Arduino Esplora makes a great controller


The folks at Arduino seem to be stepping up their game. With the new Arduino Leonardo board able to emulate USB keyboards and mice right out of the box, it seems the perfect time for Arduino designers to come up with a proper video game controller. This new board is called the Arduino Esplora and packs enough buttons and sensors inside to capture just about any user input you can imagine.

On board the Esplora is the same ATMega 32U4 microcontroller found in the newest Arduino boards. For input, the designers included an analog joystick, four tact switches, a linear pot, a microphone, and light sensor. The Esplora also includes a three-axis accelerometer, RGB LED, buzzer, and a breakout for an SPI-controlled TFT LCD display, lest you would want to recreate something like the new Wii U controller on your own.

You can check out everything the Esplora can do over on the official Arduino site for the Esplora library.


  1. Remko Janse says:

    Awesomness right here !, gamepad design + LOTS

  2. Geebles says:

    I hope they make a nice case for it! 3D printing one would be awesome and customisable but not everyone has a 3D printer..

  3. Hack Man says:

    This really isn’t a proper video game controller.

  4. Leif says:

    Maybe I should get one and make a Dora themed game for my daughter to play on it.

  5. Mike says:

    “At the moment the Arduino Esplora is available only at your local RadioShack shops.” –

    Who is going to develop and sell accessories like cases and specific shields for the Esplora? Someone like adafruit, not RadioShack. I won’t pretend to have any idea about the deal that lead to this, but the only benefit to consumers, that I can see, is the ability to walk down the street and get one. They’ll still have to go online to find accessories.

    The pricing will be interesting to watch. RadioShack simply can’t compete with online retailers. What will happen when the Esplora isn’t exclusive to RS?

    Anecdote: I bought, on impulse, a Seeed branded TFT shield recently. Only to find it listed $15 cheaper (and 1 version out of date) on Seeed’s own site. I ended up returning it for other reasons, but recently noticed the price on Seeed’s site now matches RadioShack’s.

  6. Ralph says:

    Is the pinout they used for the LCD module some standard thing? If so, can someone point me to an example? I have searched and not come up with anything. I found a variety of SPI controlled LCD modules., but nothing with 10 or 20 pins connectors as used on the Esplora. I say 10 or 20 because I am not sure if both rows of headers are for the LCD r just the ones on the left side.

  7. Drake says:

    I keep throwing money at my screen and my co-workers keep picking it up before the screen will take it.

  8. anonymous says:

    Anyone have a price tag on it?

  9. Cosmic R says:

    Is it me or is this device starting to defeat the purpose of Arduino? It’s for prototyping right? An amateur enthusiast like myself could recreate an arduino on a breadboard with an atmega, crystal and some capacitors. I know it’s not a great deal extra but something like this is starting to get a little complicated.

  10. Rachie says:

    What about ESD? Bare circuit boards aren’t meant to be handled like this. One little static spark, and it’s dead.

  11. kubik says:

    Now the only thing we need is Arduino Rightino, with 100mil spaced connectors to make hacking more stripboard friendly :) That’s why I switched to JeeNode, after all…

  12. biozz says:

    it needs a couple of vibration motors! but this is really nice!

  13. Ervin Kosch says:

    Add an LCD and a remove some of the extra inputs and switch back an analog joystick this could become what the nD was supposed to be.

  14. Mike1 says:

    A Playstation 2 Controller can be had for like 4$. There are Libs for its SPI Protocolls.

    Its cheaper , and has a Case allready. 7$ gets you the Wireless ones. If you are on a Budget you should consider this.

    Anyway, nice Work on this Part.

  15. Mike says:

    The first self-contained game is out for Esplora (you’ll need to slap on an Adafruit 1.8″ LCD as the “official” display is not out yet but the Adafruit one snaps in without a hack). Code, demos, etc. are at

  16. TomF says:

    Are we missing the point? We are looking at this as a programmable/configurable game console controller. However, considering that Arduino is used in robotics and many other applications. I could see this as being a great controller for use in robotics. Applications for this can be many, which is the spirit of the Arduino Eco-sphere.

    For naysayers, who don’t like it or don’t see the use, just move along. Yes, you could just use an Arduino Micro and accomplish the same task with a bunch of work. For that matter, you could even build your own arduino board from scratch, which is not difficult to do. However to have it in one package with all the sensors attached and laid out is nice. Plus, there is still much room for modification. Of course, since it is already in a set form, it makes less sense to sell it without a case or at least the option to buy a case. I probably won’t buy one, especially considering the present price point and lack of case. But it is interesting to see the idea & design, and to contemplate the possible applications.

  17. MODaly says:

    Is there a way to take the built on switches(specifically things such as the analog stick, 4 button array, potentiometer, microphone, and led) to externally placed switches and controls? This looks like an excellent tool for making an accessible control built onto a wheelchair.

  18. jonathan says:

    I just got the Esplora. I load sketch for joystickmouse. and get errors. Thats just not rite
    And when will we have computers that speak english. No error mes. This sketch in not working Try This or error 29 means! something. Not just errrrrroswor. I am so pissed off
    I load other sketches and they work. Just not the one i need!

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