What do you use to control your robot?

Our drivers are trying to find a new controller to operate our robot. The standard dualshock just doesn’t cut it anymore. Do you use a steering wheel? A custom designed board? Share your control schemes.

We use an Xbox controller, two actually. :rolleyes:

We design a new control board each year, depending on driver preferences and control needs.

Typically, we use two joysticks for the driver. This year, we are giving our manipulator a Playstation or X-Box controller. The buttons on the joystick and controller will be used for various simple pre-programmed routines. We’ll also have a series of buttons and switches on the control board that will be used for major commands and autonomous routines - buttons that would “disasterous” should they actually be pressed in error… The drivers’ laptop (with a video display from the robot’s camera) will most likely be centered between the driver’s two joysticks - though we are considering placing it between the manipulator and driver.

This year, a PS3 controller with driving and strafing on the right stick and turning on the left stick.

When we don’t do holonomic drive, we like to modify an RC car pistol grip controller.

We use wired Xbox 360 controllers. Our co-driver controls our elevator, which has presets. We thought it would be logical to use an Xbox 360 wired Guitar Hero controller, because the neck has five buttons in line, allowing for five pre-set elevator positions. The strumming switch will be used for fine adjustments in height. This is an idea so far, and our controller is orderd and being shipped. The driver holds the guitar controller as they would if they were playing Guitar Hero. Since we already know how to program Xbox 360 controllers, we can program a guitar controller since it is basically the same thing, just with a different shape.

We’re gonna rock our regionals, and hopefully champs.

It does depend on the game. I believe our driver used two of the KOP joysticks for Rebound Rumble, and an Xbox controller for the three years since. Our “gunner” usually uses the driver station keyboard, but I think he had some sort of controller to control the climb for Ultimate Ascent. There was an attempt to build a custom controller for Rebound Rumble, but we never got it reliable, probably more due to rookie issues than anything else. Each year, we look at the controllers we can have or get COTS to see if anything will work. If not, we’re not scared to try again on a custom controller. If we did do one, it would probably be built on an arduino pro micro or leonardo as we’ve done some arduino programming for our non-competition projects.

Actually, that’s pretty much our idea on most of the robot - look for a COTS item that we can afford and that can do (or be easily modified so that it can do) the job. Making the pieces work together is enough of a challenge that we don’t design a totally new thing unless we see a big advantage to spending that much time and energy on it. Not having a good affordable COTS option constitutes a big advantage.

The Rock Band guitar does not distinguish between “strum up” and “strum down”. If that’s true of the Guitar Hero guitar as well, it won’t be easy to use for up/down control.

For a few years, we’ve used a steering wheel and joystick for driving the robot, and if programmed right, it works GREAT. But that’s only for high-speed/maneuverability/defense games like 2014 and 2013. It really depends on what kind of drivetrain you have and what the game is that year. While it’s nice to have consistency from year to year and do one thing you know you can do well, sometimes you have to shake things up.

Actually, the logical solution would be to use a numeric keypad. But “Elevator Hero” is totally wicked.

We change from year to year depending on student preference.

The last two years we have been using the Logitech dual action game controller for the driver.

Last year the students took apart an Xbox 360 controller and made a custom control box that sits next to the console with lots of buttons and LED swag for the secondary drive to control various subsystems.

I will post some pictures when I get back to the school.


I didn’t play the game that much, but why do I remember scrolling up and down through song lists with the strumming switch? I know that it makes no difference when playing a song, but I swear that this switch is used for scrolling up and down menus.

We thought it was logical since they’re in a row and serves as a more graphical representation of the elevator as a set of controls. The different colors are a bit more fun than numbers too.

I get it, I like it, I may steal, uh, borrow it! I just consider this a “creative” rather than a “logical” solution. Unfortunately, the GH controllers here at the house are both wireless :(.

Right now, our weapons officer/co-driver wants to use a turntable to control the elevators manually, but the programmers are saying the PID control scheme will work just fine with four levels for the elevator to snap to. I, personally, think a turntable would be super cool.

Andy Baker once won an FRC regional… driving with only the Guitar Hero guitar.

(Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) :smiley:

I’ll have to look out for this. That’s a pretty fun/cool idea!

We will be using this for the first time this year:


It takes some…interesting…workarounds to convert MIDI to Joystick, but when you need more buttons than you can count, it’s perfect.

As a bonus, the LEDs in the buttons are programmable and can change colors on the fly…

Ah I get what you mean now. Logical for numbers that represent levels vs creative for the buttons in a row. I think it can be both! :slight_smile:

3 joysticks…

But if you are looking for equipment I know a lot of teams use Razer, and I looked at a lot of Mad Catz and Saitek controllers.
Although guitar hero controller gave me an interesting enough idea.

Please tell me you’re also trying to find a way to implement the streak bonus from the game when you have to thrust the guitar handle upwards to activate your bonus (It has a name, but I forgot what it is). That would be so great to see someone behind the glass just shaking their guitar.