A rather infamous problem with the Switch’s JoyCons is drift. It’s when inputs are detected on the JoyCon’s analog joystick when there is no actual input. Your character starts moving in random directions or not at all when you push in certain directions. Maybe the camera starts swinging around arbitrarily.

This is annoying in even rather pastoral games such as Animal Crossing. Forget about trying to play Breath of the Wild or Overcooked.

Previously I had just replaced the JoyCons. Figuring it might have been due to bad manufacturing. But eventually, even the new JoyCons started drifting.

Why we drift

It’s not the years, it’s the mileage. And apparently it potentially affects most analog controllers. However, it seems that with JoyCons, it happens more often. What happens is that the contacts in the joystick basically wear out and it can no longer accurately tell where things are.

Getting new joysticks

So you get new joysticks. Not new JoyCons, but new joysticks.

Prepare to break some warranties.

Now, you can find “OEM quality” replacements online. Spoiler Alert: Regardless if they are or not, they feel about right and they work. You can also get different joysticks. There is a company, GuliKit, they make controllers and controller accessories/parts. They are about twice as expensive as the “OEM quality” ones. But we’re talking about $13 for two compared with $50 for four. But on Amazon, I also see a four pack of the “OEM quality” joysticks for $16, but with a bunch of reviews for books. So, you know, watch out.

However, the difference between the OEM quality joysticks and the GuliKit is that the GuliKit joysticks don’t use contacts. GuliKit uses Hall sensors, which measure magnetic fields. And that’s where all of your additional costs are going. Still, we’re talking $12.50 and 15 minutes out of your day to save your JoyCon.

Replacing the joysticks

The JoyCon is held together with triwing screws, but once inside, a precision Phillips screwdriver will allow you to disassemble everything else. You’ll also have to unplug some Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) ribbons and a couple of cables, but as long as you remember that Zero means none, it’s easy enough. Unplugging the battery is a bit of a sweat as you need force on that one. Also, the right JoyCon has an antenna that needs to be removed that is plugged in with a small coaxial plug. It feels like a snap, that’s the best I can say.

The other thing to watch out for are the cables themselves. They are delicate flowers and can’t be bent too much. If they get creased, they can fully snap.

Fixed but broken

Like I did on the first two I did. Snapped the ribbon connecting the shoulder buttons, sync button, and indicator lights along the rail. I didn’t even realize it at first because the ribbon was already creased and I don’t use the controller as a single that often.

I also just wound up buying the button boards from the same site where I got the instructions on swapping the joysticks. They only sold the boards in pairs even though I just needed two of the left board. Also, I could have found them cheaper elsewhere. But whatever. I shouldn’t have broken them in the first place, right?

They’ll be coming in the next few days, so we’ll see if I can replace those without breaking a third thing.

By toast

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