The DDR homepad building and softpad modding thread! (HUGE TOPIC)

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Post #1 · Posted at 2010-10-10 06:19:53pm 6.2 years ago

Offline 8ftmetalhead
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Xbox Gamer Tag: A strange DDR
"Oh god what I have dooooone?!"

Last updated: 2013-02-11 12:44pm
11/2/13 - First edit since I wrote this up, seems to be doing its duty. Images have stayed up alright and people are still building these it seems. Interfacing the pads remains one of the trickier parts of building, but there's many options available. Keyboards, controllers, old soft pads and as of late custom fightstick control boards are being used to interface these things.

Unfortunately, this topic has become somewhat more relevant since the collapse of the major non arcade pad manufacturers, so unless you're willing to chance it with what you can find on the web or buying your own cabinet, this is pretty much your last shot at getting an arcade-esque experience.

Fortunately, most of the designs remain relevant, functional and are quite feasible to use, even if as a base guide for your own ideas. Many people are now incorporating true arcade sensors into their pads for as accurate an experience as possible.

And as always, if you have questions, suggestions, designs of your own, whatever else, just post it and someone will get back to you soon enough.

Welcome to the DDR Homepad building and modding thread!

So, Alan was nice enough to create this whole forum at my request, and I might aswell start filling it.
As many of you will know, DDR Freak has a 'bemani controllers' forum for this sort of topic, but unfortunately it, along with the rest of the site, has long been inactive.
So, I took an archive of pretty much all the designs I found in the homepad thread, and I'm going to repost them here directly.

While this thread will be mostly about hardpads, wood or metal, that doesn't mean there's not enough room for softpad mods aswell. (Although there's only so many ways to 'mod' a softpad).

Now, because of the many designs available, I have not spent too long editing each of them. They are all written differently, and formatted differently. While they should all be consistently readable, some of you might find one author harder to understand than another. However, even if I HAD rewritten every design I found, if you had all failed to understand ME, then it would have been many many hours gone to waste anyway.


The following FAQ is taken from DDR Freak's homepad thread V4, since the information contained in the FAQ is still very relevant, although I've made it a bit more concise, reordered it, added to it, and removed the dead links.

Where can I find the designs for a DDR dance pad?

There were websites up for the designs but unfortunately they have all vanished, save for a couple.
This topic will likely proove to be the most complete list of designs anywhere, and even in the process of saving all the information did some more sites go down.

Why should I build a DDR dance pad?

They are very durable. When you build it yourself, if something goes wrong, you'll know how to take it apart and fix it. You can customize it to your liking, changing sensitivity, durability, lighting, decals, etc. Also, building your own pad often costs less than buying a pre-made metal pad.

Can someone with no experience build a DDR dance pad?

Yes, provided you are willing to take time to figure out what you are doing.

How much does it cost to build a DDR dance pad?

The cost varies, and will depend on what materials you already have, what stores you go to, etc. Tools can also be a factor, if you don't have access to certain tools you may have to buy them.
However, as above, it will likely be cheaper than buying a pre-made metal pad.

How much weight can the dance pad hold?

Depending on what you make your pad out of, it might break easily, or it might hold half your family on it. The main issue will be with the thickness of any plexiglass you decide to include in the design.

What are the dimentions in Centimeters (cm)?

The dimensions should be 28cm per panel, and a total of 84cm x 84cm.

Can lights be added to the dance pad?

Often, yes. Many pads that have a plywood or other sort of frame similar to the arcade pad's construction will be able to have lights added, a process made even easier thanks to high power LED's. Wiring them so that they go off when the panels are pressed is slightly harder, but far from impossible for someone with a good knowledge of electronics (or a friend as such).
Some pads are flat, however, and as such are difficult to add lights to. It would be possible to add lights to these pads on the surface though, perhaps on the edges or borders of the panels.

Can I add a bar? Have adjustable sensitivity?

A bar can be added to many pads, either directly to the pad itself, or they can be constructed to attach or sit under the pad.

Sensitivity is often adjustable but it will depend on how you build your pad. Some will detail how to make the adjustments in the design, others you will have to be creative.

Riptide's design is adjustable through a few different methods, but others may not be. Note the information below will probably only make sense AFTER you've read through Riptide's design brief already.

To quote one modification a user made to Riptide's design :
“We had a lot of problems at first with the contacts, but to fix it, we put screws through the bottom, and the sensitivity shot through the roof (I can tap my foot as light as possible on the very edge and it still registers). We used brass screws so as to conduct electricity well, and they wont poke through the metal, because brass is softer than steel. I soldered the arrows to the x, o, triangle, and square, which proved to work better (also for the computer).
The pad is great, and it works perfectly, the screw modifications helped a lot. We also put a wood frame around it and dropped a piece of plywood in there and screwed it in.”

Riptide's suggestion:
“To make the pad more sensitive, you can make a 1/2" gap in the weather stripping (in the center) as said by DDRhomepad. This will allow trapped air to escape more easily, allowing it to compress with more ease. You can remove some weather stripping if desired, but make sure that the sheet metal isn't touching when this is done. Break in your dance pad; play on with it for a few hours. This compress the weather stripping down, making it so that the arrows don't have to be compress as much to register. If those methods don't work, then you could try the screw mod/solder mod. If that doesn't fit your need, then you could explore and try different things to get the desired sensitivity.

Alternatively, you can buy weatherstripping that is not as think or use substitutes that work just as well for ddrhomepad's/Riptide's or any other dance pad. For Riptide's, you can just make the screws higher or lower until the desired sensitivity is acquired. It's probably best to take just one panel and test it out with these methods or however you choose, and then when you achieve it, to do the same to the rest of the arrow panels.”

Where can I get the picture or graphics for the arrows?

You would need to load the picture on to a cd or usb stick. You would then to go to Kinkos or another processing store. You will need to ask them for 11x17 paper to be printed on. It's larger than needed, but you can always cut it down to size. If you go to a store that is local, it should be cheaper than going to Kinkos.
If you would like it to be high-shine, ask for Cast-Coated. If that's not in stock, then ask for Satin finish. Go for something around 150-300gsm if possible, for a good thickness that isn't likely to rip or tear easily.
As for the actual arrow designs, they are provided later in this topic. Or you can make your own.

How long does it take to construct a DDR dance pad?

Time varies. Some have said to be done in 14 hours, while others have been done in 26+ hours. It really depends on the tools that you have, experience, the amount of time (if you break it up between days/weeks), and so forth.

Where can I buy the materials for my pad?
You'll be able to find most of what you need at your local hardware store. For a controller, check ebay or your local games retailer.

What tools do I need for building a dance pad?

Generally required tools include (but are not limited to) -
Jigsaw, Mallet, Phillips Screwdriver, Tin Snips, Measuring Tape, Metal Cutting Blade for the Jigsaw, Soldering Iron.
Optional Tools- Dremel Rotary Tool, Table Saw, Scissors, Pencil/Pen

What is Lucite/lexan/plexiglass/etc?

Those are just brand names for Acrylic. Some are stronger than others. It's pretty much what you prefer, what's available, and what you can afford. There's no one that's really better than the others.

Lexan is not the same as Lucite or Plexiglass. Lucite will usually be a stiff acrylic, but also brittle if you get Lucite-Tuf. Lucite-ES is better for this kind of project. I'm not sure about Plexiglass. Lexan is virtually bulletproof. It is the strongest acrylic you can buy, and also the most expensive. The bendability in these materials may differ. If you have the money, go with Lexan. In any case, any of these materials will work well enough for the project.

Where can I find sheet metal or acrylic cheaper?

Fabricators that specialize in sheet metal or acrylics would be the best places to search. At those places, you should be able to get the sheet metal/Acrylic cut to the size you want, and get it cheaper. Check your phone book or around your town. There should be some place local that you can stop by.

How do I cut the acrylic and the sheet metal?

You can cut the sheet metal with tin snips. For the acrylic you can use a jigsaw WITH AN APPROPRIATE BLADE or a rotary tool. When using the rotary tool, be sure to score it at least a few times, then snap the piece off. Note that the jigsaw blade bit in caps. If you use a blade that is too coarse (too sharp and serated) you'll probably get cracks all along the edge of the acrylic. If you use a blade that isn't coarse enough (the points are too small) you'll end up melting the edges of the plexi due to the friction it creates while trying to cut forwards. Take your time, use an appropriate blade and you will be fine.

How should I drill into the acrylic?

You should first measure and mark where you are going to drill. After you've marked the areas, start with a small drill bit and work your way up to the size that is needed. It's best to go with a size that is larger than the screw that's going to be inserted through, as this gives you a small margin for error. Note that simply screwing into the acrylic will put great cracks in it, and likely will split or shatter the acrylic.

How do I solder to the sheet metal/controller?

To solder to the sheetmetal, scratch the sheetmetal with something in the area you're going to be soldering to. When you're soldering, be sure to heat up the sheetmetal for a good amount of time. The heat dissipates pretty quickly over the metal, and if the sheetmetal isn't warm enough, it's harder for the solder to stick.

To solder to the controller, it's a bit harder. You will scratch the metal contact you're going to solder to and heat the controller a little bit and solder basically the same way as the sheetmetal, but you have to be more careful. You don't want to burn the controller, so don't heat it nearly as much, and you might have to scratch it a lot more than the sheetmetal.
For Sony controllers, this can be a problem. Their contacts are coated in conductive black material that MUST be scratched off before you can solder to it. Further, the circuit board will sweat when heated too much, and in many cases older controllers (and even some new ones) will have the copper pull off the board when soldering to it, making it effectively useless.

Solder Flux really helps out though. It cleans the area for soldering when heated and helps transfer heat. Flux CORED solder is also useful, but if you have flux seperately it is not entirely necessary.

What kind of wires should I use?

CAT5 wire is what most people have gone with, as it has 4 colour coded twisted pairs. This is great for remembering what wires go to what, and also makes them neat and tidy. It also gives you two wirse per arrow panel, which is convenient.
Other wires work too, (16 gauge for example)

How long should the wires be?

They should be about 6-8 feet long. Any longer than that could fry your controller.

My arrow isn't registering, what's wrong?

It could be due that there's a short in the wire. It could also be that the soldering wasn't done correctly or that it has come off.
If there is a lot of static build up, it could prevent the arrows from registering.

Should I be concerned with static build up?

There has been talk about static frying controllers. Those instances aren't too many, but to be safe, you could ground your pad.
A Sony Play Station Controller usually will not fry. They are harder, or seem to be, to solder to though. Some knockoff or cheap controllers use strange circuit boards though. In some cases, soldering to one, can lead to any number of headaches with short circuits and grounding issues.

Can you stack 2 1/4" strips of weatherstripping?

Yes, you can stack 2 pieces of 1/4" strips of weatherstripping. There have been no reports of any problems in doing this, but it'd probably better to go with the 1/2" strips if you can find them.

Which design is the best to build?

There is no best design out there. Just pick one that fits your needs/wants. If there isnt one that you like or has what you want, then you can always design your own pad! If you spend time reading through the existing designs, you can come up with your own way of achieving the same result through different methods and materials.

Can I use cheaper materials for building the dance pad?

It depends on what you mean by cheap. You CAN make a dance pad out of tinfoil and chipboard, but it certainly won't work very well or last long. Opting for less materials, or say, substituting plexiglass panels for wooden ones can work. Many people make their pads entirely out of plywood or MDF. If they then want a cover for it, they can use plastic sheeting instead of sheetmetal, and perhaps use some sort of bracket rather than a true corner bracket as they are often very expensive.

How do I bend the sheet metal/make my solid panels?

Making the perfect metal panel

1) Cut out your 10 7/8 inch square wood panels made from plywood or whatever material you are using. If you are using a jigsaw, I suggest slightly larger dimensions so you have room to sand it down to 10 7/8 inches. If the edges of the wood panels are not completely straight and smooth, sand them down to the proper size so that they are. This is an important step if you wand a smooth straight edge on the metal panel when it is finished.

2) Get your sheet metal cut into 12 inch squares. Clean any grease and dirt off one side of the metal (this will be the side you will glue). Scrub the metal thoroughly with steel wool so you have a somewhat rough surface. This will help the glue stick. Also sand down the side of the wood panel that will be attached to the metal.

3) Get a strong glue. You will want to use a glue that has all of the following properties:

~ More of a liquid/syrup than a rubber paste so it spreads easitly
~ Not a flexible bond, you need a hard bond
~ Super strong bond
~ Bonds metal and wood

The glue I used that works perfectly is Elmer's ultimate glue. The smallest bottle will probably cover your project.

