Thumb Soldiers’ Thumbstick Tops

Photo showing an Xbox Series controller, a DualSense controller and a Nintendo Switch with Joy-cons each with a Thumb Soldier attachment on one of their sticks.

A common modification people make to game controllers is to add thumbstick extenders. This is normally to improve reach or comfort. Something that has often afflicted these extenders is how easily they can come off by accident. The “Thumb Soldiers” range addresses this issue with a “knuckle” clamp, sized to fit PS4/PS5, Xbox One/S/X or Nintendo Joy-Cons thumbsticks.

The “knuckle” clamp comes in two parts, and snugly attaches to any compatible thumbstick. Fitting into this is a range of tops. These include sticks, wrist rests, mushroom tops, studs for a finger to use and more.

Although you can still deliberately twist a top off to remove it, it seems difficult (from our initial testing) to do this by accident. The tops are made from a hard, lightweight plastic, with some texture to improve grip.

Guide for fitting a stick top into the Thumb Soldiers knuckle. Align the locking arms to locate within the knuckle. Fully insert the soldier into the knuckle. Pinch/hold the soldier and twist to lock. The soldier can now be adjusted to your fit. Insert the soldier into the other knuckle. Read to play... Take advantage.

PlayStation 5 Access (with Cronus Zen + Titan Two Daisy Chain)

Photo of set-up showing an Xbox Adaptive Controller and DualShock 4 controller connected to a PS5 console via a Titan Two adapter into a Cronus Zen adapter.
Labelled photo of set-up showing an Xbox Adaptive Controller and DualShock 4 controller connected to a PS5 console via a Titan Two adapter into a Cronus Max adapter.

*Update 25/01/24* – Unfortunately, the latest PS5 Update (24.01-08.60.00) stops the Cronus Zen device from functioning, so this set-up is not currently working. It will, however, still work if you have not yet carried out the (optional) update.

As a substitute method for using an alternative controller, the Besavior Controller’s Expansion Feature is currently working for one alternative controller (excluding an XAC): https://gameaccess.info/besavior-controller-expansion-feature-for-ps5/. The Besavior in combination with a Titan Two currently allows use two alternative controllers including an XAC: https://gameaccess.info/using-the-xbox-adaptive-controller-on-playstation-5-via-a-besavior/. We will update here if/when there has been a fix.

The PS5 Access Controller is also now available, if players are looking for alternative switch and joystick access, but this does not offer the option for alternative controller access (e.g. using an Xbox controller or DualSense 4 controller): https://gameaccess.info/playstation-5-access-controller-video-an-introductory-look/ 

Assistive Technology on the PS5

The Cronus Zen + Titan Two daisy chain is proving, from early testing, to be a reliable means of connecting a broad range of accessible gaming equipment to a PlayStation 5, including the Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC). However, these are early days, and there is a risk that a PS5 update could break this accessibility solution.

In essence, in this particular set-up, the Cronus Zen satisfies PS5 security checks and the Titan Two brings all the accessibility powers. These include dual-controller use (see image above) and custom scripts (such as with the Game Control Mixer). It also allows for keyboard, mouse and gamepad events to be mixed in from a Windows PC (using Gtuner IV software and a USB link cable between the PC and Titan PROG port). That opens up the potential for eye gaze, head control, speech and more to be added to a controller set-up.

A controller, such as an alternate gamepad or XAC, could be plugged directly into the Zen without the Titan, but you would currently not get these features.  

The DualSense controller is only used for powering on the set-up, rumble motor feedback and passing authentication tests. Nothing else functions on it.

Once the initial work of the Cronus Zen, Titan Two and PS5 configuration is complete, using this kit from thereon is straightforward: Power on (via the PS5 or DualSense). Play. Power off fully (the Zen and Titan lights should all go out). 

At the time of writing (July 2023), this is the method needed to configure the equipment:

A. Set your PS5 to communicate via USB: On your PS5, go to Settings > Accessories > Controllers > Communication Method (and check you are set to “Use USB Cable”). 

B1. Update your Cronus Zen: Download ZenHigh5 from Cronus or this Dropbox mirror. Open cmupdatetool-cronuszen-2.1.0-beta.68.exe.

B2. Connect the rear of your ZEN to a PC. Hold down the Zen’s Reset Button [underneath]. The OLED screen will say Zen Bootloader. Follow the on-screen instructions to update the firmware to 2.1.0 beta.68. Close the tool when finished.

B3. Hard reset the Zen by holding down P1 & P2 (the blue buttons on top of Zen) and reconnecting the Zen’s rear USB port to your PC. After 4 seconds the LEDs will flash RED GREEN BLUE indicating a successful hard reset, erasing all memory slots and putting your Zen back to factory defaults. Release buttons.

B4. Open ZenStudio-1.3.1.Beta.46.exe and connect your Zen to the PC from the [side USB] PROG USB Port.

B5. You now need to reset all of Zen Studio’s settings back to default by selecting Tools > Reset Zen Studio.

B6. When Zen Studio restarts, go to the Device tab to make sure that both PS4 Specialty and PS Remote Play are DISABLED and be sure the output protocol is set to AUTO and nothing else.

B7. Connect the short cable to the back of the Cronus Zen (CONSOLE/PC USB port). Connect a PS5 DualSense controller to the (side) A1 USB Port, ready for connecting to your PS5 at the end.

C. Update your Titan Two: Using Gtuner IV software, and the Titan Two connected via the PROG port, make sure the Titan Two is set up to “USB Automatic” output, and “Recall loaded memory slot between power cycles” (see below).

 
GTuner IV screen for Titan Two, in the Device Configuration tab (highlighted at the bottom in blue). Highlighted in red at the top is the Output Protocol dropdown menu set to USB Automatic, and near the bottom, "Recall loaded memory slot between power cycles" highlighted in red.


Also, install this script to a free Device Memory slot. An easy way to do this is to click on the Device Configuration tab (see below), search ‘Online Resources’ with “adaptive zen”, then drag the DRAG DROP box to a free slot and click on it (e.g. “9”). This script is a set of instructions that blocks a bug where the XAC RT input triggers the touch-click. It will also force the necessary PS4 mode, without interfering with other scripts and slots.

GTuner IV Online Resources tab highlighted in blue. In the top search bar highlighted in blue, is the text, "adaptive XAC". Highlighted in red, is a Drag Drop box pointing down to SLOT 9 in the Device Memory Slots pane.

D: Close Gtuner and unplug the Titan Two from your PC if you don’t need it anymore. Use the short Titan Two USB cable to link the Titan Two OUTPUT port to the front left USB port of the Zen. Connect your gaming controller/s to the front of the Titan Two (known as the A and B ports). Next, plug the short cable at the back of the Cronus Zen into your PS5. Power on. Play!

Trouble shooting: If the set-up is misbehaving, try clicking the tiny button under the Cronus Zen, or unplugging all USB power from the set-up and starting again. Wait 10 seconds or so for the adapters to initialise.

If the light(s) on your alternative controller(s) plugged into the Titan Two is (are) not on, you may need to manually turn the controller(s) on. 

If Touchpad or Sixaxis controls are needed, using a DualShock 4 in the set-up or custom Titan scripts can open this up. 


Cons to this system:

Microphone and headphone access won’t work through the controllers, so a wireless solution is recommended (we tested successfully with a Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen 2 Wireless PS5 headset, but other solutions exist).

The connected DualSense controller is only useful for powering on the set-up, rumble motor feedback and passing authentication tests. Nothing else functions.

Rumble feedback only works with the attached DualSense.

You need to purchase two adapters and Titan Twos are (at the time of writing) difficult to source at a reasonable price. Hopefully this will change. There’s also the Sony Access Controller on the way.

It takes a computer literate user with a PC to get this set-up.

Pros:

It works!! We have found it reliable, so far. You can add all the long-established powers of the Titan Two adapter. It’s easy to test your controls on a PS5 within the ‘Controller Demo’ part of the free game, Astro’s Playroom.

As a side note, other methods exist for connecting the likes of an XAC and co-pilot gamepad to a PS5. The Besavior and Titan Two method works reliably for us too, but it can be more expensive and has no Titan Two side access to the touchpad, nor Sixaxis (only via the Besavior controller). Also, the Remote Play approach is an option for some players, which requires a PS4 or PC and high-speed internet.

