Thumb, finger, hand and desktop joysticks

Guide for Joysticks


Joysticks for industrial and medical applications

Joysticks play a central role as input devices in operating concepts at the interface between man and machine. They are used in many industrial applications, such as robotics, cranes, agricultural and forestry machinery, construction machinery, medical technology, as well as for controlling mobile machines and industrial production lines. Due to the often harsh environmental conditions, an industrial joystick must have robust and long life characteristics to minimize failures.

The joysticks offered by MEGATRON use modern non-contact Hall sensors or high-quality potentiometers. Our industrial joysticks are characterized in particular by high-quality components and construction, which guarantee a long-lasting and reliable function. For this wide range of possible applications and their diverse joystick requirements, MEGATRON offers matching solutions.

Thumb joysticks for portable devices or panel integration, finger joysticks for sensitive control tasks, hand joysticks for use in the harshest environments and joysticks in ergonomic desktop housings with integrated buttons for additional functions. In this way, we serve a wide range of customer requirements and at the same time respond to individual demands through internal development, production and quality assurance, offering customer-specific solutions.

Guide for Joysticks


Applications for joysticks - the right design choice

To define the best joystick for your application, the first step is to choose the size. In most cases, this will already allow you to narrow down the pre-selection of products. The designs of the various joysticks can be divided into the following categories: Thumb, Finger, Hand and Desktop Joysticks. Since each of these sizes was developed for fundamentally different applications, selecting the right type is usually straightforward.

Thumb joysticks are the smallest type

A classic application is remote controls, where an operator has to hold a housing in place, leaving his hand free for the input movement. The control is therefore typically done with the thumb. Thumb joysticks are also installed in control panels or in large handheld joysticks because space is often limited and the dimensions of thumb joysticks are not much larger than those of buttons and switches.

Finger joysticks are the all-rounders in the medium-size range

These joysticks provide the user with the highest operating precision due to the fact that the human fingers or fingertips can exercise the best control when operating the handle.  The application possibilities are very diverse and therefore the variety of finger joysticks is also the largest. It is in applications for control of medical equipment, surveillance cameras or mobile machines that this design shows its strengths.

Hand joysticks represent the largest type

In general, it can be said that the mechanical stability increases with size. However, the application also places increased demands on the product. Hand joysticks are therefore used in the heavy-duty sector for controlling cranes, construction machinery and other large vehicles and systems. Here the safety requirements are particularly high and usually redundant electronics and sensor technology is necessary. Accordingly, investment costs increase with the size of the joystick.

Desktop joysticks represent a special group

As a rule, these are integrated finger joysticks in desktop housings, which usually offer a few buttons for additional functions in the housing.  These input devices cover the rather large demand for stationary applications with already permanently installed finger joysticks. The area of video surveillance is particularly worth mentioning. Nowadays only USB variants are of importance here, because the input information is usually transferred immediately to a computer.

Axis configuration

The selection of the available degrees of freedom

Each joystick model has certain limitations regarding the available number of degrees of freedom and the freedom of movement for operation. The degrees of freedom are called axes for joysticks. Most models offer 2 axes, i.e. the handle can be moved in X and Y direction (forward/backward, left/right). In addition, the handle can also be rotated in some models. This is called the Z-axis and allows the input of a total of 3 degrees of freedom in simple designs.
Most thumb joysticks offer a maximum of 2 degrees of freedom. Many finger joysticks are available as 3-axis joysticks. However, even more axes can be implemented for hand joysticks. In the head plate of these joysticks there is space for a lot of input elements and thus for additional degrees of freedom.

An exception to the range is our SpaceMouse® Module: here the control handle can be deflected in all three directions - in addition, tilting/rotation of each direction is possible. This results in a total of 6 degrees of freedom, allowing direct, intuitive navigation and control in 3-dimensional space.

