Thumb Joystick Hookup Guide

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How Does an Analog Thumb Joystick Work?

Imagine a volume control or other knob. These controls are generally made from potentiometers, which are variable resistors. By connecting the potentiometer as a voltage divider, you can get a varying voltage out of the device, which can be fed to an analog to digital converter on a microprocessor. This allows the software to read the knob position.


This joystick contains two potentiometers, connected with a gymbal mechanism that separates the "horizontal" and "vertical" movements. (If the joystick is flat on a table, these movements are more "front / back" and "left / right", but you get the idea.) The potentiometers are the two green/black boxes on the sides of the joystick. If you move the joystick while watching the center shaft of each potentiometer, you'll see that each of the potentiometers pick up movement in only one direction. Clever, isn't it!

Joystick Potentiometers Highlighted

Momentary Push Button

This joystick also contains a switch which activates when you push down on the cap. The switch is the small black box on the rear of the joystick. If you push down on the cap, you can see a lever pushing down on the head of the switch. The lever works no matter what position the joystick is in. Cool!

Joystick Mini Push Button Highlighted