Category Archives: 3D Printing

XBOX Adaptive Controller : DIY Joysticks

I think that the Microsoft XBOX Adaptive Controller is a great idea. What I don’t like is that the accessories (like buttons or joysticks) are expensive. Here are some hints to making things less expensive and more accessible.

I’m testing PS2 style thumbsticks along with Arduino Leonardo (Micro Pro — the tiny board) as joysticks (for left and right USB of the Adaptive Controller). I’ve successfully connected and am getting good X/Y values on both sides.  Check out these YouTube videos for details:

For the buttons (which can connect with 3.5mm / 1/8″ headphone jacks), get two packs (10 pieces per pack) of these:

Or, four packs (4 pieces per pack) of these:

They allow you to easily wire stuff without having to solder. You need 19 of them. If you want just Up/Down/Left/Right/A/B/X/Y you need 8.

The stereo ones are cheaper (go figure) and work fine — wire L and Gnd. For the mono ones, + and -. Polarity does not matter, as these are switches.

These are the little joysticks I’m testing with:

Any analog type joystick (with Power, Ground, X, Y, Button [not needed]) should work. I’m using these because they are cheap, on hand, and good for the proof of concept. For actual designs, I’ll use bigger sticks.

I wire them to work with one of these:

You must use an Arduino Pro Micro (aka Leonardo) which has the Atmega32U4 chip — because this chip can emulate a keyboard or mouse or joystick. The Arduino reads the values from the stick, and has code running on it that makes it act like a HID. It’s recognized both as a normal (albeit limited) game controller, and the XBOX Adaptive Controller recognizes it. (X/Y — have not figured out what Push Button to send under.)

I’m using the HTML5 Gamepad Tester which can be found here:

Ports on the back of the Adaptive Controller map like this:

Left Digital – 14
Down Digital – 13
Up Digital – 12
Right Digital – 15
LS Press – 10 (don’t have this working yet)
LB – 4
XBOX – ?
X1 – Think this goes to analog
X2 – Think this goes to analog
Windows/Squares – 8
Three Lines – 9
L Trigger – 6
R Trigger – 7
RB – 5
RS Press – 11 (don’t have this working yet)
A – 0
B – 1
X – 2
Y – 3

Again, these are the default mappings I’m seeing via the Gamepad Tester. Your results may vary. Also: Regardless of the chip and controller, the built in “Controller Check” in the Windows 10 Control Panel keeps going to non-responding / locking up. I have no idea why. So I gave up trying to test with that and moved to the web based tester.

More to come, but know that I was able to hook up my own custom sticks to the XBOX Adaptive Controller and can use my own buttons with easy connections.

E-mail me (address is in left nav bar) if you are working on an accessibility project and need assistance.

Arduino Code, Joystick Library, and 3D Models can be found on GitHub (

You can also find the 3D Model at Thingiverse:




AutoScope 2.0 : The Reboot!

It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on this project. But, thanks to students and professors around the world, I’ve been prodded and motivated to restart the project.

Sometimes waiting pays off, as someone designed a while new mount for the AmScope that fits it perfectly. No more belts! After much tweaking I’ve got gears properly sized, in OpenSCAD (so you can modify for your scope), and X and Y are moving fine.

I’ll be doing more write-ups soon, and all files will be posted (likely on Thingiverse and GitHub). Here are some links to keep you busy for now:


AutoScope : New Ideas from the Austin Maker Faire

One of the things I like about the Maker Faires is the feedback you get. You meet all sorts of interesting people. Some are technical, many are not — but love to see the stuff. And I love getting feedback and ideas from others.

Some ideas from teachers:

  • The Wet Slide problem. One teacher mentioned that viewing “pond life” (a drop of water) and showing it to the kids is a problem. By the time you’ve focused on an organism, it’s moved. The AutoScope would allow the teacher to project the slide onto a screen and then follow the critters with the remote control. Almost turns the process into a video game!
  • A Pathologist can use it as a teaching/test tool. For example, s/he locates items they want the students to find and identify. Students then take the slide and must find and tell the teach the coordinates/region they found the item in.

After telling the story the 100th time (trust me, I didn’t mind!) I realized that the scope could be used for remote analysis of slides. Let’s say you’re in the middle of nowhere, but have a microscope and this setup — you could allow a pathologist, or other physician, from anywhere in the world to control your scope. No need to ship or digitize the slides.

The cost factor was also a great turn-on. The commercial products, which include controlled stages and scanning, are just so expensive. The AutoScope allows not only schools access at a low price point, but also under-served communities, around the world.

While many were happy enough to look at a slide (the kids loved it) I found a number of older adults were very pleased with the project. The idea of making an expensive endeavor affordable. The ability for serving communities that can’t afford local pathologists. Helping people throughout the world. The reaction was really wonderful. I had more than one group walk away talking about how they could use this in their school or hospital. And, the most satisfying for me, people walking away thinking that the world is a better place — because there are folks out there making things to help humanity.