*Update 20.07.23 – a video showing how to create this set-up has been added here:

Please note, the the LED’s on the Titan Two, Cronus Zen and the Xbox Adaptive Controller will appear differently in-person to how they appear onscreen.
Show Transcript

Some of the people we work with are unable to use a DualSense controller that is required to play many PlayStation 5 games.

In this video, we will look at how to set up a Cronus Zen and a Titan Two to use alternative controllers like an Xbox Adaptive Controller (also known as an XAC) or DualShock 4 controller to play PlayStation 5 games on a PlayStation 5 console.

You can plug compatible controllers like an Xbox Adaptive Controller or DualShock 4 into the Cronus Zen directly, but using the Titan Two allows us to use two controllers simultaneously to play.

For instance, we may use a DualShock 4 controller as the main controller, but we use an XAC alongside it to use some accessibility switches. Or you may use joysticks and switches via the Xbox Adaptive Controller for most controls but have the DualShock 4 ready to use for any Touchpad or Sixaxis parts of games.

The PlayStation 5’s DualSense, whilst connected as part of the set-up to verify the Cronus Zen, cannot be used for controls.

Using the Titan Two also allows you to use Titan Two Scripts that may improve accessibility for you and also gives you the option to connect a PC to add certain controls, such as voice control.

We will go through setting up each of the pieces of equipment, then show how to connect them all to play.

Step 1. PlayStation 5 Console Settings

You will need to make sure your PlayStation 5 console is set so that controllers are used via a USB cable and not via Bluetooth.

To do this, in the PlayStation Home menu, navigate to ‘Settings’, select ‘Accessories’, go into ‘Controller’, then select ‘Communication Method’ and set it to ‘Use USB Cable’ instead of ‘Use Bluetooth’.

Step 2. Set Up the Cronus Zen

Download the software currently in beta from beta.cronusmax.com/ps5-beta and unzip the folder.

Open the ‘cm update tool’ file from the downloaded and unzipped folder to open the ‘Collective Minds Firmware Update Tool’ and connect the Cronus Zen to a PC using the Cronus’ rear USB port.

Hold down the Reset Button underneath the Cronus Zen. Its screen will say ‘Zen Bootloader’ and the device should then appear in the Update Tool. Follow the on-screen instructions to update the firmware. Close the tool when finished and unplug the Cronus Zen.

Hold the two blue buttons on top of the Cronus Zen and reconnect it to the PC again to hard reset it, again using the Cronus’ rear USB port.

After 4 seconds the LEDs will flash red, green, then blue, indicating a successful hard reset, erasing all memory slots and putting your Zen back to factory defaults.

Then unplug Cronus Zen from your PC.

Open Zen Studio from the downloaded and unzipped folder and connect your ZEN to the PC using its ‘PROG’ USB Port this time, which is on the side of the Cronus.

Go to ‘Tools’ then select ‘Reset Zen Studio’ to reset all of Zen Studio’s settings back to its defaults.

When Zen Studio restarts, go to the ‘Device’ tab and make sure that both ‘PS4 Specialty’ and ‘PS Remote Play’ are ‘DISABLED’. Also check the Output Protocol is set to ‘AUTO’ and nothing else.

Step 3. Set up the Titan

Download and install some Titan Two software called ‘Gtuner IV’ from the Titan Two’s consoletuner.com website.

 Once downloaded and installed, connect your Titan Two to a PC with its USB cable, using the PROG port on the back of the Titan Two. If you are prompted to update the Firmware, follow the on-screen instructions.

 Under Device Configuration, set the ‘Output Protocol’ to ‘USB Automatic’ and make sure ‘Recall loaded memory slot between power cycles’ is ticked, which will automatically load the profile we will put on next, instead of needing to manually select it using the buttons on the Titan Two device. Then select the tick box to ‘Power Off the device with the Console’. 

We need to install a script that blocks a bug that appears if using an XAC. It will also force the necessary ‘PS4 mode’. 

Click on the Device Configuration tab, and search ‘Online Resources’ with “adaptive zen”, then drag the DRAG DROP box to a free memory slot.

Then, finally, click on the number of the memory slot you saved the profile to.

These settings will automatically save to your Titan Two.

Close Gtuner and unplug the Titan Two from your PC.

