R/C car pistol grip style controller

Does anyone know about using an rc car pistol grip style controller? If so how do you do it and where to buy the controller ?

I would assume that it would have to be the type of remote equipped with a trainer port to connect another remote, and that there was a USB adapter that fit in that port. I’m not entirely sure though, but I know that this method is possible with airplane remotes.

EDIT: You may want to PM someone from team 148, the Robowranglers, from Greenville, TX about this. If I remember correctly, they did use this type of controller for the 2008 season.

Is this what you are looking for?


Not sure though what software changes would be required to enable this to fully operate though.

Whatever you’re doing, be sure to disable the radio in it. I doubt the FTA’s would like someone coming near the field with a running RC radio…

After a quick bit of Googleing, I found this one: http://www.rcmart.com/cp002-pistol-grip-controller-p-17151.html

Obviously, something like that is probably going to be your best bet, especially if it’s ‘plug and play’ with Windows. A COTS controller should be significantly more reliable than something ‘custom made’ without extensive testing and all of the fun things associated with that.

You can also look into making a custom controller (or modifying an existing one) that will with with the Driver’s Station using an interface like E-Stop Robotics “CCI”. Modifying an existing controller to work with the CCI shouldn’t be too hard, simply take the leads from the throttle and steering inputs (usually a variable resistor of some sort?) and wire them into the analog inputs on the CCI. If I were to pursue this route, I’d make sure that the controller were well tested and it’s reliability proven before ever using it at a competition.

thank you that’s exactly what we are looking to do however that seems to be out of stock everywhere

Texas Torque (FRC 1477) uses such a controller. You might want to get in touch with them.

http://www.texastorque.org/ is the team website.

CD member SRippetoe is lead mentor for 1477.

We used one a few years ago, I think 842 and 4183 have been using them more recently. We just pulled the guts out, and connected the throttle and steering potentiometers to the analog input on the cypress board, but there are probably other ways to do it. Maybe you could put the guts from a joystick or gamepad into the car controller housing, wire the pots to where they need to be wired, and then it would have a USB connection.

We did this last year. I’m at school right now, but will try to talk more about what we did when I get home.

I’d like to ask, but why do you want a pistol-grip controller? Is it easier to use? What is the advantage of using such a controller?Are you going to have Ackerman Steering? It seems cool!

What if you take apart a regular joystick, and build another enclosure for the pots? You can re-engineer the joystick to look and feel like piston-grip!

Think like an engineer! Think about how you can modify what you HAVE to get what you WANT!

Think about how much time it takes to make a controller housing with all the moving parts the way you want them, vs. buying a pre made housing?

We initially developed the RC car controller concept to try a prototype Ackerman steering robot for the 2008 game, during the first week of build…then decided not to use that chassis design, but on a whim we tried the controller with a conventional skid steer chassis, and it was amazingly easy for even a klutz like me to drive.

My sons passed the concept on to the teams they mentor…

Yeah. That is true. However, putting together small pieces of aluminum with potentiometers attached and tons of bearings doesn’t seem overkill. It would look weird, but would be nice to play with. The controls would move more easily! You can make sure to make the device best for the driver. One things FIRST is about is: “The robot helps the driver drive. The driver doesn’t help the robot drive”. I believe that there was one team at the phoenix regional who won an award for that.

Incorrect. Engineers do not think about how to modify what they have to get what they want, nor do they particularly think about how to get what they want.

An engineer will determine what is NEEDED first; any extra features are a nice-to-have bonus (what they want). The engineer will then look at COTS items to see if there is one that will fit the bill. He or she will get as close as possible using that before doing any modification. OR the engineer will determine that no COTS item will get “close enough” and create a custom design, incorporating COTS items like bolts and nuts where possible. Only if the engineer cannot get all the way with COTS or custom builds will he or she modify what’s on hand to get the result.

Doing it any other way than evaluating all options is not going to be productive in the long run.

Pistol grips are probably the controller that I would recommend to any and every FRC team, they are extremely easy to use, offer great control, and are relatively easy to set up.

For our 2013 season we used a pistol grip controller that we bought from a local hobby shop and took all its guts out. We then took a game pad circuit board and wired all the pistol grip controls to the axis on the game pad so that the right axis was controlled by the turny bit on the pistol grip and the left stick was controlled by the trigger part of the pistol grip, so essentially it was a arcade controller with a different shell. We then used the rest of the buttons on the circuit board to control our shooter.

If you need more info our programmer who worked a lot on this would probably be happy to help you.

The control system should match what the driver feels most comfortable with. Having played around with joysticks, gamepads, and steering wheels, I find the gamepad most intuitive to pick up - using one stick forward/backward, the other left/right - because I played around with [not very sophisticated] R/C cars when I was younger, then enough Forza kinda locked in that decision. People used to the grip-style controller from R/C cars will find that most natural to them.

Some people just prefer to use the joysticks, it makes more sense to them, or another form and control. If you use what feels most natural to you, when a time comes to make a split-second decision you don’t have to think because your “instinct” will make a move - no need ot worry about if you’re gonna go left or right, it will just happen.

On another note…why would you take a complicated route for no real gain? Rather than modifying a radically different setup into a makeshift R/C controller, I think it would be extremely more efficient to take an existing controller and just change that around to be coded to the functions of the robot. Yes you will have to take it apart, but it will be infinitely easier and you’ll end up with a better final product anyway.

I agree that overcomplicating things would be a bad idea. Even better would be to make a glove full of pots so you can control your robot by moving your hand around! That’s what I’d call magic!

It’s been done… a few times. I’d assert it’s not the most intuitive control system. Something about how mapping X input into Y output isn’t obvious to a casual observer.

From my experience as a driver for 2 years on 842, the pistol grip controller was extremely intuitive. I had been practicing for a month with joysticks but was nowhere near as good as I was with the pistol grip. With gyro assisted drive and even just a moderate amount of practice, the pistol grip can turn anyone into a top tier driver. Last year we decided we didn’t want the cypress board anymore so we took apart the guts of a regular gamepad controller and mapped the potentiometers from the pistol grip controller to to the joystick inputs. After doing this, the computer will just see the pistol grip as a regular gamepad.

We have messed around with implementation a pistol grip controller in the past, when we started using holonomic drives we could not use the full functionality of them and wanted to keep the controllers constant between all drive types. If you are using a Ackerman steering system it would be very user friendly.

Yeah. It seems like the best controller for Ackerman steering because you need a control for the speed and a control for the turning wheels. I guess this could work with swerve, but wouldn’t be very intuitive. Otherwise, as I have been reading, for regular Ackerman and tank drive, it seems like the best control. How would you code tank drive to use this? Would you have the accelerator controlling the speed of both sides, and the turn wheel controlling the delta in motor speeds?