Joystick Replacement Picade 2018 Version


Well, it looks like I’m on my own on this one, let the testing begin.

Just to give some background, I play a lot of SHMUPS (shoot-em ups) and having a tight and heavy stick with an octagonal gate (restrictor plate) is generally preferable. At first I was going to try a Seimitsu LS-56 (because it has a heavier throw and tighter actuation), but it looks like that would be a bit more work for the Picade. Instead I’m planning on trying a Sanwa JLF with a larger actuator and heavier spring.

I spent some time today trying to figure this all out. From what I can tell, the stick included with the Picade is a Sanwa JLF clone. I extracted an actual Sanwa JLF from my Japanese arcade cabinet and the stick from my completed Picade and did some comparisons and the measurements seem to be very close. I’ve recorded some of the noticeable differences below:

  1. JLF allows for gate exchange while the Picade stick is stuck with a square gate
  2. The shafts are slightly different - JLF is around 43mm total length and Picade is around 44mm.
  3. The top screw for the ball/battop is slightly longer on the JLF (~10.2mm JLF vs 10mm Picade)
  4. The wiring is the same so none of the wiring should need altering!
  5. The JLF has a tighter spring taking more force to activate a direction
  6. The ball top that is included with the Picade seems to fit the JLF just fine

The one thing I’m not sure about is whether the mounting plate attached to the Picade stick is a clone of the Sanwa JLF-P1 plate included with Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT sticks. If it is, that would be great because then you can just drop the Sanwa in, plug in the cable and be good to go. If not then you’ll need to remove the mounting plate from the Picade stick and mount it to the JLF which is slightly more work, but not too bad. I will be ordering an official Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT shortly so I’ll respond once more after I’ve received it and installed it.

Here are some images showing the two side by side (the one with the plate is the Picade stick):

Edit: looks like Pimoroni is only allowing me one image per post, oh well, more to follow.


Trying separate replies for the rest of the images:


That seems to work:


Last one for now:


Update, a Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT is an exact replacement for the included Picade stick. I upgraded mine with a 2lb spring, larger actuator, octagonal gate, and bat top and it feels great! I also threw in some Gamerfinger buttons which are of exceptional quality and are nearly silent.

I get the feeling a Seimitsu stick may also fit with an adapter plate but that’s still untested.

I have other things I’d like to try, like setting up a Picade with a vertically oriented screen, but for now I’m happy with the state of my Picade. 🙂


Thanks for this info. Very useful.

Do you think that a Sanwa restrictor plate (the whole assembly, not just the centre gate) could be fitted to the stock Picade joystick?

Also, please keep us all posted if you manage to find a good way to change the orientation of the screen.


In response to my own question, in case anyone else is wondering: yes - the Sanwa GT-8F gate/restrictor shown above does fit perfectly onto the stock (new) Picade joystick.


I was just about to reply but it looks like you have your answer already. To add, getting the restrictor plate off of the included joystick is pretty tough, tougher than a real JLF I think. Once you do you can slide a new one on, but during testing, for me, I had to really squeeze it on as the little plastic nubs that go into the small holes in the microswitches are slightly smaller than on real JLF microswitches. Anyway, I’m glad you got it worked out.

In regards to a vertical Picade, it should be possible but would take cutting in to the acrylic screen guides to accommodate a rotate screen. You’d likely have to secure the LCD driver board differently too, possible some adhesive would be good enough. Also, you would need a different screen bezel. Lastly, you’d need to configure the software to run rotated. I’ve read that using Attract Mode is one of the better ways of doing this as you don’t want to introduce extra rotation and you still want a vertical UI.


This is great, out of interested is that a silent or a clicky joystick (mine is in the living room and I think I need to tone the noise down!)


It’s a clicky joystick, probably the loudest part now after changing out the buttons to Gamerfingers.


Thanks for a great thread!
I’m new to this and have a question, can I replace the Picade joystick with a Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT without doing any change to the plate etc.



Thank you having built one over Christmas, I immediately wanted better buttons and joy stick this information is extremely useful. Have you seen the picade theme I really like it. After editing Tronky to make the text larger and not being entirely happy with the result. I looked for a theme made for small screens and found on made just for this unit.

Thanks JJ

Ultimate Joystick and Button Replacement for Picade 2018

Yes, I only modified mine because I wanted a different feel, but the Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT (the one that comes with the JLF-P1 mounting plate) will fit as a direct replacement for the stock Picade stick.


Oh wow, I have not seen that theme, it looks pretty great though.


Thats Great! Thanks man!


In regards to a vertical Picade, it should be possible but would take cutting in to the acrylic screen guides to accommodate a rotate screen. You’d likely have to secure the LCD driver board differently too, possible some adhesive would be good enough. Also, you would need a different screen bezel.

I spent some time looking at how to mount the screen vertically, and it seemed that the only way to do it properly would be to get some custom acrylic pieces made. Now a 10" screen is available, I’ve decided to get one of those instead and save the hassle.


Hey, great write up! I am also looking to replace my joystick on my 2018 Picade as my wife is complaining when playing Pac-Man that the accuracy/movement is crap with the stock joystick. I am assuming this is the stick you reference?

You mention, upgrading the spring to a 2lb spring, can this be easily done and do you know what the stock joystick comes with?




I’m changing the stock joystick because it’s too loose to play Pacman well, too.

There have been reports of some of the Joysticks on Amazon being fakes, so be careful. Genuine Sanwas have the word SANWA and a gold dot on the restrictor gates.

I’d recommend buying from an Arcade specialist such as (if you’re in the UK). They sell the springs, too.

I have seen the stock spring in the JLF referred to as 0.9 lb. At work, we have an arcade cabinet with a Sanwa JLW stick in it, which is perfect for Pacman, but it’s been discontinued. It’s generally considered to be stiffer than the JLF. I’m hoping a JLF with 2lb spring is similar.


Probably more important than spring tension in Pac-man is a 4-way restrictor. The JLW looks interesting as it has a rotatable restrictor. I do see it available for purchase in several places still. One problem I see with the JLW is the mounting plate is different and probably won’t work for the Picade. However, I think the joystick is mounted to the plate the same way as the JLW so swapping plates should work. Don’t quote me on this, I haven’t done it so I’m just going off pictures. Lastly, the JLW does not have the 5 pin connector so you’ll have to modify the wiring or use an adapter. Something like this should work


I’ve checked and the JLW and JLF plates aren’t compatible, which is why I’m sticking to the JLF. Both joysticks obviously have the option of a 4 way restrictor. I’ll see how a JLF feels with a tighter spring. I don’t really want to drill more holes in the console.