Mini Joystick With Fire Button




Introduction: 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

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).

Step 2: Prepare the Switches

The switches don't quite fit in the protoboard in their default configuration but that's easily fixed. We just want to bend the mounting leads out and then down into a right angle. The leads already have a slight bend in the correct place.

Step 3: Mount the Switches

We want to mount the four switches facing in around a center point. Then drill a hole just slightly bigger than your bolt.

Step 4: Solder the Mounting Leads

Next we'll flip the board over and solder the mounting holes along with the headers.

Step 5: Solder the Connections

Now we're going to connect the switches to the headers. One leg of each switch will connect to a single header (white wire) while the other legs will connect to a single common signal pin (black wire). The signal pin can be connected to a voltage or ground depending on your application.

Step 6: Disassemble the Pen

Time to take apart the pen. Disassemble it completely and make a few cuts with a razor blade to prepare the joystick. I found it a bit hard to cut a right angle with the razor blade so ended up sanding the ends to straighten them out.

Put the two smaller pieces back together and hold on to the larger piece for later.

Step 7: Thread the Wire

There are a handful steps here but only a few photos. Make sure you have a switch that will fit in the pen body before proceeding. Otherwise you can skip to the last paragraph.

The first step is to cut off one end of the grommet so that it lays flat. Then punch a few small incisions on either side of it using a small flathead screwdriver or a razor. The grommet serves as a cushion for the joystick and prevents the pen tip from catching in the hole.

Next, run each wire through the grommet and through one of the holes in the perfboard (preferably not the large hole we drilled out earlier). The holes will probably need to be widened slightly depending on the gauge of the wire.

Next we want to solder each of the wires. Like the buttons before, the white one connects to it's own header and the black one to the common signal pin.

Now take bolt and flatten each side using a cutoff wheel or grinder. We need to make enough room for the two wires and the bolt within the pen body. The end result is that the bolt should be more rectangular than round. The bolt will still be able to screw on if we leave enough thread.

Lastly we want to thread the bolt and two wires through the body of the pen. This step can be a little tricky depending on the width of the bolt, gauge of the wire, and the diameter of the pen. Be patient if you don't get it on the first try, it took me several tries to get it right. Once the both makes it through you can put the spring and bolt on.

Step 8: Solder the Fire Button and Cap It

We're almost done. Now it's time to solder each of the wires to the button's leads. Once that's done give the wires a twist or two to pick up the slack and force the button into the end of the pen. Then put a stopper in the pen to provide a solid clicking surface and put the end on to seal it all up.

Step 9: Test the Circuit

The joystick is now done so it's time to test it out. This test circuit connects each of the LED anodes (the long lead) to each of the button pins. The cathode of each LED (short lead) is connected to the signal pin.

The button pins then connect to the positive terminal of the battery while the signal pin is connected to the negative terminal. Activating each of the buttons will complete the circuit for a single LED.



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    30 Discussions

    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:

    1 reply

    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!

    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.

    2 replies

     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.

    Great work and great design maybe next time a Analogue ;) also very clean work.

    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!

    6 replies

    Yep, pretty much. Here's a photo of the full contents after sorting most of it.


    besides hard wiring this to a keyboard or mouse, is there a way to wire it to pc?

    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?

    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.

    ok becaused on a regular order, once you add the surprize box shipping goes from $7 to $10

    i can say only one thing about this project, and that is WICKED!!!!

    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!