Best Optimal Joystick For Swerve?

Our team is looking for the best optimal Joysticks to use for a swerve drive. We currently use “Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas X” but the inputs on this joystick are jittery and not smooth. We would like the joystick to twist as well for turning. We were also thinking of using a throttle to control the max speed of the drivetrain for more precision when lining up to score. If you have any suggestions on what joystick and/or throttle would be best for this I would greatly appreciate it, Thanks.

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Our team uses an xBox controller using the left stick for translational movement and the right stick as rotation. No issues with it. However, make sure there is no drift in the controller.


If you want a cheaper version with a soldered-in connector, the F310s work perfectly. Generally, any controller with two joysticks will do you well for swerve.

We are using a 3-axis flight stick for swerve due to driver preference. Currently, we are using the Saitek 52 pro, witch is a bit on the high-end price-wise, but the controllability is on another level.

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Wired PowerA Xbox controller. They just work and they are sturdy

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We have a couple of those, we just thought a joystick would be better for precision as controllers have a fraction of travel compared to a joystick.

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Is there any noticable difference between the Saitek 52 pro and the Logitech X52 HOTAS? And beyond that, between the X52 HOTAS and X52 Professional HOTAS?

Logitech purchased Saitek, so the Saitek x52 pro and Logitech x52 professional HOTAS are pretty much the same thing I think. We did some research on the 2 and I believe we found that the pro was more durable and had more accurate sensors on the joystick.

If anything, buy new, there is a very noticeable difference between a 10-year-old controller and a brand-new one, and you don’t know what abuse the old controller has been through.

It is completely up to the drivers; if they perform better with an off-brand PS3 controller, I’ll get it for them. If your team feels like they want to use joysticks, you do you.


This is what we are using.

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Optimal? I would recommend Xbox Elite or other high end controller like the razor wolverine v2. That said a lower price/more standard controller would nearly as well.

Joysticks work as well but you need to train the students on them, as most students have used game controllers in the past but not actual joysticks.

Side note I wouldn’t recommend using twist on a joystick for spinning a swerve. It’s hard to twist a joystick without moving it in one direction or another and it can’t be great for the driver’s = wrist.


As a mentor, I’ve been stunned over the years at the set of drivers we’ve had that have been able to control a swerve robot like it was an extension of their own body using either legacy wired XBox controllers or the wired PowerA work-alikes. I can’t imagine how it could be done better with a joystick form factor. We’ve never tried a wireless regular or Elite XBox controller, but I assume they would be OK as long as you hot-glued the wire in.

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Peter - Are you guys still happy with these - and what particular configuration are you using? Thanks!

We are still using them. We ended up getting a second set this year and I rebuilt our control box to better work with them.
I have a full list of the options here for you:
Drop in Standard
3-axis 1 button
Round Limiter

Here are some photos of the control box my niece and I made. One of the seniors last year came up with the basic design. I actually don’t have a picture of the final as used configuration but I think you can see I overbuilt it a bit to protect all the wires and ports.

The joystick box has pass thru port savers for the USB wires which then go to a USB hub for them and the joypad. The joypad plugs into the top of the box to another pass thru.

All the hub and wires and power distribution and adapters sit under the laptop and go to a custom patch panel with pass thrus to the right side of the box so a standard computer power cord can plug in there along with a network port, an HDMI and power for an external monitor, and USB for the laptop.

The laptop itself is in a Kaizen foam cutout that has air channels cut into it for proper cooling.

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For a couple of years now we’ve used a PS/Xbox controller, with the left stick used for translation and the left/right triggers for rotation. Useful for keeping the thumb free for pressing buttons

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Hall-effect Xbox controllers off amazon (~70$)

@Peter_Matteson I am intrigued by your driver station configuration. On our setup the laptop and controllers stay sitting on the drivers station, but it looks like your laptop and dual joystick controller are moved for matches. Does the red box sit on the floor, and you lift the laptop and dual joystick box up to the field counter? And then the 8"-10" Lilliput HDMI monitor extends up on the audio boom pole to be at a good viewing height? Does the HDMI monitor show an image from a camera on your robot? We have sometimes had a robo camera image on our laptop, but never on a separate monitor.

As we are switching to swerve we made our code so that our driver candidates could use either the xbox controller or the joysticks we previously used for “tank driving”. With the exception of our current tank driver, everyone else preferred the xbox controller (and I couldn’t discern any difference in his performance between sticks and the xbox).

[the fun part was discovering that the way it had been coded, the values from the two input devices were summed, so having two people attempt to drive at once, “a la Pacific Rim”, was a hoot!]


Everything except for the operator game pad stays in the box. The joysticks are in a removable smaller box because the box is designed to flip over and velcro in place for travel to protect the joysticks. The laptop can be removed as needed but everything is set up and intended to stay in the box for transit and matches.

The lilliput monitor is to show a view from the on board camera in a good position for the driver so they can set it where they want in their eyeline rather than looking down to the laptop. It also frees up space on the dash board for other info we want to see. Our drive team and programmers got the idea from some other teams but I’m not sure who they would credit for it.

I do know that some teams much prefer and swear by the aircraft-sim joysticks because they have a much larger ‘range of detection’ (not sure what the technical term is), especially compared to the dead zone. However, what matters most is how comfortable your driver’s are with using it.