USB Steering Wheel

One of my fellow first friends and I were wondering, is it possible to get a steering wheel to work with the control system.

Looking for an Xbox type wheel?


Yes you can, as long it’s USB you can do it. I don’t have many details on it but I do know 16 used a wheel this year and i think the have used one in the past.

I have a PS2 Wheel (looks kind of like this, but with out the foot pedals) that I’d be willing to give you. The cord isn’t a USB plug though. It has the same hub, plug, end, whatever you want to call it, as a PS2 controller. But, i found this PS2 controller adapter for $7.99 online thats meant to switch it over to a PS3, but thats just a USB so it should convert fine.

PM me if you want to know more.

We used a USB steering wheel and pedals one year.
We set it up to be interchangable with an arcade joystick.

We still use it occasionally as an extra set of controls.

That’s Correct. We’ve used a steering wheel and a joystick since 08. The last two years we’ve used this one (without the foot pedals.)

We used the Logitech MOMO Racing Force Feedback Wheel in 2009. It needs an external power supply to return to center.

Joe our team is looking into one as well, do you know if an xbox type steering wheel would be better since the xbox controller works easily this year?


We’ve used a steering wheel for at least the past 6 years. Any USB wheel should work pretty easily (almost all are plug-and-play compliant now). Just use the Windows Gamepad Utility to figure which axes and buttons are which.

If the wheel is non-USB, based on our experience, you’re probably better off cutting up the wires and figuring out what maps to what if its an analog output, or going all the way back to the potentiometers if its a digital output.

How did you get around R77? I saw lots of teams breaking that rule - is it not enforced very well?

Or is the idea that it must be able to fit?

Also, why don’t you just use a potentiometer and a plastic piece attached to the cypress for a steering wheel?

I’m a big fan of the pistol-grip style of steering wheel for controlling skid-steering robots. Once you try it out, you have to wonder why so many teams are still using joysticks to drive their robots. We used one this year on 842 to great success. The larger gaming console type steering wheel is on our list of things to try out, but we haven’t played with one yet.

I’m noticing that many seasoned and experienced teams are recommending using a steering wheel. Does using a steering wheel offer more agility and maneuverability? If not what other types of advantages does it offer?

It looks cool? I think you can never beat tank style controls if you have a tank style robot.

You still have two inputs (steering wheel and throttle vs two joy sticks) mapped to two outputs (left and right side motor pwm). They both offer the same amount of control, and a seasoned driver on each control style should be able to do the exact same maneuvers. The advantage to the the steering wheel control system is how intuitive it is to control the robot; you turn the wheel clockwise, and the robot will rotate clockwise. I’ve seen many drivers lose their orientation with tank drive when driving towards themselves, but this doesn’t seem to be an issue when using a steering wheel. The learning curve is drastically sped up.

Give both options a shot before making your decision. I’ve tried both, and I don’t ever want to drive a robot with joysticks again. Everyone is different, and I’d bet there are drivers out there that work better with joysticks than a wheel. The human/robot interface is a critical part of the robot that often goes overlooked; not enough teams look into ways of optimizing it.

It’s an entirely different concept of control for each- with a steering wheel, you tell the robot where you want it to go, and it tries to do it for you, while you’re basically driving each side directly with dual joysticks. Personally, I like getting the direct input of the dual joysticks. I want as little as possible separating me and the robot.

In our case the steering wheel has paddle controls that our competition driver ended up preferring instead of the pedals. In testing at home some potential drivers liked the pedals instead of the paddles. They both work to dual control the throttle.

The pedals fit on the driver shelf pre-match because they were carried on the driver board, but R77 isn’t enforced/interpreted to preclude off-shelf driver station components, such as ubiquitous hand-held controllers or fancier stuff like wearable/detachable gloves or goggle mounted controls/indicators.
I’ve heard of/seen a Dance-Dance floor pad and Guitar Hero guitar being used, obviously off the shelf, so to speak.

A pot, wheel, and Cypress device is more jury-rigged and prone to multiple failure points than a commercial steering wheel. The commercial wheel stands up to years of being mistreated and can be easily replaced by any plug-and-play controller. It also comes with lots of buttons and extra controls.

We use Cypress/eStop special inputs for unique control problems and designs, not to replicate a game controller.