Manual transmission for gamers


If that stick shift just doesn’t feel right in your hand it’s time for a change. This hack puts a gaming joystick in the center console of your hoopty as a gear shifter.

[Ilias] used a joystick from about 1991 to replace the stock shifter. It jogs our memory when he mentions that this thing saw a lot of use playing X-wing vs. Tie Fighter. Boy did we burn up a ton of time playing that one too! He actually broke the stock part getting it off (find a shop manual for your car if you’re afraid of this). But once the grip was removed he was relieved to find the joystick fit perfectly. The two molded plastic halves of the joystick screw together. To join them with the shifting level he used epoxy putty.

The momentary push switch for that thumb button is still in there. But it doesn’t look like he hooked it up to anything. If we were to give this one a try we’d have to find some use for it. Got any suggestions? Let us know in the comments.


  1. mattthegamer463 says:

    Hook the button to the horn circuit. Thats about as close to blasting other drivers as you can get.

    • Sven says:

      Hi-beam and horn on the thumb and index finger buttons.

      • Jay Pee says:

        no no no no no…

        hook the top button up to the CLUTCH .

        • sonicdude10 says:

          Need some kind of actuator first since almost all clutches use leg strength to operate whether mechanical linkage or hydraulic.

          High speed high strength linear electric actuator maybe? Make for some quick shifts…

          • bWare says:

            Manual clutches are inherently analogue. In lower gears you have to release them slowly to prevent stalls, not to mention needing feedback to ‘feel the bite point’ when doing hill starts.

          • srschickens says:

            I think it could be done. It would require a combination of RPM sensors (one on each side of the clutch), throttle management… and maybe something else? The bite point is a matter of matched RPM’s.

          • stevebb says:

            use a pair of rpm sensors after the gearbox and measure the twist.The twist relates to the torque transmitted through the shaft – equation as for a torsion bar. when clutch dipped there’s no reaction torque so no twist.
            Bite point from rest- the final rpm sensor shouldn’t be rotating at all. so long as the engine is outputting enough torque to not stall, just raise/lower the clutch to keep that last sensor stationary. From rest see the accelerator as being torque demanded
            For smooth gear changes ideally the torque before and after the gear change should be equal . with switches to detect the selected gear it shouldn’t take long for a uC to map out the engine’s torque curve, and figure out the ideal engine rpms for beginning and end of a gear change. for Up shift-while out of gear cut the throttle until the rpms match. For down shift perhaps blip the throttle while out of gear?

          • Blue Footed Booby says:

            A growing number of cars have at least one trim level with “manumatic” transmission that you can control with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

  2. This is more for thereifixedit than for hackaday…. but the horn suggestion would make it a good twenty percent cooler. :D

  3. jh says:

    hook the trigger to the horn… the top button to the backup lights to screw with tailgaters.

  4. Dan says:

    use it for the

  5. Quads says:

    Could wire it up like Eleanor…although I think that would have to be the worst possible way to engage spraying…

  6. A Bryant says:

    Would love to do this on my auto and the fire button would be used for the sport mode button.

  7. Elias Coronado says:

    Point the washer sprayers to the front and hook them to the button, fun fun fun

  8. Jordan says:

    machine gun and use the trigger on the stick for it :D

  9. Tron9000 says:

    whooptie-do. what next? a keyboard steering wheel? Mouse controlled pedals?

  10. Hirudinea says:

    Make it play a Star Wars blaster sound.

    • soopergooman says:

      what he said but have it also control two laser pointers steathly hidden in the front end. then a projector and the Star Wars Xwing fighter game. the lasers move with the stick and the action on screen and you would have to park in front of a wall to play it. (parts: pico projector, raspi with a mame emulator, some servos, an aduino and two dollar store laser pointers.)

  11. fj says:

    A red button on a gear leaver… sounds kinda similar…. likes James Bond similar…All you have to do now is to modify a passenger seat

  12. Haku says:

    Was round at a friends earlier and showed him this, his suggestion was to make the top button start the car (once the key has been turned in he ignition)

  13. Pin says:

    Use it to start the car along with the key if the driver does not push the button before trying to start the car it will deploy the airbag in the driver seat if the car is running and in drive and u do moris code on it , have it deploy the passenger airbag

  14. Javier says:

    That’s cool! I’ve just replaced mine one two days ago. Ok.. it’s not as techie as this one but I’m still very happy with it.
    In case you want to take a look:

  15. Ryoku says:

    press and hold the hat button to warm up the cigarette lighter and pull the trigger to eject it into the passengers lap.

    though a more believable application would be to control the windows (if they are electric, if not install an after market and route the switch =P )

  16. sonicdude10 says:

    I did this to my 1984 Toyota 4×4 almost a year ago. I have yet to wire the top button to my horn though.

    It was a complete bolt on affair.

  17. Rebel says:

    My Nissan Maxima has an interlock you have to lift on in order to go into reverse. I might would try to find a way to rig the button as my reverse interlock.

  18. Json says:

    C’mon guys, do you not see the more important thing here? This poor guy will never bring home a girlfriend in that car.

  19. Fractalstability says:

    I did this years ago with my 91 Legacy, and used it to control my iPod (hat switches for track skip, trigger for play/pause). Here are pictures:

  20. Coligny says:

    People in Wheelchair who wants to have a manual (seen done on an Alpine 310 V6 pack GT) usually put a clutch switch on the gear stick…

  21. Eirinn says:

    I pondered making a silicone mould of my Toyota stick, cutting the top in half and install one of those protected momentary switches. Of course it would be labelled: “Eject Passenger”.

  22. echodelta says:

    I like volume buttons on both steering wheel and shifter, but not on the shifter alone. Nobody sees the non-ergonomic mess this makes.
    You grip joysticks below the head and place thumb on top, forearm horizontal. And you keep it there thru the whole game. Same in a jet.
    You place your palm almost on top of the head of a gearshift and gently grab, potentially hitting all buttons.This has to be done very quickly, and let go then again. You may even rest your hand on the top while driving, the down lower grip will get tiring.Your forearm drops down towards the shifter at an angle unless you’re short and it’s a low sports car, making for a bent wrist. Especially in 2 and 4.
    Despite breaking the old knob, this one will break soon!

    • sunblock says:

      I just came back from a 3+3 hours trip. I griped it in both ways as you described, hitting the hat button often, but I didn’t mind, and it wasn’t uncomfortable at any time.
      I “played” with the trigger button while tailgating even though it isn’t wired to anything.
      Even if it doesn’t last long, I can always epoxy the original knob back, or get a new joystick. No big deal.

  23. TacticalNinja says:

    Hook those up to a mounted (paintball) mini-gun.

  24. Mike Graf says:

    this guy did this a while ago, and made the buttons functional!!

  25. Ren says:

    Hook it up to an Arduino to flash an LED on the dash.

  26. A random guy on the internet says:

    Eject the passenger a la James Bond?

  27. SlimJim says:

    For a bunch of smart guys, y’all have completely missed the obvious: The 1986 (ya, ’86!) Subaru XT came STOCK with an extremely similar shift knob, the single red button acting as an AWD/FWD toggle.

  28. StingerFlinger says:

    Just use it for what it was intended for. Mount stinger missiles on the car and launch as needed.

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