Build your own joystick


What can you build with a ballpoint pen and some extra parts? [gzip] found himself with a bonus box of right angle switches and other miscellaneous parts and set out to build a joystick. Simple arcade joysticks use switches that are actuated by the movement of the stick and this design embraces the concept. The four tactile switches are mounted on protoboard facing each other with part of a ballpoint pen in the middle. When the pen is moved it presses against one or more switches to close, completing a circuit. For good measure he even incorporated a fire button into the top of the “stick”. Now we just need someone to make this work with a tiny Ms. Pac-Man emulator.


  1. vv says:

    Herp! Derp! this is hardly a Hack! its just 4 switches!!! OMG hack a day RIP..


    Really cool, dont imagine it would work too well in practicality, cant imagine it being confortable, but awesome nonetheless!!

  2. Mark C. Roduner says:

    *claps* This reminds me of when I hacked together a second controller for my 5200. Just looking quickly, I think the above design could easily be made pin compatible.

    Thanks for the memories.

  3. Steve says:

    Wow, if taking a bunch of spare parts and turning them into something useful albeit not of the best possible design is now considered a hack then I just don’t know what to say.

  4. Mark C. Roduner says:

    You’re obviously not a unix guy.

  5. walt says:

    don’t be haters. this is one of the better things I’ve found on here as of late. hackaday still rules. they just need to go back on 1 decent hack per day rather than flooding us with crap.

  6. bobob says:

    you know what would make this “hack” complete?

    if instead of using switches,each of the four contacts was instead a compete arduino,with two MORE arduinos as backups in case the first arduino failed,for a total of 12 functional arduinos plus redundant aruinos just glued onto the circuit board to look nice and instead of using a handle for the joystick actuator have 4 or 5 MORE arduinos glued together!!!! then make a case out of more arduinos,and then cover the case with more arduinos and then put the whole thing into a 55 gallon drum full of arduinos and the cover the drum with arduinos!!!!!

    i would use no less than 175 arduinos to properly complete this project!!!

  7. mikula says:

    Instead of switches he should have used a bunch of matchbox cars to complete the circuts

  8. mikula says:

    and oh yeah some arduinos!!!

  9. Mr. Q says:

    @bobob: without calibration done by Twitter all that arduinos go to waste.. :(

  10. IceBrain says:

    Very nice hack indeed. It can probably handle some non-intensive games pretty well.

  11. samurai says:


    i lol’d.

    @mikula’s first post

    i also lol’d.

    this is not so much a hack, rather this guy just “hacked together” a quick joystick.

  12. The_Evil_Machinist says:

    @bobob: needs more arduinos.
    @Mr.Q: And a twitter interface would be wasted on this. You need a imageboard wordfilter to trigger it. Peanut butter=left, over 9000=right and so on. maybe even use the arduino cluster ddos a site. I’m ashamed hack-a-day. Less talk, More rock.

  13. Pilotgeek says:

    @bobob, @mikula, @Mr. Q :
    I lol’ed for a good hard 15+ seconds.
    +5 internets for all of you.

    The pen clicker button is a great idea! Never thought about that. I would however put reinforcement behind the buttons. Getting a little too excited with a game might rip those out.

  14. Pilotgeek says:

    That’s getting a little too picky. I understand the “not a hack” comments for some posts (I’ve posted a few myself), but when you say he didn’t hack it, just hacked it together, that’s just you being an ass. He didn’t have a joystick, so he took what he had and quick hacked it up into a functional joystick. At the very least, you can say he hacked that ballpoint pen =P.

  15. schlomo says:

    ah guys loled real hard!!

    this is a cool hack mike, congrats! and now stay on that level, please.

  16. xrazorwirex says:

    Maybe some of these people should start up a website called “ONLYREALHAXADAY.COM” and only post stuff about sql injection and turning televisions into oscilloscopes…

    Not to rip on either side, just sayin’…

  17. svofski says:

    i lolled my ass off @bobob’s arduino :D

  18. glagnar says:

    please, for the love of god, implement comment moderation.

    please. because this “wtf omg lolz this is so not a hack” bullshit is getting old.

    shut the hell up.

