Saturday, July 18, 2015
$3 USB gamepad teardown
I recently received a USB gamepad I ordered off Aliexpress for a little more than $3. I got it for a RetroPie box I'm planning to build, so I don't need anything fancy. A USB controller chip alone can easily cost $1, so I was curious to see what went into making these. The photo shows it is pretty simple.
The PCB is single-sided bakelite, since it is really cheap. While double-sided FR4 PCBs cost around 5c/sq in, even in volume, a single-sided bakelite board is under 2c/sq in. The USB controller chip is on the other side of the board covered in an epoxy blob, so I can't say what kind of controller chip it is. besides the controller chip, the only electronic components are the 6Mhz resononator and the ceramic capacitor. The wires connecting the L/R buttons to the PCB are cheap - similar to the wires twist ties are made from. The controller looks like it has good strain relief, with the cord winding around a few plastic posts.
The controller was detected (under Windows 7) as a HID-compliant game controller. I haven't finished setting up my RetroPie box yet, so I tried it out with Doom. The button feel wasn't the greatest, but all 12 of the buttons worked. Overall, I'm satisfied with the controller considering the low price.