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Video game controllers in water


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(Putting this here because this subforum seems to be the most generic of the game related forums)


Has anyone ever had success using video games in water environments? Specifically, places like pools, hot tubs, bath tubs, saunas, etc.? What did you do to keep the controllers from getting waterlogged?


This is an idea I've been playing with for a while, but can never get to the point of practicality.

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A simple joystick/controller with no ICs or any other components, like for an Atari 2600, might work in water as-is. Typical water isn't terribly conductive (and pure water is essentially non-conductive), and electricity will take the path of least resistance, which will be the copper wires and traces in the controller. If I stick both probes from my multimeter into a cup of water from my faucet, I don't get any continuity reading at all. In delicate electronics with lots of resistors, ICs, and such, water can sometimes be conductive enough to provide a path of lesser resistance than the path intended by the design of the circuitry, creating a random short circuit, but I doubt that would happen with a basic joystick/controller.

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Unless the water is totally pure, you're gonna get electrolysis from even the slightest current needed to detect open/close switch. While a basic VCS joystick would likely work for a while. That green and white crud will build up in the contact mechanism and short it out. Probably happen in under a week.


Another option may be to coat and insulate all the electrical stuff in a VCS stick. Haven't opened one up in a long time, but seems that the membrane circuits could be sealed. Then water in the housing wouldn't matter much.


Ideally one would use waterproof switches and whatnot to make a custom controller from the ground up.


While you may not get continuity reading, I bet there's enough resistance to have a current flow going. And that is going to eat the metal. Try on the hi-ohms or megohms scale, not the continuity beeper. You might even get 30K ohms!

Edited by Keatah
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Are you looking for an underwater handheld game, or will you have the controller plugged in or connected through a wireless interface to a console and display that are placed in a dry place next to your hot tub, sauna etc? Would e.g. a Bluetooth interface work worse in a moist environment?


In the case of a sauna, you also need to consider temperatures where electronics still operate correctly. For instance a Finnish sauna starts around 70 C. Even a Turkish bath at 40 C may be a question about heat, even if you keep the moist out.

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