If you play games on multiple consoles, you’re probably familiar with the occasional bout of uncertainty that comes with each system’s unique button arrangement. They’re all more or less in the same physical location, but each system calls them something different. Depending on who’s controller you’re holding, the same button could be X, A, or B. We won’t even get started on colors.
Overhearing her partner wish the buttons on his Steam Deck matched the color scheme of the Xbox, [Gina Häußge] (of OctoPrint fame) decided to secretly create a set of bespoke buttons for the portable system. There was only one problem…she had no experience with the silicone molding process or epoxy resins which would be required for such an operation.
Luckily we have the Internet, and after researching similar projects that focused on other consoles, [Gina] felt confident enough to take apart Steam’s handheld and extract the original plastic buttons. These went into a clever 3D printed mold box, which was small enough to put into a food vacuum container for degassing purposes. The shape of the buttons necessitated a two-piece mold, into which [Gina] embedded two channels: one to inject the resin, and another that would let air escape.
The red, green, blue, and yellow resins were then loaded into four separate syringes and forced into the mold. It’s critically important to get the orientation right here, as each button has a slightly different shape. It sounds like [Gina] might have mixed up which color each button was supposed to be during an earlier attempt, so for the final run she made a little diagram to keep track. After 24 hours she was able to peel the mold apart and get a look at the perfectly-formed buttons, but it took 72 hours before they were really cured enough to move on to the next step.
[Gina] applied the legends with a sheet of rub-on lettering, which we imagine must have been quite tricky to get lined up perfectly. Since the letters would get worn off after a few intense gaming sessions without protection, she finally sealed the surface of each button by brushing on a thin layer of UV resin and curing it with a flashlight of the appropriate wavelength.
There are a fair number of steps involved, and a fair bit of up-front cost to get all the materials together, but there’s no denying the final result looks phenomenal. Especially for a first attempt. We wouldn’t be surprised if the next time somebody wants to head down this particular path, it’s [Gina]’s post that guides them on their way.