Introduction: Make Steering Wheel Game Controller

About: A Computer Science and Engineering student and a Hobbyist. love to make robots,electric devices,diy things and Programming them by Myself. My youtube channel Follow me on gi…

We all love playing games. To control games we need controllers, usually that is our keyboard + mouse combination, on phone it's gyroscope and also some buttons. I saw some people make gaming steering wheel but one main problem is those are attached to something, which means they are not portable.

My idea was to design a single controller for racing games that will give the steering wheel vibe and will also come with all the buttons I need. But it has to be movable, so that I can take it anywhere and play on the go. As it is homemade, I can always customize it, reprogram it to configure for any games. See the video for demonstration and build tutorial (above).

Let's make it guys!

Step 1: Parts We Need

The components are minimal, you can find them at nearest hobby store at a very cheap price

  1. IMU 6050 - 1x
  2. Arduino Pro Micro - 1x
  3. Small LED - 2x
  4. Mini Push Button - 4x
  5. 10k Resistor - 4x (For buttons)
  6. 330r Resistor - 2x (For led's)

Those are the primary components, for soldering things in place you may need (optional):

  1. Female Header
  2. Male Header
  3. Soldering Wire

And one micro USB cable to connect the board to pc and upload program, and for later purpose too.

Step 2: Principle - How Will It Work?

Although that looks like a baby's drawing, that's actually my design! Look doesn't matter as long as it is functional, right? Jokes apart, lets get an idea on how the whole system will work.

The controller will work like our pc's keyboard and mouse, pressing forward, left right etc. I used Arduino pro micro for that. To get the steer wheel vibe without connecting to any potentiometer I used IMU6050 (Inertia Measurement Unit) to measure Y axis data, that will point out the tilting. And some buttons for pedal, brake, nitro etc.

I targeted Beach Buggy game's pc's version, it's light weight and runs on simple pc's too. To customize the controller with the game what is does is -

  • Auto accelerator is on,
  • For left right tilt presses - left_arrow, right_arrow
  • For power/boost presses - 'z'
  • For Character Power presses - 'A'

The whole system is going to be powered from a USB cable that plugs into arduino and goes to all other components. This makes the design more reliable and super cool.

Step 3: Circuit Diagram

The circuit diagram is simple and easy. I used EasyEDA online editor. One advantage of this system is I don't need to install anything on my pc, thus it doesn't put that much pressure on pc.

The IMU talks to Arduino using I2c protocol and that's basically it.

Drag and drop things from left menu, find the components in the library section. If you use any components make sure it has prints (white masking image will be shown) otherwise it will be a disaster. Connect everything in place and double check. Those are tips for you guys, I already have made the design, you can see that (Image).

Step 4: Design and Make PCB

PCB making is super easy, when it comes to custom shape - in my case I wanted it to look like a steering wheel - it becomes tricky. I tried to draw a steering wheel by hand. Man, this takes everything out of you. I used easyEDA here too.

Okay once done I made everything as PCB border. That gave me the shape. Then I placed things in place and made the PCB.

One thing to remember, only one 5v source powers the whole system. So current could be an issue here. That's why I used track width = 0.300 mm. It can pass 1A current easily. After I was satisfied, I exported the pcb gerber file to my pc.

For printing the PCB I used PCBWay service. From there I could print 10 two-layer PCB by only 5$! Which is very very cheap. I used pcb-instant-quote which is a smart system to do everything automatically. I uploaded the gerber file and the system detected layer information, masks everything instantly.

It took 3 days to reach the pcb's from China to Bangladesh of which I had no idea, that's insanely faster than I could imagine. The pcb's look great. All the traces, the masking looks great. I can't believe how they can deliver such quality product in this price range. The finish looks wowsome. The shiny glassy look takes the pcb to another level. I designed them but you know what? The pcb's are inspected by PCBWay's engineering team to deliver me a better product. I am amazed at their service.

PCBWay also sponsors student projects, if you think you have a great idea and need help you can contact them.

Enough talking, now let's solder things.

Get the pcb from here.

Step 5: Solder Things in Place

This is a straight forward process, put things in place and solder. Please be careful, do not inhale the fume that comes from the soldering iron. I used optional components (female headers) as I like my devices as - PLUG n Play. Because if one component damages I can easily replace it.

I saw PCB's bend a little after soldering (due to the massive heat of soldering iron) but this PCB stood in place. Thanks PCBWay.

Step 6: Programming the Board

Now it is time to upload code. The program is written in Arduino code which is C++ (kind of yes).

You can download the full code from here or copy from below, Although I prefer to download from github as code doesn't break that way.

At first I imported keyboard library, then defined button and led pins. In the setup section I set things up, this section runs only once. Inside the loop (which runs till the eternity) I check for button press, if pedal button is pressed then it it checks for IMU (Y position) - tilt- movement and presses left right accordingly. If the brake button is pressed it presses 'down arrow' button, if nitro - 'z', if nitro is pressed twice 'A'. The two led's indicate left right movement so that while looking at the screen you can have a sense of left-right trigger.

As I have used arduino, I can anytime customize it according to my need, for any games.

/*** PCB Steer Gaming Wheel ***
 *  Author: Ashraf Minhaj
 *  Mail:
 *  Licence: Copyright (C) Ashraf Minhaj
 *  GNU General Public License v3.0

#include <Keyboard.h>

// Threshold value for steering
int THRESHOLD = 4000;

// Controller buttons
int brake = 5;
int nitro = 6;
int pedal = 4;

// Indicator LEDs
int left_led = 8;
int right_led = 9;

int x;
int y;
int z;
const int MPU_addr=0x68;  // I2C address of the MPU-6050

void indicator_blink()
  // blinks the leds - 5 times
  int i = 0;
  for(i=0; i<5; i++){
    digitalWrite(left_led, HIGH);
    digitalWrite(right_led, HIGH);
    digitalWrite(left_led, LOW);
    digitalWrite(right_led, LOW);

void setup(){
  // set pin mode and initialize things
  pinMode(brake, INPUT);
  pinMode(nitro, INPUT);
  pinMode(pedal, INPUT);

  pinMode(left_led, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(right_led, OUTPUT);
  Wire.write(0x6B);  // PWR_MGMT_1 register
  Wire.write(0);     // set to zero (wakes up the MPU-6050)


void loop()
{ // Main loop that runs forever
  Wire.write(0x3B);  // starting with register 0x3B (ACCEL_XOUT_H)
  Wire.requestFrom(MPU_addr, 14, true);  // request a total of 14 registers
  x =<<8|;  // 0x3B (ACCEL_XOUT_H) & 0x3C (ACCEL_XOUT_L)    
  y =<<8|;  // 0x3D (ACCEL_YOUT_H) & 0x3E (ACCEL_YOUT_L)
  z =<<8|;  // 0x3F (ACCEL_ZOUT_H) & 0x40 (ACCEL_ZOUT_L)

  if (digitalRead(brake)){
  if (digitalRead(nitro)){
    if (digitalRead(nitro)){'A');
  else if (digitalRead(pedal)){
    if(y < -THRESHOLD){     
          Serial.print("    Left    ");
          digitalWrite(left_led, HIGH);
    else if(y > THRESHOLD){     
          Serial.print("    Right    ");
          digitalWrite(right_led, HIGH);
    digitalWrite(left_led, LOW);
    digitalWrite(right_led, LOW);

Upload the code from Arduino.ide and two led's that indicate left right tilt will blink five times. Which means the board is ready to go.

Step 7: Finish - Connect and Play

And done! Connect the wheel to pc using a USB cable and play. Customize it according to your need and have fun. Thank you for.

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