What is The Link?
The Link is a redesign of the shaft portion to the Sanwa JLF, which resides in a majority of arcade stick builds in today's market. The goal of this product is simple, to alleviate a fundamental issue that comes with using these types of controllers.. the top of the joystick poking out when it's not needed.
While that could be spun into a dirty joke, it could be said that everyone who's played a classic game at the local arcade has handled a joystick one at one point or another. The difference between the golden arcade age and now, is that that arcade feel has been transferred to lap wielded versions designed to continue to give us that feeling.
But what happens when the game is turned off and it's time to pack it up? That's right, you end up playing Tetris with your backpack space, so here's where the Link comes in.
From the casual players looking to save a little shelf space at home, to traveling tournament players who need every inch when cramming into a full car, The Link is designed to be a solution to a common problem.
How does The Link work?
The Link consists of 3 parts: The Top, The Base (bottom), and the Collar
Operation is extremely easy, simply pull up on the spring loaded collar to release the locking tension and pull away from the base section. To remove it the operation is identical. This isn't unlike what you see with car steering wheel quick releases... just smaller scale.
To tighten and loosen the top (usually a ball top), The Link has been specially bored for a 3mm hex key (included) to be used as leverage. This removes the need to open up the control panel and access the bottom of the shaft with a flat head screwdriver like the original shaft required.
This is ESPECIALLY useful for tournament players who find the top has come loose a bit but don't have the time to tinker just to re-tighten it.
Does it affect play at all?
No, the goal of the design was to be as close to the original shaft's critical dimensions as possible. This eliminates any difference even the most hardcore player would notice.
Any chance it could come off during play?
No, during normal play it's guaranteed to never disconnect. The collar disengagement can be bypassed if the top is pulled hard enough of course, but it would be completely unnatural and purposefully forced.
How is The Link installed?
The Link is installed very easily. You simply open up the arcade stick to access the JLF assembly, remove the original shaft's e-clip and slide it out of place. Then slide The Link into place and replace the e-clip, it's as easy as that. I do demonstrate it in the introduction video, but here's a more focused video that details installing into a fully built arcade stick.
Start to finish you could have it installed in less than 10 minutes if you have the tools on hand to open the arcade stick up.
The story so far
In beginning of 2011 I sketched up the first drawing of this crazy idea for a detachable joystick shaft that could be disengaged without tools. It had hit me while lounging around watching TV, completely out of the blue. In the weeks that followed I was able to meet with a new partner, Tony, who's insight from being a machinist for years allowed the design to come to fruition as a prototype. The first major showing off was at EVO in Las Vegas NV, the world's largest fighting game tournament."LEDs, custom screen printing, and moded chip boards are among the few modifications that are making waves here at EVO, but perhaps one of the biggest, and most important modifications to hit isn’t even out yet."
Shortly after EVO the design was beta tested and prepped for a first production run. Fueled by a short pre-order and funds brought in from a different PhreakMods product, I was able to just barely get it created that November. In the year that followed I was able to take feedback from the players and get adjustments made post fabrication (read: a grinding wheel) to bring it to what it is today, and what will be seen in this second run.
Why I need you
Sadly the project cannot continue on it's own right now. PhreakMods is a small side business that I run in my spare time, and while the first run of the Link went well I simply can't put in the same money this time. Since Kickstarter is an all or nothing gig, if the project doesn't get funded, then the Link can no longer be produced.
I get asked a lot "when will it be coming back," well the answer is... it depends on you.
The Primary Goal - $12,000 - Get the second run made!
The primary goal is to get a second run fully funded, with your help this amount will get The Link out the door and into people's hands.
Here's the breakdown:
- Machining and Fabrication - The machining is done in the USA with 416 stainless steel, the factory is actually in driving distance from me for maximum hands on'ness. This makes up a vast majority of the cost.
- Parts - This includes all the tiny bits and pieces that allow The Link to work the way it does.
- Kickstarter Fees
- Shipping and packaging - Getting The Link out to all the backers
- Coffee - Very minor funding, but ever so important for when I'm assembling all of these. Yes, these are all hand assembled by myself and whoever I can wrangle up with the promise of pizza.
The Stretch Goal - $15,000 - Get the extra piece made too!
I was asked several times after EVO last year if I would consider doing a piece that someone could put on their keychain or a lanyard. This piece would be very similar to the current base piece, but have a hole in it so that it could be put on a split ring or similar. Well, we have the drawings made for such a piece this time around.
The stub is 3/8" in length past where the Link locks in, with a 3/16" cross hole which should allow it to be put on lanyards/keychains/whatever with a split ring end to it.
If the goal is reached, the stub will be created and put into every Pre-Order of The Link. It will also come with a custom PhreakMods lanyard to get you started showing off that custom ball top in style!
