If you've ever wanted your Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers to be a little bit more color, you have two options: Buy a new $ 80 set, choose from the very limited selection of color options available Nintendo offers, or adapt it to those you already own.
I'm not talking about just attaching some stickers.
Several manufacturers sell replacement cases for Joy-Con controllers, and a search on Amazon shows you how diverse the selection is. There are matte textures, such as those made by Nintendo, or those with a glossy finish. There are pastel shades as well as translucent options if you are nostalgic for the see-through Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color. And you can even find cases where the Joy-Con for the left hand contains a proper direction pad (similar to the Nintendo Switch Lite).
The big advantage of this project is that your Joy disadvantages stand out from the mass of standard color options, and you can purchase a few sets of dynamic Joy-Con shells at a much lower cost than a set of new switch controllers ,
However, there are also some disadvantages. You will (probably) void your controller's warranty if you open it to transplant the parts. While you do not need to tear down warranty stickers to get into a Joy-Con, Nintendo will probably be able to find out you've been wandering inside.
This project is not as easy as you might think. Luckily, you do not have to solder, but lots of screws, ribbon cables, and other very small parts in every Joy-Con that you need to carefully remove and then re-attach.
Before we start, two things. If you are replacing cases for both Joy-Con controllers, start with the left controller first. It's far easier to use than the right one and serves as an introduction to working with Joy-Con internals. The right controller contains more parts and is more complex. This complicates work if you do not know the general layout yet. Secondly, as you will soon find out, I am not a specialist when it comes to taking things apart. You may be able to do this faster, more elegant, and perhaps more organized. But I was guided by my bliss and curiosity, and it led me to some colorful joy-cons that work perfectly. With the right tools and patience, it can work for you too.
So let's start.
For some, this could be a difficult step. At Amazon, you can choose from a variety of colors and combine them to your liking. Use your imagination and have fun. I bought a set of translucent Charcoal Joy Con clams with colored face buttons in the Super Famicom styling. I also bought a set of matte textured periwinkle shells, as this color is heavily underrepresented in gaming accessories and is also one of my favorite colors. Each set costs about $ 20.
You can get creative with the Joy-Con shells you already own. Suppose you have a pair of gray Joy-Con and a pair of neon blue and red. You can swap these colors for a unique look without having to spend money on new shells.
iFixit's Pro Tech Toolkit contains far more tools than you need for this project, including everything you need to get started with your project Joy-Con. This kit costs $ 59.99, and if you want to run projects like this on a regular basis, they are well worth the cost.
If you want to go a la carte, here are the key pieces of information I've used for this project:
- Open Picks (to open the Joy-Con)
- Metal Spudger (to carefully remove and replace components )
- A screwdriver with two bits. First a JIS type J00 bit for the innards of the Joy-Con – it is similar to a Phillips head, but differs in subtle and important ways. Second, a Y00 three-point drill for the screws that hold the Joy-Con together.
- Open the Joy-Con with the Y00 screwdriver and carefully store the screws.
- Open the Joy-Con with a ripper or thin card by carefully separating the two sides along the rounded edge so you do not pull the ribbon cables that hold them together.
- Gently pry the battery out with the metal spudger. It is attached to the black plastic center piece with some glue, but it is not very expensive to lift it. Be careful not to bend the battery. In the further course, try to keep the glue dust-free so that it remains somewhat sticky when the battery is replaced later.
- (Note on Adhesive Handling: The battery and some other important components that you come across in this process are secured by adhesive – it's not a very strong adhesive, it's just a small sticky strip, to be applied to specific parts.) You do not have to worry, and as long as you are careful when removing the adhesive components, there should be no problem in causing the adhesive to adhere when it is placed in the new sleeve.)  With the battery removed, remove the black plastic cover, held in place by two J00 screws. Store it carefully, then lift the plastic out to expose the motherboard.
- You can simplify the next steps by removing the back of the case. Use the metal spudger to lift the small switches that secure the two ribbon cables to the Joy-Con track (I hold them in my fingers in the picture above). Once the switches are up, you can carefully pull the cables out.
- If you want to change the SL and SR buttons on your Joy-Con, unscrew the board that covers the Joy-Con track and release it and the Sync button. If your replacement sleeves came with new buttons, you can now plug them in. Make sure that you do not accidentally insert the SL button into the SR slot. Also, make sure that the rubber membrane covering the sync button is seated properly before screwing the small board back onto the rail.
- In this step, lift the switch that holds the ribbon cable leading to the ZL button (glued into the black plastic part at the top of the image), then gently pull out. If you do not get in the way, the rest of the process gets a little easier.
