Right now the best analog gamepad is undoubtedly the Belkin N52te. Not the Razer Nostromo, not the G13 but the Belkin N52te.
Now the Belkin has crappy membrane keys and it does need cherrys to really make it the best. Credit for the Idea goes to Ripster from Geekhack.http://geekhack.org/showthread.php?t=7425
N52te N52 much harder to do see Ripsters mod.
Good working soldering iron
High quality soldering tin (Radiolot is good if you live in Germany)
Cherry switches or a cherry Keyboard to tear down. I bought the Cherry G80-3000LPCDE-2
Mini screw driver Excato knife or surgical blade
Dremel to cut and model plastik (thin cutting tip and modeling cone tip.
Hot glue good Quality absolutely necessary, good hotglue pistol. For Germany this one is great and cheap from the inverntors of hotglue http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B000UXBMZ4/ref=s9_simh_gw_p60_d1_i1?pf_rd_m=A3JWKAKR8XB7XF&pf_rd_s=center-1&pf_rd_r=154TJFWMWHPR3GB288QZ&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=463375193&pf_rd_i=301128 Step 1: Open up the N52te
Nothing special here, but there are two screws hidden under the rubber matts under the D_pad and the thumb button that changes profiles in standard settings of the pad. When you unscrew just remember that two screws hold the keypad. When putting the N52te back together later you will be tempted to screw them inside. If the pad does not close well, you did that fault. Inside only the middle screw holds the keypad in place.
Some pictures to show you the space relations and what you will be working with, there will not be enough room for hotglue, cables and the switches without modification of the switch, I will show you later.Step 2:Make room for the switch
Remove the little carret boxes around the holes. Its quite a hard plastic. Make sure you dont damage the frame as the bigger holes we make later weaken it already. Its stil pretty sturdy at the end and with the keys in place rock solid but still there are thin points.Step 3: Get a cherry
Get a keyboard to your liking. Cherry is said to loose quality nowadays so an old board may do it. The best gaming switches are said the cherry red stem switches. They can be bullt from black stem with brown springs. If you find brown stem switches please send some to me. The g80-3000 I used has black stems and they are OK but not as fast as the red ones.
Its all written down herehttp://www.overclock.net/keyboards/491752-mechanical-keyboard-guide.html
Desoldering the switches is a great training for the thumbstick mod and taking them all off is more than an hour and a real PITA. Best way is to take a micro screwdriver and press it between board and switch. Unsolder the nearest two points and when they are loose unsolder the other two while holding the switch on your fingers.Step 4: Make those switches fit
Take a permanent felt tip marker and go around the rim you took down earlier, thatís quite the size (14mm) you need for the witch to fit but not to fall through. Dremel out these parts and always check the switch really sitting square. Step 5: Modify the switch
As I said the switch is quite high but itís a tight fit. Remove the small stems but not the middle stem on the bottom with a Dremel and open the switch carefully and remove the the two small pins (U-form metal fixing wire ). The contacts you later need are the two not standing in a line. So the middle stem can stay but there should be no hotglue under it as it will touch the pcb. Heat up a torx screwdriver and make some room in the hotglue if needed. Be careful I had to resolder 2 out of 14 contacts.Step 6: Get some wires to the PCB
This is the only hard part in the mod. You need to scratch the paint off the copper contacts on both sides of the grill contacts at least 2 mm long. Have a good light so you can see the shining copper when you hold the pcb right. If it blends, stop scrubbing. Solder two 5-6cm wires on the contacts. I did this with the N52te attached, not good but I am an impatient guy. Test the soldering by touching the the copper ends of the wires in a notepad window (have the n52te configured to a key on every key or nothing will happen!!) and immediatedly hotglue the point but as shallow as you can, dont make a high glue mountain or the switch will not fit later and you may rip off contacts if you have to do it again. Here is a good video but take thinner cables by all means!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVY-VYLoegs
When tested and done put on the prepared white plastig grid, pull the cable through the according holes and screw the middle screw on the back so the pieces hold together.
Here you can see how I made room for the middle stem:Step 7: Get the switches in
Solder in the switch, make the wires as short as you feel comfortable, mine were about 3cm long. Put the switch in place and test it before hotglueing the borders of the switch. Yes you will burn yourself several times. I again did this on running system for the testing, you decide. Step 8: Keys, back, you are done !
Take your favorite keys. I liked the F-keys as they are higher than the rest. Play around with the keys, some are angled or low. My fingers naturally fall onto the F1-F4. Back start X are also nice with B X S.
So have fun and dont hurt yourself! And as usual I take no responsibility for your hardware or your life.
OPTIONAL THUMBKEY MOD:
You can also mod the more than crappy thumbkey to a Cherry. Keep in mind that the thumbstick is very close if you did the analog mod. You will not press it but you may gently touch the key while playing. You will also loose the lights indicating the active profile. I dont care personally and prefer a better switch.
Cut the small PCB that is under the key, there is not enough room to keep it.
The first two contacts on the main PCB are the ones you need. Make them longer and bring them out of the hole you made for the switch. Do not cut the part I did. I am a bit of a guinea pig here and I have a sparepart but the key nicely hides the part i took away. Hot glue the switch in after testing and closing the device.