  

Step 4. Setting up equipment for the first time 

Connect the short cable that comes with the Cronus Zen to its ‘CONSOLE/PC’ USB port which is on the back of it.

Then connect a PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, to the ‘A1’ USB Port on the side of the Cronus Zen.

Use the short Titan Two USB cable to link the Titan Two OUTPUT port to the front left USB port of the Cronus Zen.

Connect your gaming controllers to the front of the Titan Two. Next, plug the short cable connected to the back of the Cronus Zen into your PlayStation 5 console.

You can turn on the PlayStation 5 by pressing the button on the front of the console or by using the PS Home button on the connected DualSense PlayStation 5 controller.

If the light on one or both of your alternative controllers is not on, you may need to manually turn the controller on.

If one or more high-powered USB devices are connected to the XAC, the Titan Two may need extra power.

Here, we are connecting a Micro USB to USB-C cable from the USB PROG port on the Titan Two, into the USB-C slot on the front of the console to give it the extra power needed for using this particular set-up.

 

Step 5. Playing after initial set-up

Connect the cable from the back of the Cronus Zen to your PlayStation 5.

Turn on the PlayStation 5 from the front of the console or using the PS Home button on the DualSense controller.

If you are using an additional cable to give extra power to the Titan Two, connect this as well.

If the light on one or both of your alternative controllers is not on, you may need to manually turn the controller on.

Turn off the console in the usual way, in the PlayStation Home menu.

Unplug the Cronus Zen from the PlayStation 5.

If you are using an additional cable to give extra power to the Titan Two, unplug this as well.

 

Using the Xbox Adaptive Controller on PlayStation 5 (via a Besavior x Titan Two)

Photo showing a Titan Two connected to a Besavior DualSense controller and an Zboz controller and an XAC connected to the Ttian Two.
Diagram explaining how to connect an Xbox Adaptive Controller to a Titan Two and to a PS5.

Connecting an Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC) to a Playstation 5 can be quite difficult to achieve without using Remote Play. At SpecialEffect we’ve found the following method is currently working effectively for us, without the need for a network connection. You will need both a Titan Two (T2) adapter and a Besavior controller. Please note, this is a new method for us and, at the time of publishing, we are yet to test it more widely in the field.

  1. Programme a free slot on a T2 (set to AUTO) with this script.
  2. PINK: Link the XAC to the front of the T2.
  3. BLACK (optional): Connect a co-pilot gamepad to the other free front T2 port, to use an additional compatible controller alongside the XAC (the Besavior gamepad is needed for touchpad, Sixaxis and microphone access, but much of the rest of the inputs on the Besavior will not work).
  4. BLUE: Use the original short Titan Two cable to link the T2 OUTPUT port to the On The Go USB adapter, then into the underside port of the Besavior.
  5. RED: Give the T2 extra power (via the rear PROG port). This can come from the PS5’s small USB-C port on the front or one of the two USB-A ports on the back, a PC, or a Raspberry Pi 3B power supply.
  6. GREEN: Connect the Besavior USB port to the PS5. Make sure you’re in the correct T2 slot.
  7. Play.

Troubleshooting:

If you don’t have a green “O” LED on the T2, unplug the Besavior from the PS5. Count to 10. Reconnect. Wait 10 seconds. Then hold the PS button on the Besavior joypad until it powers up.

If the XAC is still not working, unplug the XAC. Power the XAC down (hold the Xbox button for 10 seconds until the light goes out) – then reconnect. You’re looking for a green “A” or “B” LED to show it is working.

*Update- 7/7/23 We have created a video showing the set-up process:

Please note, the the LED’s on the Titan Two and the Xbox Adaptive Controller will appear differently in-person to how they appear onscreen.
Show Transcript

This video will show how to use a Besavior and a Titan Two device to use an Xbox Adaptive Controller on PlayStation 5. This is a method that is currently allowing us to play PlayStation 5 games on the console with an Xbox Adaptive Controller, without using PS Remote Play.

The Besavior itself can be used as a stand-alone controller with back paddles, but it also has a feature that allows you to connect different controllers through it to use on the PlayStation 5 console.

In this set-up we are using it for this second feature and not for the back paddles. It is, however, needed for touchpad, Sixaxis and microphone access, but the rest of the inputs on the Besavior will not work.

