We are no strangers to the appeal of Korean arcade parts here at Focus Attack. In recent happenings, the Crown 309MJ lever has been a fan favorite of 3D fighter players and "American-style" lever fans alike. As more and more of the levers appear in the wild, it is inevitable that they will start appearing in all sorts of fightsticks. Today we touch on installing one in a more common recent stick: the Mad Catz TES+.
You might wonder why we chose the TES+. The reason is twofold: because it is built on a tried and true, mostly traditional design and also because it is one of the least sought out Mad Catz sticks as of recent. Acquiring one second hand is relatively painless and affordable. So, without further delay, let's get to it!
This article will be broken down into three sections:
- Introduction - Procedure Overview, Tools Required
- Disassembly, Modification, Installation
- Reassembly and Testing, Wrap-up
CAUTION: SLIGHT MODIFICATIONS HAVE TO BE MADE TO THE INTERNAL PLASTIC TRIM OF THE FIGHTSTICK HOUSING IN ORDER FOR THE 309MJ TO HAVE THE PROPER CLEARANCE. PLEASE BE AWARE OF THIS BEFORE PROCEEDING ANY FURTHER IN THIS TUTORIAL. FOCUS ATTACK IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGES CAUSED BY MODIFYING YOUR OWN HARDWARE. IF YOU ARE NOT CONFIDENT IN YOUR ABILITY TO INSTALL PARTS, PLEASE SEEK OUT A PROFESSIONAL.
I. INTRODUCTION - PROCEDURE OVERVIEW, TOOLS REQUIRED
So you've finally decided that you are tired of your Sanwa lever, or you are looking to get some extra mileage out of your current fightstick setup. You've come to the conclusion that a Korean lever is more to your tastes and you want to put it in place of your current lever. In this write-up, we will cover de-installation of the factory JLF, wiring the 309MJ for the Mad Catz wiring harness, installing the 309MJ in the TES+ and testing its functionality.
- 3MM allen wrench or bit
- Flathead screwdrivers (various bit sizes)
- Phillips head screwdriver (various bit sizes)
- Sidecutters or a dremel that can cut through ABS plastic
Give yourself a good amount of clean work space to utilize. This process should take roughly an hour. Do not work on any fightstick with it plugged into a power source.
II. DISASSEMBLY, MODIFICATION, INSTALLATION
Now that you have your tools, bring your TES+ front and center:
(Thanks to Everett J. for allowing his TES+ to be a test subject!)
It's a great piece of hardware, isn't it? When you are done appreciating it, let's get to taking it apart. Start by taking your 3mm allen wrench and loosening the faceplate bolts. If you've forgotten, rotate the wrench counter-clockwise to loosen, and clockwise to tighten.
There are 6 bolts in total. Four in the corners and two in the middle, top and bottom respectively. Take care not to lose these when removing them, as they are the only thing holding the control panel overlay on.
With the bolts removed, you can very carefully lift the control plate off the body of the fightstick. What is waiting for you inside are the very components that make your fightstick a functioning one - be mindful of all running wires. Let's take a look at the interior!
Now, you may notice that yours does not look exactly like this. This is due to the this TES+ in particular having an LED setup installed. Pay that no mind, as it does not factor into this particular installation guide. Moving on, take a look at the bottom of the JLF lever.
You'll notice that there's a slot keyed for a flat head screwdriver on the bottom of the shaft. Take your appropriate-sized flat head screwdriver, and place it in the slot.
Then, use your free hand to twist your lever handle counter-clockwise against the force of your screwdriver hand, loosening the lever handle and removing it.
Now that the lever handle is loose, we can get to removing the actual lever unit itself. Lift your control panel overlay up again, directing your attention at the 4 phillips head screws that keep the lever fastened to the plate. Use an appropriate sized phillips head screwdriver to remove all four screws.
With the lever screws removed, gently wiggle the 5-pin connector harness free of the JLF lever. Set the old lever aside, it is now time to work on installing the new one!