4) First read the instructions on the glue bottle so you know how to apply it properly. Now apply glue to both the rough sides of the metal and wood. You should use enough to cover the entire wood surface after it spreads, too much glue will make the panel slide around too much as it's drying, so don't go overboard. Spread the glue with a wet paper towel or rag, so that you have an even coat that completely covers the wood. Be sure to get glue on the corners of the wood, as this area is vital.
5) Set down the panel, metal side first, and either clamp or weight it down with lots of pressure. If you clamp it, make sure that the entire panel has equal pressure throughout. Check on the panel a few times as it is drying to make sure that the wood isn't sliding off the metal. If you see excess glue spilling from the sides, you don't need to worry too much, because it will be scraped off later. Let the panels sit for at least 24 hours.

6) Now that your panels are dry, scrape off the excess glue that spilled out by using a chisel or similar tool. Use the chisel (or something else sharp and pointed) and start scraping a line where the metal meets the wood on the underside of the panel. This will make the metal easier to bend, give a straighter edge, and allow it to fold over further. Don't scrape too much, or you may break the metal as you bend it, just a few scrapes should do it.

7) Cut out small squares in the corners of the metal so you can bend it around the wood. Using a rubber mallet, gently bend the metal starting at the corners and working your way towards the middle of each side until the metal is wrapped around the wood.

8) Depending on the design of the pad, you may want to attach the angle brackets to the panels at this time. Now you're ready to attach the panels to the pad. As you do so, do not put in the screws too far, or they may bend your panel. Just tighten the screws until they touch the surface.


Riptide's arcade pad -

Summary: This is a direct copy of the imformation found on http://www.wubros.com/DDRPad/
Riptide's pad is one of the most widely used designs for homepads, providing excellent response and easy buildability if care is taken. It is possible to use more than one sensor type, including screws and weatherstripping, or mending brackets, or even the Matrix design sensor, found later in this topic.

Materials and Tools -

¾” (19mm) thick plywood -
We need 5 boards cut to 10 7/8x10 7/8 (276x276mm) and one board at 33"x33" (838x838mm). This needs to be fairly precise, so you might get your local hardware store to cut it if you have never built anything before. If the edges are not cut straight, your panels will not look uniform. If they are not perfectly square, the rest of the pad will not fit together correctly.

22 Ga. Sheetmetal -
Five 12"x12" (30.5x30.5cm - buy one or more larger sheets and cut down to size) panels. These go onto the plywood panels to make the solid panels on the pad.

2x4 (38x89mm) wood -
We will use four 33" (838mm) 2x4s to construct the pad. If you are unsure of the width of your plywood squares, I would suggest cutting these slightly longer so that you have extra room. If they are too long when you are fitting everything, you can cut them down to size.

1/2"thick (~13mm -- thicker is better than thinner) open cell weatherstripping -
This is going to make up part of our switches. Each strip will be about 5 1/2" (140mm) long, and you'll need four for each arrow panel.

Shielded wire -
The wire will run from each arrow to the controller and also between the mending brackets under the arrow panels. Basically you'll need about 5 or 6 times the length of the pad.

.22" (5 or 6mm) thick plexiglass -
8 10 7/8" x 10 7/8" (276x276mm) panels. These will be our arrow panels.

16 2" (50 or 51mm depending on what size is available) corner brackets -
The infamus corner brackets. These hold the arrow panels in place.

Console controller (Or softpad control box) -
One console controller to solder to

phillips 10x1 1/4 (32mm) sheet metal screws" -
56 of these. They come in packs of 50 or 100 usually -- look for ones that look similar to the arcade pad's bolts

1 1/4" (32mm) drywall screws -
One box should more than cover it

Plan -

Solid Panels -


This is a piece of plywood that was just cut. It is a 10 7/8x10 7/8 piece with a 3/4" width. When it was cut, it was slightly too large, so here I am with a hand planer shaving the sides a bit. This is also a good way to smooth out the sides if you cut it a little crooked. You may want to cut your plywood a hair larger than where you marked your cut line just in case so that if the cut is not perfect you can perfect it with a hand planer.
You will need to make 5 of these. I cut it a bit smaller than 11" sq so that when the sheet metal is wrapped, it will be closer to 11" sq.


Here's an up close of the Stanley hand planer. It's a very handy tool. I used it to smooth the cut on the plexiglass as well.


This is how I measured where to put the screws in the solid(non-arrow) panels. I Put a mark where the center of the hole is in a corner bracket. This gives me how far from the corner I want to offset the screw. I then measure a half inch out from the closest edge of the plywood through that mark made via the corner bracket. That is where the screw should go.
I don't place the screw directly on that spot because it's nice to give the screws a little room and it looks better if the head of your screw isn't right on the edge of your panel. I then drill pilot holes (a hole smaller than the screw, but large enough to guide it straight -- it also helps prevent cracking in the plywood as the screw displaces wood) at those locations.


If you look at an arcade pad, the screws aren't square, they're offset to the side. This is the look I am going for, but it isn't necessary. You can place the screws squarely in the corner if you desire.


Cut a 1 ft sq panel of sheet metal. Place your plywood on top and line it up evenly with about .5" extra on each side. For those who want a really flat top to their pad, they can use a glue (contact cement works well from what I hear) to glue the plywood in place.


This image is depicting how I made the solid(non-arrow) panels.

Drill one hole into the sheetmetal at one corner. Bolt one screw there just far enough so that the screw doesn't come out the other side. This will hold it in place, then do the corner diagonally across from it. If you drilled all of the corners through the sheetmetal at once, the sheetmetal could slip in the process causing the holes to be misaligned. Doing one at a time prevents that problem.

Once all of the screws are holding the sheetmetal in place, you will use a rubber mallet to fold the edges of the sheetmetal around the sides of the plywood. It's simple -- just tap the edges so that they bend along the plywood's corner.

Pad Base -

This is a top down view of the design of the base of the pad. It was done with a CAD, so the proportions should be accurate except for the screw locations on the angle brackets.

The red shows where the 2x4s lie. Each panel is bolted straight down into the base. The angle brackets should be bolted only downward through the arrow panels.
(and yes, 2x4s are actually 1.5" x 3.5")


To go about building the base, I:
1.Cut a 33" x 33" slab of plywood.
2.Cut my 2x4s to 33" in length.
3.Measure out and mark the 11" squares that will correspond to the panels.
4.Drill pilot holes where you want to bind the 2x4s to the plywood base.
5.Place screws from the bottom through those pilot holes just far enough that they poke through the top
6.Place the 2x4 in the desired location on top of the screws and press it down. Now you have markings in the 2x4 where the screws will enter the 2x4s
7.Drill pilot holes in the 2x4s at the marks the screws made in them.
8.Line up and screw down the 2x4s the their positions. (make sure they are flush with the plywood)
9.Add in 2x4 sections perpendicular to the longer lengths along the center of the rest of the panel boundaries with the same method.
10.You should now have a base where if you put 11"x11" panels on top of it, the panels will all lie above an 11" x 11" opening with2x4s bordering the opening.

To place the solid panels, I advance the screws in them forward to where they just poke out of the bottom. I then align the panel where it should go and press it down. This makes marks in the 2x4s. I then drill pilot holes where those marks were made and finally advance the screws from the panel the rest of the way fully binding it to the base.
At this point, I have a piece of 3/4"x33"x33" plywood bolted to the 2x4s from underneath the pad. I also have some additional 2x4 in the wells for the arrow panels. If you notice in the above picture, I did cut the vertical 2x4 supports in half (vertically) so that they don't take up as much room.

Acrylic panels -

This is the East Character I used on my Dance Dance Revolution pads.


This is the North Character I used on my Dance Dance Revolution pads.

This is the SouthCharacter I used on my Dance Dance Revolution pads.

This is the West Character I used on my Dance Dance Revolution pads.


This is the pad getting to where it actually looks like a ddr pad! Here I have cut the 10 7/8" sq acrylic panels and I'm testing their fit into the pad.

The fit should be trimmed to fit in easily. If it's tight, your arrows will stick. You'll need two pieces of acrylic for each arrow. If you look carefully, you will see markings on the plexiglass. These mark where I will cut the plexiglass to make it octagonal. Which is covered in the next image.

This depicts an acrylic pane with a corner brace over it. The black line across the corner is where the corner brace's edge matches up on the plexiglass. The red line symbolizes where you should cut the plexiglass(or other acrylic). There should be an edge that sits under the corner brace, but there should also be some space before where the screws will be.

This is the corner of the acrylic panel after I marked it using the method in the previous step.

I will cut it on the line corresponding with the red line in the previous step.


Here's the acrylic with the corners cut. It is sitting in the space for it, but I don't have the switches or anything underneath it, so it's sitting a bit low but otherwise a perfect fit.

This picture is showing that there is still an edge of acrylic that will sit under the corner brace after it is cut.

Supports and Switches -


To build the supports needed for the switches, cut 2x4 lengths long enough to fit between the 2x4 supports for the panels. Use them to create a frame in the well for the arrow panels. Now you should have support for all four sides of the arrow well.

You'll notice that these supports in the picture are not as wide as a 2x4. I cut the 2x4s in half lengthwise to allow for more room in the center of the arrow panel.  You can do that or use 2x2s (or just use the 2x4s and not have as much space).

I bind these to the bottom plywood piece with the same method I used to put the main 2x4 supports down.


Cut triangles of 3/4" plywood that will fit under the corner braces. Leave enough room under the edge for the acrylic edges. Bolt the supports down in the corners with just enough room to squeeze the corner braces in. Take into account that the sheet metal might not be bent completely to 90 degrees. The corner braces will be tight, but the acrylic can still be loose if you trim it right.


The center of this image is just a description. In reality, it would be the empty center section of the arrow well. This depicts what you see as you look down on the arrow well similar to the picture in the previous step.

Weather stripping is in grey going along the edges providing a restoring force to keep the acrylic lifted. Mending brackets are in blue. They are just 2" metal strips with holes for two screws at either end. Each side of the arrow well has two mending brackets: one connected to ground and one connected to the arrow wire in an alternating fashion.

The description in the center with the washers under the mending brackets describes how to configure the switches. It says to stack some washers, and set the mending bracket with its holes over the centers of the washers. Bolt the mending bracket down through the washers with the stripped end of the line pinched between the washers and mending bracket.


Place the acrylic panels in the wells, and make sure that they can move fairly easily vertically. Be sure to do this with the corner braces on. If it can't move easily, trim it until it can. Because of variances in construction, I suggest that you now mark which acrylic panels fit best in which arrow well so that you can keep the best fits mated.

When this is complete, cut 16 sheetmetal strips at1 1/2 X 6 inches and attach them underneath the bottom piece of plexiglass so that when it contacts the mending brackets, it will connect the circuit. You need four strips per arrow and align them so that they would rest above the 2x4 edges we built within each arrow well.

You can use spray adhesive or mounting tape to secure the sheetmetal to the acrylic. The mounting tape will help to reduce noise.

This is a pic I took to show how the pad would look completed. It wasn't really finished in this picture. I still needed to add the switches and bolt the screws into the corner brackets. It's just set up for looks in this picture.

Wiring the pad -

(8ft) – This section is covered by Riptide but the information is a little inspecific, effectively saying stick the controller's circuit board under the top left or right panel, then solder wires to it, two from each arrow. I will cover in greater detail how to wire to multiple controller types, so this bit becomes unneccessary.

As for how he runs the wires through the pad, however -

“I usually place the controller under either the top left or top right solid panel and then run the wires to each of the arrow panels from there. You will need to cut holes in the 2x4s to allow the wires to pass. I usually do something small like taking a jigsaw to the 2x4 for a few seconds and running the wires In The Groove (get it? Ok, ok... bad pun).”

Finished Pad


Yes, I do realize that the socks are funny. The picture is of my mom's feet. The buttons are X and O. There are two on the other side for start and select.

I got the buttons at Radio Shack -- they're simple SPST (on/off) momentary (on only while pressed) switches.


Ok, enough... go build and play!

Stoli's pad design -

This design was taken from http://home.comcast.net/~stoli16/ddr/index.html
It's a shiny and functional looking pad with tidy wiring and a sensible and simple sensor design.
“This pad was very much inspired by DDRHomePad as well as some of the other DDR pads that are linked from his site. I built this pad because the soft pad that I bought my daughter for her birthday stopped working after the first day. It was supposed to be one of the better ones too (Red Octane Ignition 2.0). So, after looking around at the price (and lack of warranty) of the hard pads, I decided to have a go at a home built. I wasn't too crazy about the corner brackets that most of the home builts out there seem to have and I wanted X and O buttons so I customized a bit. I found the sheet metal at a local shop. They called it Mirror Finish Stainless Steel Sheet Metal (26 gauge). It looks pretty slick but dirt and fingerprints show a bit. I used the galvy sheet metal for the switches because solder would not stick to the shiny stuff.”

