Picture of Mini Joystick with Fire Button

This is a miniature joystick made from a few switches and a ballpoint pen. An optional fire button can be added if your pen is the clicker type. The action is very smooth and responsive. A bit of back story follows so feel free to skip it and get right into building.

Most projects start with an idea and then you source components to build it. This one started from a simple component which turned into an idea.

I had made a purchase from the Electronic Goldmine and got a free surprise box with my order. The box contained around 50 right angle switches amongst a lot of other goodies so I started thinking about what I could do with them.

It didn't take long before I came up with the idea of mounting four of the switches around a center point and using something to control them like a joystick. But what to use as the joystick? I rummaged through my junk pile and found half of an old pen, perfect.

I prototyped it out and it worked okay. The first thought was that it would be cool to have a button at the top of the joystick. I needed a better pen, the retractable type with a clicker. I built another version with the same electronics and a new pen. It was close but there were still some issues to work out. The third time was a charm and I'm very happy with the results. So let's get started.

Step 1: Gathering the Parts

Picture of Gathering the Parts

What we'll need:

1) A pen, preferably the retractable type but just about any pen will do.
2) Four right angle push button switches.
3) A long screw, the smaller the diameter the better, and a nut to match. I used a 4-40 at 1-1/2 inches long. A 2-56 at the same length would be even better but I couldn't find one at the local hardware store.
4) A small piece of proto board.
5) Some hook up wire. The thinner the better.
6) Headers of some sort.
7) A small grommet (optional).
8) A round push button switch (optional, not pictured).
vonPongrac2 years ago
I was amazed how simple ii can be. Your instructable inspired me soo I made one myself. Thank you for sharing the idea! Here is link to my mini joystick: http://www.instructables.com/id/Mini-Joytick/
gzip (author)  vonPongrac2 years ago
Cool, nice mods to make it work with what you had!
thank you for the instructables but can you give me a schematic diagram for this? i'll appreciate your kindness thank you :D
I Like your project. Thanks for share your ideia with us!
Hm, how did that go again...


Hey, why is my arduino glowing?
gzip (author)  dungeon runner5 years ago
It's funny you say that because back when I wrote this Instructable I took a video of the test circuit while entering the Konami code. I guess I should post it!
Yeah, that would be cool. Alas, most game developers nowadays are aware that the Konami code is no big secret, so they for the most part stopped using it as a cheat. Or worse, it gets you killed when you try it (I heard that trying to enter it in Metal Gear Solid II gets you jack squat and solid snake mocking you for being a cheater).

This would be great for my laptop as a mouse. I can't stand the touchpad which randomly decides it doesn't want to work. Like an IBM.
 do u mean this could be used in the same way as IBM's Trackpoint?
this is digital, not analog like the Trackpoint.
or do u mean IBM's Trackpoint randomly doesn't work?
if ur Trackpoint doesn't work, replace it.
That is completely opposite from what I said.
My laptop does not have a Trackpoint, this is almost like a Trackpoint, my touchpad sucks and never works.
Blackice5045 years ago
Great work and great design maybe next time a Analogue ;) also very clean work.
awdark5 years ago
Nice design, the end results look very clean! Did the surprise box come as packed as the one in the picture? If so that's quite impressive!
gzip (author)  awdark5 years ago
Yep, pretty much. Here's a photo of the full contents after sorting most of it.
sk8er6 gzip5 years ago
besides hard wiring this to a keyboard or mouse, is there a way to wire it to pc?
sk8er6 sk8er65 years ago
answered my own question... ppjoy


this is the best matching schematic for this kind of joystick. just replace the db9 with the pins that you made, and install the ppjoy driver.

hopefully, ill be building one soon, but im going to put my own spin on it.
ikestarm17 gzip5 years ago
I was thinking about ordering from them, do you think the extra shipping is worth it for the surprise box? How did you get it for free?
gzip (author)  ikestarm175 years ago
They give away free gifts when you spend more than $25. The surprise box is just what it happened to be at the time. I always have a hard time paying $7-8 for shipping no matter where it is. I don't think it's worth it for just the surprise box but it might be worth it for a larger order. I wrote a blog post about a few other places to source electronic components.
ikestarm17 gzip5 years ago
ok becaused on a regular order, once you add the surprize box shipping goes from $7 to $10
BOOJAN5 years ago
i can say only one thing about this project, and that is WICKED!!!!
roboman24445 years ago
now just wire it up to the space bar and arrow keys of a keyboard and you can use it to control ur favorite pc game!
Yeah but using the joystick is pretty much the same as using the arrow keys
Or WASD keys...
zorbada5 years ago
Nice! Old times! :p
omnibot5 years ago
Great project!
toddshmack5 years ago
I heart Electronic Goldmine
it is a great place
billytwix5 years ago
OH shiiii, street fighter 4 - SHORYUKEN EX CANCELL TO THE ULTRA!
annodomini25 years ago
Atari 2600 joysticks all over again :)
robomaniac5 years ago
Nice instructable!! Keep up the good work! Jerome
gzip (author)  robomaniac5 years ago