Using Wheelchair Joystick on Xbox - need converter

Hi brains trust,
I am looking at something that will allow my son to use his wheelchair joystick on an xbox for gaming. He can’t use the usual joysticks and it’s good practice for him to use the same joystick on numerous devices. I was thinking of purchasing the USB/Serial Converter - FT232RL but I’m guessing the configuration would be different. I have the paperwork for the joystick which tells me which pin is forward, back, left and right. Is there any way I can wire this up myself to a USB port? Thanks.
Amanda

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Hi Amanda,

Welcome :slight_smile:

I’d use this converter here: USB Interface for Joystick and Buttons | Core Electronics Australia
It should be plug and play for a computer but Im not certain about the Xbox

You might be able to hack apart an old controller (though from the sounds of it the joystick uses switches rather than an analog input).

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Hi Amanda,

Welcome to the forum :slightly_smiling_face:

Just wanted to confirm that the joystick on the wheelchair does just output like you’d expect for a series of switches, with one switch for each direction?

A lot of game controllers on Windows devices will use the USB HID protocol as @Liam120347 alluded to, this means that they can be recognised by a computer without needing to install a driver for each controller.
This controller PCB I’ve linked below is very similar to the one Liam has, it just uses header connectors instead of molded connectors.

I think the other big unanswered question will be what it takes for a device to be recognised by the Xbox, it could be that there are some extra protections to stop people cheating or making their own controllers but it’s not something I’ve looked into before, perhaps someone else knows what it takes for an Xbox to acknowledge a controller.

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Hi Trent, yes it looks like it does output a series of switches. The diagram that came with the joystick shows that pins 1-4 are forward, reverse, left and right and 8 is common. I have found an adaptor for this exact joystick but it doesn’t work with the Xbox adaptive controller, which is what my son uses with his Xbox.

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Hi Liam, thanks for your help. I’ve just watched a video that says that a joystick can plug into either USB ports on the adaptive controller OR two of the 3.5mm jack sockets at the back. I’m thinking this might be a better option. If the serial port can be adapted to send to a couple of stereo 3.5mm plugs, (forward, reverse on one port and right and left on the other) that should be more straight forward, shouldn’t it?

This is a Youtube video of a charity in the UK that adapts tech for disabled gamers and she is talking about using analogue joysticks with Xbox adaptive controller. I wish we had something like this charity here. There’s a huge need for it.

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Hi Amanda,

Thats a very interesting controller! - I’m not certain that the board I linked before will work straight out of the box but might be worth the shot given the price.

No worries, were all here to help!! :smiley:
The USB ports would definitely be the easiest, these expect the same Human Interface Device (HID) protocol @Trent mentioned before. Unfortunately the 3.5mm jacks expect either a button or an analog joystick.

From this video it looks like you can map the switching joystick you have to the joystick inputs on the controller: How to Create a Profile for the Xbox Adaptive Controller | GameAccess - YouTube

With 4 of these (its worth grabbing a couple spares) you’ll be able to map all of the inputs.
The GND would connect to the common pin on the Joystick and each of the directions on the L input on the adapter.

Some additional tid-bits

For maximum customisation a small circuit should do the job and allow for some adjustments to sensitivity, this would cost a bit more and take some time/learning to put together).

Product: Xbox Adaptive Controller | Xbox
Input specifications: https://compass-ssl.xbox.com/assets/06/02/0602069a-edfb-41f3-bd18-b2cc4c96e4fa.pdf?n=Xbox-Adaptive-Controller-technical-input-spec.pdf

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Thank you so much. I have a friend who is well versed in electronics who has offered to help so I’ll give this to him and he can either guide me through it or do it for me. I really appreciate the help. Cheers!

No worries Amanda! :smiley:
I’d get them to quickly double-check everything to make sure it makes sense - I’m keen to see it!

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This one can be an alternative too I guess: A new Xbox adapter lets people turn their power wheelchairs into game controllers - The Verge

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Hi tepalia, yes, I’ve looked into these over about 2 years and can’t get my hands on one. I think Able Gamers (in the US) only make them for their clients and I don’t think they’ve offered to sell or have published how to make them yet, as they said in the article. Thanks for looking for me, though. I appreciate it.

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Hi Amanda,

I’d never heard of the Xbox Adaptive controller, what a great product!

Sounds like the wheelchair joystick is just digital switches and not an analogue input for each direction.
Using a USB HID input device like the one I linked earlier should allow you to connect the joystick pins for each direction to the input device, then that can be connected via USB to the Xbox Adaptive controller.

Using a collection of 3.5mm jacks like Liam suggested could also work, but you may end up with a lot of wiring very quickly. Either approach will probably require some setup in the software, but it should be possible to use the wheelchair joystick with the xbox.

Very keen to hear how you go with this excellent project :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks Trent.
Yes, the Xbox Adaptive has been a great product for people with a disability. I’ll give the USB HID input device a try. It looks pretty straight forward which is what I need. I’ll let you all know how I go. Thanks so much for helping me sort this out.

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