Thursday March 23, 2017

Xbox 360 Guitar Hero Les Paul Controller - Button Repair

Author: Wayne Eggert
Date: 05/24/2010

Recently acquired an Xbox 360 Guitar Hero controller off eBay that was supposedly working fine.  Sync'd it up to my Xbox and low and behold, one of the buttons on the neck of the guitar wasn't working.  Funny how "stuff to fix" finds you a lot of times =)

Plugged the guitar in and the green button wasn't working.  Sortof a problem when that acts as the "A" button which is used to confirm menu selections on the xbox.

Removed t10 torx screws form neck and guitar body to see how the wires were connected.  I would recommend checking the neck of the guitar first since it's a pretty simple design on these Les Paul guitars and on most of them that I've repaired it turns out to be a broken wire on one of the PCB boards inside the neck.

Here's what the inside of the neck looks like:

Guitar Hero Controller - Neck
Above: Inside the neck of an Xbox Les Paul Guitar Hero controller

Once inside, I just unscrewed the t10 torx screws holding the brown PCB underneath the buttons (pictured above) and then gently popped the PCB off the plastic screw stands.  The wires from this PCB are connected to another small PCB at the bottom of the neck, which make contact with the spring-loaded pins in the guitar body.  You can pull up on that PCB and it should slide out of the plastic "tray" (for lack of a better term).

I then used a digital multimeter on continuity test or the ohms meter (resistance) and put one lead on a contact point on one of the PCBs & the other lead on the contact point of the same wire on the other PCB.

Guitar Hero Controller - Contact Points
Above: Arrows indicating the contact points where you can put each of the leads on the multimeter and test for continuity.  Red arrows indicate the contact point on each PCB for one of the green button wires.  Blue arrows indicate alternative place to check contact points as an example for one of the orange button wires.

In continuity test the multimeter will beep if there's a connection between the two contact points.  In the ohms setting it should read 0 ohms when there is a continous connection between two points (unless there is resistance between the points, which in this case there is no resistance).  I tested the contact points that corresponded to the green button (fortunately the button PCB was well marked and it was easy finding the green button's contact points).

The ohms test indicated there was no connection between the two points.  I unsoldered the wire on the smaller PCB, restripped the wire and soldered it back in place.  I then tested again with the multimeter and read 0 ohms between the two contact points.  Reassembled and green button was now working.  Many hours of Guitar Hero fun were enjoyed!  =)

Other Notes
If a button isn't working but continuity measures good between the two contact points, try wiggling the wires a little bit and see if it makes any difference.  Also follow the traces on the button PCB to where there are circle contact points further up the board and measure between that point & the larger pad where the guitar body's pins would make contact (see blue arrows in picture above).  If continuity still reads good, the neck probably isn't the problem.  Suspect the small PCB inside the guitar that has the spring-loaded pin connector on it and measure continuity there and also back to the main PCB board in the guitar body.  I had one guitar that had a broken wire on the PCB with the spring-loaded pins.  Since a lot of the connections between PCBs are done with ribbon cable, the wires are pretty tiny and it's just one solid wire, so seems pretty common for them to break or get loose in the solder joint.

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