Materials -
(Found/bought at)
(Lower cost alternative, if applicable)

4' x 4' - 3/4" Maple Plywood
Home Depot
Fir/Pine Plywood

2 - 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 3' Strip of plywood or hardwood
Home Depot

2' x 4' - 1/8" MDF (Hardboard)
Home Depot

2' x 4' - 1/4" MDF (Hardboard)
Home Depot

3' x 4' - 3/32" (.093) Mid-Grade Lucite (Blue coating)
Home Depot
Low grade Lucite (Pink coating)

4' x 3' - 26 Gauge Mirror Finish Stainless Steel Sheet Metal
Local Sheet Metal Fabricator
Home Depot Galvanized

5' x 2' - 26 Gauge Galvanized Steel Sheet Metal
Local Sheet Metal Fabricator
Home Depot Galvanized
6' - Category 5 Networking cable
Home Depot

2' - Telephone patch wire (4 wire)
Local Hardware

MadCatz Retro PS2 Controller
Best Buy
Other usable controller/controlbox

3/16” thick Mouse pad
Target, Staples, etc.

11" x 11" Arrow, X and O graphics
Make your own

1' - Super Blue Silicon Fuel Tubing (1/4" O.D.)
Hobby Shop
1/4" Black Rubber tubing from Local Hardware

75 - 1 1/4" Sheet Rock Screws (Or wood screws)
Home Depot

30 - #8 x 3/4" Wood Screws
Home Depot

25 - TR WSH NEEDLE PT. Sheet Metal Screws (#8 x 1 1/4")
Local Hardware

Box - Escutcheon Pins (#18 x 3/4")
Home Depot

Large Can - 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive
Home Depot

Aluminum Tape
Local Hardware

Duct Tape
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10' - 3/16" Thick x 3/8" Wide Weather-stripping
Home Depot

Plan -

Pad Base -

Tools Required: Skillsaw and/or Tablesaw, Router, Drill (1/8" bit and countersink), Wire-strippers, Sandpaper or wood file
1.The pad base is a 3/4" piece of plywood - dimensions are 40" x 36". I used maple because it doesn't cost much more than the fir/pine these days and I think it is easier to work with. Any 3/4" plywood would work however, as long as it isn't warped too bad. You will notice in the pic that I marked off the locations of the border and stationary pads. All these pieces will also be cut from 3/4" plywood. Stationary pads are 10 7/8" square, top border is 3", bottom border is 3 3/4", and sides are 1 3/8". The odd sizes are to account for the sheet metal sheathing on the stationary panels and border. The inside dimension of the pad is 33 1/4" square if you do the math. The extra 1/4" allows for a very small gap around each of the arrow panels which will be almost exactly 11" squares. You can't quite get all these pieces out of a 4' x 4' sheet of plywood (you can get everything except the side borders). If you are not planning an X and O button and are going with 5 stationary panels, then you are also going to be short one of the 10 7/8" squares. If you must get all of the necessary pieces out of a 4' x 4' sheet of ply, then you can make the bottom and top borders a little narrower and decrease the overall size accordingly - as long as the inside is about 33" x 33". If you're going to have 5 stationary panels, there is no way that you can get all the necessary wood out of a single 4' x'4' sheet. Notice that I have routed out channels for the wiring. The channels are just big enough to fit a Cat 5 cable. The channels are offset from center about 1" to avoid the screws which I will be using to secure the stationary panels and borders. Also notice that I have pre-drilled all the holes to secure the 3 stationary panels and the borders to the base.

2.On the underside of the base, I have countersunk all the screw holes. I will eventually secure all the panels with 1 1/4" sheet rock screws from the bottom of the base. Countersinking will ensure that the screw heads will not protrude from the bottom of the pad.

3.This pic shows the wiring to the arrow switches. I used tape to keep the wires in place while I am working on the base. Eventually all this tape is removed during assembly.

4. All the wires come together where the controller will be mounted to the pad. I am not going to get into any details about the wiring. There are other sites out there that have pages and pages of details. The bottom line is that you should wind up with a wire for each switch and a common for all. My design has 6 switches (4 arrows, X and O) so I will have 7 wires going to the controller.
There has been some confusion about the wiring of the "common" lead, so I have come up with a few pictures to help explain it better. Hopefully they will help:

Stationary Panels -

Tools Required: Wiss metal snips, 12" Quick-Grip Bar Clamps, Utility knife, Rubber Mallet, wood file or sandpaper.

1. 3/4" Plywood square is cut to 10-7/8" so finished panel will be about 11" square. Sheetmetal is cut to 12" x 12". Center plywood on sheetmetal, trace outline, make a mark on the plywood and sheetmetal to remember orientation - this is important if your plywood piece is not perfectly square. Cut square notch out of each corner of sheetmetal (it should be about 1/2" square). Align plywood corners with the corners of the tabs that are cut from the sheetmetal.

2.Clamp a piece of scrap wood on top of the sheetmetal so as to create a sandwich. This will keep the metal from rising off the surface of the wood during bending. Make sure the sheetmetal is properly aligned on the plywood square.

3. Score the underside of the sheetmetal along the edge of the wood where the bend will be.

4. Keeping the sheetmetal tab as flat as possible on the edge of a workbench (a 2x6 works just as good) slowly rotate the plywood so as to bend the sheetmetal around the edge.

5. Finish the corner off by lightly tapping with a rubber mallet along the edge of the bend.

6. AFTER you complete the bend, sand or file the edge of the plywood that you just wrapped the sheetmetal around. This will allow the metal to sit closer against the side of the plywood. Repeat the above to the opposite side making sure you keep the side you just bent tight against the plywood. Then, do the same with the remaining 2 sides.

7. Finished panel.

8. Repeat the above 3 times

9. Notice I have not glued anything together yet.

Borders Part 1:

Tools Required: Wiss metal snips, 12" Quick-Grip Bar Clamps, Utility knife, Rubber Mallet, Phillips Screwdriver, wood file or sandpaper

1. For a rough estimate of the sheet metal pieces required for the borders, see the picture below. Cut a piece of sheet metal 6 3/4" x 42" for the bottom border. Line up the bottom border wooden piece in the center (lengthwise), so there is about 2 1/2" of overhang on each end. On one side you will have 1/2" overhang for the inside bend and 2 1/2" on the other side that will eventually wrap around to the bottom side of the pad. You will need to cut pieces out of the corners to allow for bending around the corner of the wood, as well as the joint with the side borders. Look ahead at the pictures and you'll see what I mean. I sized the metal borders so that there will be 1/2" wrap on the inside and 1" on the bottom of the pad.


2. Bending the border pieces is more difficult than the static panels because of their length. There are many ways in which to get a nice bend, so it is up to you and what you have available for tools, etc. I have tried pre-gluing the metal to the wood before bending. I recommend against this because you won't be able to do step 8. I have also tried attaching the border wood to the base and bending the metal in position. This also works but does not provide as much support as the 4x4 I used in step 7. Here are some general rules of thumb to get good results:
The straighter the wood, the better the bend.
Always clamp a firm, straight, piece of wood along the top of the bend to keep the metal flat against the wood you are bending it around.
Score the underside of the bend
Work slowly with small tightly spaced taps of the mallet along the length of the bend
Keep the wood as straight as possible during bending (i.e. 4x4 works well)
File/sand the edge off the wood after you make each bend (explained in the Stationary Panels section) for a snug fit

3. The top and bottom border pieces are cut so as to allow for the side border to butt against the edge of the wood and metal.

4. The wood and metal pieces in this picture are just set in place as a reference. Bottom right corner is shown.

5. For the top border, you will need to line things up and drill a hole through the metal and the wood to allow the wires to come up into the controller. If you are not mounting the controller on the pad, then it would probably be better to route the wires out the side of the top border. I use some electrical tape (green in this picture) to cover the edges of the hole in the metal to prevent any sharp edge from slicing through the wire covering.

6. Temporarily place the top and bottom pieces where they will be mounted and measure the required length of the side border. Should be about 33 3/16" give or take. It is probably better to error on the short side than on the long on this cut because once you bend the side pieces, shortening them by 1/16" is no easy feat.

7. The side borders are the worst because the wooden pieces are narrow and therefore flexible - especially the plywood. If you're rich, use solid oak or some other hardwood for these pieces. Heavy clamping is a must to keep the wood from flexing during the bend.

8. After the first 2 bends, remove the metal piece and slightly bend the corners a little past the 90 degree point all along the bend. This will create a snug fit when you mount it. Just the side piece is shown here but do this to all 4 pieces. NOTE: I should be wearing gloves here - if you cut yourself, don't sue me, it's your own fault.

9. Attach the wooden borders with 1 1/4" drywall screws up from the bottom of the base.

10. At this point, the wood is mounted on the base and all the metal pieces are ready for mounting.

Borders – Part 2.

Tools Required: Wiss metal snips, 12" & 24" Quick-Grip Bar Clamps, Rubber Mallet, Drill, Tack Hammer, Phillips Screwdriver, Metal file.

11. Attach bottom border piece using spray adhesive (3M Super 77 works well). Clamp until dry, then set up the clamps (as shown) to complete the final bend.

12. Do the bottom, top then the sides in the same manner. Notice the 45 degree triangles that have been snipped off the corners of the sheet metal so it does not overlap in the corner after you bend it over (See Step 14).

13. Not a bad idea to tack the very ends and maybe the midpoint of each border (on the inside). I used a small round headed nail called a Escutcheon pin (#18 x 3/4"). Place them low and tap them in good and tight so they won't interfere with the switch pad. You will need to pre-drill the holes for the pins.
Update (12/15/2005): I found that using an awl and a hammer work well instead of pre-drilling. Firmly tap the awl with a hammer, just enough to puncture the sheet metal in the location that you want the nail.

14. I also use the same pins to secure the underside of the borders. Pre-drill and hold the metal tight against the side while nailing.
Update (12/15/2005): I found that using an awl and a hammer work well instead of pre-drilling. Firmly tap the awl with a hammer, just enough to puncture the sheet metal in the location that you want the nail. Also, linoleum nails work well instead of the pins. They are a little heavier but still have a nice rounded head.

15. File/hammer down any rough edges of all the metal pieces on the underside of the pad. Then cover with aluminum tape (used for ducting, etc.). This shows the underside after I have attached the stationary panels in a few more steps. Just wanted to show how the underside is finished off.

16. The underside will work well like this on a carpet. If you have a hardwood or vinyl type floor, you will want to do something additional to protect the floor.
(8ft) – Rubber feet would work, just use stout screws. Small ones tend to fall out very easily.

17. Glue the metal sheathing you created in the Stationary Panels section on to each of the three 11" squares using the spray adhesive (make sure you have rounded all the edges of the wood panel first to ensure a snug fit). Let dry for a bit then file any sharp corners off the stationary pads if necessary. Lightly clamp a panel in each bottom corner of the pad and secure from below with drywall screws. Chances are that the panel and frame are not perfectly square so you might need to rotate the panel until you find a corner that fits well.

18. You will want to electrically tie one of the bottom stationary panels with the center panel. This shows the bottom left panel with a small metal strap that is used for this purpose. If you are using galvy, I would recommend soldering a wire between the panels. Solder does not stick to the sheet metal that I am using so I am using this strap. This is the top right corner of the panel just before the center panel is installed.

19. This pic taken from the left arrow's perspective. Center panel is on the left. The pin head on the right is a reflection.

20. The least elegant feature of my design. I use the aluminum tape to cover the edges where the top and bottom borders meet with the sides. The tape does polish up nice and shiny though with some Simichrome polish. I can almost get it to the point where it matches the sheet metal. If the edges of the metal are rough, you might want to gently file them before you put the tape on.

