Switch owner with engineering background discovers Joy-Con drift design flaw

Nintendo Switch - Joy-Con

One hardware flaw about the Switch that a growing number of people have been complaining about is the Joy-Con drift issue. This issue is characterized by the analog stick on a Joy-Con sending incorrect readings, thus causing the directional inputs to get stuck going in one direction and the stick’s axis also failing to recenter. A Switch owner on Reddit by the name of ‘rainbopython’ may have discovered the reason behind this.

‘Rainbopython’ posted a thread on Imgur showing close-up images of a dissembled Joy-Con and the parts related to its analog stick. This user has a background in electrical engineering, so using their knowledge, they deduced that the likely reason as to why the Joy-Con’s analog sticks are susceptible to drifting is due to Nintendo’s apparent poor choice of parts.

Basically, moving the stick around causes the sliders inside to rub along the contact pads. The sliders have metal prongs and the contact pads appear to be made out of graphite, which is softer than the metal prongs. Due to that, the contact pads wear out and microscopic debris are left behind, which then mess with the input readings resulting in the ‘drift’.

The tried-and-true method of fixing the drifting issue is to clean the analog stick with substances like rubbing alcohol and /or compressed air. Nintendo itself even recommends scrubbing it with a dry toothbrush as another possible fix.  But, what works far better than anything is electronic contact cleaner. That said, this design flaw seemingly will cause even ‘fixed’ Joy-Con to redevelop the issue further down the line. So, as ‘Rainbopython’ suggests in their post, Nintendo would have to create entirely new models of the Joy-Con with better materials in order to truly rectify the problem.

I personally experienced this with my left Joy-Con. Electronic contact cleaner has worked so far, but there’s no telling when it will come back. Thus, if you use your Joy-Con regularly, just be prepared to face this issue sooner or later.

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.