Axis configuration - limiter selection

The freedom of movement of the main axes can be restricted in almost all models. In some applications, when the first axis deflects, the second axis should be blocked ("plus" limiter). In other cases the simultaneous deflection should be possible only to a reduced extent (round limiter). The square limiter offers full freedom of movement. Some hand joystick models offer the possibility of locking in the middle or at deflection. For this, see the section "Reset characteristics and haptics".

The handle - interface to the user

The configurability of the handles increases with the size of the model. Thumb joysticks offer many handle shapes and a few offer the possibility to switch with pressure on the handle.

With finger joysticks, the variety increases further and several push buttons are already possible.

Hand joysticks offer the largest variety of handle options. In fact, almost all models are customized for the application. The configurability is usually higher than indicated on the data sheets. Feel free to contact us to get the best solution for your application!

Selection of sensor technology

Contactless, potentiometric or by switch?

Two technologies are of importance for industrial joysticks today: Hall sensors and potentiometric sensors.

Hall sensor technology is a contactless technology in which the sensor detection of the deflection is contactless. This has the advantage that there is practically no wear and tear and therefore no change in sensor behaviour over the entire running time.
If there are no particular reasons for excluding this technology, such as strong electromagnetic interference in the application environment, Hall sensors are usually chosen.

Potentiometric sensors use wiper and resistance elements for sensory detection. Only high-quality, so-called precision potentiometers meet the most demanding requirements for quality and lifespan. The advantage of this technology lies in its insensitivity to external interference fields. Joysticks with potentiometric sensors are particularly popular in medical technology, where the requirements for immunity to X-rays, other interference fields and electrostatic discharges are very high.

If a continuous output signal between minimum and maximum deflection is not required in applications, switch sticks are a good choice. These are only equipped with switches that detect the deflection of the joystick. Thanks to their simple and straightforward design, switches are very insensitive to interference and disturbances. However, the number of switching operations is limited and usually results in a shorter lifespan. A special situation is the use of switch sticks for switching high currents directly via the joystick, which otherwise has to be done with an external relay.

In general, it should be noted that the sensor technology used does not say anything about the quality and durability of the joystick's mechanics. It can happen that the mechanics of low-cost components fail long before the sensors, so the sensor technology should not be overrated. In uncomplicated cases we recommend compact Hall joysticks, as these are the easiest to integrate today and are suitable for most applications.
Safety-critical applications often require redundant designs with two sensor elements per axis. Almost all of our models are optionally available as redundant versions.

Return mechanism and haptics

As a rule, the application determines whether the joystick should return to its initial position when not actuated (by spring return) or whether it should remain in the last position in one or more deflection directions (friction brake, optionally also by detent positions).
Most modern joystick models are equipped with a central spring. This spring returns the operating lever to the middle position for both deflection directions. The strength of the spring can be adjusted. For constructive reasons, no further adjustments such as an additional friction brake can be implemented.
If the application requires friction brakes or detent positions, special models must be used, whose design is larger and more complex, but which are therefore more flexible for such adaptations.

Outputs and interfaces - analogue or digital?

Almost all joystick models offer analogue voltage outputs in the range of 0-5 V. These are usually the basic versions of the products and accordingly the most economical versions. Since potentiometers are basically passive components, joysticks with potentiometric features usually only offer analogue outputs. For some models only analogue versions are available, which are sufficient for most applications. Modern models with non-contact sensors offer additional digital interfaces, such as pulse width modulation (PWM), USB, RS232 (serial) and CAN bus variants. The interfaces offered are very different and are only listed for certain series. Therefore, it pays off to look only at these products when an interface is specified.

Tips and hints


Depending on the sensor technology used, the evaluation electronics must be designed very differently. Hall-effect joysticks use integrated circuits as sensor elements, which are installed on printed circuit boards within the housing of the joysticks. Depending on the circuit board design, different operating parameters must therefore be observed, which can be found on the data sheet. This therefore also applies in general to the bus systems offered.
In potentiometric models with analogue outputs, however, the angle sensors are passive components (conductive plastic potentiometers) and the models are usually not equipped with control electronics. The connections lead directly to the potentiometers, which must be operated in a voltage divider circuit in order not to damage the sensors. Please take special care that no relevant current flows through the outputs, as this could damage the potentiometer wipers.

