I’d like to share the project I started during my holidays.
While some of you know me for my various involvement in the global Bar Citizen movement, the local Bar Citizen in the Montreal (Canada) area, involvement with community-related Discord Bot and as le leader of my organisation, I discovered myself some, really unexpected, manual talents over the holidays.
I had basic very soldering skill, and good programming skill, pretty much no tools to do the job right and no clue were to start with.
Everything started up by touching a prospector and felt the mining mechanic fun, but not fun to handle with my mouse thumbwheel.
I also disliked using my throttle axis or even the unused throttle axis on my stick to handle the mining power as it involved switching hands over.
Finally, I always wanted to had some button to handle flight ready, landing gears, etc…
I then explored the option of building a custom controller.
The device is convinient in both Hotas and Keyboard and Mouse setup, as you don’t need to move your hand around during mining session.
My initial plan?
A simple panel with a slider that would sit in front of my keboard, with some buttong for landing gear, door lock, etc…
I learned read and asked lots of question about customs joystick controller on the DIY channel from the Hotas/HOSAS/SIMPIT Discord Server at https://discord.gg/szqaJE7 and stopped on Arduino as it seemed scalable and withing my knowledge capability.
They also recommended me to use mechanical keys as buttons since they are relatively cheap, and satisfying to use. I ended up salvaging a non-working Mechanical Keyboard I had.
I sourced all my stuff on Amazon Prime or local store, which probably doubled the cost over sourcing and waiting on ebay.
I also made some mistake and mutliple iterations of buttons before going to the mechanical keys, scrapped my first plastic box, purchased a soldering iron that was too powerfull for my need bevore getting the right one, etc…
I probably spend 100$ USD to acquire all the materials and tools, but the final product probably cost less than 50$.
Important thing I learned, round holes are really cool, square holes are a pita and require more thinkering to be done.
It started with a carboard prototype for the panel, then I realized it wasen’t convinient for frequent use.
I tested a small slider and it wasen’t fun to use, the knob on other hand, felt very natural and fun to use.
I had no access to a 3d printer. I might considering that option for the MK3.
Bill of Material:
-Arduino Pro Micro
-Hammond Plastic Box
-Decent USB Cable
-Thumbstick mounted on a breakoutboard(do yourself a favor, but them pre-mounted, they are like 4$ on ebay, the thumbstick
-Small PCB to hook my ground pins (felt it was more convinient)
-Salvaged Keyboard keys and keycap
-Rubber grommet for the USB hole
-Rotary Potentiometer 10k, linear, 300 degree
-Metal knob, because plastic look and felt cheap.
Bunch of unused buttons since I salvaged a mechanical Keyboard
Soldering Iron (twice since I got one that was too powerfull)
Some hot Glue, soldering wire, soldering wick, etc…
Next Step? Getting back to the original panel I intended to build.
I also put my Arduino code on Gitlab at https://gitlab.com/Flisher/FlisherArduinoController. It should be easy to reuse and buttons can be assigned to a keystoke (pulse), regular keypress or joystick button only by changing a configuration variable. I plan to add configurable axis in the future so it can easily be reused by anybody, but I need to play SC a little bit too :)
F1-F4 : Button 1 to 4 (unused)
F5 -> Send a single M (Mining Mode)
F6 -> Send a single Tab (Scan Mode)
F7 -> Send a single C (Cruise on/off)
F8 -> Regular Behavior with X key (Space Break)
The Knob control the mining power
Thumbstick move forward/backward, straff left/right.
Thumbstick button perform Button 9 (unused)