Refurbishing Xbox One Controllers

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For a long time now I’ve been looking for items that I could sell on Ebay to make a profit. I recently decided to look for a newer Xbox One controller and went to to see what I could find. They had numerous controllers, but most were getting bid too high. On Ebay, used controllers typically sell for between $30 and $40 depending on the model. I finally found a gray/blue one that I liked and won the auction for $32.27 with tax and shipping. Since it was a custom color scheme, I didn’t mind spending a little more. I was planning on selling my old controller to get some money back anyway. When it arrived, I discovered that there was a problem with the vertical movement on the right joystick. In a game, the vertical axis would move on its own, which was a sign that the analog joystick actuator has worn out. This is also known as “Stick Drift”.

It turns out that this is a common problem and a reason why there are so many used controllers at Goodwill and other thrift stores. I decided to see if I could fix the problem on my own. I first needed to get a tool kit to take the controller apart. Since this problem is so common, there are dozens of tool kits for sale on Amazon and Ebay. The kit I bought had 3 different screw drivers, 4 actuators, 4 joysticks, a cleaning brush, and 3 nylon pry tools all for 12 dollars. With the tools, I was able to open the controller to get access to the actuators, which are soldered onto a circuit board. I next watched several YouTube videos to find out how to best go about replacing a bad actuator. Several videos showed the old actuator to being completely dismantled with wire snippers before being desoldered. There are 14 leads on each actuator, which makes desoldering a challenge.

I discovered that it was easier to remove only the horizontal and vertical pots that are attached to the sides of the actuator. These two pots are the main failure point. So instead of desoldering 14 leads, I only had to desolder 6. I used a desoldering tool to remove the solder from each lead, then used a small screwdriver to ply each pot loose from the base. They just snap on/off and are then easy to remove. I installed new pots and soldered them in place. The controller worked perfectly after it was reassembled. Since I didn’t remove the whole actuator from the pc-board, I was not as concerned about calibration. I found a YouTube video that explained calibration. Most methods involve manually adjusting the pots.

After I was able to repair the controller, I bought two more for online for $28.83. This was a better price and they only needed to be cleaned. Now I had 5 controllers, so I decided to sell 2 of them on Ebay. There are 4 primary model numbers. Model 1537 released on November 22, 2013. Model 1697 released on June 9, 2015, which added a 3.5mm audio jack and the ability to do firmware updates wirelessly. Model 1708 was released on August 2, 2016, alongside the Xbox One S console; this model added Bluetooth connectivity. The fourth and current model, Model 1914, was released on November 10, 2020 alongside the Xbox Series X|S; This model has a flat concave D-pad, an additional “Share” button, and the change from Micro-USB to USB-C.

I sold one model 1537 for $30 and one model 1708 for $34. I asked a little more for the newer model and they both sold in one day. I think that is a fair price for a used controller that has been cleaned and tested. For the newest model 1914, I would expect to get around $29 + shipping. I avoid 3rd party controllers because the resale value is not as good. The problem is that there are a lot of other folks who have figured out that you can make money refurbishing used controllers. The bidding on used/untested Xbox one controllers has been very competitive. It is getting difficult to win an auction and still make a fair profit at resale. I used to focus on the games, but the trend is for all future games to be downloads. All controllers eventually wear out and Gamers will always be looking for an affordable refurbished controller.

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