  19. shibathedog says:

    @Steve: I actually liked it better when there where more posts like that.

  20. octel says:

    This is actually a cool hack, in the true sense of the word.

  21. Syadyne says:

    Wow! I have an idea but before that… Clever idea. Its not rocket science but it was interesting. As far as the idea goes…. Hack a day has always been a community driven site, from the first time I ever saw Hackaday, there has been the ability to submit hacks or even reference them. If everyone who is displeased with the current type of posts, helped to “support” by sending in ideas/interesting hacks that they have found, then we could probably get plenty of “technical/advanced” hacks to be posted.

  22. knetcomp says:

    @glagnar: agreed, some sort of slashdot-esque points system might be in order.

  23. Subbota says:

    It’s a good quick-and-dirty joystick but it won’t last long. Real joysticks (even the cheap $8-10 variety) use a restrictor to limit the movement of the stick to keep it from destroying the switches. You’d be surprised how much force the person will put on a stick during a typical game.

  24. Dan K says:

    FYI: The people criticizing this as not a hack are mostly being cynical, i.e. not serious. So those of you defending this post lighten up.

    Yeah this is the kind of hack I like to see… Something repurposed :)

  25. andrew says:

    this is a hack.

  26. gyro_john says:

    You know what’s stupid?

    There’s just no way to win with these lousy, bitching flamers.

    1. If a hack is posted that’s less than highly-technical, they’ll complain that it’s not a hack and that their valuable time is being wasted.

    2. If a hack is posted that has some complexity and takes some high-level skills, THEN they’ll line up and flame the poor guy for making it too complex. “*I* could’ve made that with a dirty pillowcase and some cardboard. You were stupid to include an Arduino!”

    3. The middle ground between these two types of bitching is vanishingly small. I can only think of one recent one: PodeCoet got accolades for his spotwelder a couple of days ago, but his previous post in the spring he got flamed so bad I’m really surprised he even came back.

    Come on, bitchers. I know you LIKE to complain, you WANT to complain and defend your RIGHT to complain. But you’re really just an attitude problem waiting to go off again. So shut up already.

    Crankily yours,


  27. samurai says:

    bahahaha this is nuts. we are meta-complaining. wtf.

  28. Steve says:

    oh for the record i was trolling. this is project is pretty much the definition of a hack, but for the love of god we need moderation on these comments – or at least heaven forbid – accountability.

    “intense debate” could work? otherwise any sort of up down karma voting please!!!!

  29. Haku says:

    Nice concept, up there with the LED buttons idea, however I don’t think it would stand up to the likes of “Daley Thompson’s Olympic Challenge” :)

  30. thecityspiders says:

    nice hack … in light of it being a nice quickie and dirt;gotta mention i have done some thing similar to this with one of them cherry brand switches from the interlocks of microwave ovens. the switches on their sides with the commons wired together and a sharpy pen as the stick. a thumb switch rigged inside of the stick{a push button from an old colecovision controller. all mounted inside of a small plastic project box with hot glue and a lil bit of wire .
    kudos i might just try to build one hmmmm :-?

  31. thecityspiders says:

    scratch {one} of them cherry brand switches add four … man my edit skills need a polish

  32. Tercio says:

    Very cool! It´s simple, easy to build and very useful. Great hack!

  33. trmatthe says:

    i love it
    i wanna use as a buttplug!

  34. luke wells says:

    come round mine again!!

    nice stick

  35. smythe says:

    hiy i fink thatt dis is rilly gud an ima goona bild me sum of der buttt plugg vershhons.

  36. p-man says:

    You are all stupid lame people. Electronics should be kept for those who truly understand it. What next you fools?

  37. andyc says:

    looks like my daddys tinkle!!

  38. jodo says:

    im gunna use that on mandyspaz


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