Your Crown 309MJ arrives from the factory unassembled. Before putting the mechanical parts of the lever together, it's best to plug in the wire harness first. With your .187 to 5-pin wire harness adapter in hand, attach its .187 connectors to the 309MJ's microswitches as shown in the picture.
It is important that each microswitch has a signal wire (red, yellow, green or orange) and a ground wire (black). This will allow the lever to output the necessary signals to work with your TES+. The orientation of the lever as seen in the picture is the direction it needs to be facing when installed into the underside of your control panel overlay. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, SO THAT YOUR INPUTS GIVE THE PROPER DIRECTIONS.
At this point, you may want to attempt a test fit in your stick without the lever shaft installed. You can do this by bolting up the 309MJ assembly to the control panel. You may find that the overlay no longer fits snugly on the top of the fightstick. This is due to the top right and bottom right corner of the 309MJ colliding with the plastic trim near the touchpad area, and the plastic receptacle in the bottom of the fightstick housing. Start by removing the touchpad screws to separate it from the plastic trim. (Be mindful of the wiring and ribbon cables!)
You can file or cut the side of this screw hole down so that the 309MJ can fit snugly next to it:
Then, use your dremel or sidecutters to whittle away the bottom of the square receptacle cut-out in the sub-floor of your fightstick until the 309MJ has enough room to sit in it properly. You don't need to take very much away, less than half an inch shaved off by the length of the bottom of the box should be enough. Watch out for the PCB - you may want to remove it while you are trimming away some of the plastic.
This part will take a lot of test fitting and patience. It does fit, but you need to keep a perceptive eye about things. If the .187 pins of the 309MJ's microswitches stick out too far, you can very carefully bend them against the microswitch to fit. The TES+ is very crowded to begin with, but with some patience, you can make this work. After making the necessary alterations, re-assemble anything you removed.
Once the base unit of the 309MJ fits in the TES+ housing with the control panel overlay fitting properly, you can commence assembly of the rest of the lever.
If you haven't already, fasten the 309MJ base to the control panel overlay, reusing your phillips head screws from your original lever. Take this opportunity to tidy your wiring.
Connect your .187 to 5-pin adapter harness to the other 5-pin harness that you unplugged from your old lever.
Take the 309MJ lever, slide on the dustwasher and then push the lever through the lever hole in the control panel, pushing it all the way into the base unit through hole. Hold it in place.
With your free hand, grab the C-clip for the lever and slide it into it's slotted collar area on the base of the lever.
Fasten the c-clip securely in place. This may take some force, so gloves might be necessary in some cases. You're almost there!
III. REASSEMBLY AND TESTING, WRAP-UP
Once everything is secure, put your control panel overlay back in its place (hopefully with minimal hassle), making sure that it sits flush with the housing. Thread the 6 hex screws back into their places on the control panel face plate. Clean up your work space, and plug your TES+ into your system or PC of choice. In my case, I chose my PS4.
While you're waiting for your system to catch up, soak in the pre-satisfaction of a successful DIY install (I did).
Hit the training room of your choice and turn on input display. Make sure that left means left, right means right, up means down - are you paying attention? Up means up, down means down, so on. Hitting diagonals is notably more tricky on a Korean lever due to the design, so don't panic if you cannot hit them consistently at first. Spend time familiarizing yourself with the distinct differences of a Korean manufactured stick versus the Japanese Sanwa JLF. If you're a 3D fighter kind of person, I'm pretty confident you will enjoy the difference!
If your inputs are backwards, double check your wiring. If your lever does not respond at all, double check your wiring. There is not much that can go wrong with this install, so long as you are attentive and careful. If you still can't figure out what's causing you trouble, we are a support ticket away. Drop us a line any time if you are having difficulties.
It is worth mentioning that you should check on the tightness of your lever screws after a week of play. You have disrupted a previously untouched environment and things can happen. Check up on your work down the road to make sure that everything is still okay.
If you made it this far, congratulations - you did it! You are now the proud owner of a Korean lever equipped fightstick. Go work on those wavedashes and your KBD. If you like the Crown lever, consider giving the Samducksa pushbuttons a try, too.
But most importantly: HAVE FUN. :)