I recently bought three broken joysticks from Swedish eBay: A Tac-2, a Wico Command Control and a Wico Q Stick. All three joysticks had their cables cut at the base for some reason. In this post I will focus on repairing the Q Stick. The Qstick is a budget joystick created in China for the European market. It reminds about Suncom’s Tac-2 in design (a Chinese variant of the Tac-2 was also available, in addition to the more sturdy built American version). According to this discussion thread from 1996, Suncom was bought by Wico in 1989, which might explain the similarities.
Anyway, the Q stick had a cut cable and missed two rubber feet when I got it. I think the red and black design of the joystick is quite beautiful.
Step one was of course to fix the cable. I ordered db9-extension cables on Ebay and cut and peeled the ends. It is worth noting that the cables are pretty fragile and breaks easily. My guess is that many of these joysticks will need replacement threads in the future. Through examining the contact from the joystick cable and looking at the schematics I used when I built a joystick tester a few weeks ago, I paired the correct colors with each other as shown below. I also bought a bunch of cable protectors on Ebay that will make the cable entrance to the joystick more pleasing. I noted that the prior owner had used a lot of grease (vaseline?) on the surfaces where the handle make the connections. I will return to that matter below.
The cables were soldered together and I put some shrinking tube on them.
All done! (I thought) I assembled the joystick and tester it with the aformentioned joystick tester. It seems like the Q stick had a problem with returning to the center…
The metal ball in the bottom of the handle touches the bottom of the joystick and does not return to the center properly. In addition, the ground cable on the shaft seems to obstruct some of the movement. Odd. I read about similar problems with this joystick on another page, and since the owner could not find anything wrong, he or she concluded that it might be a design error. But can it really be that bad? My initial solution was to put some distances on each screw (3) that keeps the joystick together. It worked, but I was still a bit confused. I guessed this was the problem that the prior owner tried to solve with the grease..
When I was working with a Tac-2 it occured to me that the housing is identical with the Q stick. However, one detail was missing in the Q Stick: The black plastic piece in the picture below, that would rise the upper part a few millimeters.
So, I “borrowed” the plate from a broken Chinese Tac-2 and placed it in the Q Stick. It fitted perfectly and it solved the problem. The ground cable was still a bit dodgy so I simply soldered it on the metal part above the ball.
The joystick works perfect now, and I use it with my Raspberry pi-based Commodore 64c. I am still wondering over one thing however: Did the former owner remove the black plate or has it simply never been a part of the joystick? If anyone knows, please contact me, or comment below.
Edit: A reader commented that the spring actually presses the ball down over time. The solution is simply to press the ball up towards the shaft again!
The only thing I need to add now is a couple of new rubber feet, and the repair is complete!