Jun 25 2019 0

Joystick tester

During the last couple of months I have collected a number of joysticks that need to be tested. I could just connect them to one of the ZX Spectrum computers for testing, but why take the risk if you can easily build a joystick tester .

Also it could come handy when on a fair you want to make sure a particular joystick is in working order before buying it.

The tester will consist of a couple of LEDs, a power source, DB9 connector and a bunch of wires. For a simple joystick a power source of 3v would be enough, but for joysticks with an auto-fire option 5v is needed. Meaning that we also need a little circuit to lower the input voltage from 6v (or 9v) to around 5v to prevent the auto-fire circuitry from being fried.


As with the joystick adapter it helps to create a prototype first to make sure I have all the connections correct.

Function DB9 pin
Up 1
Down 2
Left 3
Right 4
Fire 3/Paddle 5
Fire 1 6
+5v 7
Fire 2/Paddle 9

To build the prototype I used a breadboard and since I didn’t have the zener diode available I used two diodes (2 x 1N4007) to drop the voltage a bit. In the prototype I also left out the power switch and the LED to indicate that the power is on.

Joystick Tester PrototypeJoystick Tester Prototype

Although I don’t have any joysticks with a second or third fire button (or paddles) I have made the connections for them as well.

Working as expected .

Schematic for the joystick tester

After several versions that didn’t work as expected (mainly issues related to amps/voltages)

Incorrectly working PCB’sIncorrectly working PCB’s

I made the final design using an AMS1117 5v voltage regulator which resulted in the PCB below. During the several redesigns I also switched from using Eagle to EasyEDA, which I found a little bit easier to use.

Joystick Tester PCBJoystick Tester PCB

After a couple of weeks waiting the order arrived from JLCPCB, which turned out really good. Here you can see a bare PCB next to a fully populated PCB.

Actual Joystick Tester PCBActual Joystick Tester PCB

I posted a short video on Twitter showing the working version of the Joystick Tester

Tou are never to old to learn something new

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