Driver controllers

Hey drivers! What do you and your team mainly use as controls for your robot? Any specific joysticks preferred over the others? If you use a Playstation/Xbox controller for the drive base, do you use the buttons on it (excluding the shoulder buttons)?

We used XBOX controllers, and for example, this year the elevator/arm operator primarily used the buttons, and the base driver mainly used the sticks and shoulder buttons (we find this configuration to work really well for a crab drive). This year, it also worked out that the base driver could actually make use of the buttons as well because the minibot deployment usually occurred when the robot was stationary and right next to the tower. This also would ensure that in most cases, the robot wouldn’t be moving as we deployed the minibot to make it more consistent and eliminate any confusion in the heat of the competition between the drivers.

Joysticks, joysticks, joysticks. :slight_smile:

Joysticks FTW!

We have a Logitech DualAction that has served us well (It competed in the 2008, 2010, and 2011 seasons). We like it a lot.

We also use a mix of custom boxes and Xbox-360 pads for the operators. We used to always make custom boxes until the awful Cypress issues we had in 2010 (note the “emergency” buttons on the drivers controller), so in 2011 we tried to use a 360 but ran out of buttons and ended up making a control box anyway (utilizing a cut up Logitech Precision gamepad instead of the Cypress board).

I attached the control maps from the driver in 2010 and the driver and operator in 2011. The operator in 2011 also had a control box which stuck to the velcro on the operator shelf, which included autonomous selection, the score-low button, and various unused colored light indicator buttons.

In our hunt for the perfect gamepad, we found that the Logitech F310 gamepad can be used as an exact replacement for the 360 controller for FRC robots, as all of the buttons/axis mappings match up exactly.

We have used the Logitech Attack 3 joysticks for our robots for the past few years. We use it because it has many buttons and is ambidextrous for our typical tank drive setup. It is also pretty cheap.

In the past few years, my team has been using the Logitech Attack 3 joysticks, finding them to be a pretty good choice of controller. For 2011, however, we made our own custom button board for the secondary driver, while still using the Logitech joystick for the base driver. And just recently, we have started to use an Xbox contoller for driving the actual robot. With our inititial testing it has proved to be very effective. The only buttons that we do not have on the controller shoulders are for our minibot. We figured that they would be less likely to be pressed during the middle of a match this way.

What issues did you have with the cypress board?

Did you use the xbox 360 controller and a separate board for the codriver? How does he handle both?

Also, for future reference, we used several eStop breakout boards this year and were very happy with them. They worked great, and were trivial to wire up.

-We had an issue on the Classmate where, on about 1 out of 10 cold boots of the laptop, the Cypress driver would fail to start. The only way to fix this was to completely reboot the laptop, as we couldn’t manually start the driver as the Driver account was locked down. Sometimes, it would fail again, and we would have to reboot again. We eventually got in a habit of starting the laptop at least 3 matches ahead of time in case we had to reboot (possibly twice) if necessary. We didn’t realize this until our first competition, and almost lost a match when we were unable to kick. I don’t know if the issue has been resolved, but the solution now would be to open Task Manager and restart the process.

-The operator holds the 360 controller, which contains the commonly used buttons. The other controller is a box, which sticks to the operator console. As the only in-match button is Score Low, she just reaches down and hits it with one hand.

We used 2 Attack 3’s and 1 XBOX controller. We tried to program our other XBOX controller to replace with the Attack 3’s (as the the primary driver), but it never came together. We used the Attack 3’s as primary for most of the regional, with the second XBOX controller as the secondary “driver” (forklift, roller claw and minibot deployer).

I’ve said it before, but an RC pistol grip style controller is way more intuitive than joysticks for a skid steering robot. Once you try a wheel, you can’t go back. We haven’t tried the larger gaming console wheel + joystick for throttle control yet, but we finally have one in the shop!

I really prefer handheld controllers for any type of robot controlling action; they’re ergonomic and allow for a smaller operator interface. They also have a neat visibility advantage that I haven’t seen many teams exploit:



We used two logitech dual action gamepads, and we left the cords untied so we could move almost anywhere in the drivers station.


Team 1515 has driven a fairly unique drive system in the past 2 years- touch screen. We use a single 3 axis joystick to control the drive (both years mecanum) and the touch-screen to control everything else.
It’s really quite cool. For instance, in Logomotion, we had 2 main screens: Drive and Maintenance modes.

Within Maintenance mode, there were animated thumbnails of the mecanum wheels, and FWD/Rev buttons, 2 speeds each. This allowed us to completely test the drivetrain. Addtionally, we had the ability to control both our forklift style lift and pneumatic joints in the arm. For the forklift, we had both absolute and relative control. We could also deploy the minibot.

Within Drive mode, every thing was streamlined in order to ensure speedy gameplay. To raise our lift, when on absolute control, we could touch any peg on the full onscreen pegboard, thus causing the lift to go to that height. (It was self-calibrating, every time it touched the bottom, it registered 0). When on relative control, we could simply press UP and DOWN arrows to take the lift to that height. Of course the pneumatics were simple, press and they change position. When the operator pressed the 'Deploy Minibot" button, an “are you sure” window popped up, and on OK, it deployed.

Consequently, we won the Innovation in Control in both the Los Angeles and Denver regional this year. The screen was a donation from a local company. The connection between the touchscreen and the classmate is somewhat complex, but it’s worth it in my opinion. The image below displays our entire OI. Because I didn’t wire the screen, I cannot provide information on how it was implemented.

This is a very cool/nicely done implementation of the touchscreen technology. The only other team I can think of that also used a touchscreen was 1073 this year (pretty sure I remember that from the CT Regional)

Our team has always using 3 ‘Logitech Attack 3’ joysticks. 2 are the primary driver, 1 is for auxiliary.

for the past 2 years, we’ve used two Logitech Attack 3 sticks for the driver(tank drive skid steer) and a Logitech Dual Action controller for the operator.

The drivers for the past few years preferred the sticks for their feel. Even our season driver from 2011, who flew planes as a hobby, preferred the sticks over any hand held alternative. Personally, I prefer two sticks, but as I drove for our FTC team, I see the light in hand held controllers.

The big plus we see in the game pad for the operator is the large availability of buttons in such a small package. This year, we gave the operator another panel purely for minibot deployment. We thought that separating the controls will prevent any accidental deployments.

We use Joysticks for drive because they our drivers are used to them. For the secondary system, sometimes have a custom box, and sometimes just use a 3rd joystick. For this year, we were planning on having a custom box, but it was never finished it and just used a joystick, which turned out well.