Introduction: Simple Analog to Digital Joystick Conversion

Picture of Simple Analog to Digital Joystick Conversion

This instructable will show you how to convert an analog (PS2 type) joystick and adapt it for use as a digital joystick without a PIC or any complex electronics.

Step 1: Materials Needed:

-Analog  joystick – I got  mine from an old PS2 controller, or you can buy them.

-Sharp hobby knife

-(4) 150K resistors

-Magnifying glasses

Step 2: Background:

                Analog joysticks control 2 potentiometers, typically ~10K, one for each plane of movement.  The output voltage in each plane will therefore vary with the exact position of the stick.  We want to change this so that each of the 4 positions (UP, DOWN, RIGHT, LEFT) will just give a logical HIGH.  This can be accomplished with the use of a PIC and corresponding code, but all you’ll need for this instructable is a knife!

Step 3: Dismanteling the Joystick

Picture of Dismanteling the Joystick

Dismantle the joystick by pulling off the cap, and carefully removing the 2 pots by carefully depressing the tabs along their sides.

Step 4: Observing POT Structure

Picture of Observing POT Structure

Pop out the wiper for each pot. Do this by carefully bringing the 2 little plastic tabs on the front together.  Flip the pots over and observe the black conducting material and the brown insulation.

Step 5: Remove Conducting Material

Picture of Remove Conducting Material

Scrape away the conducting material in the Noon position; from about 11:58 to 12:02 as shown.

Step 6: Replace Wiper

Replace the wiper; make sure the wiper is pointing to the Noon position.

Step 7: Replace POTS

Reassemble the pots onto the joystick body; hot glue if broke tabs on side of pots.

Step 8: Wire It Up!

Picture of Wire It Up!

Wiring it up.  Note difference from typical analog use; instead of voltage applied across the outer pins, it is applied to the center pin.


Gainsongames (author)2017-01-06

I want to remove the joystick completely and mod in a new d-pad.
Can I simply hardwire from the joystick tabs to d-pad buttons or do I need these resistors in place?

patomarin (author)Gainsongames2017-01-24

did you find something about how to achieve that?

BrekM (author)2016-09-04

Or just use the same four resistors without needing to wreck the joystick :D

aljaba18 (author)BrekM2016-12-05

Link broken... :(

jhoffnun (author)BrekM2016-10-05

Your solution is better/simpler. Can no longer view the video however; do yo have another link for the same technique?

RenatoB16 (author)2016-08-17

Good morning, you ask I did the next thing I picked up a joystick wanted to change the analogical by potentiometers have the board of analog I cut the wire from the analog board and called directly on the motherboard where will the next most wires called everything right 4 Potentiometer more as I turn it works more normal when almento potentiometer it is giving kinda buggy changing it does not increase as I ordered it increases tremendous know tell me you can be? the code of the analog and 103 I put potentiometer of B10k from already thank those comments to help, thank you

garrettg7 (author)2015-12-24

I picked up an old Logitech Wing-man Extreme at a Good Will for $3, thing is I want to convert it to USB by changing the POTs to digital and doing away with the game port. If I did this for the rudder axes (twisting the joystick) and the throttle control on the base, (a pivoting plastic ring connecting to a pot), would this solve my issue? and if so would I need to program software for proper intergration or could I possibly use drivers from a digital joystick and roll with it?

ciaranh (author)2015-11-14

Sorry but can anyone explain how to hook this up to a motor

stephen09 (author)2014-08-07

Awesome tutorial. This is precisely what I was searching for.

superspudz2000 (author)2013-07-24

it dosent tell you how to hook it up to a standard controller. which is what we all came here to see. the d-pad on a standard controller only connects 2 contact points together for each direction.

What are the resistors for? and why do ii need to supply voltage?

how do you simply connect 2 points together?

dconward (author)superspudz20002014-07-07

If you are here, you shouldve probably already known how to connect it to a controller considering thats less advanced. Anyway, dont worry about the resistors(already built into controller) and supply voltage just means electric makes it work.

Most controllers already have the thumbstick inplace so desolder that and the new one should be the proper size to fit into the pre existing guide

eduardoh (author)2013-07-12

Can i wire this up to a fighting stick that uses micro switches?

I want adapt a sixaxis to a fighting stick that uses micro switches.

xReiry (author)2013-06-04

Does the "depress" button still work?

RedMeanie (author)2010-07-05

Nice Instructable.... I did this exact same thing about a year ago for a little UAV I built. Glad you did the Instructable Though because Im sure others will find a use for it in place of a large "Joystick" that uses regular DPDT Switches.

mcsk8rg (author)RedMeanie2013-02-22

but this will turn the joystick into an spdt switch . so it will not work as a dpdt switch .

i racked n cracked my brains out to find how this will work as a polarity changing switch(dpdt switch) ..... turns out that it can't be used as a dpdt switch

mcsk8rg (author)2013-02-22

so by default ......... can we not use this thumb joystick directly to control dc motor polarity? ( clockwise n anti clock wise )
can't we use it directly as a dpdt switch ??

zack247 (author)2011-09-21

nice one.
i plan to convert some PS2 controllers to use with my PC, this'll help a lot, since keyboards arent exactly analog.

sandrat67 (author)2011-02-17

nice instructable had one ? can you use it as an analog if you only pull it if so can you post the digram on how to wire it

PKM (author)2010-07-05

Aww.. I was expecting to see instructions on how to turn an analog joystick into one that communicates with the computer via a digital interface (by getting a cheap modern joystick and a well-built older one, perhaps). This might be better titled as "Analog joystick to D-pad conversion" to avoid that conversion. Otherwise, it's a nice simple hack if you want a simple directional control.

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