Inside the ION iCade and swapping Microswitches

I’ve disassembled my ION iCade to have a looksee inside and to see if it’s possible to replace the noisy Microswitches with quieter or silent switches. I have a couple of cherry switches left over from my Mame cabinet project so I’m temporary going to use these whilst I await delivery of some almost silent leaf switches.

First thing is to dismantle the iCade by removing the side and front screws. Hope you remembered to keep that hex key 🙂


Now I’ve got access to the underside of the control unit, i can need remove the sixteen little screws to crack this puppy open.


Here’s the underside of the control panel showing the joystick and button components and wiring loom. It looks pretty standard so far and anyone who’s with familiar with arcade machines or DIY control panels will be right at home.


Here’s the control board.


Looks like the connectors have been hot glued so you’ll need to remove this gunk if you want to do any modding at this end.


Here’s the underside of the joystick showing the transparent 4/8 way restrictor plate. Standard Microswitches are used here but it appears that the contacts have been soldered rather than using wire crimp connectors.


The button switches are 24mm Yenox buttons with horizontally mounted Microswitches. They’re much shorter than a standard Happs button and may not fit if you were thinking about replacing them with Happs. I don’t have any to hand so I was unable to test.


The button Microswitches are standard size and manufactured by Zippy. They have a very loud click and quiet a long travel before the button makes contact. As a result, they’re loud and not very responsive. Microswitches are so cheap, you’d think that ION might have used something better.


Here’s the cherry switches I’ll be using.


The wiring for the buttons is quite simple. The coloured wires terminates to the ‘NO’ contact (middle) and the black negative wires (which are daisy chained to each button) terminates onto the ‘COM’ (bottom) contact. Ipac and Jamma users will be familiar with this setup.

The Zippy switch terminal pins are slightly smaller than my replacements…..


….so I’ve had to open up the crimps using a small screwdriver and pliers and then re-crimp it onto the larger Cherry switch terminal pins. If you wanted, you could cut off the crimp end and reattach one suited to your switch contacts. Either way, make sure you’ve got a good fit.


I’ve decided to replace two buttons so I can compare with the iCade originals.


Rather than rebuild the iCade only to find that I’ve got an iffy contact, I used one screw to hold the control panel parts together so that I could perform a quick test first.


All seems good and although they still click, they’re marginally quieter than the originals. Sensitivity has really been improved and should come in handy for those intense shooting games.


Here’s a quick video so you can hear the two different switches in action.


8 responses to “Inside the ION iCade and swapping Microswitches

  1. What switches have you got on order?
    The ones I got in my sit down cab are the most sensitive things I’ve ever used and quiet too.

    On a different note did you know there is an updated firmware for sd2iec? it enables fastloader support with easyflash cart

  2. Hey Mr T.

    I’ve ordered the adjustable leaf switch ones from here (although they appear to be out of stock at present, my order must have gone through as I’ve received shipping info.

    …no i didn’t know about the latest firmware so thanks very much. Should be even better with fastloader support. Have been toying with the idea of getting a Easy Flash 3 as i like they idea of having seven slots. Could fit all those .crt compilations on one cart!


  3. Apparently it doesnt have much effect if jiffydos is installed but meant to be a tiny bit faster, just make sure you use the right version, its larsp m644 or something. Can confirm if required

  4. A colleague of mine’s daughter managed to fry her Ion iCADE by feeding it 12V.
    As far as I can see the only damaged component is the U2 SOT-23 smd element (a voltage rectifier/converter?) who released it’s smoke. It got so badly damaged I can only make out “253H” on the package.
    This gives me no results in search engines.
    Could you do me a favour and tell me what’s printed on that smd ?

    Much obliged,


  5. Sure no problem, I’ll take a look later this evening when I’m home from work.



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