Instructables

Can I use a thumb style joystick without a microcontroller?

I've been thinking about using a thumb-style joystick in an upcoming project (like this one) and making it go digital instead of analog (like this) but the only things I can find on such joysticks are with microcontrollers. I planned on using it to send a key stroke by using the guts of an old keyboard to make a diy emulator controller (like this) and I was wondering if this were at all possible or if it needed a microcontroller.

The analog stick is basically a pair of variable resistors. One variable resistor is for the X-axis and the other for the Y-axis. Voltage is applied across those variable resistors and a smaller voltage comes out based on the position of the variable resistors. You need something that is able to read those 2 voltage values and translate that into commands.

The conversion presented in your second link basically destroys the pot and turns it into a 4 position switch. Buying a 4 pack of push buttons and then ripping the analog stick off an old controller would be easier and cheaper. If you want to mod this into a SNES controller then all you need is the analog stick and glue it to the top of the D pad.