If you ever wished your Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers had a little more color, you have two options: buy a new set of $ 80, choose from the very limited amount of color options that Nintendo makes or customize the one you have already owns.
I'm not just talking about applying some sticker stickers.
Various manufacturers sell replacement enclosures for Joy-Con controllers, and a search on Amazon shows how much variation there is. There are matte texture, such as those from Nintendo, or with a glossy finish. There are pastel colored covers, as well as translucent options if you are nostalgic for the transparent Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color. And you can even find covers that have good directional pad replacement for the left Joy-Con (making it similar to the one in the Nintendo Switch Lite).
The big advantage of this project is that your Joy Disadvantages will stand out from the multitude of standard color options, and you can get a few sets of vibrant Joy-Con shells for much less than the cost of a set of new Switch controllers.
But there are also a few drawbacks. You will (probably) invalidate your controllers' warranty when you open them to transplant the components. Although you don't have to tear up warranty stickers to get into a Joy-Con, Nintendo should probably find out that you're messing around inside if you ever have to fix one.
Also this project is not as easy as you might think. Luckily you don't have to solder, but there are a lot of screws, ribbon cables and other very small parts in every Joy-Con that you have to carefully remove and reapply.
Before we start, two things. First, if you switch between the two Joy-Con controllers, you start with the left controller. It is much easier to operate than the right one, and it will serve as an intro for playing with Joy-Con internals. The right controller contains more components, and they are organized in a more complex way, which makes it more difficult if you don't know the general layout yet.
Second, as you will soon discover, I am not a professional in taking things apart. You may be able to do this in a faster, more elegant and perhaps more organized way. But I was guided by my bliss and curiosity and it led me to a number of colorful Joy-Cons that work perfectly. It can also work for you with the right tools and a lot of patience.
For some, this can be a difficult step. At Amazon there are many colors to choose from, and you can mix and match to your liking. Use your imagination and go completely crazy. I bought a set of translucent Joyco charcoal dishes, complete with colored face buttons in the style of the Super Famicom. I also bought a set of matte-texture periwinkle scales because that color is very under-represented in gaming accessories, and it is also one of my favorite colors. Each set costs around $ 20.
You can get creative with the Joy-Con shells you already have. Suppose you have a gray Joy-Con, and a pair of neon blue and red. You can exchange those colors for a unique look without having to spend money on new shells.
iFixit & # 39; s Pro Tech toolkit has many more tools than you need for this project, including everything you need to get inside your Joy-Con. This kit costs $ 59.99, and if you like to do this type of project regularly, it is well worth the cost.
If you want to go a la carte, here are the most important things I used for this project:
- (to open the Joy-Con)
- Metal spudger (to gently detach and re-connect components) to be attached)
- A screwdriver with two bits. First, a JIS-JIS bit to use on the bowels of the Joy-Con – it looks like a crosshead, but differs in subtle and important ways. Secondly, a Y00-type three-point bit for the screws that hold the Joy-Con together.
- Open the Joy-Con with the Y00-type screw bit and save the screws carefully.
- Use an opening or a thin card to open the Joy-Con, carefully separating the two sides along the rounded edge so that you do not pull on the ribbon cables that hold them together.
- Carefully pry off the battery with the metal spudger. It is attached to the black middle plastic part with some glue, but it doesn't take much effort to lift it. Do it carefully so that you do not bend the battery. As you continue, try to keep the glue dust-free so that it stays sticky when you replace the battery later.
- (Note about handling glue: the battery and a few other vital components that you encounter during this operation are protected with glue. It is not a particularly strong glue, but a small, sticky strip that is applied to certain parts So, you don't have to worry about making a mess, and as long as you are careful when removing the attached components, you should have no problem sticking the glue when it is placed in the new case .)
- With the battery raised, unscrew the black plastic cover that is held by two J00-type screws. Keep them carefully and lift the plastic to reveal the motherboard.
- You can make the following steps a little easier by releasing the rear part of the case. Use the metal spudger to lift the small switches that secure the two ribbon cables to the Joy-Con rail (I hold it in my fingers in the image above). Once the switches are up, you can carefully pull out the cables.
- If you want to swap the SL and SR buttons of your Joy-Con, unscrew the board that covers the Joy-Con rail so that they are visible and the synchronization button. If your replacement shells come with new buttons, you can now plug them in, making sure you don't accidentally place the SL button in the SR slot. Also ensure that the rubber diaphragm that covers the synchronization button is correctly positioned before screwing the small board back onto the rail.
- Lift this switch while holding the ribbon cable that leads to the ZL button (attached in the black plastic piece at the top of the image above) and gently pull it out. If you don't get in the way, the rest of the process will be a bit easier.
- Remove the last two J00-type screws that secure the green board to the Joy-Con housing (if you have not already done so) and keep track of those screws. Loosen the L button, the minus button and their respective circuits, which are held by J00-type screws from the Joy-Con. Take extra care when removing the L button from the housing, as the spring can easily fly out.
