PlayStation 4 Controller Gets A USB-C Upgrade

Micro USB was once the connector of choice for applications where USB-A was too big, but now USB-C has come to dominate all. It’s becoming standard across the board for many peripherals, and [Ian] recently decided that he wanted to upgrade his PS4 controller to the newer standard. Hacking ensued.

The hack consists of a small breakout board that enables a USB-C connector to be fitted into the PS4 controller in place of the original micro USB port. [Ian] explains what needs to be done to complete the mod, which first involves disassembling the controller carefully to avoid damage. The original microUSB breakout board can then be removed, and fitted with one of a selection of replacement boards available on Github to suit various revisions of PS4 controller. A little filing is then required to allow the new connector to fit in the controller case, and [Ian] notes that using an 0.8mm thick PCB is key to enabling the new breakout board to fit inside the shell.

It’s a neat hack that makes charging PS4 controllers way easier in the modern environment without having to keep legacy micro USB cables around. We’ve actually seen similar hacks done to iPhones, too, among other hardware. Video after the break.

[Thanks to Chandler L for the tip!]

18 thoughts on “PlayStation 4 Controller Gets A USB-C Upgrade

  1. At least Micro USB was a massive step better than Mini USB. Mini didn’t seem to be designed to be regularly plugged/unplugged, and the connector would often part company with the board it was soldered to.
    Personally I only own a couple of USB C devices, so I’m happy sticking with Micro for now.

    1. I never had any trouble with Mini myself, it was mostly replaced because it wasn’t thin enough for modern devices I suspect, and from what I’ve seen USB-C isn’t exactly durable either – Micro actually seems like the better connector.

    2. Out of a sample size of a few, I’ve never had a problem with mini USB, but been asked to repair a few mangled micro USB sockets – typically the wafer thin tab in the socket gets destroyed. Most likely user-error trying to force the plug in the wrong way but in that respect mini USB is a lot more resilient.

      I don’t doubt there are poorly designed boards with mini USB sockets on which fail, but that’s a fault of the designer rather than the socket, or they’ve chosen a socket with non-existent anchoring tabs, again designer error.

      1. maybe it’s more because micro-USB became the de-facto charging port for mobile devices, the only mini-USB charged device that I remember most is the Dual Shock 3 that could be charged every other week when the DS4 had to be charged more often wearing the usb port more often

    3. Mini-USB was laregely replaced because the the ‘wear element’ was in the connector and not the cable.
      After thousands of connections the spring contacts in the connector would wear down and require replacement.
      People who did cellphone repairs can attest, there were MANY that needed to be replaced. (I had to on my mp3 players as well)

      While making the cable the replacable part instead of the connector, personally I think it was a dumb idea to make the micro-usb socket so fragile and easily mangled.

      I guess I will have to admit that usb-c is the least-terrible that I have used for a while now, but I do wish that someone other than apple would have created the lightning connector as it is arguably more durable and with a less-IP-encumbered implementation it probably could have been updated to support faster usb speeds.

    1. Fine if you don’t care about the led indicator on the dualshock 4, but it’d be more difficult wiring it up for data to retain wired pairing/connection to the ps4 since you have to still find solder points on the main pcb for those connections that were brought out to the original usb flex. IMO it’s just easier to order the pcb and a few components and retain 100% compatibility by just plugging in the original flex ribbon.

    2. Besides the significant work of trying to mount that in place. All PS4 controller USB daughter boards have various ICs and components on them as well, so you can’t just wire it straight to the main logic board

      1. This is partially incorrect. USB Data+ and Data- do just get piped directly into the motherboard of the DS4 controller through that FPC connector. The ICs you see are likely protection diodes and/or resistor networks for impedance matching. Technically, neither of which are required, though my designs do break out that resistor network into two separate 0603 resistors for impedance matching if anyone really wants to do that. The diodes are left out as I’m not totally certain on their use and I don’t beat on my PS4 controller.

        The board I soldered in the video was basically just the linked USB C breakout just in a different form factor.

        That said, I do totally agree that It’s almost more effort to try mounting one of those little breakout boards inside the controller. There’s already so little space in there, and trying to retain the RGB LED (though it’s not needed) would be quite difficult. Not impossible as far as I can tell, but I’m an electrical guy who knows KiCad, so I’d rather just make the PCB.
        -Ian

  2. This is so cool! I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while but have not had the know-how to do so! I was also thinking of adding some sort of storage in the empty spaces on the case, so you could plug the controller into any PC and have access to all your games and the like. I figured this would be a cool idea considering USB-c is quite fast and you could have everything you need to game in one place! Maybe you could even build a bootable USB onto the storage and quite literally be able to play your games on any computer without the need to install any extra drivers or anything! It was just a thought but this is such a fantastic project and I would love to be able to buy one of these boards!

  3. I would definitely be interested in buying this, either fully assembled or as a kit. Getting the boards made myself and sourcing every individual component is a bridge too far though.

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