Pan/Tilt wheel trainer ends up being a different way to play Quake

This is a special controller that [Gary Scott] built to help train camera operators. The pan and tilt controls on high-end movie cameras use wheels to pan and tilt smoothly. This rig can be built rather inexpensively and used to practice following a subject as you would with a camera. This is where the project takes a turn into familiar territory. [Gary] set up a system so that you can play the game Quake using this controller, with your feet doing the rest.

The pan/tilt controller uses two heads from an old VCR. They are mounted above the guts from an old ball-type mouse. A couple of rubber belts connect the heads to the two mouse bars that are normally rotated by the ball. This gives him control of where the Quake game is looking. But he still needed to be able to move, jump, change weapons. and shoot. So he built a second controller for his feet. It uses a CD and some switches as a joystick, and a set of buttons for the other controls. He actually rigged up solenoids to each of those foot switches to physically press keys on a keyboard. You really must see it for yourself. We’ve embedded his set of videos after the break.


  1. Mental2k says:

    Not having ever used Garry’s Mod I may be talking utter pants, but wouldn’t that be a good training prog for this. Set up some awkward to film scenes and use this controller to set up the shots. I am of course assuming you can do something like this using Garry’s mod.

  2. riycou says:

    whats with the black bar in the video?

  3. aztraph says:

    nice hack, but a track ball is easier

  4. RunnerPack says:

    There’s a typo. I think you meant “food switches” in the second to last sentence. :p

    Just kiddin’ Mike!

    OT: Has anyone ever used the wires from the VCR head’s motor to sense the rotation? Is that even possible? I always assumed it was a brushless DC motor. If it is, it would produce three AC waveforms that should be suitable for some kind of quadrature decoding. Similar to this:

    Recycling old mice is good too, though…

  5. Whatnot says:

    Prime example of irony, device to train for cameras operation has the worst camera operation use ever :)

  6. Alex says:

    Neat. I’m not sure there’s much incentive for *smooth* movement when playing a twitch shooter, but I’m sure it gets you used to spinning the control.

    My idea: Make a scenario where you have to train your sights on objects moving across the screen. Like a skeet shoot, but the “clay pigeons” could fly across the screen in any direction. You could come up with lots of variations in difficulty with a relatively simple game like that.

  7. twdarkflame says:

    This would also be perfect for playing two copies of “Tempest” at once!

  8. Joe says:

    Seems to me someone needs to hack up some more intuitive control to replace the wheels all together!

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