We are using the Titan Two device in this set-up to enable us to use the Xbox Adaptive Controller with the Besavior and also to allow us to use a co-pilot controller alongside it.

 

Step 1. Set up the Titan Two

First, we will need to put a script onto a free a free slot on a Titan Two to help these devices to work.

You do this by downloading some Titan Two software called ‘Gtuner’ from the Titan Two’s consoletuner.com website.

Once downloaded and installed, connect your Titan Two to a PC with its USB cable, using the prog port on the back of the Titan Two.

In Gtuner, select ‘File’, ‘New’, ‘Minimum GPC Script’ and give it a name.

Then visit the forums on the Console Tuner website to locate and copy the script. The link to this page is in the video description.

Paste the code into the space in the script and then put it onto a free slot by selecting the ‘Install Active Code to Memory Slot’ icon and choose a free slot. In this case we put it onto slot ‘2’.

Then click on the number of the slot you have put the profile on.

You also need to set the ‘Output Protocol’ to ‘USB Automatic’ by going to ‘Device Configuration’, then selecting ‘USB Automatic’ from the drop-down option.

Under Device Configuration, you can also select ‘Recall loaded memory slot between power cycles’ to automatically load your profile instead of manually selecting it on the Titan Two device’.

You can then close Gtuner and remove the Titan Two from your PC. You can now use the Titan Two in this set-up.

 

Step 2. PlayStation 5 console settings

You will need to make sure your PlayStation 5 console is set so that controllers are used via a USB cable and not via Bluetooth. To do this, in the PlayStation home menu navigate to “Settings”, select “Accessories” and go into “Controller (General)”, then select “Communication Method” and set it to ‘Use USB Cable’ instead of ‘Use Bluetooth’.

 

Step 3. Setting up equipment for the first time

Turn on the PlayStation 5 console.

Link the Xbox Adaptive Controller to the front of the Titan Two. You can also connect another compatible controller to use alongside it, in the second slot.

Connect the ‘on the go’ USB adapter that comes with the Besavior and then use the short cable that comes with the Titan Two to link the Titan Two via the OUTPUT port to the Besavior. 

To give the Titan Two the extra power it needs, we are connecting a Micro USB to USB-C cable from the USB PROG port on the Titan Two, into the USB-C slot on the front of the console.

You can now Connect the Besavior via USB, to the PlayStation 5 console. Make sure you are in the correct Titan Two memory slot. Here we select slot 2, where our profile is.

When prompted onscreen to ‘press the ‘PS’ button on your controller’, you need press the Xbox button on the Xbox Adaptive Controller’.

When you are using this setup, you need to make sure that you always turn your PlayStation 5 on at the console, not the controller. Otherwise, the controller might connect wirelessly, and the set-up won’t work. 

 

Step 4. Playing after initial set-up 

Next time you want to play, turn on the PlayStation 5 using the power button on the front of the console. Then connect the Besavior again, along with the extra power to the Titan Two.

Make sure you are in the correct Titan Two memory slot.

When prompted onscreen to ‘press the ‘PS’ button on your controller’, press the Xbox button on the Xbox Adaptive Controller’.

To turn off the console, do this in the normal way in the PlayStation menu and then unplug the Besavior from the console and also unplug the additional power to the Titan Two.


For more information on the Xbox Adaptive Controller and the joysticks and switches that can be used with it, please use the ‘XAC’ tag on the GameAccess.info site.

Francis Alÿs Children’s Games x Tar Heel Gameplay

Make a snowball prompt, obscures a child sitting down in snow.
Tar Heel Gameplay prompt: Make a snowball. Behind is a child sitting down int he snow.

Using the Tar Heel Gameplay website, it’s easy to make games and activities out of YouTube videos. Tar Heel Gameplay has enabled me to convert ten of Francis Alÿs “Children’s Games” videos recorded from around the world, into very low-pressure accessibility activities. If you can activate a mouse click or a space bar press (perhaps using special assistive technology), it should be possible to play these, certainly on a Windows PC using Chrome.

