Our house has just gone though our fourth PS3 controller, all of which are afflicted by what I call the CODS or "COD Syndrome", where the left analogue stick button (L3) gradually requires an increasing force to use until it's completely inoperable, while the right stick remains completely functional.
CODS is caused when the left stick's X-axis axle that levers against the microswitch is excessively worn down, eventually until there's no leverage against the microswitch at all. The wearing is accelerated over time as the user exerts an increasing force in order to actuate the increasingly worn axle, the wear is also accelerated by the gradual loss of lubrication. Excessive wear occurs when the user moves the stick while holding down the button, e.g. holding L3 to sprint in Call of Duty, hence "COD Syndrome".
Compare worn left stick with good right stick, note the presence of grease on the right.
The bad news, I don't think it's possible to repair a CODS controller without replacing the left stick components, owing to the permanent physical damage from the excessive wear. The good news, the left and right analogue stick control components are identical, even between different controller revisions, meaning with two CODS controllers, it's possible to swap the good right stick from one controller with the bad left stick of the other.
It's a simple desolder-solder job, made easier by the detachable hall sensors that are easily pried off the mechanical bit while still on the PCB, so there's no need to desolder those, just be careful not to bend the legs too much. I desoldered the vibration motor cables to make access to the mainboard easier, resoldered once everything is put back together of course.
There are eight points to desolder/solder, four legs of the integral microswitch and four legs of the cage that contains the mechanical bits.
Now with two working sticks, I thought it would be a good idea to apply a bit of extra grease to the mechanical bits to prevent or at least slow down the onset of CODS in the future.
Whilst I had the controllers open I fixed a few other minor problems:
- Sticky buttons/analogue stick due to the grime that has accumulated over the years, fixed by removing the buttons and cleaning around them,
- Weak L2/R2 trigger springs, fixed by taking the good springs from the donor controller
- Button presses that sometimes aren't registered, fixed by cleaning the button contacts
- Removed the loose bits of broken plastic floating around the controller's interior
Overall it wasn't a difficult job, it didn't take long to transplant the stick components but the cleaning took a very long time.
So that's one pair of controllers down, another pair to go! I hope this post helps those with controllers afflicted by CODS!