21. On to the switch panels.

Switch Panels -

Tools Required: Wiss metal snips, Table Saw, Utility knife, Drill, Phillips Screwdriver, Hammer

1. Cut out all the squares necessary to build the switch pads. Layering of my pads is as follows (from the top):
Lucite (3/32" thick or .093)
Lucite (3/32" thick or .093)
1/4" hardboard
1/8" hardboard

The Lucite panels should be sized to fit, but if you used my dimensions and everything is close to square, they should be exactly 11" x 11". I cut the hardboard panels about 1/16" shy of 11" because it makes it easier to work with. At this point, dry fit all the panels into the pad, mark each and every panel so you can tell where it goes and what the orientation is. This is VERY, VERY important. Notice that I have left the protective covering on the Lucite.
Note: There is no particular reason why I am using 2 pieces of hardboard. A single piece of plywood might work better, as long as it is between 3/8" to 7/16" thick. Technically I think the hardboard is a little cheaper and I like working with it.

2. Cut a small slot (aligned with the wire channel in the base) out of each of the hardboard panels to allow for the wires. I secure them with a 3/4" wood screw in each corner. Placement is important so as to not interfere with the screw that will eventually hold the Lucite down. I drill and countersink these holes 5/8" in from each edge. Make sure you remove the tape that was used to keep the wires in place during construction.

3. After the Lucite has been cut to fit, round off the top edges of all the top pieces with a utility knife by holding it perpendicular to the edge, at a 45 degree angle. Move the knife back and forth several times to scrape the sharp edge off.
Note: I used a table saw with a 60 tooth blade to cut the Lucite. Passing it through slow and steady produces a nice edge. If you don't have a table saw, you can also use a correctly bladed jigsaw or other tool. Ask a local handyman/hardware store if you're unsure.

4. Drill a 1/4" hole in each corner of the Lucite panels. I position the hole 1" in from each edge. My technique is to hold the panels tightly together and perfectly aligned while I drill the first hole. Then I put a small piece of 1/4" rubber tubing through this hole while I drill the hole in the opposite corner. I then put a small piece of the tubing in the second hole and then drill the remaining 2 holes. The tubing prevents the 2 pieces of Lucite from shifting and results in perfectly aligned holes which is VERY important.

5. After you drill all 4 holes though both pieces of Lucite, you will want to widen the holes just slightly. The next higher drill bit is too much so I do it by gently wiggling the 1/4" bit inside the holes while drilling. After the holes are done, you may notice some melted Lucite that has re-hardened around the edges of each hole. Make sure you scrape this off with a utility knife, or I find that a countersink bit works well. You might even be able to scrape it off with a fingernail.

6. Line up ALL the Lucite panels back on the pad. Being careful not to move any of them throughout the process, mark the position of each hole with pencil. The down arrow is isolated but all the other panels border one another so I emphasize that you should put all the panels on the pad at the same time, position them exactly where they need to be, with a very small gap between adjacent panels, and mark the holes without moving any of them.

7. Drill a 3/32" or 7/64" pilot hole (at least 1" deep) for each screw. If you have ever drilled a perfectly straight hole in your life, this is the time. These holes will determine if the heads of the corner screws will sit flat on the top of the Lucite panels. If the pilot holes aren't straight, the screws will not go in smoothly, they won't sit flat, and the Lucite will be more susceptible to cracking during use. I drilled a hole though a small block of 3/4" oak with my drill press. I then started each pilot hole as shown in the picture, being careful to only drill about 1/8" deep. Then I used the oak as a jig to complete the hole. By exposing 1 3/4" of the drill bit outside of the chuck, I was also able to drill perfect 1" deep holes. You should also take care to make sure the holes are perfectly centered in the circles you marked in the previous step.

8. I use spray adhesive to attach the bottom piece of sheet metal to the hardboard. I use 26 gauge galvanized sheet metal, cut to 10" x 10" squares. To keep the perfect alignment I have been striving towards in the past few steps, I keep the hardboard secured to the pad and glue the metal in place. The pic shows the pad prepared for this process which can get quite messy with the spray adhesive. You could detach the hardboard panels, and spray them away from the pad, and avoid this taping process but there is always a chance that they will not go back on in exactly the same position. You could also glue the sheet metal before you mount the hardboard to the base but if I did this, the drill jig I used in Step 7 would not sit flat against the hardboard. After I took this picture, I also taped up the wires to avoid getting the adhesive on them as well.

9. Notice I have trimmed the corners of the sheet metal to avoid contact with the screws. I have also drilled a hole in the center of each metal sheet (prior to mounting) to allow me to secure the center of the hardboard to the base. Not sure if this is absolutely necessary but I was paranoid that the centers might ride up a tiny bit after some use. The hole in the sheet metal is just big enough to let the head of the wood screw pass through. As with the corner wood screws, you will need to countersink the hole.

10. Solder the common to each of the bottom pieces of sheet metal. I buff up all the exposed surface of the sheet metal with steel wool to ensure a nice clean contact.

11. A completed bottom half of a switch is shown. Strips of duct tape are placed along the edges of the sheet metal. Then 3/16" thick by 3/8" wide weather-stripping is placed around the edges, on top of the tape. In each corner is a 1 1/2" x 3/4" piece of mouse pad (Mouse pad, 3/16" thick). I used a hole punch to put a hole in the center of each piece to allow for the screw and tubing used to secure the Lucite.

12. Here is the top half of the down arrow switch, placed upside down on the center static panel. The wire has been soldered in the corner and duct tape applied. The top half is a 10" x 10" piece of sheet metal with the corners snipped, attached to the underside of the bottom piece of Lucite with spray adhesive. Protective coating was removed from the underside of the Lucite prior to gluing. At this point, you flip this assembly on top of the bottom assembly, making sure the wire is routed to the side of the corner padding (mouse pad). Repeat these steps for each of the remaining 5 switches.

Final Steps -

Tools Required: Utility knife, Drill, Phillips Screwdriver, Soldering Iron, Wire strippers

1. The screws used to attach the Lucite panels were found at a local hardware store. They are called TR WSH NEEDLE PT. Sheet Metal Screws, Size 8 x 1 1/4" ($4 for a box of 100). I thread a 3/8" length of "Super Blue Silicon Fuel Tubing" which I found at a local Hobby Shop for $1 per foot on to each screw. The outside diameter of the tubing is 1/4". You could also use generic rubber tubing from your local hardware store. It is cheaper but more rigid and does not provide as much cushion, but will work if you can't get the silicon tubing.
Update (12/15/2005): After a lot of barefoot use, I noticed that the salt from the sweaty bare feet causes a little oxidation to occur on the screw heads. Not a big deal really, but it detracts a little since the chrome finish on the rest of the pad has kept it's shine. I could not find this type of screw in stainless steel so I have tried putting a few coats of clear spray paint on the screw heads to keep them shiny. Hopefully it will work well. I do this by sticking the 24 screws tightly together in a piece of styrofoam and spraying the heads a few times.

2. Remove the protective coating from the top of the bottom piece of Lucite and place your graphic on top of it. Prior to this I have trimmed the graphic to fit and used a hole punch to put holes in the corners where the screws will go. Remove the coating from the bottom side of the top piece of Lucite and place that on top of the graphic. Put a very small amount of lubricant (I use dishwashing liquid) on the outside of the tubing and drive the screws in until they are just about 1/8" shy of touching the Lucite. The purpose of the lubricant is to help the tubing move down though the holes in the Lucite. Do not use much at all as the excess will just collect dirt. I would not recommend oil. If the tubing mushrooms against the screw head on the way down, move the screw in and out slightly to help the tubing slide down inside the holes. The idea is for the tubing to be sitting on the screw exactly as it started out in the picture in Step 1.

3. Remove the top protective coating.

4. Finish screwing each of the 4 screws down so they are just contacting the Lucite. I recommend keeping them here (just enough to keep the Lucite down snug against the mouse pad but not enough to compress the pad. After stomping on the pad for a few days, if it is not sensitive enough for you, you can tighten the screws to compress the mouse pad a little. This moves the metal contacts closer together and increases the sensitivity. The switch pads may be a little stiff at first but should loosen up quickly after use.
NOTE - Don't crank the screws down too tight or you might crack the lucite.

5. Repeat the above process with each of the remaining switch pads.

6. The controller I use is the Mad Catz Retro available at Best Buy for $4.99. There is not much room inside so not recommended for first time solderers, but it mounts well to the front of the pad and looks nice. To break into the controller, insert a sharp knife under the face, along an edge (after removing the two bottom knobs) and gently pry it up. It is held on with 2 sided tape.
Update: I just built a couple more of these pads and could no longer find the Mad Catz Retro controllers (12/15/2005). Instead, I decided to cannibalize a Mad Catz Beatpad and use the controller off it. They cost $20, so it is a little more expensive but much easier to work with. See Step 11 for details.

7. The controller is held together with 6 screws on the top. The circuit board is fastened inside with an additional 2 screws. This and the previous picture were actually taken after I reassembled the controller and was testing it out - that's why the blue arrow lights are on. Obviously you will want to make sure the controller us unplugged while you are working with the insides.

8. This picture is upside down (arrow buttons are on the right). I use the wire from a telephone wire because they are smaller than the Cat 5 and are multi-stranded and easier to work with. I solder onto the connections and route the wire in such a way that the buttons will still work when I put the controller back together. This is not terribly important but it helps to troubleshoot if something doesn't work right. The seventh connection (common wire) is attached to a point on the underside of the board.

9. A close-up pic of the arrow connections. NOTE: If you use this controller, you will find a clear, plastic, X-shaped piece that holds part of the button assembly to the circuit board. You will need to remove it to expose the solder points on the X and O buttons. If it breaks during removal, it's no big deal and is not required when you reassemble the controller. I was able to gently pry it off and re-use it. I believe it's only purpose is to diffuse the light from the 4 LEDs that help light up the buttons.

10. All wires are spliced to the Cat 5 wires coming out of the pad. They are then covered with shrink-wrap tubing and the controller is reassembled. If you mount the controller to the frame as shown here, make sure the screws don't go down into the channel that the wires are running through.

11. Update (12/15/2005): Here is a pic of the MatCatz Beatpad controller that I used in place of the Retro. The Retro has been discontinued and it is no longer available at Best Buy for $4.99. The Beatpad costs $20 but is much easier to work with. The contacts come with a black substance on them which I cleaned off with sandpaper and steel wool so the solder would stick. There is printing on the other side of the board that indicates which controller buttons (arrows) go with each tab. I also added two buttons (red and black) to act as "Start" and "Select". They are hard to see in this pic so refer to the pics on the home page to see the buttons that I am talking about. I carefully drilled through the top and bottom casing using one of the existing channels (circled in black marker in the pic) to allow two screws to secure the assembled controller to the pad. I also had to drill a hole in the bottom casing for the wires and 2 holes in the top casing for the additional buttons.

Finished Pad -

Modifying the build for doubles play -

I have not actually done this, nor do I plan to, but I have been asked about using my design to make a double pad with the "official" distance in the middle. As I have pointed out, if you put 2 of my pads together, the distance between them is almost 1 1/2" more than an arcade double. My suggestion is to build the second pad without a left border. The edges of the left arrow and X are exposed but other than looking a little awkward when the pad is by itself, it will work fine.
(8ft) – An alternative here is to half the side border widths, or make a full doubles pad with one shared border. The disadvantage of this is it won't come apart (unless you design it to) but it will be more accurate and will look a bit more sensible.

DDR Homepad's design -

Another very well respected build, this design is quite simple and easy to modify, and provides a number of opportunities for customisation.

Materials and Costs
$34- 2' by 3' 26 gauge zinc stainless steel (2 pieces) at Home Depot Note : I found 2' by 4' 26
gauge plated steel at Lowes cheaper.
Don't buy aluminum sheet metal, the solder will not stick to

$24- 16 Stanley brackets (8 packages - 2 brackets per package)
$22- 2' by 4' piece of Lucite 3/32 inch thick or .093
$8- 1" by 2" MDF Fiberboard 6 foot length (4 pieces)
$3- 1" by 3" MDF Fiberboard 4 foot length (1 piece)
$8- 4' by 4' Peg Board 1/4 of an inch thick
$7- PlayStation Controller
$7- 1-1/4 inch Phillips Mod Truss, Lath, Self Drill Screws 1 inch Black Drywall
Phillips Screws
$6- ½ inch Plywood 2' by 3'
$6- Spray Adhesive and Duct Tape
$5- Telephone Wire and Solder
$2- Foam Core 3/16 of an inch thick
$3- M-D High Density Foam Tape Weatherstrip 1/4 inch thick, ½ inch wide Closed-Cell Foam
$135- Estimated total cost of building DDR pad


Sheet Metal and Plywood
Cut 5 square pieces from ½ inch plywood. Each piece should measure 10-7/8 inches by 10-7/8
inches. Then cut 5 square pieces of 26 gauge sheet metal. Each piece should measure 12 inches by
12 inches. Each DDR panel is an 11 inch square, so when you bend the sheet metal around the
plywood, each square should measure around 11 inches.


