Developing a PS Controller PCB Circuit Board is both fun and full of challenges. Recently my PS4 controller broke down and I decided to develop a custom controller. Despite being a simple PCB, controller development is a process. If you are planning to develop one, let’s take a look at some essential details that you need to know before getting started.
PS4 Controller PCB Circuit Board Design
The very first thing that you need to learn about is the PS4 circuit design; the components and the overall architecture. After all, It is the design that gives the controller functionality. To understand how the controllers are developed, let’s first understand the interfacing of a standard controller and how it functions.
Sony released the legendary CUH-ZCT1 DualShock-4 wireless PS4 controller in 2013. It is compatible with both PS3 and PS4 which enables the users to upgrade the console without replacing the controller. The DualShock-4 connects with the console through a micro USB cable. It has a two-point touchpad and a built-in headphone jack.
The gamers love DualShock-4 for its smooth functioning and high durability. But what people do not know about this controller was the unique circuit architecture inside this controller that made it durable. Despite being an old model, it is still as robust as any new model and it never went off the shelf.
Almost every PCB is developed for a specific application e.g a PlayStation controller is developed with the sole purpose to control the console. A PlayStation controller is no less than a personal computer but it is primarily used for entertainment. Given the tough use a PS controller has to bear, the designers ensured its PCB does not break down or stop functioning any sooner. But where does this robustness comes from? PS controllers are developed with specialized circuits.
PS-4 Controller Printed Circuit Board
The PS4 controller circuit is developed on a flexible PCB that is light-weight and strong. This is so that the controller may carry the circuit and do not break off with vibrations and jerks. A non-conductive layer is introduced between the PCB and the controller’s housing for packing.
All the circuit components and modules such as joysticks, buttons, and triggers are soldered on the copper layer. Standard controllers carry only this part of the circuit but wireless controllers carry another circuit that enables the wireless communication between the controller and the console. This wireless communication circuit is stacked below the controller’s control circuit. It connects a battery and a wireless antenna with the control circuit.
Although both PCBs are stacked with components and connections but their fine architecture smoothly fits in the compact housing. The circuit is designed in a way each component fits in the right position on the controller. For example, the joy-stick modules are soldered right below the part we see from the top of the controller. The buttons used in the PS controller are unique; they contain conductive rubber plates that mechanically complete a circuit when pressed. This circuit completion qualifies as an input signal.
Interestingly, PS4 controllers are built with basic computer logic design. They are no less than a smartphone that can compute on its and establish communication between devices. The functionality of joy-sticks comes from the potentiometers inside them; the controller reads the variations in the potentiometer’s resistance when it is moved and computes a unique value for each movement. Since the overall functioning of the controller PCB involves extensive processing, heat-sinks and a cooling fan are also assembled inside the controller.
What’s the Difference Between 7 Versions of PS4 Controller?
PS4 controllers have evolved just the way PlayStation has evolved over the last two decades. Sony and several third-party have released several models of controllers; though all models look similar and the primary features are the same but the succeeding models contain better circuitry.
Some models have been released multiple times with updated versions; even the legendary DualShock 4 controller has been released seven times, each model with updated features and better robustness.
Most of the differences between each model come in the efficiency of buttons and joysticks. Moreover, the older versions use simple circuit board textures whereas the successor versions use pro circuit board textures. However, the printed circuit board is the same in all versions. The only difference between normal and pro circuit board textures is the number of connectors. The pro circuit board texture supports more connectors which enable greater input methods and hence improve user-experience.
Some of the best versions of DualShock-4 PlayStation controllers are as follows.
The JDM-001 is the simplest version in terms of circuit board texture. The buttons used in this controller are all active state which means the D-pad, circle, square, cross, and triangle buttons can work if they are just connected to the ground. But the triggers operate differently.
The left-1 and right-1 triggers are also in active state but they must be connected with 3.2-volt to work. Whereas the right-2 and left-2 triggers do not simply work with a 3.2 volt or ground connection. They require pulse width modulation (PWM) signal to work.
The JDM-011 controller circuit board is comparatively more compact and simpler. The USB daughter circuit is reduced to lesser connections for better efficiency. The position of some components is changed with the help of a more compact layout design. Moreover, the smaller shell size helps prevent swapping and frequent replacements.
The JDM-020 controller was released for the earlier versions of the PS4 console. This model is more efficient as compared to JDM-001 and JDM-011 in terms of chip-technology. It uses an ARM chip whereas the older versions use a Fujitsu chip.
Moreover, the JDM-020 is the first version that supports connections between different layers like in multi-layer PCBs. Hence the connections between the daughterboard, buttons, joysticks, and connectors are more compact.
Furthermore, the daughterboard is placed in two pieces (instead of one like in earlier versions). Both pieces are connected with the sides of the main board which enables shorter connections, lesser tolerance, and higher reliability. The shell design was further updated and made compact in this version.
The JDM-030 controller uses a simpler circuit texture. The daughterboard is placed in a single piece but its new compact design requires lesser space. Moreover, the shell was also redesigned for this version to make the overall size more compact.
