One of the most popular ways for manufacturers to add extra inputs to game controllers is positioning four paddle-shaped buttons on the back. Redditor Styroor took that idea, grabbed some basic tools, and created a new type of DualShock 4: one with backside buttons. It looks a little rough, but there’s not a piece of technology out there that can’t benefit from a set of mechanical keyboard switches.
Everybody knows that a nice mechanical keyboard is the best way to do everything, from basic computing tasks to playing complex rhythm games. Sometimes, however, you get stuck with a gamepad with more simplistic button inputs, but you’re never truly stuck when you’ve got a soldering iron and a sander. Styroor may not have had the exact implements needed to make his DualShock keyboard switch conversion look pretty, but he had ambition, and sometimes that’s enough.
“I always wanted a controller with mechanical switches and I just didn’t want to keep waiting until a big brand released my vision of ‘perfect controller’,” Styroor told me via Reddit instant message. “Most of the other controllers make you move your fingers to an unnatural position to press the back buttons/paddles, and regardless of the controller you buy, at the end all of them are ‘buttons’ you know? And yes, a mechanical switch it’s easier to press, but it only can be activated when direct pressure is put on it, it just feels more comfortable and you can press them faster.”
And so Styroom used heat to break into the handles of his DualShock 4 controller, sanding the edges to keep them from being too jagged. He removed the rumble motors, replacing them with a pair of ExtremeRate DAWN remap kit boards. He soldered a pair of Gateron brown tactile switches to each side, and presto, keyboard buttons on a PlayStation 4 controller.
“I know keyboard and mouse have their own unique advantages that a controller simply can’t emulate. I just wanted to combine this feeling and advantage on a controller, and regardless the limitations I have, I’m very happy with the result” said Styroor of the finished product.
There are changes he’d like to make in the next iteration of the project. Firstly, a little more precision in cutting those holes. Then some different switches. Gateron brown switches are great for typing, but they’re a bit light, which makes them easy to push accidentally. A switch with a heavier spring is called for here. I have some 78g Zealios switches that would be perfect for this application, strong enough to rest your fingers on without misfires. Styroor also recommends low profile keycaps, but those are easy enough to swap out.
I applaud your efforts, Styroor, and look forward to future iterations of this sublime hardware innovation.