Working principle of Joystick

joystick function

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Joystick = Hand movement >> Electricalor- Digital Signals

The function of joystick is to convert hand movements to electrical signals i.e. it translates physical movement to electrical signals whose final effects we can see on screen.

So, in joystick with the help of stick a users is making changes in electrical circuit which produces physical effects finally which can in the form of changes on screen like in video games or movement of physical product like in flying Jets, moving wheel chairs etc.

Q. How does a joystick work simple?

The Joystick has broken sections which have a metal disc in the bottom and a plastic button on the top. Now, when we move the joystick in any direction it presses the plastic button on that broken section and the metal disc also gets pressed with it.

This metal disc then comes in contact with the circuit board closing the circuit and leading to current flow followed by actual physical movement.

What was the purpose of inventing the joystick?

Story goes back to the 1970s, an era of bell bottoms and discos in the USA, when the inventor of TV video games faced the need of controlling a spot on a screen horizontally as well as vertically and hence the first video game joystick was invented a German-American inventor, game developer, and engineer Ralph H. Baer.

Ralph H. Baer is called as “the Father of Video Games” because of his contribution to the video games industry and has many awards for his contribution over his lifetime.

Q. Why is it called a joystick?

Joytick name comes from its inventor whose name was Joyce, which later got changed to joystick with time.

Q. Is joystick input or output?

Whether it’s video games or airplanes, a joystick is always used and works as an input device only. And the interesting thing about joysticks is that small physical movement gets converted to digital signal in case of video games and real movement in case of airplanes.


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Relevant Information:

What joystick looks like…

Joystick = Digital/Analog easy to use and fast Hardware Input Device with Applications from Aircrafts to Video Games first used in 1908.

  • Joystick is input or output device: Input device
  • Joystick was first used in aircraft in: 1908 in Bleriot VIII aircraft
  • Other usage: In video games, drones for controlling camera, remote operated vehicles etc.
  • Types of joysticks: Digital, paddle, analog etc.
  • Advantage of joystick: Fast and easy to navigate
  • How joystick works: By sending out an analog signal that is voltage which varies depending on the movement
  • Joystick is software -or- hardware: Hardware

In one of the types of joystick it has potentiometer which is a resistor whose resistance changes as you move joystick as a result of which how much current s flowing through the circuit and based on that joystick functions.

Objective questions on working principle of joystick:

Que1. In Joystick physical hand movement converted to:

  1. Physical format only
  2. Digital Format
  3. Both a and b
  4. None of the above

Ans. 2. Digital Format


In joystick first step includes the conversion of physical hand movement to digital format, which then gets transferred to software for interpretation to perform necessary action.

So, machine understand binary data only 0 and 1. So, the whole program is encoded into a chip and it performs as per the movement of joystick.

Que2. What are some examples of applications of joystick?

  1. In electronic wheelchairs
  2. Flying jets
  3. Video Games
  4. All of the Above

Ans. 4. All of the Above


Some of examples where joystick is used in real life are

  • In control and movement of electronic wheelchairs where the controls are available near hands for moving wheelchair right-left, front-back etc.,
  • In flying jets or aircraft same way as mentioned in above example of wheelchair
  • In video games where the changes done by joystick are visible on screen in games etc.

How joystick functions?

Inside the joystick base contains the printed circuit board which helps in detecting the direction of joystick.

Que3. Joytick doesn’t works when electric circuit is in:

  1. Active state
  2. Passive state
  3. Neutral state
  4. None of the Above

Ans. 3. Neutral state


The terminals can’t complete the electric circuit when the joystick is in a neutral state.

When the terminals are pushed on the gap in the circuit closes, thus pressing the metal disc onto the board. The console is then executes the appropriate control action the instant it detects the charge on the wire, depending on the software interpretation the console might take a right, left, diagonally movement or something entirely different.

Some of the useful links on youtube to understand how a joystick functions are:

The following video shows how a video game controller works and you will get a fair idea about joystick as well.

SourceClick me

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