Environmental influences

Vibrations, mechanical overload, heat, aggressive substances, etc. can endanger the operational safety of input elements. The resistance of the individual models varies greatly and generally higher prices are justified by higher resistance or by better technical specifications.
In general: The specified protection classes are indicated above the panel. If moisture is expected below the seal, products that allow optional sealing of the electronics must be selected. Please contact us if you have this requirement.
The specified operating temperatures are used as reference values for the recovery properties of the mechanics and for the elastomers used for the sealings, but also for the electronic components. Most joysticks also function at lower temperatures than those specified in the data sheet. Especially for safety-relevant applications we advise against operating the joysticks outside these limits.


Most models can be mounted into a panel from above. Typically, the base, the joystick pot, is round and is fixed by 4 screws. On some models, the handle fits through the recess in the panel and can therefore also be installed in the panel from below. Depending on the degree of protection and the general type of construction, the covers of the mechanics (rubber bellows) are either screwed together with a cover ring to form a seal or separate seals are supplied to ensure the seal in the panel.

Product customizations

The MEGATRON team has decades of experience as a reliable partner for industrial and medical technology customers. Our particular strength is the customer-specific adaptation of products. Especially the optimal adjustment of joysticks to the application is often required for small to medium quantities, as niche markets are also served here.
Joysticks offer a wide range of adaptation possibilities. Depending on the feature to be modified, these adaptations can be carried out even for small quantities. Please contact us and describe your request - we will find the best solution for your application!