- You can leave these ribbon cables on the motherboard, which makes life easier when you put the components in a new Joy-Con case.
- We are almost at the end for the left Joy-Con, but some of the most difficult steps are still ahead. Unscrew the two J00-type screws from the analog stick and carefully pull out the stick, taking into account the small plastic gasket (visible in the image below) that is located between the stick's housing and the Joy-Con scale . You must transplant this gasket into your new case, so be careful.
- This can help: there is an intentional break in the gasket that you can lift to easily make room for the stick to extend. But if you move each part to a new Joy-Con housing, you must completely remove the gasket together with the stick. To do this without tearing it, carefully lift the gasket where it is glued to the case and keep it in a safe place until you are ready to place it in the new case. Do not forget to reapply the gasket, because it is the task to keep dust and other dirt out of your Joy-Con.
- You can finally remove all major components from the Joy-Con scale, including the HD-rumble motor that has some glue. Congratulations with you so far!
- You can see the membranes that cover each of the buttons, including the minus button, the four face buttons, and the screenshot button. Go ahead and lift it to reveal the plastic buttons underneath, but make sure you re-apply them exactly as they were when you removed them. You can also remove the L button, but again, keep a close eye on the spring. Our replacement covers were not supplied with springs, so you will be in a difficult place if you lose it.
- Now you can exchange the buttons and put them in your new cover. Fortunately, the button attachments are notched so that they only work in one way, but make sure you have the right button in every slot. It is easy to become disoriented by unintentionally placing the A button in the B button slot, so give your work a second check, or you may have to completely disassemble your Joy-Con to repeat this step.
- One final note: if you plan to disable the middle black plastic piece to which the ZR button is attached, you must remove the button and the circuit, which is held by a screw. It is not an easy feat to remove the button, because it is clicked into the plastic fixture. I was lucky to pry it loose with the metal spudger, but keep in mind that there are springs directly under the button, so keep your hand over it while you remove it and watch them carefully.
Finally, reassemble the Joy-Con by following the above steps in reverse order. That's one to go.
(Note: as I said before, I strongly recommend starting with the left Joy-Con, because it has fewer components to scroll through. But if you feel ready for the right Joy-Con, let's get started.)
- After removing the four Y00-type screws that hold the casing together, slide the opening selector along the edges of the Joy-Con to open it.
- The front and back of the Joy-Con are attached near the flat rail with breakable ribbon cables, as shown above, so carefully open them from the side with rounded corners.
- The most obvious place to start is to remove the battery and the HD rumble motor. They are both held by glue, and you can easily lift them from their resting places with the metal spudger. Optionally, you can loosen them completely by carefully moving their plugs away from the board.
- This is the first part that you encounter that is unique to the right Joy-Con: an antenna. You will need to carefully lift this out of the plastic housing in which it rests, noting how it should go back. You do not have to remove it completely from the board; the rest of the Joy-Con exchange process did not get any more difficult if it were still confirmed.
- Then remove the three screws that secure the battery plastic housing to the system board. Once the case comes loose, I do not recommend disconnecting the ribbon cable that secures the ZR button to the motherboard (with the screwdriver bit in the illustration above). You can do it, but it takes some intense effort (and a few abusive words) to reconnect it. I removed it for the purposes of this manual because it makes every step in the process a little more visible.
- The green board is held by two J00-type screws. Delete it and keep it safe. You can then loosen the two screws of the same type that hold the analog stick.
- At this point it is worth noting that there are still a few components to watch out for: the IR camera at the bottom of the Joy-Con and the NFC antenna that is under the board. The IR camera can be lifted together with the board, but we will handle the NFC antenna after the next step.
- Carefully lift the board out of the Joy-Con housing, along with all the different components attached to it (if you have decided to leave them attached, as I did). You can now also lift the analog stick through the hole, as we did with the left Joy-Con. However, be careful not to tear the gasket that covers the openings around the joystick to keep dust out of the Joy-Con. Carefully loosen that when changing your Joy-Con cover.
- Then carefully lift the NFC antenna out of the dish. It is the part to which I refer in the image above. The rectangular antenna is held with glue, so carefully pry it up with the metal spudger. When transplanting these parts into your new Joy-Con housing, the gasket of the analog stick must first be followed, followed by the NFC antenna.
- Finally, as you did with the left Joy-Con, replace the buttons as you see fit in your new scale. To reassemble your more colorful Joy-Con, follow the above steps in reverse order. Do not forget to ensure that your button membranes are correctly positioned and that you connect all ribbon cables that you have disconnected.
You are all set! Hopefully these steps have helped you to give your Joy-Cons an affordable, fun makeover. If you are like me, this project may want to take all your controllers apart, if only to clean them properly and appreciate how everything is organized.
Vox Media has affiliated partners. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media can earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. See our ethics policy for more information.