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Using a flight controller joystick in liew of game pad controller

A few days I asked the community on gitter about using a joystick in liew of a game pad controller.
We bought one to test it, and after @QuiGon2 did some configuration in the #development version of QGC the below video is the result. We might go for a slightly smaller controller, but this one at least has plenty of buttons and stuff.

@roy, very nice, we’re using the same Logitech stick but we’re a bit further behind in development terms. We intend to use the throttle lever as an ascent/descent control.

But it’s great to see the ROV rotating like that, just what we imagined.

Looks great! Really smooth control. Let us know when the code is in QGC so I can go out and get a joystick.

Nice! I had been been wondering if that was possible. do you think it would work with the wireless version of that stick?

Hi @, I believe it was pretty much plug and play using the development version of QGC. You’ll probably have to do some key mapping, but that should be it. Maybe @QuiGon2 can shed some light on the process.

@johng as far as I can understand, as long as the wireless version is recognized by windows, it should be working, but we obviously don’t know 100%.

In the last daily build of QGC, there is not need of any modification, it is just plug and play. In the last stable version, it is recongnized, but axes are not detected. Have been trying with some mapping software (antimicro) but is not working yet.

Hi Roy, a customer would like to change to a 3D Space Moue

Any ideas if that could work out?

Thanks, Andreas

The datasheet for the 6DOF module (just the knobby bit) claims that it appears to the computer as a 6 axis joystick, but doesn’t provide any more details about the protocol. It might work, but then you don’t have any buttons which are really necessary for operation.

As for the larger module you linked, I don’t know how that works. It needs a driver so that’s not very promising.

@jwalser - QGC used to have explicit support for the 3DConnexion products. I’m not sure that’s still there, but it would be pretty interesting to try for control.

Hi Andreas, I’ve got no idea if the 3D space mouse will work or not. I don’t see why it shouldn’t, but you never know with these things.
If they proceed with the test I would be interred in the results.

How do you control the depth with the joystick? Anybody been successful to operate all functions with one stick, not using trottle on the side? If so, what stick did you use and was it plug and play ?


We use the following stick configuration:

Left stick left/right: lateral motion
Left stick up/down: forward/reverse
Right stick left/right: turn
Right stick up/down: ascend/descend

These are the defaults in ArduSub.


Sorry, my question was a bit wage. The question was how to control the ROV with one single stick, like a flight stick. Is it possible to get all function into one single stick, including ascend/descend ? Without use of extra throttle ?

The stick will need 4 degrees of freedom in order to control throttle, yaw, forward and lateral. The stick on the logitech extreme 3d only has 3 degrees of freedom.

Hi Øystein, we where using the “Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick” in the video above, and I believe it worked pretty much right out of the box. @QuiGon2 might confirm that.
There are a couple of drawbacks though:

  1. The logitech joystick is rather big and clunky. We’re working on a control case and we want the joystick to be able to live permanently inside the case.

  2. We where using a small “throttle” lever on the side of the joystick as up/down, but it doesn’t have a spring or an obvious center point so it’s a bit difficult to take full advantage of the “depth hold” function in the Ardusub software, which to me is a great benefit.

AS @jwalser points out, the logitech really only has 3 degrees of freedom, everything else is a “hack”. I’m sure there are better joysticks out there, but we sort of had to put the whole thing on hold a couple of weeks ago due to a spike in demand.

Roy Petter

Thank you for the answer. I am not very familiar with gaming joysticks, but hopefully there are some throttles out there with spring loaded to center function? or even a joystick with 4DOF?

Just a comment to your control case idea. Be warned, if you are planning to spend lots of hours operating the ROV, having the controls in a box will make your shoulder hurt! Years ago, the “normal” position for the control stick on work ROVs was on the desk in front of the operator. Now they are all on the armrest of the operator chair, for obvious reasons. having a control box with everything in it is a good idea, but I personally would recommend you to make is so that the controller can be taken out of the box on onto your lap (see Seabotix LBV for an idea) the controller unit is removable from the box. You don`t want to end up having to operate in an awkward position, sitting with raised arms or even standing :slight_smile:

We use the Logitech Extreme 3D all the time with our ROV simulators. They’re the best 'off the shelf" 4 DOF joystick we’ve been able to find. The throttle not having a center detent is a bit of a pain, but it helps if you mark where the center should be with a pen. I haven’t used one with the BlueROV2 yet but last I checked QGC only supports the Logitech F310 gamepad when it is in “X-Box” mode, which the Extreme 3D doesn’t support. @roy how did you get around that issue?

@SDI is exactly right about flying a ROV for long hours from a large case. I’ve owned and flown several VideoRay ROV’s and the ergonomics were horrible. We’ve built quite a few custom hand controllers over the years, but the cost of qood quality components isn’t cheap. Here’s one of our more recent controllers.

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When (whenever) a manip / cutter / grabber etc. for the blue ROV comes to the marked, it would be nice to have a controller like that. It looks professional and that is important to for professional use. Cost for these ?

Thanks for your feedback Øystein!

Yes, your right off course. When we are in the field we normally work from small boats, hence the control case idea, but you’re right. On my last vessel the ROV pilot position was a very comfortable chair with a touch screen on left hand and the joystick in the armrest on the right. Off course that is a completely different ball game.

I had a look at the Seabotix LBV controller, interesting:

So, regarding the cutter, we recently did this: