Tech Corner: GamerFinger Optical Joystick PCB For Sanwa JLF Joystick

Here's a scenario: you've tried every Sanwa JLF modification out there, from springs, to restrictors, shafts and different balltop handles. Surely, there isn't much else to investigate, right? Look no further: introducing the GamerFinger Optical Joystick PCB, designed specifically for use with the Sanwa JLF series of joysticks.

(PLEASE NOTE: GamerFinger products are offered in an "Always On Reserve" pre-order format due to their high demand and turnaround time on restock shipments.)

Q: I've heard a bit of buzz about optical joysticks, what's the deal? Is this a step towards better performance?

A: As with any other performance modification, the optical PCB is subjective. What feels good for one person may not necessarily feel good for you. However, we can put forward some facts. The optical PCB will:

  • Offer a more linear feel
  • Give quicker input responses
  • Reduce throw resistance due to no switch plungers/blade contacts
  • Allow you the chance to try something totally different

Q: What arcade sticks can I even use this in? This looks a lot more complicated than your average lever mod install.

A: It is possible to install this in any arcade stick that can support a Sanwa JLF, but it is easiest to install in an arcade stick that has a Brook PCB installed. The reason for this is that, unlike the traditional Sanwa JLF switch set (the TP-MA) that uses a 5-pin connection, the GamerFinger optical uses a 6-pin connection. The 6th pin is for a power wire, as the optical PCB needs power to function. This is much easier to wire up with the help of a Brook board, as all Brook boards with screw terminals have a slot (VCC/VDD) specifically intended for powering an external device, like LEDs or an optical PCB.

Q: What if I don't have a Brook board? What can I do despite that?

A: You will have to either solder the wire directly to the VCC/VDD pad on your arcade stick's PCB, or splice the optical PCB's power wire at the USB cable of the arcade stick. You are looking for the red wire on the USB cable, this is what provides power to the arcade stick, and thusly the optical PCB. Some arcade sticks make this easy, some do not. If you are not comfortable doing this, it's best to ask for help from someone who is more comfortable with wiring electronics.

We also have a video that covers how to install the optical PCB. It should be reiterated that this PCB is compatible with the Sanwa JLF joystick line only. It will not work for things like Seimitsu joysticks, Crown joysticks, etc. You can find out more below:

Products mentioned in this video:


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