the USB cable so they’d match up to the order that the Dual Action wires had. Assuming the USB cable wire colors are standard, it should work (again, I didn’t have a multimeter, so I couldn’t check).
And as the video below shows, it did work. However, getting the covers back on was a little tricky. The plug that holds the cable in place as it enters the cover was a little large on the new cable. But trimming the plug a little with scissors and expanding the opening with an x-acto knife was all it took. The repaired gamepad made it through two hours of Zelda on Snes9x with no problem.