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Kowal 1mm Oversize Actuator for Sanwa JLF Series Joystick

$4.25 (USD)
0.25 Ounces
Usually ships within 1-2 business days
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  • Product Description

    The KOWAL™ 1mm oversize actuator is a simple, economical, and non-invasive performance modification for Sanwa JLF joysticks.  It replaces the original Sanwa JLF-Series actuator, offering a shorter throw (-1mm), plus faster engage and diagonal (+1.5mm), while retaining the original neutral zone - a critical area that allows the joystick to properly return to center and set up the next direction.  

    Moves such as Mortal Kombat 9's "Instant Air Gas Blast" for Kabal, or Guilty Gear's X's "In Air Dash" are greatly improved.  Other moves such as jump cancel specials (canceling the pre-jump frames of a super jump into a special attack, common with UMVC3) are easier to perform.

    Actuators, zones, throws, and engage distance explained


    In the diagram above: Neutral Zone (area where actuator doesn't touch switches) is indicated in BLUE; Dead Zone (area where actuator presses begins pressing switch) is BLACK; Activation (are where switch is pressing down) is RED. KOWAL™ actuator retains the neutral zone.  This allows switches to perform normally.

    Beware of actuators that decrease the neutral zone by simply making the entire actuator larger.

    • Neutral Zone is area in which the actuator does not touch the switches.
    • Dead Zone is the area that the actuator begins pressing the switch.
    • Activation Zone is the area where the switch is pressing down.
    • Throw is the maximum distance/angle the shaft can be moved in a particular direction.  Longer throw means that it takes longer to return to neutral for the next move.
    • Engage Distance is the distance or angle between neutral and the engagement of a given switch or set of switches.

    It's important to remember that Dead Zone and Neutral Zone are not the same.  Actuators cannot use the neutral zone for faster engage because the switch must have this area in order to function properly. The KOWAL™ actuator factors in the neutral zone so that it doesn't block the switches' own plungers. This allows the switches to function normally, enabling the actuator to correctly bounce back to the center upon release, ready for the next directional move.

    Size Matters

    There are other oversize actuators on the market.  However, many of them do not properly factor in the Neutral Zone.  Instead, they simply enlarge the entire actuator, cutting off the Neutral Zone and affecting the proper activation of the switches.  This messes up the Activation Zone as well, and works against the intended goal of speeding up engage and shortening throw.  If you see 1.5mm actuators or larger, keep this in mind -- anything larger than 1mm starts to mess up the proper function of the standard 200gf (operating force) JLF switches.  Anything less than 1mm won't shorten engage distance effectively.

    Compatibility, Design and Origin of the KOWAL™ Actuator

    The KOWAL™ 1mm actuator is tested on both square and octagonal gates and best used with the stock Omron 200gf switches that come with the Sanwa JLF. It is designed in a lightweight nylon material, and its non-tapered shape allows the actuator to engage switches consistently. 

    Kowal is the name of a well-respected member on forums and elsewhere in the arcade community.  He has extensive knowledge of the inner workings of many control devices.  Kowal originally introduced the oversized actuator as a performance enhancement for SHMUPs (horizontal or vertical space shooters like Gradius, DoDonPachi, etc.) but was later found to work great with many fighting game titles.  With his permission, we introduce the KOWAL™ brand of performance solutions that highlight accuracy and compatibility above all else. 

    Bundle and Save

    Option bundle the KOWAL™ 1mm oversize actuator with a Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT Joystick, or Sanwa JLF-TP-8Y-SK Joystick (No Plate Installed) for just $3.95!

  • Product Reviews


    Write A Review

    1. More responsive stick

      I'm using this actuator with both a Sanwa JLF and Hori Hayabusa joystick paired this with an an octogonal gate and it feels a lot better imo, specially in the Hori since it was a little more loose than the Sanwa and now it feels great. I recommed this product 100%. on Apr 16th 2019

    2. Smooth Moves! My Stick Has Shifted up a Gear!

      For such a simple and cheap component, it makes such a difference! Installed in my Hori Rap 4 Kai along with the Kowal Hayabusa Octagonal Gate from 2016, a 2lb spring, a smoke coloured bat-top, and I get what feels like a brand-new and better stick and playing experience.

      Tried it against the original actuator along with the other new parts I installed and there is no question that this 1 mm actuator makes a massive difference. Now I feel a lot more in control, have noticed far fewer input mistakes, and some techniques requiring high execution feel far easier to achieve.

      Can't recommend it enough.

      on Feb 20th 2019

    3. Just works

      I should note first that the factory square gate on my HRAP 5 is not compatible with this actuator. The fat part of the actuator rides rubs against the gate and while it might be fixable with some washers, I don't use that gate normally and can't be bothered.

      OTOH, the KOWAL octo gate I bought here works fine with the actuator and just as advertised. My default JLF took just a little too much movement to activate and this solves that problem, allowing for quick and precise inputs instead of always feeling like I need to ride the gate.

      Thanks, FA.
      on Sep 27th 2018

    4. 4 way games ?

      From FA: Kowal Oversized actuator was not designed for 4-way control. Slight movements by the user towards diagonal directions will be emphasized because the actuator will hit those switches sooner than a normal-sized actuator.


      I don't think this works well with 4-way setups...

      I was seeing diagonal movement when I shouldn't have... maybe it was me but I pulled it out to be safe...
      on Aug 20th 2018

    5. Made my JLF feel more like an LS-40

      I love the Seimitsu LS-40, but it doesn't have an easy octagonal gate option. The stock JLF is too loose and unresponsive for me. Adding the Kowal 1mm actuator and a 2lb spring to a JLF has given me the best of both worlds. Instant activate, quick return, and sweet diagonals. Very happy. on Jul 7th 2018

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