30 results found
SpaceMouse Joystick
Finger Joystick Series SpaceMouse® Module
Intuitive control of complex 3D movement with one hand only
  • Intuitive control of complex 3D movements (6 DOF, degrees of freedom)
  • Optimized industrial version
  • Optoelectronic sensor: contact-less and linear
  • UART (serial) or USB interface
Finger joystick-TRY100
Finger Joystick TRY100
Almost all application needs combined in one joystick series thanks to the extensive selection of handles, limiters and output options
  • Variety of handle shapes
  • Good cost/performance ratio
  • Installation depth from 26 mm
  • 1 to 3 axes
  • Optional redundant Hall sensors
  • Optional with digital interfaces (CANopen, CAN J1939, USB)
Finger joystick-844
Finger Joystick Series 844
Very robust joystick in variety designs with minimal installation depth - the miniature heavy-duty joystick
  • Very robust joystick
  • Exceptional electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)
  • Small installation depth of < 20 mm
  • Wide selection of configurations/handles
  • Reliability through redundant Hall sensors (optional)
  • Contact-less, wear-free Hall effect technology
Finger joystick-TRY120
Finger Joystick TRY120
Robust finger joystick for use in demanding mobile applications.
  • Rugged finger joystick ideal for mobile vehicle applications
  • Easy to service due to plug connection
  • With Hall sensors, optionally redundant
  • Also with digital interfaces (CAN J1939, CANopen, USB)
  • Shallow installation depth < 26 mm
Finger josytick 842
Finger joystick 842
Robust potentiometric joystick in a variety of designs - compact but flexible
  • Very robust potentiometric finger joystick with metal mechanics
  • Wide range of knobs
  • Degree of protection up to IP65 above panel
  • Inherently robust towards electromagnetic interference
  • Custom versions possible with friction brake for one axis, spring return for the second axis
  • Microswitches for detecting the central position/deflection optional
  • Customer- specific billet shapes, bellows and sensors on request
Switchstick Series 851
Functional switch stick for one- or two-dimensional control
  • Stable stainless steel shaft
  • Small installation depth < 24 mm
  • Spring return to center position
  • IP class 65 (above panel)
  • Good cost/performance ratio
Finger joystick-847
Finger Joystick Series 847
Modern look and feel with soft-touch surface and redundant sensor technology
  • Reliability through redundant Hall sensors
  • Protection IP67
  • Handle details in 5 colours
  • Mounting depth 5.8 mm
Switchstick Series 841
Rugged switchstick for 1 to 2 axes with high quality switches for various switching scenarios
  • Particular robust switchstick
  • Single step or progressive switching
  • Switching up to 1 A with gilded contacts
  • Center detect switch optional
  • Protection up to IP65 (above panel)
  • High lifespan
  • Large selection of handles, also with push buttons
Finger joystick-TRY22
Finger Joystick TRY22
Industrial joystick for three axes of the highest quality in terms of mechanics, materials and workmanship
  • Exceptional quality of mechanics and sensors
  • For demanding applications
  • Contact-less, wear-free Hall Effect technology
  • Redundant outputs available
  • Protection available up to IP65 (above panel)
Finger joystick-821
Miniature Switchstick Series 821
Very compact, premium switchstick for 1 to 3 axes and up to 6 micro switches
  • Exceptional quality of mechanics and sensors
  • For demanding applications
  • Protection of IP54 above panel (only X and Y axis)
  • Smallest dimensions with highest life-time
  • Small handle deflection
  • With up to 6 micro switches
Finger joystick-828
Miniature Joystick Series 828
Very compact premium finger joystick for 1 to 3 axes for safe operating feeling and convincing haptic
  • Exceptional quality of mechanics and sensors
  • For demanding applications
  • Protection up to IP54 (above panel)
  • Smallest dimensions with highest life-time
  • Small handle deflection
  • Integrated conductive plastic potentiometer sensors
Finger joystick-826
Finger Joystick Series 826
Premium finger joystick with highly customizable sensor technology
  • Exceptional quality of mechanics and sensors
  • For demanding applications
  • Conductive plastic potentiometers mounted outside of the housing
  • Various configurations possible for switches, detent positions, etc.
  • X and Y axis can be configured differently
  • Friction clutch for one axis, spring return for the other axis possible
  • Protection up to IP65 (above panel)
Finger joystick-829
Finger Joystick Series 829
Joystick of the highest quality with 1 axis for controlling one-dimensional parameters
  • Exceptional quality of mechanics and sensors
  • For demanding applications
  • Optional Hall Effect or potentiometer sensors
  • Diverse configuration options for micro switches, detent positions, etc.
Thumb joystick-TRY20
Thumb Joystick TRY20
The smallest 3-axis joystick on the market thanks to the rotatable knob
  • 3 axes due to rotatable knob (2-axis version optional)
  • Particularly low height above the panel (21 mm without seal, 28 mm with seal)
  • Outstanding quality of mechanics and sensors for many years of reliable operation
  • Contactless, wear-free Hall sensor technology for consistent signal quality over the entire service life
