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Classic Joystick Construction
Most of the arcade-type joysticks have similar construction. Some elements are constant and even if they look different their function remains the same. Very often you can find some terminology about certain parts on some message boards. They discuss about changing those parts, modifying them or just about how these parts affect the joystick. Here, on an example of Compact Joystick, you will learn what elements are needed to assemble that controller and the different variations of these elements as well as what they do.
top — the top of the joystick is mostly ended with a balltop or battop. Balltop Is simply a 30, 32, 35, 38 or 40 mm in diameter ball. Battop is an oblong, conical knob which can be done in 2 versions: an ovaltop version (oval in shape) and a teardrop (conical, tear-like shape).
shaft — you can call it the haft of the joystick, but shaft simply refers to the overall steel pole in the joystick. But if you want to be precise and for example you need to measure your joystick’s shaft, it is the “naked” part of the mentioned pole that is visible (from mounting base/or pivot up to the top). Usually when someone mentions “shaft” he/she means that part of it only.
shaft cover — the purpose of these covers is to make the shaft more “fat” or to determine its height against the groove (just like slaves). Usually those covers are made of some plastic and they can be detachable as well as fixed on the stick(shaft).
slave — a kind of passthru used to adjust the height of the shaft, and by this, the height of the stick which jut out the base. These passthru are mostly done as a kind of sleeves, but their functionality is often included in the shaft cover or in the pivot functionality.
groove — a kind of a channel, on which the e-clip is fastened. Joysticks that have an adjustable height have more than 1 groove, you choose the right groove accordingly to the shaft cover, slave or pivot position.
washer / dust cover — a kind of dust protector. It protects the pivot from any dust that could get inside the joystick and it also protects your palm from getting pinched between the stick and the hole. Washers sometimes are made in a form of collars for the shaft.
pivot — it’s the bottom end of whole shaft (the whole steel pole), it is situated in a cavity of the base. And this cavity is playing a role of a bearing, where pivot is being the moving part in this bearing. Bearings in joysticks usually work in a telescopic way. Pivot allows you to move the stick in different directions as well as pivot it (to pivot sth is to move sth around its axis). They way the whole bearing is made have a direct impact on the overall dynamics of the joystick. Pivot usually is a separable part but it can be integrated with the centering ring or other element.
Pivot can take the form of a rubber ring (i.e. WICO Leaf Switch) or a magnet (i.e. Magnetic Joystick) with a hole for the stick, a tubularpassthru (i.e. STC, Eurojoystick), a conical sleeve (i.e. Compact Joystick, P360), a hemisphere (i.e. JLF) or in the end a typical washer/pad can play the role of a pivot.
Tubular (cylindrical) and conical pivots and washers/pads center the stick very fast and “stiff”. Hemispheres and rubber rings do it more smoothly but the motion is also a bit of laggy and it takes longer to center the stick. But in common players terminology the word “bearing” is only said when talking about a hemispherical pivots, mostly regarding Japanese constructions. Other pivot solutions are said not be using bearings. Pivot can also determine the height of the stick just like the shaft cover or slave.
base — base of the joystick is that part which directly adjoins with the mounting plate and the hub. Or it can be that both of these are integrated with the base. The centering mechanism (bearing part and a spring) is usually situated in the base.
spring, rubber/magnetic grommet — springs or rubber/magnetic grommets (a kind of aligning rings) are usually used as a source of force used to center the joystick. .
washer for spring — washer/pad for the spring is that part which limits and pulls back the spring. Usually it have a special carving in which the last coil of the spring fits in. This part also plays a role in centering and stabilizing the joystick, it does it because usually the stick tightly goes through its tubular center. Usually an actuator presses on the washer/pad but these two parts can also be integrated.
mounting plate — it can be integrated with the base or it can take the form of a wholly detachable part (tighten with screws). The plate is always equipped with a set of specially placed holes (for the screws) to mount the joystick in the panel. Plates can be flat (flat plate) or they can be convex (s-plate).
hub — a special socket/hub on which the microswitches/leaf-switches/electronic PCB (to detect motion) are placed. Hub can be directly integrated, fastened with screws or clipped-on with the base. It is very common that there is an integrated restrictor on the hub’s central base. Sometimes hubs of the same manufacturer (i.e. WICO) can be switched between different models of joysticks and those joysticks can take a big advantage of it. .
restrictor — restrictor is a special profiled mould/stencil through which the stick or actuator goes. It mechanically determines the rotation and mode in which the joystick works. It can also physically eliminate certain directions or increase them. Octagon allows the user to precisely input a perpendicular directions and diagonals, square increase the precision of diagonals and rhombus completely eliminates them. Restrictors come in many different forms, they can be mounting plates, wholly detachable and switchable plates/bases or parts integrated with a base or a hub. Below you can see different types of restrictors, in the form of plates/bases. From left: circle, octagon, square, rhombus, rectangle.
switches — switches are used in digital joysticks as motion detectors. V microswitches are widely used nowadays. Switches are usually placed on the hub fastened with screws or clips of some sort. Sometimes electronic PCBs with diode system or induction elements are used instead.
actuator — it is the acting part at the end of the stick, which directly activates the motion detector. In a classic joystick, those with microswitches, it usually takes a form of a cylinder or a cuboid (more rectangular cube) whose sides activate the microswitch plunger or lever. In electronic joysticks it can be a ferrite core a magnet. Actuator also plays other roles, it can affect the diagonal range and the rotation. In joysticks where the restrictor is in a form of base/plate, actuator tightly presses on the restrictors inner sides, which gives the joystick the rotation accurate to the restrictor mold, also the diameter and profile of the actuator regulates the throw of the joystick. reguluje rzut.
e-clip — e—pad, e—washer is a kind of latch (snap fastener) at the end of the shaft which is fastened on the channel to block the shaft or actuator.