DIY DDR Pads for the PS2

Today, I’m going to be discussing how my girlfriend and I attempted to build our own hard pads for Dance Dance Revolution. As you probably know (why else would you be reading this post if you hadn’t) hard pads are really expensive. Well, our plan was to get our supplies from Home Depot and use two of our old and broken soft pads for the electrical components. To save you reading a long post the final product worked, and worked well for my skills (which is around beginner and light). However faster songs couldn’t be played because the material we used to push the buttons back didn’t work so well. The stuff that goes under the carpets does not have enought recoil. If you can think of a better material, then this design would be actually decent.

So onto the guts of it all. The supplies we bought I think cost around $80 for two pads. So for $40 each, you’ve got a pad. You will need 4 sheets of 33′ x 32’x0.5″ wood, some sheet metal, wire (12 gauge or higher, must be stranded so it is more flexible), plenty of paint or lacker, and screws. Here’s a picture of the supplies needed for one pad:

What you need.

One of the two sheets you don’t need to do anything with, it will be the bottom of the pad. The other is used to make the buttons and the frames. For our pads, we made the buttons 8.5″x8.5″. The frame was 1.5″ wide. You will need twelve 1.5″x8.5″ strips and four 1.5″x32″ strips for the frame. Place them like so:

Step 1

Next, cut out six 1″ thick strips of the sheet metal and place them as shown in above. They will be “ground” as in when a button makes contact it will pull that pin low on the controller.
Maybe this is a good time to take a detour, and explain how the PS2 controller works. The ones in our soft pads had a controller board with 11 bars for the buttons. There was one in the middle which was very thick. The other 10 were the arrow buttons, X, O, triangle, square, Start, and Select. Using a multimeter (measuring resistance) on the softpad and pressing each button it was possible to figure out which lead went to which button. Write these down, and do a drawing so you don’t have to go through it again.
So now you need to take a piece of wire, and strip away at chunks of it where the sheet metal is. Using a staple gun, staple the wire underneath the sheet metal. Make sure to have enough left so that you can solder it onto the circuit board. Here’s how it should look like now:

Step 2

You could paint the frame and set it aside to dry. While that’s drying, let’s do a little work on the buttons. Under every button, cut out two 2″x6″ pieces of sheet metal. Take a short piece of wire and create a connection between the two pieces. Strategically placed staples using a staple gun come very handy at this time. Should look something like this:

Step 3

Do this 5 more times for each arrow and the X and O button. Then paint the button.
Getting back to the main board, you can take the frame and start placing it. First you lay wire down for each button, then secure the wire in place by the frame. When screwing the frame down make sure you sink the screw in past the surface of the wood. Nobody wants cuts and bruises on their feet. You can fill the holes with some extra paint. Once that’s done, here’s what mine looked like:

Step 4

Next, put carpet material, or whatever you use to push the buttons back up between the strips of metal. Also connect the wires to the circuit board using your soldering skills. Don’t worry, the metal contacts should be rather large on the circuit board so even if you’re very new to soldering, you shouldn’t have a problem. This is what mine looked like at this stage:

Step 5

At this point you’re almost done. Wait for all the paint to dry, and connect each button to the wires by sliding it under the sheet metal. I wouldn’t worry about it getting loose, because it’s supposed to be a pretty tight fit, and you’ll be stepping on it anyway.
And now you’re done. Isn’t it pretty?

Finished!

Rejoice, and play some DDR!

Fekete András

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2 thoughts on “DIY DDR Pads for the PS2

  1. hi i just saw ur page on making a ddr mat an it was pretty cool, anyways i was wondering if you could help me out with a problem , i just bought to pads on ebay , and 1 worked perfectly but the other was useless, nothing worked, i just open the box and connected it to my ps2 and nothing i was wondering if you could tell me how could i fix . thanks in advanced

  2. Hey Carlos!

    Well, there’s a couple things you should test out with your pad. First, try each pad individually to make sure it’s not a compatibility issue. Then, if you’re brave, you can get out a multi meter and see if you can get any signal out of the DDR pad. You won’t need the PS2 console for this, just the pad. Looking at a PS2 plug, there should be a metal square on the bottom of the plug, this is ground. Touch one of the probes to it, and press one of the buttons on the pad. While pressing, take the other probe and tooch it to all the other 9 pins on the inside. One of them should make it go to 0 Ohms of resistance. If it doesn’t do that for any button you press, then your ground might not be hooked up. If you’re feeling brave enough, you could try taking it apart, and messing with the circuitry, but it might be easier to call up the place you ordered it from and ask for an RMA.
    -András

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