If you sign up for an account at Tar Heel Gameplay, you can create simple activities yourself. It’s possible to make a multiple-choice adventure game, for example, with branching choices from the “Advanced” Create tab. Easier still is to make a “Basic” gameplay where the chosen video will pause after a fixed length of time, waiting for the user to decide when the action should continue. Whatever you decide, give the Gameplay a name, rating, topic and language then publish it. Next select Home, Find a Gameplay, then search for your creation. Click on it to play. You can then share the link as I’m doing with you below.

Games adapted in this way include: Kick the Bottle (game 1), African Subbuteo (game 27), Sandcastles (game 6), Skipping (game 22), Snow Games (game 33), Snail Races (game 31), Don’t Step on the Cracks (game 23), Hand Stacks (game 21) and a couple for parental guidance perhaps… The Wheel (game 29) played by a very brave lad, and Mirrors (game 15) a deserted town first-person shooter for kids in real life using the sun as a weapon. Some of these activities have a surprise ending such as Snail Races and African Subbuteo.

List of children's games in Tar Heel Gameplay. These include marble football in Africa, Sandcastles in Belgium, Hand Stacks in the middle east, Jump rope in East Asia and so on.

Lightweight 8BitDo Lite SE Controller

Close up of hands using a small gaming controller
Small purple flat gamepad rested on a table with a person pushing the controls. Wirelessly connected to a Nintendo Switch with a fishing game being played.

The Lite SE gamepad from 8BitDo is a lightweight low-pressure gamepad designed for use with the Nintendo Switch, PC and Android devices.

The thumbsticks and buttons all take less strength to activate compared with a conventional standard game controller. The sticks need about 25g of pressure and the buttons just a tiny bit more.

All of the main controls are available on the surface, so there is no need to reach around to the top for the normal shoulder buttons. Lightweight alterative buttons are also available for the stick-click buttons (labelled L3 and R3 here). The L2 and R2 buttons are digital (full on or off) in effect.

The controller is roughly 12 x 6.5cm. The distance from the stick to the furthest button is approximately 3.5cm. The buttons are about 7mm in diameter. 

The back of the controller has a grippy surface which holds the controller stable on some surfaces better than others. 

The controller has a ‘D’ Direct Input mode that is suitable for converting to Xbox or PlayStation use via a Titan One or Titan Two adapter using a suitable ‘script’. These scripts can boost the stick sensitivity further. Please contact us if you need help with this or follow those links.

Other lightweight controllers are available, such as those featured in our earlier post on modified standard gamepads:

Low-Force Controllers

‘Easy To Play Games’ Website

Montage of game screens
Dart board with huge red circular target reticule over the number 5.

Easy To Play Games is a new website hosting a range of simple control games for PC. Most are intended to be playable with one or two buttons alone. New games are being added on a regular basis at the time of writing.

Some highlights include:

Darts: This has three difficulty levels where aiming becomes progressively more difficult. It also has a free play mode, where you can practice or play your own Darts games. This might be closest to the bullseye, round-the-clock, cricket, or my favourite (and very mean) game of Killer Darts.

Dino Safari: Stop the dinosaurs running off the screen to attack the villagers. Very much like many modern ticket-redemption target-shooting arcade games, but with one-button control. A bit of blood in this one, so not one for very young children. This is especially the case for the somewhat grisly “Manic Santa” game, so parental guidance is advised for these two.

Racing Game: A top-down one-button racing game with big tracks to get around. Good fun.

Blitz Game: A classic (1979!) game made one-button accessible with a range of difficulty levels. Your plane is losing altitude fast over a cityscape (which I like to imagine is deserted). Drop bombs to clear a runway to land on.

Submarine Game: A tricky underwater maze game.

Hockey: 1 or 2 player Pong.

Mega Worm Hole: A Jetpack Joyride-influenced game with many levels to get through.

All sorts of games have been pouring out lately. These include a Quiz game; Hangman; Rock, Paper, Scissors; Shooters and more. The author Ben seems very receptive to ideas for improvements, too.

The games are free to download and play,  but those who subscribe via a Patreon subscription, are given early access perks. This includes a line to the author to make suggestions for updates and new games.

Find these games and more at: https://www.easytoplaygames.com/

Hockey game. Overhead view of a grassy pitch. White brick walls. Wooden goal posts either side. Two bats and a black puck with skull.