I’ve always felt that pulling a gamepad out in a commercial setting is the fastest way to look like an amateur. I’ve seen them offshore in several settings and it’s typically because the people responsible for setting it up aren’t as skilled, don’t care or don’t have the time/budget to do something better.
I’ve been using a FrSky Taranis to control my little guy. It shows up as a USB gamepad if you plug it in via USB. This is so RC folks can use simulators to train without crashing their expensive toys. I took it a step further and connected a Teensy to a receiver so now I have a wireless link too. Build quality and function are nicer (IMHO) than a gamepad though it isn’t as rugged. It also gives me loads of control over how the controller works. I can setup gains, expo, change channel allocations, etc. Downside is it is very much not splashproof.
In order to combat the bright sun without a high bright display, I pulled out the FPV goggles and have them connected via HDMI to the computer. It works great but I needed to control the mouse so I set up the controller to run the mouse cursor (using Teensy trickery).
I’ve been collecting parts and pieces to build a proper controller but I haven’t decided how I want to get telemetry to/from the computer. I’ve considered tearing down a Taranis and repackaging it into a waterproof enclosure but I’m not sure it’d be worth the effort. If I come up with anything interesting, I’ll chime in to let people know.