Problems with PS4 controller (Dualshock 4) buttons
I recently had an issue with one of my Dualshock 4 controllers: it would turn itself on and off repeatedly, (turning my PS4 on in the process).
After a few basic checks (resetting the controller, trying to plug it in via a usb cable, turning off all bluetooth devices in the room…) it became quickly clear that “something” was wrong with my home button, and the fix was simple: buy a new DS4!
…Or so I thought, until I realized these things cost about 80 bucks nowadays unless there’s a sale. At that price, it was worth looking a bit deeper in what was wrong with my PS4 controller.
Repairing PS4 controller buttons acting weird
Buttons that act strangely on your DS4 can come from a variety of reasons, so it’s worth always doing basic checks before prying the thing open. But in my case, the problem was pretty apparent as soon as I disassembled the controller: the circuit board film had some sort of short circuit, due to what seems to be some burn damage.
Outlined is the most visible burnt section, but others appear along the line as well
I won’t write yet another tutorial on how disassemble your DS4 or replace the film itself, there are lots of great one out there already. I used the following tutorial to disassemble the controller, and this tutorial to replace the film. The only point I want to make with this article is that this is surprisingly easy to do and will save you 70 dollars or so.
The Dualshock 4 was surprisingly easy to disassemble, with the right tutos. This is after removing the old circuit film
After placing the new film
Putting it back together, one layer at a time
A few learnings:
The DS4 controllers are pretty sturdy, so even if you’re not used to dealing with delicate electronics, it’s reasonably easy to repair, if your problem is not with the electronics/motherboard. Replacement parts for the battery, buttons, or the circuit film are pretty cheap.
I’d say only the flexible ribbons (that connect to the usb charger/led, and to the haptic pad) need to be handled with extra care.
With that being said, I’m pretty sure I damaged some of the plastic parts outside and inside the controller, in part because I used a screwdriver to pop the thing open, instead of a flat plastic tool. No functional issue, but this definitely wasn’t a professional repair 🙂
Pretty sure I broke that plastic thing when opening the controller
The circuit board film to buy depends on your model of controller. The model is printed on the controller’s motherboard, in my case it was JDM-040. When you order one (from eBay, Amazon, or wherever), make sure this matches your model.
The Trigger buttons (L1/L2, R1/R2) also heavily depend on the controller you have. This means the technique for removing them and putting them back will depend on your model. I had the hardest time removing the L1/R1 buttons until I followed these instructions that told me to “gently flip it to the right”. On some controllers, it seems that the way to remove these triggers is actually to slide them, so be careful.
Functionally, my DS4 controller is now good as new, even if the plastic case is a bit damaged. That was totally worth it for about $5 instead of buying a new one. One remaining question is how the burn damage happened in the first place.
The burn damage is clearly visible after removing the old film circuit
It’s possible there’s something else that caused the issue initially (Spilled liquid or food? Issue with the battery?) and so the fix might only be temporary. If you have any theory or insight as to what might have caused this, let me know in the comments below 🙂