I recently received my X-Arcade Tankstick with tri-mode PCB pre-installed. The tri-mode PCB allows this stick to function as either a) a keyboard, b) a DirectInput device, or c) an XInput device.
The X-Arcade Tankstick is well built. It is sturdy and cleanly put together. I especially love the pinball buttons on the side, and the awesome trackball. The trackball has some real inertia and feels very well built. The trackball acts as a USB mouse, so the trackball is compatible with many PC games and emulators that expect mouse input, like Marble Madness, Golden Tee Golf, and many more.
Here is a pictures of the outside of the stick before modding:
The inside is very tidy and nicely built. Everything is modular. There are quick-connects. Nothing is soldered directly, which is great. There are even two additional micro-switches inside the box and many additional unused quick connects on the wires.
Here is a picture of the inside before modding:
Even though I love the controller as-is, I decided to mod it with IL parts, to make it even more responsive.
The IL mod was straightforward. It was a drop-in replacement. All holes and measurements on the case are 100% compatible with IL parts. The mod consisted of replacing all the fire buttons and sticks with IL parts, one by one. Here are the images after I put in two grey IL Eurosticks, 16 grey IL short stem push buttons for the fire buttons, and 4 white IL short stem push buttons for the pinball buttons on the side. All IL parts were equipped with Cherry D44X micro switches.
This was one of the easiest mods I have ever done. It just took some time to replace everything. I was happy to have my trusty IL plastic button wrench. Without the wrench, I wouldn’t have been able to replace all the buttons.
One minor quirk involves the pinball side buttons. On the PC, the keyboard mode can be used for pinball games. In keyboard mode, the side buttons can be remapped easily. In DirectInput, XInput and Playstation mode (using the separately purchased Playstation adapter), the pinball side buttons act as left and right mouse button and player 1 and player 2 select, and cannot be remapped. This means I cannot play Pinball Arcade or Pinball FX on the PS4 with the side buttons, because the game expects L and R buttons on the player 1 controller. In a future project, I plan to re-wire the side buttons so that they act as left and right shoulder buttons for player 1. This should be a very easy thing. I just have to add a few wires and quick connects.
Overall, this was my easiest mod so far. Everything was a drop-in replacement with IL parts. No soldering or Dremel work was needed.
The first thing I did after modding the controller was to play some Robotron on my MiSTer FPGA. It works perfectly! Robotron is so much fun with the two mounted arcade sticks:
I love the X-Arcade Tankstick. Even before modding, it was a great and responsive controller with lots of room to rest my palms. With the IL mod, it became even better. The sticks and buttons are now easier to push, and the click sounds are not as loud. I also love the pinball side buttons and the trackball.
Until next time,