Need a quadcopter transmitter? Use a PS2 controller!

After [Pyrofer] built a quadcopter, he purchased a cheap 6-channel transmitter made in China. Unfortunately, that transmitter was terrible so he took an old PS2 controller and built his own.

For his build, [Pyrofer] broke out the analog sticks and wired them to an AVR housed in the handle of the controller. The AVR sent commands to a 2.4 GHz radio transmitter powered by a small LiPo battery. With the addition of a few tact switches behind the shoulder buttons of the controller, [Pyrofer] has four axes of control with a few buttons for changing modes on his quadcopter.

This build really doesn’t hold a candle to some of the awesome DIY RC transmitters we’ve seen, but we’ve got to give [Pyrofer] credit for coming up with a very simple and easy build. Just about everyone has a PS2 or XBox controller lying around, and with a few extra hardware bits it’s easy to bodge up a decent remote control.

[Pyrofer] used a project called Funkenschlag to generate PPM signals, so if you feel the need to replicate this project send it in when you’re done.

Comments

  1. rasz says:

    why bother connecting everything to avr when you can directly speak with the whole pad?

  2. Treehouse Projects says:

    This is sweet! Awesome job, just got the gears turning in my head.

  3. nah! says:

    next time better use a ps1 pad, those have real buttons

    • Jaybee says:

      Several 3rd-party PS2 pads would probably work. Many of them have normal digital buttons. Or while they implement the pressure-sensitive functionality, they ramp up to full-on very easily, making them basically useless for games that use the pressure-sensitivity.

      But they’d work quite well in a case like this, where the resistance varying with pressure is an undesirable trait.

      You could also take the Sony pad and coat the contacts with conductive ink, thereby reducing the resistance greatly.

      Though replacing the flex circuit and silicone dots with real microswitches probably feels better.

  4. n8thegr8 says:

    Why not just hook it up to the SPI port of the AVR? Not that hard and you’d have full access to the controller and the stock feel. I did it on a 68HC11 for a term project:

  5. Admin says:

    Wanted to add the forum build log: http://forum.flytron.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=144

  6. Oh wow, I was just thinking about this EXACT kind of thing last night. Only I wanted to use a Nintendo 64 controller, so I could use the Controller Pak port for a battery. (In a Controller Pak shell, of course!)

  7. Rachie says:

    By using the original controller circuitry, you also get access to all the analogue buttons. And you can activate the motors when the chopper crashes.

  8. Andrew says:

    It is sort of infuriating that the PS3 controller isn’t really very accessible …

  9. Galane says:

    Why not build the quadcopter to communicate directly with a wireless XBox 360 or Gamecube Wavebird controller?

    • Admin says:

      The range and reliability is much great with 433mHz/100mW OpenLRS than it would be with a wireless controller. I assume the the OEM controllers operates at 2.4gHz/20mHz max?

    • gadget says:

      Mostly because it’s quite cheap to source the receivers and txs these days so it doesn’t seem make a whole lot of sense to re-engineer them + range is a lot higher too. I like this project and may well build one as it’s so compact compared to your normal hobby tx.

  10. Pyrofer says:

    Yes, it WOULD be easier hardware wise to use the SPI bus to the PS Pad directly.
    I did try this but had problems (no data returned) and Don’t have a scope to debug what was going on.
    I wanted to use the TX and it was quicker to hack the hardware than debug the software for once.
    It also meant I could use the Funkenschlag code unmodified.
    It was quick and dirty.
    If I did it again? Yes, I would work on getting the SPI interface working.

  11. Orion says:

    I’ve had this same idea but didn’t know how to go about it. I was thinking more in the line of a USB controller for PC games instead of a PS2 controller. Will it work?

  12. Orion says:

    Oh and I want to use it to control a quadrocopter I’m planning on building, is it a good idea?

  13. GuyontheEnd says:

    The first link to pyrofer’s project is dead (text reads “built his own”). I’m trying to replicate this project and was hoping to use his explanation to help. What now?

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