Switching it up

Having beaten Zelda: Breath of the Wild, my Nintendo Switch hasn’t been used much. After defeating Ganon there was no real drive to go back to Hyrule and I can only repurchase The Binding of Isaac so many times before needing something new. Having seen a lot of posts on r/nintendoswitch showing custom Joy Con paint jobs I figured I’d give it a go. I figured it couldn’t be so difficulty if so many people are doing it so i gave it a shot.

The Equipment

Mastercraft Specialty Precision Electornics Bit Set, 66-pc - alright, so I was impatient and wanted to get the Y0 tri-wing screwdriver that you need to open the Switch up and didn’t want to wait for shipping… So I ended up getting this set and it worked perfectly, albeit a little overkill as I only needed two of the bits…

3M Wetordry Sandpaper, 4 x 9-in, 5-pk - I didn’t want anything too coarse and figured this was fine enough to remove the top protective coating on the Switch controllers.

MTN 94 - RV 207 / Mango - I heard Montana Gold was the best paint to use, being in Canada Montana Gold isn’t available, I was told that this was the next best thing. I picked this up at a local Graffiti Store in Montreal []Le Sino](http://www.lesino.com/){:target=”_blank”}

MTN 94 Specialty - For the top layer I went with an acrylic Matt varnish

The Process

Building Confidence

First we needed to find a reputable site that explains how to disassemble the Switch Joy Cons. iFixit here we come. Unfortunately I found the tutorial a little more centered around the individual components rather than the process of getting the housing off them. This meant that once the initial housing was off we were on our own for the most part. The biggest source of encouragement and confidence came from those that had already been through this process, again, it can’t be that difficult if so many people are talking about it can it…?

I highly recommend taking pictures as you go along to help you with the reassembly process. I have some pictures however they aren’t great, I did not think of turning this into a blog post at the time of pursuing this project.

Removing, not disconnecting

Following these tutorials led me to removing components at first, starting with the haptic feedback motors. These came out fairly easily with a pair of tweezers.

Once the motors were out I tried to disconnect the battery but didn’t have too much luck. The connector lies flat against the circuit board and is tricky to pull at. All the components looked fairly well insulated so I decided that it wasn’t terribly important to disconnect the battery and continued disassembling without unplugging any more components. USE A TRAY if you are doing this, there are ~8 screws for each Joy-Con and god help you if you lose one.

Once the components were all removed I had the guts of a functioning set of Joy-Cons. I was a little nervous that something might short whilst handling the device but thankfully this did not happen.

Here’s a shot of one of the Joy-Cons innards

And the other

Ready to start the sanding process

Sanding

Once the front and back housings were separated from the internal electronics it was time to prep them for sanding. I chose M3 (the brand) 2000 grit sandpaper and sanded fairly extensively.

There are several faint markings on the back of the Joy-Cons that appear to be etched/printed into the paint, I used this as a guide to know how much to sand the controllers down. Once the marking s were gone I moved on to the rest of the controller having a rough idea of how much the controllers needed to be sanded.

Painting

Painting is the time consuming part of the process, you need a little patience but if you have other things to do whilst you paint the time should fly by. I used MTN 94 spray paint as I was unable to find Montana Gold paint (which I was told was the best paint to purchase for the job). Look for low pressure paint cans if you choose to go for a different brand, low pressure allows for an even spray and wont blast the paint that you’ve already applied which can potential create pools or drips of paint in certain areas.

Cover all your surfaces! I did this in my kitchen on a tile floor and even though I put down a lot of newspaper I still managed to get some paint on the tiles. Luckily I had rubbing alcohol on hand and it came off with a good scrubbing. I would advise doing this outside if possible, unfortunately for me my deck is kind of dusty and I had to paint inside.

I placed the Joy-Cons front and back plates in a line and sprayed them all at the same time with the MTN 94 Mango paint, I found this to be the most efficient method. Once sprayed, leave the paint to dry for 10 minutes, go do something else and then come back to apply another coat. I repeated this 14 times before I was comfortable with the coverage and thickness of the paint.

Once you are satisfied with the coating of color it’s time to apply the varnish coat. I chose an acrylic MTN 94 Matte coat to try and match the original Joy-Con coating as much as possible. I applied the coat in the same way that I applied the color and repeated about 6 times. From what I understand it is not as essential to have as much varnish than color, please someone, correct me if I’m wrong, I am no expert.

Waiting for Paint to Dry

This is the tough part, your controller is still lying in pieces in a tray and the paint job looks complete but you can’t finish the project yet. Unfortunately you need to wait, I held off for 24 hours (although I hear 48 is better) before I caved and went back to reassemble everything.

Reassembly

The first pieces you need to put back in place are the buttons, I was afraid that they would now stick now that there was an extra layer of paint making the button holes smaller. I did sand them down and I actually regretted it as I buggered up the home button. If you do need to sand these down I advise waiting 48 hours instead of 24. I believe my paint may not have set completely and it ended up breaking up a little.

Going back through the pictures I had taken throughout the process I was able to piece everything together. Still being very careful as everything was plugged in except for the haptic feedback motors.

The final Result

Once back together I was glad that everything still worked! This was my first every spray paint project and it went rather well. They don’t feel like the original Joy-Cons but they are pleasant to play with. I haven’t played for any extensive play through as I have nothing else to play.

Conclusion

It was a great project to have done and I had a blast doing it but I don’t think I would do it again. I also believe that if the paint ends up peeling off I may not be inclined to go back to fix it, I’d rather just buy another controller and leave these on display in some kind of cabinet. It’s still early days but I hope that the paint job lasts and that the color doesn’t fade for a while.

Overall I think this experimental project was a success, hopefully it lasts.