Alright, thought I would do a quick post here pretty much discussing what I am planning.
Ok, so some initial things, I only have a Xbox 360, no PS3. So, I will only need 1 PCB in my joystick. There is no point if I get the Cthulhu board as that is specifically for the PS3. Furthermore, Microsoft has a security device on all controllers, so you CANNOT take a generic controller and plug it into the Xbox 360 and expect it to function as a controller. The only options we have is to route through an existing controller. Existing controllers are either a regular Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller (wired or wireless), Mad Catz, or maybe an existing joystick, like Hori or the recently released Mad Catz Joystick.
Now, the best and easiest PCB (the green circuit board that is inside every controller) to work with is the Mad Catz controllers. There are 2 options available, the Mad Catz 4716, which looks like a knock off Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller or the Mad Catz Arcadestick [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Mad Catz Arcade Stick
Now, although the Mad Catz are better, I have had NO luck finding these. Looks like others have also realized this and cleaned up every store in my neighborhood. I could wait....but I am too impatient for that. So I just went ahead and bought a Microsoft Wired Controller. If you want to use a Microsoft Wired Controller as well, MAKE SURE you peek through the packaging and the FCC symbol is on the bottom. Furthermore, there should be a recycling bin symbol near the bottom and the side. Refer to Figure 2.
This is the only type of Microsoft Wired Controller that has a common ground making your life easier. I will explain common ground further below.
Figure 2: Label of Microsoft Wired 360 Controller
Ok, so now onto the parts you need. Essentially, you need 2 things. A joystick and pushbuttons. Many people live by the Sanwa JLF, so I decided to get this as well. It has a mounting plate and only 5 outputs, instead of the regular 8. See, joysticks are digital, in that a side is either "ON" or "OFF". It's on when you are pressing on that side, off when you aren't. So if the joystick is pushed right, only the right switch will turn on. Pushed bottom right, the down and right joystick is turned on. So you would expect that each side (UP DOWN LEFT RIGHT) has 2 outputs associated with it, a signal and a ground. This is true most of the time. However, the Sanwa JLF has a PCB that essentially makes all the grounds for the 4 sides, common. So you have 4 signal outputs and 1 ground. This is why the PCB you get has to have a common ground. If you don't, you have to cut trace into the Sanwa JLF's PCB and connect to the different grounds for each side.
I also have the option to use a different joystick, like a Happ, that doesn't have a common ground. I would 8 outputs from the joystick, where 4 are ground and 4 are signals. I could use a common ground joystick here, it doesn't matter, but I would have to do 8 solders (or atleast splice and chain 3 grounds to 1 ground). So in conclusion, Common Ground Joystick --> Common ground Controller only. Not Common Ground Joystick --> Any controller (common ground or not common ground).
For a better explanation, check out slagcoin.
Onto pushbuttons. I chose to buy Happ Pushbuttons. Many people live by Sanwa pushbuttons (specifically OBSN-30). The problem with this pushbutton is that it has a mounting nut that is bigger than the hole the pushbutton goes through. Like, if the hole is 30mm, the mounting nut is like 35mm and the height of the pushbutton is also very small....so essentially, I will have to cut a bigger indentation in the wood. Figure 3 shows the pushbutton so you can see how small it is.
Figure 3: Sanwa OBSN-30
Now, imagine you drill a 30mm hole in the wood and the wood is say 1/2" thick. The Sanwa OBSN-30 will NOT fit in there. Why? Because the mounting nut is bigger than 30mm and the button is smaller than 1/2". I HAVE to cut a 35mm hole, but only for part of the wood. This is known as routing and requires a router...which I do not have, so I decided to just go for the Happ buttons. These buttons are 2.61". So, I only need to drill a hole and I can screw the mounting nut underneath the wood, not into the wood. If that doesn't make sense, look at figure 4.
Figure 4: Hole for a Sanwa OBSN-30
Also, SF4 only requires 6 buttons. A B X Y LB RB. I will also need a button for Start and for Guide, since the controller will not be turned on without me pressing (and holding) the guide button and start is useful for pausing. Total, 8 pushbuttons.
So, in conclusion, I decided to go with a Microsoft Wired 360 Controller (late version), along with a Sanwa JLF for my joystick and 8 Happ Pushbuttons.
Next post will be on designing the case.