Metal Panel
Center the sheet metal over the wood and drill 4 holes, one in each corner. Put a screw in each
corner, but don’t screw them in all the way yet. I used Phillips Mod Truss, Lath, Self Drill screws
that are 1-1/4 inches long. Now take a rubber mallet and pound the sheet metal so it wraps
around the sides of the plywood. You will have to snip the corners with tin snips. Underneath the
plywood, glue two rails along the sides, laying the wider sides flat to reach from corner to corner.
I used 1 inch by 2 inch MDF fiberboard. Pre-drill holes in the MDF for the screws because the
fiberboard splits. Now screw the 4 screws all the way into the rails. You will build 5 of these
panels. All the rails run horizontally (left to right), with the wider 2 inch side lying flat.

NOTE Because the MDF splits easily, alternatively use some other 1 inch by 2 inch rail,
something cheap like pine.


You will need 16 brackets. They are called Stanley corner braces ( 2 inches ). There are two
brackets in each package and they cost almost $3 per package. Screw each bracket into the sides
of the 5 metal panels. You will have to puncture the sides of the sheet metal with something sharp
like a nail and pre-drill the hole before screwing in the screws. Make sure the brackets are even
with the surface of the sheet metal panels. The screws that come with the Stanley braces are only
½ inch long. To make the pad stronger, don't use these screws, but screws that are at least 1 inch


After you have screwed all 16 brackets together to the 5 metal panels, you should have a frame
that looks like this. The blank spots are where the arrow buttons will go. You should have 5 metal
panels that are about 11 inches square and 4 blank spots that are also about 11 inches square. The
whole frame should measure 33 inches by 33 inches.



Underneath the Arrow
Now it's time to build each arrow. Measure the blank space, it should be about an 11 inch square,
but it may not be perfect. Measure each blank space for the arrows separately because they might
not be all the same size. Now cut a piece of peg board to fit under the brackets. Cut 4 pieces of
the MDF fiberboard for rails, laying the wider side flat to support the arrow panel. Put screws
through the peg board into the rails so that the top of the screws are flush with the peg board. I
used 1 inch black drywall phillips screws that fit perfectly in the peg board holes. Pre-drill the
holes because the screws will split the MDF.


This is how the pad will look from underneath. The UP and DOWN rails run vertically. The LEFT
and RIGHT arrows run horizontally. You could add more rails for the center section for more
strength. If you need to build your pad to accommodate more weight, just add more rails to each
peg board panel.


Sheet Metal on Peg Board
Cut a piece of sheet metal into a 9-1/2 inch square and use spray adhesive to glue it to the peg
board and duct tape the sides. On the top left of the picture is a white wire, this is the ground wire
from the controller that is soldered to the corner of the 9-1/2 inch square piece of sheet metal.
The brown stuff around the sides is high density weatherstripping. The white triangles in the
corners are foam core, 3/16 of an inch thick. If you can't find foam core, you could probably cut
up an old mouse pad for the triangles. The foam core and weatherstripping will hold up a lucite
panel with sheet metal. Make 4 of these peg board panels for the UP, DOWN, LEFT, and RIGHT
arrows. To cut down sheet metal costs, you can make it 9-1/2 inches by 9 inches instead of a
perfect 9-1/2 inch square.

To make the arrows more sensitive, I cut two ½ inch gaps in the
weatherstripping along all four sides. The arrows feel less spongy, and the gaps let air trapped in
between the lucite panels escape.
Also, as stated in the parts list, don't use aluminum sheet metal, the solder won't stick to
it. Use 26 gauge zinc stainless steel or sheet metal that says “plated steel sheet.” The sheet metal
will look like it has speckles on it.


Sheet Metal Attached to Lucite Panel
This is the underside view of an arrow with a 9 ½ inch square piece of sheet metal attached to a
piece of lucite with spray adhesive and duct tape. The lucite is 3/32 of an inch thick. This piece
will sit on top of the weatherstripping. You will build 4 of these, one for the UP, DOWN, LEFT,
and RIGHT arrows. From the controller there will be 4 wires for UP, DOWN, LEFT and RIGHT.

Solder each of the wires to the corner of the 4 sheet metal panels and cover the soldered part with
a few layers of duct tape. You should rough up the corner with sandpaper to make the solder
stick better. When this panel is stepped on, it will complete the circuit with the sheet metal on the
peg board, and the weatherstripping will push it back up. Measure each blank space separately for
the arrows and cut the lucite pieces to fit underneath the brackets. The lucite pieces should be a
little smaller than an 11 inch square, probably about a 10-3/4 inch square, but they may not be all
the same size for each arrow.


The Two Panels That Make An Arrow
These are the two panels that make up an arrow. On the top of the picture, you can see a white
wire that is soldered to the corner of the 9 ½ inch square piece of sheet metal attached to the
lucite. In this picture is the DOWN arrow, so the long wire you see is the DOWN wire from the
controller. To the left of the long wire is a small wire. This is one of the 4 GROUND wires that
connect to the sheet metal on peg boards.


Close Up of Arrow
You can use any kind of arrow graphics that you want. Just find a graphic and sandwich it
between the two pieces of lucite. It is very important to use 3/32 inch thick lucite so that the
arrow panels and the non-arrow panels end up being the same height. This arrow panel consists of
(from top to bottom):
* Clear lucite
* Arrow graphics
* Clear lucite with sheet metal glued to underside
* Weatherstripping and foam core
* Sheet metal on peg board
* MDF rails for support
The arrow panel sits underneath the brackets. You will have to drill holes through the lucite and
peg board and into the MDF rails. Make sure that the bracket screws do not touch the 9-1/2 inch
sheet metal contacts, or it could cause a short.


Bottom of Pad
This is a view of the bottom of the pad. It's one big piece of 33 inch by 33 inch peg board. I used
the rough side of the peg board on the bottom so the pad won't slide around. I pre-drilled all the
holes and screwed 1 inch Phillips drywall screws into the MDF rails. I then labeled all the holes
where the screws go just in case it needs fixing. If you decide to add the back-piece for added
safety then cut the bottom peg board 33 inches by 35 inches.


DDR Pad with Back Section
I added a small back section to the pad for added safety. It's made of 1 inch by 3 inch MDF
fiberboard that's 33 inches long wrapped in sheet metal and screwed together with a 1 inch by 2
inch piece of MDF fiberboard that's also 33 inches long and with a 2 inch strip of peg board that’s
33 inches long to make to make it 1/8 higher than the pad. Even though the back-piece is higher,
you can't see the difference, but you can feel the back-piece with your feet if you are drifting too
far backwards which makes it safer. If you plan on adding the back-piece, make your bottom peg
board 33 inches by 35 inches instead, so you can connect the back-piece without the 2 inch strip
of peg board. I also used 4 long screws to go through the MDF rail on the back-piece to the MDF
rails on the pad.


Two DDR Pads for Doubles
I built a second pad to play doubles. The distance between the two DDR pads for doubles is 1-
13/16 inches. I screwed together two pieces of 1 inch by 2 inch MDF and bent sheet metal around
the 2 inch side, which actually measures 1-1/2 inches. I then cut two 6 inch straps from some
scrap sheet metal and screwed them into the pads and the new middle piece. Strapping the two
pads together makes the distance between them 1-13/16 inches.


Frequently Asked Questions

How much did the metal pad cost?
It cost me about $135 to build. You can build a cheaper version if you don't use the brackets and
sheet metal, but then you won't get that feel of an arcade style pad because the sheet metal lets
you do slides, and the lucite arrows fit underneath the brackets so your feet can feel exactly where
all the arrows are.

How do you cut the sheet metal and lucite?
Use a good pair of tin snips to cut the sheet metal and a jigsaw with a blade that cuts metal for the
lucite. You could also cut the lucite with a Dremel Rotary tool or use a sharp tool to score the
lucite many times on both sides and then snap it off over the side of a table.

Where do you get the brackets?
The brackets are from Home Depot and they are 2 inch Stanley corner braces (2 per package) I
found mine in the section with door parts. I’m pretty sure they are called Stanley brackets. You
will need 16 of them or 8 packs at $2.46 per pack.

What is foam core and where do I buy it?
Foam core is just styrofoam sandwiched by two pieces of glossy paper. It is 3/16 of an inch thick.
I bought it from Wal-Mart in the art and school supply section. It’s with the poster boards. You
can probably find it at any arts and crafts store. I've also seen it at Michaels.

What kind of wire should I use?
Buy a Category 5 (Cat 5 for short) cable. There are 8 wires in the cable. Home Depot sells some
cheap Cat 5 cable by the foot for only 14 cents per foot. You will need at least 10 to 15 feet of

How do I build a stronger pad to accommodate more weight?
Instead of using 1 x 2 rails underneath the pad, use 1 x 3 rails throughout the whole pad, or just
add more rails underneath all of the nine panels. For the bottom piece of the pad, instead of using
1/4 inch peg board, use ½ inch plywood. Now it will be very strong and heavy.

Can I use aluminum foil for the contacts?
Aluminum foil will work, but because of all the abuse the pad gets from jumping, the foil
eventually rips and sags causing double and triple hits per step. I used foil in the beginning, but it
became a hassle replacing the foil when it ripped. So using sheet metal as a contact is the best
solution because it never needs to be replaced.

Why didn't you use micro switches for the arrows?
A DDR pad takes a lot of abuse and micro switches can break. Plus, micro switches make a
clicking sound, which can be annoying. By using sheet metal contacts that are 9-1/2 inches
square, the whole arrow practically becomes one big switch. This design lets you step anywhere
on the arrows and it will register a step.

What do you use for the X, O, Triangle and Square buttons?
The pad is wired into the controller, so the controller is completely functional. I use the controller
for the menu and for selecting songs. I also use the controller for the X, O, Triangle and Square

How well does the pad work?
The pad works perfectly; when you step on an arrow it registers perfectly. You can do slides and
you can feel where the arrows are with your feet. So far I can pass twelve catastrophics (9 feet)on my pad — Electro Tuned (the SubS mix), Matsuri JAPAN, Romansu no Kami-sama,
style, INSERTiON, and Healing Vision (Angelic mix).

Will the pad break?
The pad is very durable and the pad won't physically break. But because of all the abuse a pad will
take from stepping and jumping, you might have small problems that are easy to fix like a wire
coming loose. The best thing about a home-built metal pad is that because you built it, you will
know how to fix it.
Will you build and sell me a metal pad?
This project is for someone who has a lot of time and enjoys building things. Because a DDR pad
takes a lot of abuse, small problems will occur like a wire coming loose. The problems are easy to
fix, but if I sold a pad there is no way that I can guarantee that it will always work 100% for you
all the time.

Troubleshooting Questions

I used MDF for the rails and some holes are stripped.
MDF strips easily, so pre-drill all the holes. Better yet, use some other cheap kind of wood like
pine for the rails. If you already stripped the holes, put some glue and wood toothpicks into the
hole, then screw in the screw.

Why am I getting double and triple hits for each step?
First isolate which arrow is causing the problem. You can check this by testing each arrow during
the menu. The problem is that the contacts are touching when they shouldn't be or there is a loose
connection somewhere. Check to see if the wire soldered to the corner of the 9 ½ inch square
piece of sheet metal is making good contact. All of the bare wire has to be covered with solder
and be solid. Check the tape over the same connection because sometimes a sharp solder point
can poke through the tape and make a connection with the sheet metal on lucite. Another thing to
check for is loose or frayed wires that are usually by the rails. Make sure there's foam core in the
corners under the brackets and enough weatherstripping to keep the two pieces of sheet metal
apart. Also, make sure the screws going through the brackets to the MDF rails do not touch any
of the sheet metal contacts.

Why am I getting BOOS when I know I'm hitting the step?
This problem is related to the double and triple hits problem. If an arrow is flickering a little
because it's making contact when it shouldn't, then you will get BOOS because the arrow will
register a step when it flickers just before you step on it.

Why are there dead spots on the arrow that don't register a step?
The problem could be from double or triple hits for each step (see above). Check the
weatherstripping and move the weatherstripping around if you isolate a dead spot.

How do you clean the pad?
The pad may get sticky from dirt, humidity or sweat. I spray some Pledge furniture polish onto a
paper towel and clean all the squares. The pad then becomes slippery enough so that doing slides
becomes really easy.

Rufus' pad -

Rufus hasn't so much got a plan for his ddr pad as he has a lot of pictures. He says he's used DDR homepad's guide as a base, and worked from that, so if you read through that design aswell as work from he pictures, you should be able to come up with a similar result.