  • Redundant output signals optionally possible for particularly safety-critical applications
Thumb joystick-PW30
Thumb Joystick PW30
Rocker: Stand-alone or integrated device
  • 1 axis rocker
  • Potentiometer or Hall sensors
  • Spring return
  • Ergonomic handle design
Thumb joystick-TRY13
Thumbwheel TRY13
One of our smallest joysticks with Hall sensors
  • 1 axis
  • Ergonomic thumbwheel
  • With spring return
  • Sensitive response to user operation
Thumb joystick-TRY13M
Thumb Joystick TRY13m
Miniature 1-axis joystick - the little brother of TRY13.
  • 1-axis Miniature Joystick
  • Hall-Effect Sensor
  • Easy Snap-In Mounting
  • Thumb Wheel in several colors available
Thumb joystick-TRY14
Thumb Joystick TRY14
Miniature joystick with modern Hall technology
  • Contactless Hall sensors
  • Waterproof, IP class 68 (1 metre) / IP69K
  • Optionally available with dual output, or redundant with separate supply lines
Hand joystick-871
Hand Joystick Series 871
Particularly high-quality, medium-sized hand joystick with a cobra knob
  • Ergonomic Cobra handle providing space for individual components placement
  • Customized version with up to 5 axes possible
  • Robust construction ideally suited for heavy-duty applications
  • Expected life of more than 5 million operations without change in feel
  • Small installation depth of <49 mm for space-saving integration into panels and driver's cabs
  • Separate wiring of switches other input elements for safe operation
Hand joystick-870
Hand Joystick Series 870
Highest quality hand joystick with compact installation dimensions
  • Particularly high quality hand joystick with stock grip handle
  • Robust design, predestined for heavy duty applications
  • Lifespan of over 5 million movements for long-term reliable operation
  • Small installation depth of <49 mm for space-saving installation in control panels and driver's cabs
  • Optionally with button, rocker switch or z axis to control additional functions
  • 12-pin connector for easy installation in series production (optionally also with cable outlet)
  • Protection class up to IP65
Hand joystick-891
Hand Joystick Series 891
Large, multifunctional heavy-duty hand joystick of the highest quality with cobra knob
  • Ergonomic cobra-shaped handle for ergonomic control of complex machines
  • Equipped with conductive plastic potentiometers or Hall sensors (both also available as redundant versions) as the ideal solution for your electronics
  • Outstanding quality of mechanics and sensors for long-term, reliable operation
  • Various configuration options for rockers, switches, latching positions and micro switches to meet safety-critical requirements
  • Available with spring return to centre position or with friction brake
  • Feel can be adjusted for optimization on special applications
  • Special version with fully rotatable cobra knob available
  • Degree of protection up to IP65 (above the panel, depending on configuration)
Hand joystick-890
Hand Joystick Series 890
Large heavy-duty joystick with stock grip handle of the highest quality with configurable sensors
  • Outstanding quality of mechanics and sensor technology for many years of reliable operation
  • Conductive plastic potentiometers or Hall sensors (both also available as redundant version) as ideal solution for your electronics
  • Wide range of configuration options for switches, latching positions, etc. to meet safety-critical requirements
  • Available with spring return to center position or with friction brake
  • Protection class IP65 (above the panel)
Hand joystick-TRY54
Hand Joystick TRY54
Cutting-edge, ergonomic hand grip for extreme applications
  • CANBus joystick (CAN SAE J1939-71 or CANOpen)
  • SIL 2 capable
  • Reliability through redundant Hall sensors
  • Withstands axial loads of more than 1700 N
  • Up to 10 million movement cycles
  • Low installation depth
Hand joystick-TRY50
Hand Joystick TRY50
Compact and robust hand-size joystick
  • Up to two pushbutton in handle
  • IP class 65
  • Optionally available with USB and CAN (J1939)
Hand joystick-TRY52
Hand Joystick TRY52
Multifunction handle: Compact and strong
  • 1 and 2 Axes
  • Up to 10 millions cycles under high loads
  • IP class up to 63
  • Multifunction handle for additional functions, e.g. Switches, Rockers,
  • Also available with USB- or CANbus-Interface
Hand joystick-TRY80
Hand Joystick TRY80
For heavy-duty applications
  • Different handle designs available
  • Optionally with push buttons and deadman trigger
  • Industrial-suited robust design
  • IP classes up to 63 (on request)
  • Several output options (analog, CAN J1939, CANopen, USB)
Hand joystick-TRY81
Hand Joystick TRY81
Customizable multifunctional joystick
  • Handle can be configured individually with pushbuttons
  • IP class up to 63
Desktop Joystick MACHIV
Highly customizable desktop housing
  • Several handle versions
  • Desktop housing with customizable number of pushbuttons
  • Optionally with USB interface
Desktop Joystick MACHV
Desktop housing integrating 3 axes joystick and 10 pushbuttons
  • 12 switching operations, two of them integrated inside handle
  • Ergonomic desktop housing
  • USB interface (HID 1.1 compliant)
Desktop Joystick Series RS Desktop
Compact and stylish USB desktop joystick
  • 3 axes with Hall sensors
  • Compact desktop housing with 6 pushbuttons
  • USB interface (HID 1.1 compliant)
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