Converting An IBM PCjr Joystick To USB


Seeing this IBM joystick again really brings back memories. But it can be used on a modern system thanks to this USB conversion project.

This particular model had a connector which is foreign to us. It looks like a boxy USB-A plug, but has an eight-pin sockets which looks like it’s 0.1″ pitch. You could try to make your own male connector using a dual-row pin header, but [Gruso] just went ahead and lopped off the end of the cable. He managed to dig up the pin-out for the device and found that it could be wired up to a gameport — the connector being the only real difference. He gutted a USB gameport adapter, removing the DB15 connector and soldering directly to the board. The boxy old peripheral has just enough room to house that PCB.

If you’re looking for a few more details than this build album provides check out [Gruso’s] comments in the Reddit thread.

9 thoughts on “Converting An IBM PCjr Joystick To USB

    1. you can find similar ones in thift stores and ebay and whatnot, I got a tandy model, with a much fatter joystick and two buttons for a buck at goodwill not too long ago

      and I disagree with the thumbstick … sometimes a thumbstick is better, sometimes a joystick is better, depends on you and the game =)

      1. I have a Tandy just like the one above. Elegant one sided “yoke” yet very little slop.
        The thumb is for completing grasp, high strength not so dexterous. Moving the thumb sideways is poor compared with any other hand motion both in precision and strength.

        1. Look at an xbox or playstation controller. Look at the joystick at the top of this hack. Look at a flight joystick. Now devise a controller with the following characteristics:
          -has a 4 directional digital pad
          -has two 2D analog inputs
          -has two 1D analog inputs that can also function as buttons, *and* can be used while manipulating both 2D analog inputs
          -has 9 or more buttons, at least 4 of which may be pressed while manipulating both 2D analog inputs *and* both 1D analog inputs.
          -ergonomic, eg does not require you to put either hand in a position that inherently causes strain, eg by rotating a wrist 90 degrees
          -can be held comfortably in either hand, or both, without needing to rest any part of the device on a desk, table, etc or maintain a specific posture beyond being able to use both hands
          -can be comfortably held with one hand without abdicating control of more than three analog axes

          If you can design a controller that meets these requirements while being economically viable for a private company to manufacture and sell, then you will have refuted the claim that joysticks are good for some things and thumbsticks for others.

    2. I have 4 of these joysticks from a couple of PCJr machines I bought.

      I may be willing to part with 2 of them

      One I want to keep for my PCJr, the other, I may attempt this mod myself.

  1. ive seen these things in junkpiles before. im usualy the one that salvages them and trys to fix them up, or frankenstein them together to make super joystick abominations.

    im actually rather disappointed that they cheated and bent a premade pcb from an adapter box, rather than go through the trouble of creating their own board and firmware. something id like to learn for my own joystick projects.

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