3-Axis Joysticks

Does anyone know of good 3 axis joysticks that my team could use for mecanum drive this year?

This is the joystick they were using at champs to demo the system. It has a twist handle (aka 3 axis). It should work without any problems, but maybe you can find a team that has tried it?

Felix beat me to it:p

But yes, that’s what we used this year for mecanum drive.


It worked fairly well. I can direct you to a programmer if you’d like.

Big BTW, please remember not to set your sights on a specific drive system just yet. Just wait like 5 more days :slight_smile:

I’m going to guess that you will want to avoid piling too many analog (smoothly varying) control functions into one device.

My opinions is that this is particularly true for a device that is separated from the robot by as much as 50+ feet and that doesn’t rotate/move with the bot. Also, remember that during matches, the confusion can become heightened because your bot can be moved by collisions with other bots.

Using 3-axis input devices is tough enough on computers where you get nearly instantaneous feedback that precisly matches what you send for commands. Instead of biting off that steep learning curve, I would personally come up with a good two-handed system that uses rotating knobs, sliders, buttons or other devices along with (perhaps) a joystick.

I would also think about whether some functions can be controlled through simple on/off (or slow/medium/fast, or…) commands, instead of by a smmothly varying analog signal.

If you want to brainstorm some ideas, have Mr Biladeau, Mr Convery, or Mr Harris contact me. I live and work about 30 minutes away from Oakton.


These are indeed the joysticks that we used on the demo robot at the Championship. These sticks work very well and make a mecanum robot a blast to drive. As far as I know, we have not had any issues with them at all.

Those look very buttony and easy to hit the wrong thing(Although I suppose one could always hack them) On the other hand, I’m kind of looking forward to getting some new UN-hacked joysticks

Depends…look at my post above with the picture of the joystick mounted. We didn’t need the buttons so they’re not up there. Just design your control box in a way that it matches the functions of your robot. Since he’s asking about using the joystick to drive, you really don’t need any of the buttons, so just hide them or remove the joystick from the base.

Back to the original question:
We’ve experimented with Mechanums and use the Saitek ST290 joystick. Everything works great and except for a few comments that they joystick is too sensitive there have been no problems. We’re still trying to decide the best way to give less sensitivity at low speeds and more at high, but haven’t decided on a math formula solution or a look up table. ( Haven’t figured out look up tables in abview yet…)
We’ve been working with the new controller so we can confirm it works.

Best wishes


I think you would want more sensitivity at low, and less at high to make driving easier…just my opinion

No, he had it right for what the typical driver wants. You want (relatively) larger movements of the joystick to have a small effect on speed when you are at low speeds allowing for fine control. At higher speeds you want (relatively) smaller movements of the joystick to have a large effect on speed in order to properly match the full range of the joystick to the full range of output PWMs.

Our set up had the trigger as a divider for our mechanum drive (using all axis’) You could do something similar, it’s quite intiutive. When the trigger wasn’t held down, it divided all the axis values by 1.5-2 (depending on what the driver felt like) and when the trigger was held down, it was like a turbo giving you full axis values. We did end up dividing the twist axis overall since it was very sensitve and the throw on the joystick was about 60 degrees.

To Gblake,

There’s nothing wrong with using a three axis joystick. We used a single Saitek Aviator for the entire robot, won two regionals (alliance cap both times) and won the Rockwell Automation Innovation In Control award at LSR.

The Saitek Aviator was brilliant since it had three thumb buttons, conviently one that was a red led with a safety so that was our ‘fire’ button last season

Thanks for the speedy response guys. last year we had to use 2 joysticks for our mecanum drive with the twist on a separate joystick. this year we wanted to consolidate the joysticks if we were going to do mecanum drive and we didnt want to waste build season time with this question.

I have no idea if this is allowed but I use a 6-axis “mouse” for 3D modeling, it’s USB 2.0 and relatively cheap. I’ve wanted to build a vex rig and drive an omni-directional bot with this for a while now.

Here’s the product: http://www.3dconnexion.com/3dmouse/spacenavigator.php

X, Y and Z movement (3 axis’s)
Z, Y and Z rotation (3 more!)


EDIT: Custom drivers can be found of their forums but I’m not sure how the controller station will affect them (I haven’t managed to obsess over the new programming this year, soon).