Serial Port Joysticks!!

This is crazy. I have looked thru every possible website for a serial port Joystick. Are they even made any more? :ahh: My team still has the old controllers from last year, but I want to find two new controllers so that lefties and righties can control the robot. Half of my team is lefty so its kind of important. So if ANY body has an idea or can give me a brand of joysticks they use, I and my team would GREATLY APPRECIATE IT! :yikes:

This thread should be helpful.

And they are not serial ports (9 or 25 pin connector or USB) they are joystick ports (15 pin connector). Might be time to build our own joystick. If FIRST Teams can build a robot, maybe we should be able to build a joystick. AndyMArk where are you?

have you try to

I don’t entirely see how a serial port joystick works. A serial port interface generally requires the external device to have power since you have to drive RS-232 lines (+/- 12 vdc) as input to the computer. So you either have batteries or you have to phantom power from the RS-232 control lines (has been done, but not recommended due to the limitations of sink current on those lines). Also, a typical joystick has many channels: X, Y, 2 or more switches. These all have to be muxed into the RS-232 channel at a reasonably high rate (low latency) for a good response time for a game. Then you would need a PC (Windows?) device drive that could take this mux’ed RS-232 input and convert it into something looking for a gameport interface. Not impossible I suppose.

The beauty of the joystick is that the PC supplies a voltage on this 15 pin connector, uses the pots in the joystick as part of an RC circuit and measures the decay time of this RC circuit (I think that is the way it worked when I was a wee lad). Almost too simple. Plus other wire inputs for directly measuring switches.

The real problem we’re facing is that RS-232 is GOING AWAY in favor of USB. My own laptop didn’t have a RS-232 (DB9) port to test the camera with! But more USB ports than I could shake a stick at…

i rember when we heard they switched from the old joystick to the new one. One of our team members (lol you know who you are) bought the last 25 in stock from a store in ca. Now we find them on ebay and bid on them but still have the new ones for when we build each year.


Just incase anyone didn’t know, the old kit joystick was called a “CH FlightStick”. There was also a “CH FlightStick Pro” version released which has a larger button pad and the other two joystick axis on the top (see image below).

Yes but it sports a USB interface…


Not true. Many of the ones sold now have USB interfaces, but I bought a Pro off of eBay last week with a gameport interface and it arrived at my house today when I got home. I know that Team 237 (SIE-H20-BOTS) is using a gameport Pro this year as well.


I understand that you may be able to get old models from ebay but, if you check their website, all they offer is USB.

If I am in error, please let us know. A lot of teams would like to buy the gameport interface model (hence the reason for this thread).



Oh, right, sorry. In that case, then you’re 100% correct. They stopped production on their gameport version (about the same time FIRST stopped putting them in our kits), but they still do sell replacement parts (potentiometers, springs) on their website.

If you don’t want to customize the KOP Joysticks, you can always try to “build your own” joysticks. Happ Controls sells tons of old coin-op video arcade replacement parts such as buttons, analog joysticks, trackballs, steering wheels, speed shifters, and more. :cool:

I like to browse through there whenever I am looking for cool ideas for our operator interface. Last year, our team bought a whole bunch of the push buttons from them for our operator interface from last year.

Can this, , be used to set up a USB controller for the FIRST OI board?

I think that goes the wrong way.
I believe it allows you to use an old style port joystick with a USB system rather than a new style USB joystick with a joystick port based system.

but all you would have to do is splice the ends to make it the other way

Um, no. Explaining why would take more time than I am willing to spend, but suffice it to say that USB just doesn’t work that way. By design, a USB controller is a whole lot harder to make than a USB peripheral.

The pin out for each port is listed in the OI reference guide. I modified our CH joysticks last year for external buttons, and will probably modify the newer sticks this year (you’d be surprised how stable these new joysticks become once you remove that huge hand grip). ArtDutra04 already mentioned Happ Controls, you can definately build your own joysticks with some of these very nice arcade style sticks.

Hmmm, maybe we’ll do that this year! :rolleyes:

I was just thinking…
We (FIRST robotics teams) are capable of building complex 120+ lb robots, shouldn’t we be able to build our own joysticks? How hard can it be?

Isn’t this what is typically said by the garage tinkerer just before his invention explodes/melts down/malfunctions inscrutably/renders thousands of square miles uninhabitable?