I have a pair of NES controllers that I converted for use with the Atari 2600 (and 7800). They work perfectly, but they still look like stock NES controllers, so I started working on it:
Until a couple of days ago, I'd never done any 3D modeling, nor had I used AutoCAD before. However, I've done plenty of work in vector programs, particularly Abobe Illustrator, so I did all of the 2D drawing in Illustrator (getting all of my measurements from an OEM NES controller shell) and exported it to .DWG, and did the 3D work in AutoCAD.
I made quite a few changes to the design of the OEM shell, mostly internal, because I was making it specifically for converted-to-Atari innards (the external dimensions and D-pad and buttons locations are the same as OEM though). Also, since the plan is for this to be machined from a solid block of material rather than injection molded like the originals, I decided to retain as much plastic as possible. In an additive process like injection molding, thicker walls cost more, but in a subtractive process such as machining, you've already paid for the block of material, so why waste it by going with thin walls? I plan to use black Delrin, which machines beautifully, and which is particularly dense for plastic (1.42 g/cm3, vs. 1.14 g/cm3 for the some-flavor-of-nylon used for the OEM shells), and that high density combined with very thick walls, means these controllers will have a very substantial feel; they will weigh about 7½ oz. each including the cord, vs. 4½ oz. including the cord for an NES-to-Atari controller in the OEM shell, and 6½ oz. for a standard Atari CX-40 joystick with cord.
There's no guarantee that this will ever see the light of day, but my friend just sent me a picture of the pile of parts on the floor that arrived today; parts for building a CNC router, so that's a good sign.
Edited by MaximRecoil, Mon Dec 21, 2015 7:59 PM.