Zenta Robotic Creations

Advanced hobby robotic designer

New DIY remote project

Posted on November 25, 2015  in DIY remote

The original “DIY remote”

I’m currently working on a new DIY remote for my next robots. For several years (since early 2009) I’ve been using a DIY remote designed by Jim Frye, the previous owner of Lynxmotion. Originally the remote from Jim was based on 2,4 GHz RC communication, here is a picture of the remote I got from Jim:

Original DIY remote


During the summer 2009 the great forum member Kurt Eckhardt modified the remote for 2,4 GHz XBee serial communication:

DIY remote w/XBee


Later on I modified the gimbals by adding extra pots on top of the sticks:

DIY remote extra pots


So far I’ve been really satisfied with the remote. The extra potmeters certainly made a big difference. The remote is fairly easy to hold with the hands and at the same time handle the joysticks and pots. When it comes to the two sliders and the keypad, they are harder to reach when handling the sticks. It’s not a big problem, but in some cases it would be useful to have access to some extra buttons and sliders without having to move my hand away from the stick.

For a while ago I ordered some 4-function joysticks from servocity. Having access to an extra function button and a third self-centering axis is a feature I’ve missed in many cases. For example; a hexapod robot moves (translate) in 3 dimensions and rotates around 3 axis, so having a 3DOF joystick makes it very convenient. I’ve done some testings of the joysticks from servocity and they seem to perform ok, I’m not very satisfied of the centering though, there are some play/backlash. I bought four of them and the quality seem to be pretty consistent.

Trying out new DIY remote design

Since I don’t have very large hands I found it a bit hard to handle the 4-function joysticks while holding the remote without any additional support. Therefore I decided to go for a different and larger design. Having good support for your arm/hand when operating these large sticks makes it a lot more comfortable, ergonomic and gives an accurate control. The major drawback is that it isn’t possible to carry or hold it without some sort of harnesses or extra support. Some days ago I made the first version using a sheet of plywood. I’ll later on design a new plate on CAD for a laser cut version.



I’m trying to keep it simple and placed some of the function buttons and a slider close to the joysticks for easy access:



I do need to adjust the final design though. The joysticks are going to be placed a little different and I’m going to add four extra menu buttons under the 4×20 LCD display.



I’m using a relative cheap instrument case bought at a local hardware shop (Clas Ohlson) as a base for the remote:



As you’ve probably figured out I’m using the lid of the case for the main remote. I’m also going to modify the hinges to make it easy to separate the lid from the main case. The main part of the case are going to hold a separate 5,8 GHz receiver and a LCD monitor for optional FPV control of the robots:



Next step is to work on the software. I’m using a Teensy 3.1 mcu and a breakout board (designed by Kurt Eckhardt) connected to all the buttons, joysticks, sliders, keypad and the 4×20 LCD panel. Earlier this year I soldered three more of the breakout boards. Thanks for sharing Kurt!

Teensy breakouts_800