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Guitar Strap Gamepad

Easy, convenient mod for standing play!

Guitar Strap Gamepad

If you’re playing Rocksmith (and I think you should be), and you’re playing standing up (ditto), you have probably run into the "where do I put the controller" problem. The gamepad is required to navigate the menu system between songs, and if you play in a standing position you have to keep a stool or a table nearby to keep it within easy reach.

This simple mod mounts a spring steel clip to the underside of a standard Xbox 360 controller so you can attach it to your guitar strap. In this position, it is easily accessed with your strumming hand.

The steel clip I’m using is a common replacement visor clip for several models of garage door remote. A belt clip fitting, such as Tandy Leather’s 1238-00, should work just as well. The clip is secured to the Xbox battery holder in two ways: first with a short bolt that engages a small hex nut and lockwasher inside the battery holder, and second with a strip of double-sided foam tape that keeps it from rotating about the single bolt.

This mod does not affect normal controller operation in any way. The battery holder can still be removed and the batteries changed normally. In this position, the steel clip is inconspicuous and does not interfere with a normal gameplay grip, nor, significantly, with the controller’s resting attitude on a flat surface.

Steps

Step #1: Drill one small hole

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  • Remove the battery pack from your controller and take the batteries out.
  • Drill a 1/8" hole in the underside of the battery pack, as shown, from the inside.
  • There's a small circular molding mark on the inside of the battery pack cover, at the top, right in the middle. Aim to put your hole right in the middle of this circle, but don't fret if it's not exactly right. It doesn't need to be.

Step #2: Mark clip for taping

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  • Put the clip in place over the hole.
  • Hold the clip steady while marking the top edge of the battery holder on the clip with a fine-tip marker.

Step #3: Trim tape

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  • Apply a piece of double-sided foam tape to the clip, up to the line you just marked. Do not remove the film from the top of the tape yet.
  • Trim any tape that hangs over the edge of the clip with a hobby knife. Trim away the tape inside the mounting hole, too.

Step #4: Affix tape

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  • Remove the film from the top of the foam tape.
  • Align the hole in the clip with the hole in the battery holder, and press the clip into place.

Step #5: Bolt clip to battery holder

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  • Put the flathead screw through the hole, outside in. Hold it in place with a screwdriver, and turn the battery holder upside down.
  • Put the flat washer, the split washer, and the nut onto the exposed bolt threads, in that order. Start the nut onto the threads.
  • Use a pair of small pliers to hold the nut still while tightening the bolt into it with the screwdriver. Tighten enough to compress the split washer, but don't overdo it or you'll crack the plastic.

Step #6: Use it!

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  • Put the batteries back in the holder and the holder back in the controller.
  • Test the controller and make sure it still works properly.
  • Attach the controller to your guitar strap using the visor clip, as shown in the title image, and you're ready to rock 'n' roll.
  • If you don't like the weight of the controller on your guitar strap, it works just as well clipped to your pants pocket on the fretboard side.

Conclusion

I was first a bit leery about attaching the clip just to the battery holder, because I was concerned that the battery holder latch wasn't up to the task of bearing the controller's entire weight as I moved around. In practice, this has not proved to be a problem.

If it does, eventually, there's a variation of this mod that drills the hole in the battery pack slightly lower, and all the way through both sides. The short machine bolt and nut is replaced with a 1.25" #4 wood screw that goes all the way through the battery pack and engages the "hidden" case assembly screw hole under the bar-code in the controller main body. A #4 screw passes cleanly between the batteries inside the battery holder, and is close enough in size to the factory case screw to effectively replace it.

This more aggressive mod secures both clip and battery pack firmly to the controller main body, but requires removing the screw to change the batteries. So far it has not proved to be necessary, and I don't expect that it will.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.