The pictures show his base concepts, such as having a frame-free design, aswell as simply sticking pretty much everything onto one big sheet of plywood, which helps save space.
He also uses multiple sensor designs; the bracket type and the screw type. Either would work well, however the screw type is more simple to understand for many first time builders.

He also uses silicon tubing as opposed to weather stripping, glued in place. The only thing that is not particularly clear in his pictures is how he has wired the pad. As all of the wires in his panels go to the centre solid panel, I am assuming he draws them out of the bottom of the pad and forward.
If you choose to use this design, I suggest this is how you wire them up, however to keep the wires tidy, you could chisel or route some grooves in the bottom of the pad to run the wires through, and then stick tape or plastic sheet over them to stop them from rolling over each other and such. They could then be brought to the front of the pad and wired to your controller, via a connector or just straight to the circuit board.

Rather than cluttering the board with all his images and no text though, I'll simply provide a link to the album, found here.


Lluk's Design -

Another design without a specific plan, however this is another design based loosely on Stoli's build. He has ever so kindly provided a technical drawing, detailing measurements and how he routes his wires.
The rest of the pictures show how the internals of the pad are setup, including how he has chosen to nail thinner strips of plywood into the panels to provide a thin border on which the sensors sit. The one thing that he hasn't included is the thickness of the pad or the plywood used.

“This is my homebrew Arcade Style DDR pad.The only goals I had while building this pad were:
1) Replicate arcade look and feel while playing
2) Attempt to be comparable to arcade pads on hard songs (10 feet+)

I loosely based the construction of my base on Stoli's design and went through several iterations of how the sensors would be setup, using variations of both the DDRHomepad and Riptide designs before settling on something of my own design, which is designed to mimic how the arcade sensors are setup.
Playing on it feels just like the arcade and you can see from the pictures that the pad works very well (7-8 Feet heavy AAA's and nice 9 feet AA's).”







8ftmetalheads design – METRIC MEASUREMENTS!


In making my pad, I had a goal of making a simple pad for as little money as possible, to replace my foam pad, while still having it look pretty cool. At the time, I had no idea what playing on an arcade pad felt like, having never seen a full machine before. I started straight from the ps2 versions, and didn't play in the arcade until at least 6 months after I started.
While I admit my pad is probably not very arcade accurate, it certainly puts many softpads to shame, and allows for a very enjoyable experience nonetheless.
I have since made a few changes, and have provided pictures of the changes aswell as detailed how I made them. Make sure you read these parts a few times over, since they do break up the apparent flow of the build process a bit.
Then again, you will likely make a few changes of your own, now or later, as my design is very easy to modify and optimise to your liking.

Also note, a few things on this list can be changed or substituted, this is simply what I bought. In particular, I’ve added 5mm rounded Phillips head screws to the list. These are for the step panels. On my pad, I used screws that were slightly too long and went through the 12mm MDF boards, so I had to spend a while cutting them in half and filing them down.

The Make-a-brackets were what I used instead of corner brackets. The real ones were 8 dollars for 2, and I did not want to waste 64 dollars on brackets alone. Two strips of L shaped make a brackets cost me about $10, and I still have spares left over.
The number of cup washers that you use will depend on what you like under your feet. Originally, all of my screws had cup washers under ‘em, but I took them off the screws on my step panels after a while because they started hurting my feet. It also depends on how you fix your cover material (if you decide to use any) to the pad. The MDF will get quite dirty if you don't add any covering to it though.

The nail plates are what I used for sensors, they work really really well. An alternative I looked at was copper strips, but they were much smaller and only slightly less expensive. In reality, you can use whatever you feel will work best, but for simplicity’s sake I like my nail panel idea. (What’s simpler than two plates and two wires?)
For the weather stripping, I initially only used one pack, but I’ve since bought an extra pack to reduce noise. As it is, 1 pack provides 4 strips of foam per step panel, at the same length and width as the nail panels.

Shopping list –

MDF 18mm X 1200 mm X 900 mm – $22.56 x1
MDF 18mm X 600 mm X 300 mm - $8.04 x1
MDF 12mm X 1200 mm X 600 mm - $12.98 x1
Plywood stick 18mm X 18mm X 1m - $?? X1 – This is the outer border for the step panels,

Plastic clear sheet 750mm X 1200mm X 1.0mm - $28.80 x1
Plastic clear sheet 750mm X 600mm X 1.0mm - $14.40 x1
If you can get a sheet that is 1000mm x 1200 mm you’ll be able to use one sheet for the whole pad. I had to buy the second smaller sheet after realising my pad is 840mm square.

Weather stripping foam 12mm X 12mm (or thicker if you want it quieter and/or to require more pressure to make a step) - $12.55 x1/x2 –

5mm rounded Phillips head screws 100pk - $5.87 x1
Screw s/tap p/head 30mm 30pk - $4.28 x3
Cup washers No 6 nickel brass x 40 or x 80
Panel pin nails 30mm X 1.60 MM 250g - $5.92 x1
Nail plates 1mm X 110 mmW X 200 mmL - $2.65 ea x8
Make-a-bracket galv. Angle 600 mmL X 40 mW X 20mmD X 1mm – $10.98 x2
Metal/wood bonding glue - $10 or so?

Tools –

Jig saw with blades for plastic, wood and metal
Drill with bits about the same size as your screws, aswell as a screwdriver attachment.
Tin snips
Coarse Sandpaper/steel wool

And for the wiring –
Controller for whatever console
About 1.5m of cat5 cable (that means around about 11/12m of cable total)
Soldering iron
Wire cutters

Directions for building the pad –

1.Mark out a section of your big 18mm MDF board to be 840mm X 840mm, and chop it off. This is the base board.

2.Mark out 5 panels of 280 mm X 280 mm from your remaining 18mm MDF board/s, and chop them up. These are your solid panels.

3.Check that they line upon the baseboard. If they do, you’ll now need to distinguish which direction is “up”. Mark it off on the baseboard with a pencil, and number the solid panels.

4.You will now need to make small cuts in the corners of your solid panels for the wires to run under. You can do it to any of them, but be sensible about it. The most logical route would be to simply groove all 4 corners of the centre solid panel, and the top inside corner of either top panel.(panel 1 or 3, counting the pad as a 9x9 grid) Cut about 1cm deep from the corner, less than halfway up the width of the board.

5.Now, nail the solid panels to the baseboard using a couple of small place holder nails each, placed somewhere that you aren’t going to be putting screws later on.

6.Grab your 12mm MDF sheet, and cut out 4 panels measuring 275mm X 255 mm. These are your step panels.
Note: If you don’t want gaps between your panels, you will need to make these panels slightly larger and sand or plane them down to fit tightly. You might get panels sticking as a result, but adding some sort of grease or lubricant to the offending edges, or sanding/planing them down a bit will stop this. I let mine move rather freely, with a fair sized gap on all sides.

7.Measure and cut the plywood stick into 4 pieces 28cm long. You’ll end up with a bit left over. Biff it or keep it spare, doesn't matter.

8.Screw these pieces into the baseboard between the solid panels, and they’ll stop the step panels from flying out of your pad. Pre drilling your holes, use 3 screws, 1 at halfway, the other two about 1cm from the edges. On the “up” side, you might want to cut a small groove to allow the wires to exit the pad, in addition to the groove you should have cut in the mdf panel.
Keep in mind that you are going to screw in brackets later, so you don’t want to have screws colliding.

9.Now, grab your nail plates and sand /steel wool them down so they’re nice and rough. Glue or screw them into the most sensible positions in your arrow wells. If the screws you use stick up too much, use glue on the base panel and only screw the plate into the step panel. Or glue them both. Whichever. Just don’t use nails. As for the orientation of the nail panels, I placed mine in the same direction as the arrows, but placing them all in a horizontal orientation is also a good idea, depending on how you play. If you whack your up and down arrows more to the left and right of the panel, do it that way. If you whack them closer to the middle, do it my way. Let the glue dry for a while if you so chose to use it.

HERE'S WHERE MY MODIFICATIONS AND CHANGES COME IN so read this part CAREFULLY. I had difficulty wording the next steps to include the changes, so it might be a bit confusing.

10.This next step is a modification I made after I finished the pad that would have come in about here. While the response was pretty prefect, I noticed I occasionally got missed up steps if I was stepping too lightly. I figured out it was because the wires were stopping the panel from making contact occasionally, as I was running them in a bunch out of the edge of the up panel. To solve this, I chiseled some grooves along the edges of the arrow wells to sit the arrows in. You can do this with a chisel, router (if you're flash) or just a flathead screwdriver (although it might break it).

You will need to make sure that the grooves are deep enough for 8 wires in the up panel, but they can be more shallow in the other panels (if they're even necessary at all). The picture below step 11 shows the up panel with the added groove (and yes, the wires are held down with blu-tack. I didn't have any tape at the time, and it's worked fine so far (for the past year now, actually).

11.Now you can cut up some strips of weather stripping foam and place them around the nail plates on the baseboard. As stated earlier, 1 pack should provide enough foam to put 4 strips around the nail plates. Using more or thicker foam will provide more resistance to your step, and will also likely make the pad step much quieter. I've since added more to mine to quieten it down a bit (as seen below)

I have also changed how I set up the brackets around the centre panel. During construction, I had brackets extending out from the centre panel, but these proved to be inconvenient to play with and painful to stand on in socks and bare feet.

Initially, I simply removed them, but this caused the panels to sometimes fall or slip out while the pad was stored (although they NEVER came out during play), and at one point, I cut myself after tripping over the plastic sheet thanks to hole-y socks and pulling the panels up by the sheet corners(hence the tape on the left panel). To solve both problems, I took the old brackets, and cut an I shaped strip off 4 of them. I then widened the holes and screwed them diagonally across the panels under the screws holding down the plastic sheeting to the solid panels, as illustrated below.
However, this won't be done until you've added your plastic sheeting.


Now you can add a few more nails to the solid panels, and start work on cutting up the plastic sheet.
13.Cut it to size using either a sharp knife, or an appropriately bladed jigsaw. Trim the corners off to make them slightly rounded to prevent getting caught on them (as above).

14.Screw it down to each panel, starting from a corner and working your way down a side at a time. Don’t drill all the holes first, you might end up with dents or bulges in the plastic. Just note for the step panels, that in the picture above, my screws aren’t all on the corners. Due to revisions in my design, it’s perfectly possible to put them around the corners, but at the time it was done as such to account for the corner brackets (as you can see from the completed down panel in the image under step 12.)

15.Now you can start on the wiring. It’s simple enough to do, just take your cat 5 cables and thread them under the gaps you cut in your solid panels. Untwine them a bit, strip the ends, and stick one wire under the step panel’s nail plate, and one under the base board’s nail plate, and sit them in the grooves you made earlier. If you glued them down, use a thin flathead screwdriver to pry up a corner of the plate, but only enough to place the wire underneath. If you did glue them down, you may then opt to screw the side you just pried up back down. Don't wrap them around the screws, it turned out this led to a lot of broken wires. The appended image in step 10 shows the wires under the plates.

16. Test the connections on each panel using a multimeter. To do this, set it on test mode, and place the wires of the panel onto the multimeter prongs, and then step on the arrow. If you get a change in numbers, your arrow is working. If you continue standing on it and it eventually gives a constant reading, your arrow is holding contact well.

17.Solder the other ends of the wires to their corresponding directions on the controller. There should be two contacts per button (if you're using a Sony controller), and you’ll need to solder one wire to each in order to make the circuit work. Don’t cross them by accident, it’ll make a complete circuit and your arrow will be constantly pressed down. (meaning it won’t work) Depending on what kind of controller you use, you may need to scrape away some black junk covering the copper contacts. Be careful you don’t scrape off the copper underneath.

18.Just a note on the above – my design doesn’t incorporate X or O panels, only directions. I did try make a box, but the copper split from the board while soldering push buttons on. So rather than wrecking a second controller, I left my controller intact, removed the D-pad and trigger buttons to make space for the wires and now use the standard controller buttons to select and exit things.

19.Since writing this up, I have also added a d-sub connector to the pad, allowing me to disconnect the controller when needed, aswell as add extra functionality via a usb softpad's control box, which I've appropriately wired to for the job. The result is I can use my pad on both stepmania and ps2 simply by changing plugs. While I could have used a converter, this proved to be cheaper and I could not for the life of me find one locally that didn't suffer the axis problem.