- Remove the last two J00 screws that attach the green board to the Joy-Con chassis (if you have not already), and keep them on track of those screws. Release the L-key, the minus-key and the associated circuits, which are held with Joy-Con J00 screws. Be especially careful when lifting the L-key out of the case as the spring can easily fly out.
- You can leave these ribbon cables attached to the motherboard, which makes life easier when you plug the components into a new Joy-Con case.
- We are nearing the end for the left Joy-Con, but some of the hardest steps are still in front of us. Loosen the two J00 screws of the analog stick and carefully pull out the stick. Pay attention to the small plastic seal (see figure below), which is located between the housing of the stick and the Joy-Con shell. You need to put this seal in your new case, so be very careful.
- This could help: The gasket is intentionally broken and you can lift it to make room for the rod. However, if you insert each component into a new Joy-Con housing, you should completely remove the gasket along with the stick. To do this without tearing it, carefully lift the seal that is attached to the case with adhesive and store it in a safe place until you are ready to place it in the new case. However, do not forget to replace the gasket as its job is to keep dust and other debris out of your Joy-Con.
- You can finally remove all the important components from the Joy-Con shell, including the HD-Rumpels motor, which sits with some glue. Congratulations on achieving this goal!
- You can see the membranes that cover each button, including the Minus button, the four face buttons, and the screenshot button. Lift them away to expose the plastic buttons underneath. However, apply them as they were when you removed them. You can also remove the L key, but keep an eye on the pen as well. Since our replacement cases have not been delivered with springs, you are in a difficult situation if you lose them.
- Now you can replace the buttons and put them in your new case. Luckily, the button mounts are notched so that they only work in one direction. Make sure, however, that you have the right key in each slot. It is easy to disorient yourself if you accidentally put the A button in the B button. So give your work a second check, or you'll have to disassemble your Joy-Con completely to repeat this step.
- One last note: If you need to replace the center black plastic part to which the ZR knob is attached, you must remove the knob and its circuit held by a screw. It is not an easy task to remove the button, as it is locked into the plastic holder. I was lucky when I gently pried it off with the metal spudger, but remember that springs are just under the button. So hold your hand over it as you remove it and keep an eye on it.
Perform the above steps in reverse order to reassemble the Joy-Con. That's one down, one down.
(Note: As I mentioned earlier, I strongly recommend starting with the left Joy-Con, as it has fewer components to mix in, but if you feel ready for the right Joy-Con.), Let's start
- After removing the four Y00 screws holding the housing together, slide the opening pin around the edges of the Joy-Con to open it.
- Front and back of Joy-Con. Con are attached near the flat rail with breakable ribbon cables as shown above. Therefore, gently open it from the side with rounded corners.
- The most obvious starting point is the removal of the battery and the HD rumble motor. They are both held in place by glue and can easily be removed from their resting places with the metal slapper. Optionally, you can remove them completely by carefully pulling the connectors off the board.
- The first part you come across is unique to the right-hand Joy-Con: an antenna. You should carefully lift this out of the plastic housing in which it is located, paying attention to how it should get in again. You do not have to completely detach it from the board. The remainder of the Joy-Con exchange process was not further complicated as it was on the left.
- Next, remove the three screws that secure the plastic case of the battery pack to the motherboard. Once the housing is clear, you should not unplug the ribbon cable that secures the ZR button to the motherboard (near the driver bit in the illustration above). You can do it, but it takes some intense effort (and a few swear words) to fix it. I have removed it for the purposes of this manual, as this will make the individual steps in the process a little clearer.
- The green board is held by two J00 screws. Remove them and keep them safely. Then you can loosen the two screws of the same type with which the analog stick is attached.
- At this point, keep in mind that there are a few more components to look out for: the IR camera at the bottom of the Joy-Con and the NFC antenna located below the board , The IR camera can be removed together with the board, but the NFC antenna is treated after the next step.
- Carefully lift the board out of the Joy-Con enclosure along with all the components attached to it (if you chose to leave them attached like 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 rupture the gasket that covers the gaps around the joystick to keep dust from the Joy-Con. Pull it out carefully when replacing your Joy-Con case.
- Next, carefully lift the NFC antenna out of the case. This is the component that I refer to in the picture above. The rectangular antenna is held in place with adhesive, so carefully pry it up with the metal spudger. When transplanting these parts into your new Joy-Con housing, first use the analog stick seal and then the NFC antenna.
- Finally, as with the left Joy-Con, re-attach the buttons as you can see fits in your new shell. Perform the above steps in reverse order to reassemble your colorful Joy-Con. Remember to make sure your key membranes are properly attached and plug in all unplugged ribbon cables.
Done! Hopefully, these steps have helped you make your Joy-Cons affordable, entertaining, and enjoyable. If you're like me, you might want to disassemble all of your controllers on this project if you just give them a good cleaning and appreciate the overview.
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