JDM-040, JDM-050 And JDM-055 Controllers
The last three versions of DualShock-4 Controllers are almost the same except the button vias are placed in different position.
Playstation4 Controller Printed Circuit Board Parts
It is essential to understand that the primary function of all controllers is the same; the buttons take user-input and the circuitry codes them to machine language and the PlayStation reads the input signal. This is why most of the controller designs remained the same throughout all seven versions.
However, every controller version is more efficient, durable, and reliable than its predecessor versions. Most of the improvements were made in the circuit layout and the parts. But the overall circuit board texture and components used remained the same; each model uses transistors, resistors, capacitors, and chips.
PlayStation Controller PCB Circuit Board
As the circuit board of each version was updated with better electronic parts, the overall tolerance of the controller was also reduced. Moreover, a lesser number of connections means a lesser probability of malfunctioning. These changes enabled improved signal flow between the USB, TX, and console.
Despite their slightly different look, all controllers use the same PCB and parts. The only difference comes in the type of parts and the layout of the circuit which was improved over time.
To further understand how PS4 controllers differ, let’s take a look at the components used in controllers.
The buttons, joysticks, and triggers all contain switches. Alike the computer keyboard, the switches are not soldered on the PCB instead they are inside the buttons. Whenever a button is pressed, the switch inside the button (which is a conductive pad) hits the PCB.
As the conductive pad hits the PCB, a circuit completes and a signal is generated. In PS controllers, the daughterboard contains the conductive PCB parts where the buttons strike to generate an input signal.
All DualShock-4 controllers have two joysticks. One joystick is connected with the daughterboard and the other one is connected with the mainboard. As already states, every version of the controller improves with better quality components. Similarly, every joystick model also varies based on its quality. However, the basic functions and parts of every joystick remain the same; every joystick contains a sensor wheel, stick tact button, plastic stick, and housing.
DualShock–4 Controller Joystick Module
Since the wireless DualShock4 controllers need power, they come with a built-in battery. Now to fit in the battery, there is a dedicated space for the battery; designed according to the standard battery size. It connects the battery with the main circuit for the power supply.
The controller PCB is not directly attached to the controller housing; a mounting plate is used for the attachment. The mounting plate helps stabilize the attachment and also works as a cushion between the housing and the PCB. It is essential for the safety of PCB as the PCB is prone to damage when exposed to frequent shocks and vibrations but the mounting plate protects it.
Rumble motors produce the haptic feedback we often experience during games. Rumble motors are not compatible with all games but they are useful in some games for feedback. Almost every controller contains two rumble motors and wheels.
Dualshock4 controllers are equipped with a built-in small-scale sound system. It contains a speaker and the sound driver circuitry that communicated with the console and plays the sound as per console output.
There is a touchpad on the top middle of the controller. It works just like a laptop touchpad; the users can use touchpad for playing games just the way buttons, triggers, and joysticks are used. The touchpad module is assembled on the top of the daughter board’s circuit texture.
USB Communication Port
As already explained, the controllers communicate with the console through a USB port. Moreover, the controller’s battery also charges through the USB port. Considering the overall compactness of the controller’s shell and the circuit texture, the PCB layout for USB PCB is designed. However, the connectors used for USB communication are standard packages.
As PS4 controllers have buttons, joysticks, touchpad, lights, and motors, the controller circuits extensively heat up and they need to be cooled. This is why PS4 controllers are equipped with a built-in cooling fan.
Without a cooling fan, the excessive heat can burn chips, cause malfunctioning, and permanently damage the controller.
Wireless Communication System
Wireless controllers communicate using Bluetooth; there are a built-in antenna and communication circuit that works as a transceiver.
Just the way every laptop and cellphone has a brain: microprocessor, controllers also have processors. The PS4 controllers use an ARM processor for functioning. In fact, the ARM processor controls every function of the controller and without it, the controller is just like a monitor without a CPU.
PS Controller PCB Circuit Board Assembly
Factors to Consider Before Buying PS4 Controller PCB or Parts
Apparently, a PS4 controller is an extensively technical product stuffed with lots of electronic parts. If you are looking to get a new controller or buy parts for your broken PS4 controller, you should consider a few factors from engineering perspective.
The controller must be designed with robust parts that can withstand longer play durations without losing efficiency.
Reliable and Durable Parts
The controller’s reliability and durability come from its parts; if the parts are of good quality, the controller is likely to function for long.
Make sure you buy the parts from a manufacturer who provides proper technical support. This is important; you’ll need to discuss a lot of details before making decisions over parts and their assembling.
Short Order Cycle Time
Some manufacturers take a longer duration to deliver products whereas some manufacturers take a shorter time. Avail services of a manufacturer who has short order cycle time so that the parts are delivered soon.
Evidently, the PS4 controller PCB circuit board design and the parts assembled on it are all extensively technical. But with specification knowledge, you can always choose a controller that suits you.