Metal pad modifications -

This is a useful tip for anyone who already has a metal pad that uses strips of foil or aluminium tape and interlace grid sensors that look like this:


Tools you'll need to complete the modification:

Tin Snips
Duct Tape

Galvanized Steel Sheet Metal - Usually found in the duct isle of your local hardware store.
Measurements: 24" by 36"
26 or 30 gauge.


The Conducting Foil is located on the bottom side of the Acrylic. They conduct electricity when they touch the Copper Circuit, and are inherently weak, and the reason we modify the pad with sheet metal.

The Copper Circuit also known as the Interlace Grid is mounted in the body of the pad under the Acrylic. Every other line is part of the circuit, and when the Conducting Foil touches it, the pad triggers.

Using your TIN SNIPS & RULER (Gloves to protect your hands are HIGHLY recommended) cut six squares from the sheet metal, each measuring 10 inches by 10 inches.

Then, measure two inches in from each edge of each corner, mark, and then cut between the marks to get an octagonal piece of metal that looks like this.

Next, using your hammer place your 6 sheet metal squares on a hard, flat surface, such as plywood or a workbench (nothing that you don't want scratched) carefully tap around the edges of each square to ensure they are flat, and not curvy or wavy as a result of cutting the metal with the snips.

Return to your pad and using your screwdriver remove the Corner Brackets necessary to lift and remove the Acrylic from the pad. If your pad has LED's take care not to tug on the cord attached to your Acrylic. This cord powers your LEDs and must not be damaged.
Get out your duct tape and, using 1/2 width strips, tape the Sheet Metal squares one at a time to the bottom of each Acrylic pad, covering up the Conductive Foil.
Make sure the Sheet Metal is flat and well secured so as not to cause accidental/unwanted triggering of the pad. It should now look something like this:

Now is a good time to make sure your Copper Circuit is clean
and free of residue possibly left by the Conductive Tape. Use a mild
solvent and possibly a Brillo™ pad to clean the copper.

Once that is taken care of, place each modded Acrylic back in it's place,
securing the Corner Brackets tightly by hand using the screwdriver.

Modding your softpad

Taken from DDR Freak's guide section, article written by PitterPanda, with extra information and editing done by 8ftmetalhead.

Many users who do not wish to build a home pad, or cannot afford to often instead try to mod their standard softpads instead.
The most common way of doing this is to cover it with some form of plastic, such as hardwood floor covering. This guide uses hardwood floor covering, although it's possible to do it with almost anything really. Vinyl, plastic sheet, whatever you feel is appropriate. The only thing that really changes is how you fix it to the baseboard.

This helps your pads last longer and allow you to slide more on the pads much like at the arcades, aswell as increasing the responsiveness to a degree.

8ft – Note that if you want to give your pad a raised step panel feel, similar to the Red Octane Ignition pad, then you can add layer upon layer of duct tape underneath where each arrow will be placed on your board, so as to give the pad a bumpy feel. One plus here is it can also increase the responsiveness of your pad.
Try to be consistent about it though, you will want to have a smooth mound, as opposed to a lumpy mess under your pads. If you are low on duct tape, you can use fabric folded over a few times and tape it into position (you do NOT want it moving, so make sure it's well secured).

Also note, however, that you will get varying results depending on what you cover your pad with. If it is flexible material, you will likely get a good result and will be able to feel the bumps. If you use flat cover material that does not flex very easily, you will probably not be able to feel the bumps through the covering, and worse still, it may cause your sensors to be always pressed down, due to the increased pressure.
It would be wise to test first by simply following this guide, but only stapling half of the staples require. If you are using screws, it is not as important as you will be able to remove the covering to remove the material under the pad anyway.


First, you'll need to get some materials. The most important of these is a softpad, 3rd party or official Konami, it doesn't matter too much. As long as it's responsive to begin with, and isn't a foam insert pad.
You'll also need a wooden board that is at least 36x33. Try to get one that is of decent density so that when you're stepping on it, it doesn't just snap in half. Plywood is often the most used, and thick MDF is another possibility. Try for about 0.4” thick or thereabouts.

You'll also need some packaging tape(preferably the clear kind), a staple gun, and about 6 feet of hardwood floor covering per pad. You can get all this stuff at Home Depot. Try to borrow someone's staple gun if you don't have one. Failing this, short screws will also work.
The hardwood floor covering will run you about 10 bucks. In total, this will cost about 20-25 dollars to mod each pad. Bargain.

Lay your wooden board down and place the dance mat on top of your board.
Use your packaging tape and tape along the edges of the mat so that half the tape is covering the mat and the other half of the tape is along the wooden board. (make sure you pull your pad out flat so that it's not all puffy in the middle after you tape it down) Do it around all four edges of the mat.

Take the hardwood floor covering and lay it over the top of your mat with some of the covering extending past the width of the mat.

Now take your staple gun and staple down the hardwood floor covering to the side of the wooden board. Now cut the hardwood floor covering so that it is long enough to hang over the other side. Now staple the other side down with your staple gun. (NOTE: DO NOT STAPLE THROUGH THE PAD. STAPLE THE COVERING DOWN TO THE WOOD). The staples should be about 2 inches apart.

If you're getting the hardwood floor covering at Home Depot, it's not going to be wide enough to cover the entire mat. What you need to do is use another piece of hardwood floor covering and overlap a small section of the already stapled down covering and repeat steps 3 and 4. Then cut the excess covering off the bottom edge and staple the covering down on the bottom side of the wood.

Now take your packaging tape and tape over the section of the hardwood floor covering that overlaps on the other piece. Just use one or two pieces of tape and tape from one side to the other. This will keep your feet from getting caught on the lip where the two pieces overlap.

If you find your pad then slides around because of the board, you can either purchase some rubber feet (if you're playing on hardboard) or some sort of foam base to sit it on.
If you are on carpet, then you can use grip plates to cling to the carpet. (similarly found in Devout Stealth's design)

Wiring to custom PCB's


UrkAngi has suggested the use of fightstick PCB's as an alternative to ripping apart softpads or controllers to wire a pad to an Xbox or PS3, or whatever other platform in a tidy and effective manner, which would also then give you USB connectivity to a PC. (theoretically, at least).
If anyone wants to look into this, it'd be awesome if they could report their findings.


Wiring to your controller/controlbox

Other modifications (as suggested by you guys)

Post #2 · Posted at 2010-10-10 09:48:57pm 6.2 years ago

Offline Astroman129
Astroman129 Avatar Badge Member
1,633 Posts
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Xbox Gamer Tag: Astro1293DS Friend Code: 0645-5928-9360Game Center Nickname: Astroman129
" ♫~~ I'm wired to the world ~~♫"
I have a question. Is it possible to make your own pad for the XBOX360? Or USB?
Konami, Konami, mania Konami, mania Don't! Don't, Don't, Don't say! That's complicated like trigonometry!! Ha, ha! Seen you runnin' home to your mommy! (mania) Way over your head like a tsunami! (Ah) Bringin' a mad batch (yeah) Hiroshi, sound waves

Post #3 · Posted at 2010-10-11 01:02:48am 6.2 years ago

Offline hellrazor
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Reg. 2006-10-27
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Quote: Astroman129
I have a question. Is it possible to make your own pad for the XBOX360? Or USB?
It is ABSOLUTELY possible. I've been building home-made dance pads for a few years now and I have made like 10 USB controllers and 4 PS2 controllers, my pads are able to swap from USB to PS2 as desired.

I should post a guide here, my dance pad design is a metal pad that is VERY easy to assemble.

It uses NO screws (zero), there is no cutting of sheet metal required, and all my wires go UNDER the dance pad which makes them last LONGER and they will be easier to replace if ever needed. You could replace ALL the wires just by lifting up the pad, removing tape to access the wires, then just pull up the panel with your hand, very VERY easy to do.

My design is also native USB but I can do any controller desired. I also have a base and a bar setup that I've had for 5 years now, but that takes more effort to build.

My design is for TWO pads on one board for perfect doubles play, but it can also be used to build two separate pads, I highly recommend building both pads on one board, to have excess room around the pad as to not slip off the pads, the pads I play on are not exactly what I would design for someone who wants a new dance pad, because I have a base that my pads fit in. When I've built pads for others, I have wires coming out the front of the pads, going into ONE central box where the controllers are located, this lets you disconnect the control box from the dance pads, and it allows one simple box to hold both controllers for a native doubles / versus setup. I suppose you could even tape the two wires together to make them seem like one.

I also managed a Quad **** on Drop The Bomb - Challenge 8-foot, I think it's from DDR SuperNova, today and I can usually *** most songs up to 11-footers, *-12-footers and I can pass some 13's, the pads work VERY well, they don't need shoes to play on either since there are NO screws at all. I've experimented with dance pad designs over the year and I believe this one is the easiest to construct, easiest to maintain, and will be the most durable since the primary failure of dance pads is the wires getting nicked and shorting out (since my wires go under the pad, they will not contact any abrasive surface and should last forever), it's also to bend my sheet metal contacts since the panels can be removed in a second due to NO screws!!

Here's some videos of my pads in action, I wish I would have video'd my ****, but I got a screen cap. I'm going to build two more pads next year for my kids to play on, so that we can all play 4-player mode at the same time (myself, wife, two kids) with StepMania Online and a LAN setup. (see below)

Post #4 · Posted at 2010-10-11 01:19:43am 6.2 years ago

Offline Greaf
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Quote: hellrazor

Fix"d video from hellrazor.

Wow, many design for pad ... Imagine a pad with wings Big Grin
Thanks to Lord Toon !

Post #5 · Posted at 2010-10-11 03:54:00am 6.2 years ago

Offline bmhedgehog
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Post #6 · Posted at 2010-10-11 04:37:08am 6.2 years ago

Offline hellrazor
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Quote: bmhedgehog
I'm so waiting for that tv on the pad to fall off.Laughing Out Loud
It's just a MIRROR, I had no idea how to get the TV and pads in the same screen.

And thanks for the fix, I suck at forum posting.

Post #7 · Posted at 2010-10-11 05:19:13am 6.2 years ago

Offline 8ftmetalhead
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It is very easy to make a controller for your pc or xbox/360.
The concept is exactly the same as making one for the ps2 - you've just got to butcher and existing controller and solder to it.
In the case of a USB controller, you can use any gamepad or softpad that works on your pc. I used my USB softpad's control circuit and soldered to that, was very easy to do. Works like a charm.

As for making an xbox 360 one, you can do it but it might work out to be more expensive. You can try to butcher a 360 controller, wired or otherwise, but that might be a bit expensive. If you can find them, DDR universe, madcats beatpads or even Highschool Musical dance pads are all possible platforms to solder to.

Someone on the DDR freak forums recently suggested using the HSM pads because while the game is terrible, the bundle deals go for bargain bin prices, so they would be perfect to rip apart and solder to if you can find some of the bundles.

I'll at some point write up a tutorial on how to wire to your controller or pad, it's all pretty much the same deal.

And yes, if you have your own design you want to write up, do so, and i'll stick it in the topic.

Post #8 · Posted at 2010-10-11 05:33:58am 6.2 years ago

Offline hellrazor
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Quote: 8ftmetalhead
Someone on the DDR freak forums recently suggested using the HSM pads because while the game is terrible, the bundle deals go for bargain bin prices, so they would be perfect to rip apart and solder to if you can find some of the bundles.

I'll at some point write up a tutorial on how to wire to your controller or pad, it's all pretty much the same deal.

And yes, if you have your own design you want to write up, do so, and i'll stick it in the topic.
Another thing to keep in mind, is even a BROKEN soft-pad is a good candidate. Most of the time a dance pad breaks due to the thin wires inside the pad tearing, the control board is usually just fine and can be re-used. If you buy a broken soft pad on ebay you can even ask that the seller just cut the pad with scissors to remove almost everything except for the control box and output wire, to cut down on shipping.

However, sometimes dance pads fail because the control board was stepped on and cracked, in this instance you CANNOT use the board, only buy one that has an intact plastic casing (because if that's not cracked the circuit board is likely to be just fine).

I bought some broken PIU pads on e-bay, they work FANTASTIC for playing all the DDR PS2 games and PIU PS2 games because the corner buttons are mapped to R1, R2, L1, L2. You can even play DDR Extreme with this setup without any problem, and the board itself has small circular spots that you can solder to that hold very well, it's just the PERFECT board to use when making a PS2 dance pad!!!!

