Joystick Recommendations


Recently, our few years old PS4 competition robot controller has developed faulty sensors, and we’re in the market to replace it. My team has never used joystick + keypad controls, so we are interested in trying them. Do you have any recommendations for a robust, precise and swerve-compatible (three axis) joystick?

I’ve seen some Logitech and NXT flight controllers rated quite well online; does anyone have experience with them?

Thanks so much in advance!

My team has used the Logitech F310 Gamepads to great success for several years. Their connections are soldered in, and they’re overall extremely robust, durable, and reliable. 100% recommended, probably the best controllers I’ve put my hands on.

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We used to use the 310. However, we’ve had a number of problems over time, with the sticks not returning to zero and with very large dead bands. We’ve since moved to to razor wolverines for the drive and are much happier.

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Back in 2019 we weren’t able to get a steady supply of old 360 controllers anymore so we went through a period of trying out and testing different 360-style controllers. We eventually landed on the Razor Wolverine controller. Deadband was great, the circularity of the sticks were actually better than the original 360 and One controllers. I think there’s a V2 Wolverine out now, but I can’t speak for those.

Just gotta hot glue your sticks in place!

These are the flight stick style controllers my team has used in the past, though we haven’t used them for swerve control almost at all. They are robust, more precise than standard gamepad joysticks like the F310, they have three axes, and are also relatively cheap ($35 right now).

On a personal note, I don’t like using one single stick for swerve translation and rotation, since it makes small accidental inputs very common, eg small translations when trying to just rotate. The simple solution is to just use two, one for translation and one for rotation, and this is the solution I liked when experimenting with swerve. Again though, my experience is very limited.


Whatever you decide on, buy one set to make sure you like it, then buy enough spares to lose/have one die for every event in a season. These things get discontinued all time time with no real pattern, and changing things up on your drivers mid-season sucks. The programmers will also be grumbly, depending on how extensive your button mapping situation is.

Swerve is a two-stick operation IMO: one for translation, the other for rotation. Ambidextrous sticks would be nice so you don’t have to keep both left and right hand spares, but flight sticks with rotation tend to be handed.

In an ideal world rotation would be an absolute position paddle controller, like on a Breakout arcade cabinet, but that’s a bit trickier to implement.


We’ve been using PowerA wired controllers since 2020 and are very happy with them. I think we’ve had 1 controller stop working out of the 5 we’ve purchased

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We use two thrustmaster joysticks for driving and a logitech (x-box style) controller for the operator controls. We’ve been using the same controllers for years, and have never had the joysticks fail. The only problems are if we accidentally drop the logitech controller or bend the usb connector in strange ways.

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I recall past common advice: use the controller with which you driver is most comfortable… Xbox, ps4, flight stick(s). Maybe with swerve options narrow? Not sure; we haven’t run it before.


Our team has moved away from Logitech 310s as we found their sensors to get faulty over time. Our team has moved to razer wolverines as our drivers found them more comfortable and they were more reliable. Although, razer wolverines are expensive, and if you are a new team, Logitech 310s are still a great choice. We also use a Logitech 3D pro joystick, which is probably the best value joystick you can get. It works extremely well if you like the flight controller or joystick input style. If you want the best experience possible, you can take any controller and upgrade it with all effect joysticks for no deadzones. Old xbox controllers are great, just make sure it uses a common USB connection.

Has anyone messed with electromagnetic joystick over the traditional potentiometers? They’re supposed to be able to completely avoid joystick drift and therefor have a basically don’t need a deadband. I’ve only seen these for the Steam Deck, but I would think you might be able to mod them to fit another controller.

The steam deck would of been a neat concept for a 2019 driver station during hybrid.

Hmm… These are very similar to what I have found in microscope stage controllers. FWIW, I have replaced these more often than I would like because the plastic gimbal breaks. Keep in mind, this is in laboratory settings, not used by teenagers! Also, the ones I see are larger and not the same manufacturer, so YMMV.

I’ve been looking at the Gulikit Kingkong Pro 2 but I’m concerned about it’s inconsistent and somewhat low polling rate (80Hz) compared to our PowerA Fusion Pro 2 controllers (250Hz) we’re running now to map the D-pad to paddles.
I have Windows and the driver station running on my personal SteamDeck (with magnetic gulikit joysticks) but because that uses SteamInput I have to use this driver to make the driver station recognize it, and somehow once I completed all that I had stick drift, which may be something with the calibration or I may have torqued something down too tight when putting the steamdeck back together. But I can confirm that the steamdeck reads inputs at 250Hz in windows under these circumstances using this.
Also gamepad-tester shows my personal Fusion Pro at 15.5% left circularity error and 13.8% right circularity error on the joysticks, and on my steamdeck under windows it’s around 20% on each stick, though I don’t know how much that matters for our purposes.

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While a better polling rate may reduce latency, since the driver station sends joystick data at 50 hz, you won’t get a better rate with the better joystick. Axes are also sent as 8 bit.


If you’re looking for a quality joystick, I STRONGLY recommend the CH Products line of joysticks. They’re a bit pricey, but totally worth it in the long run due to their durability and sensor accuracy.

My team has used the FlightStick Pro for years for tank drive (it’s only 2-axis), but they also carry the CombatStick and FighterStick which I believe are both 3-axis models that you could use for swerve.

The “oldheads” here may remember the CH Products joysticks from WAY back in the day when we were using serial joysticks and they would ship them in the KOPs for a few years before they “upgraded” (downgraded) to a more modern-looking set from a different brand that had more buttons (personally, the primary driver shouldn’t need that many buttons anyways).

Logitech joysticks are fine if you want something cheap, but in our experience we had nothing but issues with them due to inconsistencies between sensors and joysticks (particularly noticeable on a tank drive system because the dead-zones will often end up being different on each side due to inconsistent joysticks). If you buy a cheap joystick, be prepared to buy spares.

Beyond that, if you ultimately decide to use a game controller rather than a joystick, then my only recommendation there would be the XBox Elite Series Controllers. We picked those up this past year after dealing with issues running swerve on other controllers. Game controllers have much less control resolution than a joystick (just by nature of them being smaller), and we would get all kinds of drift in cheaper controller sensors to the point where the artificial deadzone we had to make for it was much to large to be useful. The Elite Series controllers have much higher quality sensors and are more durable than most lower-end game controllers, and we found they work well for swerve drive.

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Right, but inconsistent (and slower) polling rate that also isn’t evenly divisible by the ds update rate would lead to very inconsistent input pacing and “missed” updates, I would think. Would the driver notice the difference? Maybe not, but it may be worth buying a bunch of these controller configs and testing them. The tests above for joystick-to-ds tests and maybe make some robot code that replicates these tests to get whole system numbers. But at some point there’s a lot of subjective factors that separate a good controller from a bad one that will be team and driver specific.

LTT/ShortCircuit did a review of the Gulikit Kingkong Pro 2 a couple weeks ago -

Sounds like they liked it quite a bit, but there are some minor QC issues. Good news though is that it seems like it is very repairable though.

Been thinking about picking one up to test myself. Stick drift is the primary reason our team ends up needing new controllers, and anything to mitigate that issue would be a huge help.

Having to buy fewer controllers might even save us enough money to afford Phoenix Pro this year! (joke)

We have used two of these with our custom driver station. Hall Effect Joystick with USB Output | TRY100-3514351 | Order Now
I know they are dual-axis, we have two of them and they work fine for swerve for us.
We do have a different mapping layout though.

Unlike a video game, robot mechanisms have time constants on the order of 10ths of seconds or seconds. I would also argue that if you’re trying to press multiple buttons in short order, there’s probably something that you should be automating.

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