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Pocket Joystick Tester



Have you ever been in a situation where you wished you could check your joystick but your Atari game system or computer was not within reach? Maybe you’re at the flea market looking for a joystick. Maybe you’re at your work bench. Maybe you want to check out the broken joystick that your friend gave you to play with. Whatever the case, now you can build this portable pocket joystick tester to carry where ever you go.


As projects go, they don’t get any simpler. The bigger you make the circuit, the easier it will be to put together. It would be easy to modify an old joystick circuit board. You will just have to drill some holes. I had a case, about the size of a remote car starter, left over from the last project.


NOTE: The photos were taken before troubleshooting was done. Refer to schematic for proper wiring.


My parts list

5-ea. - LEDs (Jameco assorted pack 18041 - tested at 3 volts)

1-ea. – DB9 male connector (Jameco 15748)

1-pcs. – Prototyping Board cut from (Jameco 2191470)

1-ea. – CR2032 Battery (Rite Aid)

1-ea. – CR2032 Battery Holder (RadioShack 270-009)

1-ea. – Case 2 X 1.125 X 0.5” (Jameco 675331)

Connection wire from ribbon cable (from dumpster dive)

Nonconductive foam (Kindle leather case packaging insert)


Of course no project is complete without a troubleshooting story. After building the circuit and putting it in the case I plugged in the joystick. The UP LED didn’t light and the others were out of order. Opened up the case and found that I had wired the connector pins to 5 to 2 instead of 1 to 4. Fixed the problem and put it back in the case. Everything worked fine except the UP LED. Opened up the case and found one of the wires had been cut when closing the case. Fixed the problem and put it back in the case. Everything worked find except the UP LED. Just before I opened the case again I tried another joystick. The problem went away. I had found my first joystick in need of repair.


Be forewarned that it may not detect an auto-fire trigger and when you are at the flea market, remove the tester from your pocket before you plug in the joystick


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Recommended Comments

Cool. A current limiting resistor would be a good idea.

Its hard to work out the spec when your parts are coming out of a junk draw. I measured the current at 23mA at 3V for one LED.. That is less then 70 mW. Before building the circuit I tested the LEDs at 3V and they did not burn out or get warm to the touch. Under normal use, I wouldn't think that the LEDs would be drawing current for an extended length of time. The battery is rated for 180 mAh. The resistors would increase battery life but didn't consider that to be a major concern.

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