Post #9 · Posted at 2010-10-12 10:01:27am 6.2 years ago

Offline Astroman129
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How might you be able to attach an XBOX360 control box (you know, the one with the XBOX360 "central" button on it) to a DDR pad that you're making, if possible?
Konami, Konami, mania Konami, mania Don't! Don't, Don't, Don't say! That's complicated like trigonometry!! Ha, ha! Seen you runnin' home to your mommy! (mania) Way over your head like a tsunami! (Ah) Bringin' a mad batch (yeah) Hiroshi, sound waves

Post #10 · Posted at 2010-10-13 05:35:03am 6.2 years ago

Offline hellrazor
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Quote: Astroman129
How might you be able to attach an XBOX360 control box (you know, the one with the XBOX360 "central" button on it) to a DDR pad that you're making, if possible?
You can use almost any controller you want by simply hijacking the existing buttons.

So if you bought an X360 dance pad, all you would be doing is removing the buttons on the PAD itself, everything in the control box will still be intact and functional, you would then put the wires from your home-made dance pad directly on the X360 control box, so that would be the Back, Start, B, A, X, Y, Up, Down, Left, Right buttons, and you'll have to make sensors on your dance pad to trigger these buttons. Then everything will work just like it was meant to, you simply attach your homemade dance pad to any existing control box, so as long as the HOME buttons is on the control box, it will still be there unaltered. AND when you play online your XBox will recognize it as whatever type of dance pad it used to be, even though it's now a custom built metal dance pad.

If you tried to use a hand-controller it will be MUCH more difficult to work with AND your XBox will always think your playing with a hand-controller.

Post #11 · Posted at 2010-10-13 07:04:15pm 6.2 years ago

Offline 8ftmetalhead
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Wiring instructions for softpad control boxes:

Ok, this tutorial will apply to most, if not all softpad control boxes.

If you want to build a homepad, or add an extra platform to your hardpad that has a control box, you can use a softpad's circuitboard as a cheap and easy way to wire it up.

Now, you can use any softpad with a working control box. Even if the pad itself is ripped, torn or broken, as long as the control board circuitry is fine, you can use it.

Start by opening up the control box. In the case of DDR universe pads, this is what you'll see.


If you're soldering to another sort of softpad, what you'll see might look a bit different, but the contacts are going to be exactly the same, since the pad part is all made of the same stuff no matter what one you have, so this guide still applies.

Now, the circuit is connected to the pad by the plastic tape coming out of it. This can be attached in any number of ways, from sticky foam or glue, to (in this case) sellotape. (nice one, konami.)

Once you take this off, it's likely you won't be able to use the soft pad again, so unless you are SURE you want to wreck it, then leave it alone and stop reading here.

For those that do want to continue, you'll then need to figure out what contact did what.
The universe pad is quite nice in this respect, as the contacts are labelled.


If you have a pad that isn't labelled, plug it into either your console or usb port and boot up a game that uses the directional buttons, or stepmania's 'test input' panel.

To start off, find the ground contact. This will likely be the one dead center, most times, and generally is a larger square shape than the rest of the contacts. Like a number of other pads you will encounter, the DDR universe pad has a common ground, meaning there is one ground circuit used for all of the other contacts.


Next, grab a piece of wire. Put one end on the ground contact and connect the other end to another contact. Just note if you connect the wrong contacts you could cause a short circuit and blow either the control circuit or even your usb ports/controller ports. So use your common sense and always have one end of the wire on ground.

Anyway, note what reaction your combination gives in your chosen platform, and write down the function. (IE contact 1 = X button, contact 2 = left, etc.)

Now you can solder to the board accordingly.

In most cases, you'll need to scratch off the black junk covering the contacts in order to solder to the metal underneath. To do this, use a small flathead screwdriver. Don't use your soldering iron, it's likely to make the board sweat and cause damage to the circuitry, particularly if you're using a cheap soldering iron.
Solder your wires to them, and when soldering to the ground, you may wish to have a short piece of wire soldered to it, and then wrap all your other ground wires around it.
It is possible to twist the ends of all your ground wires together and solder them in a group, but this may strain the board or pull the contact off entirely, making it almost impossible to solder to.

Once you're sure that the circuits are all working correctly, I recommend hot gluing all over the wires to ensure they don't break or snap off. You don't have to be particularly liberal with the glue but make sure everything is secure and at least lightly covered, particularly the ground wire/s.
Then twist all your wires together to keep them tidy.

As a matter of convenience and functionality, you might like to solder to a 9 or 15-pin Dsub connector (serial or VGA) as a means of disconnecting your control box from your pad. Also, if you have multiple control boxes, you can easily swap them over. In my case, I have one PS2 controller and one USB pad to use my pad on whichever platform I like simply by swapping control boxes.
It can be fiddly and you HAVE to get the wires round the right way, but it is worth it.

While I would turn my usb control box's board over, it's unfortunately glued itself to the plastic of the box, and the circuit board was weak to begin with so I didn't want to break it prying it off.


As you can see, I have soldered a D-sub connector on, and only soldered for the four directions, using evenly spaced contacts. It made life far easier than trying to solder on extra buttons and whatnot. It is possible to do this, but in the case of USB pads, you can simply use the keyboard for menus and such.

For soldering to an xbox 360 pad, however, you might need to either add buttons to your pad, or add them to the control box somehow. How you do that, I'll leave up to you.

Post #12 · Posted at 2010-10-16 06:43:12am 6.2 years ago

Offline Astroman129
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Thanks so much for adding that part! When I build a metal pad of my own, I"ll have it connect to PS2 and X360 so I can play both consoles.
Konami, Konami, mania Konami, mania Don't! Don't, Don't, Don't say! That's complicated like trigonometry!! Ha, ha! Seen you runnin' home to your mommy! (mania) Way over your head like a tsunami! (Ah) Bringin' a mad batch (yeah) Hiroshi, sound waves

Post #13 · Posted at 2010-10-16 08:52:36am 6.2 years ago

Offline hellrazor
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Quote: Astroman129
Thanks so much for adding that part! When I build a metal pad of my own, I"ll have it connect to PS2 and X360 so I can play both consoles.
You could just buy a softpad that is for X360/PS2 both, and use it, otherwise make sure you have a way to quick disconnect your control box for swapping from the PS2 to your X360 (seriously no USB) without having to cut or solder any wires.

Post #14 · Posted at 2010-10-16 11:44:25am 6.2 years ago

Offline 8ftmetalhead
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I'd recommend using a universe or HMS pad, or maybe the madcatz beatpad if they're cheap.

As for the ps2... use whatever you fancy. I'm not sure if you'll be able to find a 360 AND ps2 control box, but then it's easy enough to add a dsub connector as I mentioned to swap quickly between them.

Post #15 · Posted at 2010-10-17 04:27:57am 6.2 years ago

Offline hellrazor
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Quote: 8ftmetalhead
I'd recommend using a universe or HMS pad, or maybe the madcatz beatpad if they're cheap.

As for the ps2... use whatever you fancy. I'm not sure if you'll be able to find a 360 AND ps2 control box, but then it's easy enough to add a dsub connector as I mentioned to swap quickly between them.
It's NOT easy to use a dsub connector at all, they are a pain to solder and any solder point is a future failure waiting to happen thus the fewer solders the better. If you use one of these you need to solder BOTH sides, so it's much more work and easy to short two wires this way.

I prefer using a Male-Male Cat5 connector (as was mentioned in one of the guides), they are cheap and very effective. No soldering needed and I haven't had a failure with the connector at all.

If you buy a Cat5e cable, at least 5foot in length, you can cut it so that you have 4 feet on one end, and 1 (or more) foot on the other end. Use the longer end through your dance pad to connect to all your arrows (up to 7 arrows, if you have more you'll need more cables), use the other end to connect to the control box (if you have more control boxes, you'll need more cables). Between the two Male-Male ends of your new dance pad all you need is a Cat5e connector, that SNAPS apart as desired (a dsub connector pulls apart but can screw together, yes that's ANNOYING).

The benefit to a dsub connector is that it's small and cheap and you can screw it to your dance pad. The benefit of using Cat5e connector is that it's much less work to construct, and swapping control boxes will be easier. You can even put two control boxes into a durable project box, and swap between the two as needed.

In the end you should enjoy making a dance pad that is catered to your desires, just learn from those who have built their own and learned a few tricks along the way, I dealt with both dsub 9pin and 15pin connectors before and I will NEVER use them again on dance pads.

Post #16 · Posted at 2011-02-24 01:13:29pm 5.9 years ago

Offline emotionalone
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I'm getting a set of metal pads built. So now I'd like it to be compatible for PS2, PS3, Wii, 360 and PC.
My mayor concern is how to achieve that. I don't have all the consoles and most likely won't for some time; but the freedom this gives you (and resell value) I believe shouldn't be overlooked. I'm guessing that for best results we should aim for something like the Nexen (http://www.mymybox.com/nexen.html - serial port for control box connectivity - Anyone know what the red and green buttons do on that Nexen?). The company sells they're own control boxes which, if homebrew, will require a controller from the respective console.
Do you guys think this is the best way to attain full compability with all current and future consoles and the PC? Do you have experience trying to make a pad playable on all platforms? I know one of the biggest concerns when using adapters (are they the same as control boxes?) is lag. How or why is lag present when using adapters? Am I better off buying such control boxes given the wiring matches mymybox's? (Off-topic question: why is this adapter needed for Hottest Party 2/3 and not for Hottest Party 1?http://www.mymybox.com/wiihpadapter.html)

Sorry for having so many questions in one post but I didn't know how or what else to do.

Yes, Naoki is handsome.

Post #17 · Posted at 2011-02-24 06:34:29pm 5.9 years ago

Offline 8ftmetalhead
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1- If you are going to be playing across all of the consoles, and are happy to change cables and discs around everywhere, that's fine. However, there has not been a control box released yet that correctly functions on ALL platforms with one single control box.

2-I would recommend getting a softpad for each platform (ie 1 for ps2, xbox, wii, ps3 (if possible))
and then using my guide on wiring to a softpad control box as above.
Failing this, you could wire to a controller for each console, however, this is more difficult due to the smaller contacts with a greater risk of them falling or breaking off the board when soldering. (And the higher cost of controllers on some platforms)
I recommend if you DO solder to a controller, get a friend/teacher/tradesman with good tools and practice to do it for you.

3-As you are going to be swapping alot, you would probably get better functionality from a CAT 5 wiring system, so rather than serial/d-sub/vga type ports, you use network cables. You can make your own ports and wire them up as needed, with up to 8 wires providing the necessary functionality for up down left right. (assuming you have multiple grounds, as opposed to a common ground.
(you could make a custom housing and add buttons to it for start and select, this is also what the green and red buttons are for on the nexen)

4-Not sure what that wii adapter is for though.

5- lag with adapters is down to either shoddy drivers, or shoddy components. Most converters should be pretty much lag free, unless they are active converters.

Post #18 · Posted at 2011-02-25 01:28:09am 5.9 years ago

Offline emotionalone
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Thanks a lot for the reply and the ideas.

Network cables and jacks would definitely be very convenient and easy to replace.

Does bring up two questions:
What's the difference in functionality between multiple grounds and common ground?

What's the difference between active and 'inactive' converters?
Yes, Naoki is handsome.

Post #19 · Posted at 2011-02-25 06:36:01am 5.9 years ago

Offline 8ftmetalhead
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Active converters are things like boxes that convert red/white audio to optical (the red light one) and vice versa. Compared with an passive converter like red/white audio to pc/headphone audio.

It's kind of like translating languages. Active will take what is said and translate it completely to another thing, following the structure of both. But in doing so, it takes time (and often power)
Passive translation would be taking the closest translation of each word and throwing it on. Doesn't change the signal. Just how it is presented.

If that makes any sense.

As for multiple grounds and common grounds.
My ps2 controller that I wired to had a ground on each button, they simply were exposed nodes on a large single ground circuit.
(IE they all connected back to one ground)
The difference is where you solder to it. On a ps2 controller the only sensible place to solder to is the button points on the PCB. (there's two crossed circuits under each button on your controller, pressing down the button connects them. You solder to each point without crossing them and you'll get a working button)

With the softpad, because there's no need for multiple ground points like that (all the wires connect to the same/nearly the same points in a very small area) they often just stick one larger ground point in the middle
(as you can see on the universe pad, there's the 5 smaller strips on each side of a larger strip in the middle, which is the ground)

Post #20 · Posted at 2011-03-01 02:38:11pm 5.9 years ago

Offline jheep
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Wow, thanks for putting all that info in one place.

I would like to attempt this but I just don't have the room to do so in my apartment. Does anyone know of someone in the US that makes and sells high quality pads like these?
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