The Best Control Input Devices

One topic I haven’t seen discussed a whole lot is what teams are using for control system input devices. Wheels, joysticks, game controllers, etc.

What are the best ones out there? What makes them the best? Why do you use the ones you do? Which ones have issues and should be avoided?


Once saw a team using Donkey Kong game bongos and a DDR pad. This was one team, and in one (off season) match.
We just use Xbox controllers. Pretty boring


My team previously used 2 or 3 Logitech Attack 3’s, 2 for driving tank style or one for driving arcade style, and one for operator input.

Currently we use 1 Logitech Extreme 3D pro to drive psuedo-arcade style with z-axis and use either a custom built button board, XB/PS4 controller or joystick for operator input.

I’ve always felt using a joystick over a controller for driving gives better control due to the larger range of movement, and other team members have liked the ergonomics of the controller.

There was a similar discussion not too long ago over here:

From the two events I attended this year, The Rock City and Bayou Regionals, here is what I’ve seen this year, in rough order of how often I see it

  • XBox 360 Controller: tried and true, and most students have used one before
  • Logitech F310 Gamepad: Supplied in KOP this year and pretty good once you adjust the deadband for the joystick sensitivity depending on your driver
  • Logitech Extreme 3D PRO Joystick: The modern Flight-Stick style Joystick, often two used for Tank Drive, or one used as an auxiliary or secondary controller
  • Logitech ATTACK 3 Joystick: Flight-Stick used by some older teams from their KOP, lots of buttons, and great for tank drive or aux controller
  • COTS Arcade Fight Stick systems, I know one was using a 8Bitdo N30 Arcade Stick
  • Custom Button Panels: Only you know exactly what you need, great for secondary driver functions
  • A flight Yoke, I think it was a Logitech G Saitek PRO Flight Yoke: I didn’t get a chance to ask the team how they were using it, but they had one

The best I’ve ever seen is 971’s force feedback pistol grip controller.


Modified RealFlight Interlink-X flight controllers (driver) and Xbox controllers (2nd driver).

Personally, we’re content with using two Dualshock 4 Controllers, since they’re ergonomic and symmetrical. We contemplated using XBox One controllers since it seems like the resolution is better on those but we never noticed any difference.

A local “rookie” team uses the APEM 3000 Series joysticks, which, albeit pricey, offer INSANE resolution that might almost justify their cost.

3641 The Flying Toaster are using a guitar hero, guitar controller for their manipulator this year. They use the strum bar to move their elevator up and down and the buttons at the top are presets for the various heights of the rocket. I’ve never seen another control system have that many style points, and it’s probably one of the most intuitive systems out there for an elevator when you think about it. Mad props to those guys!


We use two Attack 3 joysticks and tank drive. This is partially tradition going back to 2010 but we give our driver their choice and that is what they choose. We tend to have a lot of driver functions that need the large amount of buttons as well.

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