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.

39 thoughts on “Arduino Esplora Makes A Great Controller

    1. Would’ve been nice if it would perhaps fit into a SNES or Playstation controller’s case. Bit late to mention that now, though. Still if someone uploads a case, you can mail-order 3D printed stuff nowadays.

    1. I have to agree. I breadboarded a gamecube controller circuit for an arcade controller a couple years ago, and while I was testing it, I used similar through hole tactile buttons.directly on the breadboard instead of running jumpers to the real buttons.

      It was complete hand rape after 15 minutes.

  1. “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 Only to find it listed $15 cheaper (and 1 version out of date) on Seeed’s own site.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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. It’s just you. Arduino is infinitely more accessible than breadboarding an atmega, crystal, and caps. Expanding out-of-the-box functionality doesn’t take away from that, it adds to it.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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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