Directly interfacing a joystick with an Xbee

We see a pretty steady stream of projects that use Xbee modules. They’re one of the more reliable and popular ways to add a wireless aspect to your project. But we don’t often see them used to their full potential. Since there’s a microcontroller onboard, many simple tasks can be accomplished without the need for an addition microcontroller. [Stephen's] showing how this can be done, by reading the stick and button data from a game controller using only an Xbee module.

His test setup uses an Arduino to drive servo motors on the receiving end of the hardware. You can’t do everything with Xbee, but the sender is where this concept comes into play. [Stephen] grabbed an older gamepad which is meant for use with a PC game port. The joystick uses potentiometers to measure position data, and the buttons simply complete a circuit. He altered the joystick by adding voltage dividers to the pots, and pull-up resistors to the buttons. From there he just wired it up to the Xbee and set up the module’s firmware to package and transmit the data. It’s a nice way to do more with less.

We had a little discussion here at Hackaday about Xbee modules which seem to be in short supply. Some of us think it’s due to the flooding in Thailand. If you’ve got some info on the situation, or just want to share your own conspiracy theory, let us know in the comments.


  1. bio says:

    people seam to be forgetting allot that the xbee has io pins XP

    i have seen the use of an arduino on all the xbees to control just one thing XD

  2. mike says:

    His test setup uses an Arduino to drive servo motors on the receiving end of the hardware. You can’t do everything with Xbee,

    the xbee also has PWM, which can be configured to link up to ADC inputs on a remote unit

    but i’m not sure how configurable the PWM is, it may not get the right pulse widths for a servo, i think its more for running thru a lowpass filter to make a wireless analog wire

  3. skater_j10 says:

    Oh the irony! I just posted about doing this very thing with Synapse modules instead of Xbees in the comments of a post from yesterday:

    Albeit we weren’t using servos and we built our own controller instead of hacking one, but very similar in concept.

  4. engineersteve says:

    What models are in short supply? I see hundreds of a few different types of Xbee’s at Digikey and Mouser.

  5. Ricklon says:

    It’s really a neat project to do. I’ve got info on how to do this with a series 1 Xbee:

    This basically controls a L293d shield for an Arduino. Where as the example above uses the Arduino to control the servos.

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