Drivers, Do you prefer joystick or a pad?

Just wondering whether most drivers here prefer using a joystick or a pad, like the logitech or xbox controller and why. I’ve only tried joystick so far so I can’t say which I prefer.


177 uses flight sticks (modified) for the drive train only and a logitech gamepad for everything else. Two drivers.


Flight sticks all day everyday. There’s much more room for precise and accurate control, though it’s a bit more work than just plugging in a gamepad. (for driving tank ofc, operator can be a different story)


As a driver, I prefer the Logitech gamepad and in code I mapped each of the two joysticks to ~50% of drivetrain power so finer motions are easier. It’s about personal preference and trying out different controllers and mappings to figure out what is most comfortable.

1 Like

With swerve, we use a PS4 controller. However, one of the things that allows for precise control is limiting the maximum speed by the right trigger. So if we have the right trigger at 10% and the left joystick at 70% forward, the robot will only move at 7% speed. This allows for some pretty precise control while moving slowly.


It depends on the drive type. I personally like an xbox controller for arcade drive, and joysticks for tank drive. It’s kind of a weird preference though. I find that the xbox controller allows me to do more at once, like control the shooter and intake for example. I have trouble describing what exactly I like about it, but it just feels right I guess. For tank drive however, two joysticks all the way. But this is also what I’m used to. I think if I had learned to drive with a different configuration my opinion would be fairly different. For example, I hate split-arcade, but I know people who really like it. I personally find everything on one stick a lot more intuitive, even if it is a little bit harder to drive straight without drifting

1 Like

Joystick all day, i love the feeling of control and the layout of the buttons on the Logitech.
I believe there may be a poll in order.

  • Joystick
  • Pad
  • Other

0 voters


Must take a lot of practice to get the two drivers in sync, no?

Yes and no. Most teams run a “driver” and “operator” (by various different names) and their tasks are usually separate and generally not completely simultaneous. They usually don’t even need to talk to eachother, just watching the robot and field will tell each person what the other is doing and what needs to happen.

For example, I might be driving with a ball towards the rocket. We’ve established the operator keeps track of which levels are filled, so they raise the elevator to the lowest open level. There’s still an open spot for a cargo on the field, so driving back to the loading station means we need a cargo, and the cargo intake mode is deployed. No more cargo spots? Hatch panel mech is deployed. Anything intentionally out of rhythm (ex: bodyslamming a stuck robot) might be verbalized, but most of your matches at comp are 80% silent or just confirming what is already understood.


Ultimately, you can learn to control a robot well with either a joystick or a gamepad. Just give your driver enough time behind the wheel (or rather, whatever controller they’re comfortable with) before a competition and they’ll get good at whatever.

In 2018 we used tank joysticks, in 2019 I used a single joystick, and in 2020 @MiloB would’ve been using a gamepad (I still don’t personally get how people can prefer gamepads, but again, I don’t care).

1 Like

Our driver is two joysticks all the way for drive control. They started several years ago just using a single joystick but found the control much better with our current system. Our operator uses a custom button box built into our driver station, with controls varying depending on what the game demands. This year, it had 11 buttons and a small joystick. Many of the buttons initiate programmed actions while others are manual controls for various mechanisms. The joystick, for instance, was manual control of the elevator to place the climbing hook, since the potential height of the bar was so variable.

126 uses Xbox controllers with west coast. One stick controls forward/backward and the other controls turning. RB and LB control transmission operation. (High or low gear)

Operator has a Xbox joystick to turn the turret and one to move the hood. RT fires with “auto-aim” and LT fires with manual control.

We use an XBox for driving and a single joystick for operator as it has more convenient buttons.

Our team uses two Xbox Controllers, one for the main driver’s swerve controls (left joystick XY, right joystick Rotation) and the second controller has all non-driver functions (aiming, shooting, etc)

Personally never used joysticks, but I do like the feel of Xbox controllers. It would probably be difficult for me to switch just cause I’m so used to them.

In 2014 we switched the driver to split arcade on a Logitech 310. We haven’t looked back. Since then we have tried different controllers for ergonomic purposes. There are many which outperform the 310 in both reliability and ergonomics.

1 Like

Whats the benefit of having 2 operators vs 1 then?

Have always used the Logitech, but I’ve been trying to find something to replace it that has really, really good analog triggers for base driver (if you aren’t using GTA / Rocket League controls you’re years behind the curve). Part of me wants to just bite the bullet and wire a damn Gamecube controller up. Can’t beat those triggers.

Joystick for main driving
Game pad for operating
I wish there was a drive coach controller with buttons for “go score” “no don’t do that” “yell at alliance partner”

One of the reasons my team has both a driver and operator is to give the drive team more options to control the robot with. This year for example we gave our driver control of the drivebase and the climber. He prefered an xbox, and we gave him several buttons for vision, several for climbing and used all but one of the available axis to give him manual control of the climber elevator and translator in addition to the drivebase. The operator then got control of the intake, storage and shooter systems, and we used all the buttons on his xbox as well.

The other reason is that it gives more people a chance to drive, and that is something our team appreciates. :wink:

1 Like