$1 Backer - A huge thank you for your support of the project!
$10 Backer+ - Get a pack of PhreakMods decals as a thank you for supporting the project. Colors may vary!
$26 Early Bird Special - Get a Link (top & bottom), Hex Key, and Link decal. LIMITED, does NOT come with the stretch goal piece. This is for those who want an early jump in.
$30 Pre-Order - Get a Link (top & bottom), Hex Key, and Link decal. Stretch goal piece included automatically if met!
$35 Pre-Order+ - Get a Link (top & bottom), Hex Key, and Link decal, plus one (1) etched dust washer, one (1) etched black cover cap. Stretch goal piece included automatically if met!
Although depicted differently (for now), etched image will be The Link logo on both the dust washer and the cover cap. Etching done by the awesome FoeHammer Customs
Note: The cover cap is a 24mm button cap that has been tweaked to be used to cover the hole when The Link is out of place.
$80 Backpack - Get a black polyester backpack (12” W x 18” H x 10” D) with embroidered PhreakMods logo on the front pouch.
$110 Backpack+ - Get a black polyester backpack (12” W x 18” H x 10” D) with embroidered PhreakMods logo on the front pouch, as well as everything in the Pre-order+ reward!
The backpack is 600D Polyester with a heavy vinyl backing, both sides have elastic pouches for water bottles. The front pocket is really large and has enough space for storing things like video games or spare controller pads, just to think of a couple.
The inside has a partition with an elastic band top, it works really well for keeping your arcade stick from wiggling all over the place. The bag is also deep enough to store a ton of other needful things.
$300 Modded Street Fighter x Tekken - Arcade FightStick™ V.S. Edition -
MadCatz has graciously offered their support of this campaign and project with a handful of the amazing SFxT V.S. Edition arcade sticks. These guys are top of the line in quality and function, and are top notch when it comes to the ability to personalize them.
Now, you won't just get the stock version, for this reward you can expect the following:
- Custom Kickstarter only artwork, done by d3v
- New set of Sanwa buttons to match the color scheme
- Etched side plates
- Custom Balltop by GandaKris (example work in the kickstarter video)
- Dual Modded to work with Xbox 360/PS3/PC out of the box with my own Cerberus PCB
- The Link, pre-installed
- Stretch goal stub piece
$500 EVO Hangout - Dinner and drinks on the PhreakMods crew at EVO 2013, plus everything from the Backpack+ reward! *Must already BE at EVO 2013
Add-on to any reward tier simply by increasing your pledge amount to cover the costs below:
- Increase your pledge by $25 for each additional Link you want, this addition adds an extra top, bottom, hex key, and Link decal. Each addition does NOT include additional stub pieces if the stretch goal is met.
- Increase your pledge by $5 for each extra set of accessories that includes one (1) etched dust washer and one (1) cover cap.
- Increase your pledge by $5 for each extra lanyard/keychain stub piece w/ lanyard
Here's what we're looking time wise for the project if the funding is successful.
February - Drawings are done and at the factory, all they need is the green light and we're off to the races.
March - KICKSTARTER Begins!
April - Purchase order for the production run is put in queue, lead time from the factory is then 6-8 weeks (estimated). This could be longer or shorter depending on their current queue. I will of course find out a more accurate estimate at this time.
June - Worst case scenario time wise they should be finished in June, assembly begins.
July - Assembly ends and Packing/Shipping begins!
The 6-8 week lead (potential!) lead time really is the driving factor on how long it will take to get them into your hands.
Who am I?
PhreakMods as I said is just a small outfit, it's just myself for the most part trying to find some new and fun things to bring to the table. I've designed a couple of circuit boards that do fun things like make sticks for Xbox360 work on PS3, and while I'm not doing that I work full time as a design engineer.
You can usually find me at the larger Fighting Game tournaments doing other modifications to Arcade Sticks on demand and in person.
Risks and challenges
- Unforseen Factory Delays. They happen, I could pop the purchase order into the queue and given an ETA that could be pushed out half way to when the run is supposed to start. Machine shops run into delays from things like lathes breaking down, or a tool for the setup breaks. These types of things are WAY out of my control, but if they arise I would be as informing as possible.
- Quality Control. Last time I missed one or two minor details from trying to hurry, that can't happen this time and I don't intend to let it. Once the production starts at the shop I will be inspecting a sample size of each fabricated piece before they go full bore into the run. Meaning they will give me the first handful of produced pieces to inspect, which I will sign off on before they move forward. The Link has a few parts to be made, so it can add a little time.
- Assembly Delays. As I stated before, I assemble these myself along with whoever I can wrangle up to help out. We can go fairly fast, but I like to check every unit myself to ensure nothing is off.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)