In this video, we are going to look at the different analog sticks that we use here at SpecialEffect, with the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller, which we call the XAC, is a controller interface. It allows you to create a customised controller by adding appropriate analog sticks and accessibility switches.
Analog sticks can be connected via the USB ports or via the 3.5mm jacks, whilst accessibility switches can only be connected via the 3.5mm jacks.
By default, plugging into the left USB, the stick will act as Left Stick in-game. Alternatively, plugging it into the right USB, the stick will act as Right Stick in-game. If using the 3.5mm jacks, plugging it into the X1 socket will make the stick act as Left Stick in-game, and plugging it into the X2 socket, the stick will act as Right Stick in-game.
In the following sections, we will look at standard-force analog sticks, low-force analog sticks and large analog sticks, as well as different ways of mounting these.
If using the thumbsticks on a standard controller is preferable, you can pair your controller to the Xbox Adaptive Controller using Microsoft’s Copilot feature.
Other compatible analog sticks are available, but we will just be focusing on the ones that we use here at SpecialEffect.
Standard-Force Analog Sticks
‘Standard-force analog sticks’ are what we label analog sticks that have a standard resistance level to the thumbsticks on a standard controller.
These types of analog sticks are available in their own housing to use with the XAC. On a standard controller they are in a fixed position. However, when they are in their own separate housing they can be mounted and positioned somewhere else where the individual can more easily use them, such as by the chin, by the foot or in a custom position by the hand.
The ‘XAC Mini Stick’ is made by a company called OneSwitch, which is based in the UK. These joysticks come with a USB connection as standard. However, they can also be made with a 3.5mm jack connection. When using the USB connection, they plug into either the left or the right USB on the XAC, depending on which joystick you want them to act as.
The housing for this joystick comes in a 6.5cm square box. This can be useful for positioning switches on. This model is also available as a low-force version which we will talk about later in this video.
There are currently 3 varieties of the ‘Celtic Magic Mini Joysticks’. These are J1, J2 and J3.
The different versions will have different bases and mounting options. They are all compatible with the XAC using a 3.5mm jack that plugs into X1 or X2 along the back of the XAC. At SpecialEffect we use the J2 and J3 versions of these joysticks.
The J3 ‘Compact Version’ has a slightly smaller base than the J2, and it is also slightly tilted forwards. Some users might find this angled position easier to access. The J3 also has the option to add a camera mount to it.
The J2 ‘Desktop version’ has a larger base than the J3, so it may feel sturdier when mounted on a flat surface. This analog stick is also completely flat which some users may prefer.
There are low-force versions of these analog sticks available which we will talk about later in this video.
This ‘Mini XAC Thumbstick’ is from Evil Controllers who are based in the US. This analog stick comes with a 3.5mm jack which plugs into either X1 or X2 on the XAC, depending on what you want your joystick to act as.
This analog stick either comes with a flat base, which can be mounted on a flat surface, or with a curved base, which can be attached to the arm of a controller, which some people find useful for single-handed play.
We also use standard Xbox controllers with players who can use the thumbsticks in their standard position on the controller. We sometimes mount the controller to use with a different part of the body, such as by the person’s hand, feet or chin. We will often connect these standard controllers to the XAC using Xbox’s Copilot feature. This enables the individual to potentially use external switches or analog sticks alongside the standard controller. More information on the Copilot feature will be shown at the end of this video.
Low-Force Analog Sticks
Sometimes a person may find that they need game control inputs that require less force to use. There are a variety of analog sticks, compatible with the XAC, which require less force than those shown in the previous section.
OneSwitch also offer a low-force version of their XAC Mini Stick discussed in the previous section. It is available with a range of custom toppers to suit your needs.
The low-force version requires about half as much force as the standard version. Again, the housing can also be used for mounting switches.
These joysticks come with a USB connection to connect them to the XAC. A 3.5 mm jack version is available that can plug into either the X1 or the X2 ports of the XAC. However, this is not recommended by OneSwitch.
The Celtic Magic ‘Light-Force Mini Joysticks’ are a low-force version of the Celtic Magic joysticks we looked at earlier. This modification requires only a third of the force to activate it, compared to a standard-force option. Again, 3 versions of the base are available: the J1, the J2 and the J3. At SpecialEffect we tend to use the J2 and J3 versions.
They come with a 3.5mm jack which can be plugged into either the X1 or the X2 port on the XAC, depending on whether you want to use it for the Left Stick or the Right Stick. The ‘J2 Desktop Version’ comes with a larger base which may make it easier to mount in certain situations.
The J3 joystick has a smaller base and is angled towards the user, which some people may find easier to use with a hand or finger. The smaller housing can be useful when there is limited space, or when you are using multiple accessibility switches and a second joystick. The J3 also has the option to add a camera mount which adds 8 mm of height.
The Feather Hyper-Light-Force Joystick is from Celtic Magic. This is compatible with the XAC using the USB ports on either the left or the right side. You can adjust the sensitivity using the included magnets. It is the most sensitive analog joystick we use at SpeciaEffect. It comes with a variety of stands and different toppers. While mounting this joystick, you need to consider this taller profile. Because it’s so sensitive, we tend to mount it using a mounting arm, a tray, or a table to position it under your finger. Some people try to use their chin or their lips to control this joystick. However, because it’s so sensitive, it’s not always easy to get accurate control.
For those who can use a standard Xbox One controller but find the thumbsticks too difficult to move, OneSwitch have modified a controller to make the joysticks lighter. The controller can have the rumble packs removed, which makes the controller lighter to hold. Some of the buttons can be made lower force and the analog springs can be replaced with springs that require less force.
These replacement springs have about a third of the standard resistance. Thumbstick extensions can also be added to these controllers for more leverage. However, this will result in needing to move the joystick further to activate it.
Since the modified controllers still register as standard controllers, they can be used in Copilot Mode for Xbox and Microsoft options. Copilot Mode enables you to use two controllers together to control one player.
In Copilot Mode, an XAC can be used as the second controller. This facilitates additional external joystick or switch access. More information on setting up Copilot Mode will be shown at the end of this video.
The Glidepoint Joysticks from SevenMileMountain offer analog control, without resistance from a joystick spring. Instead, they are a glidepad style capacitive touch interface. You slide your finger over the surface to activate an input. For instance, if you move it to the right of centre you move to the right in the game. Move it left, and you will move left. The MK3b model enables you to hold down your finger and move in any direction, or tap in any direction, to move the character in-game.
Large Analog Sticks
There are a range of large analog joysticks that might be suitable for people with large gross movements and struggle to access the joysticks on a regular gamepad. This could be due to their small size and the amount of resistance needed to move them.
So the UltraStik is a large joystick that plugs into the left or right USB port on the XAC. As standard, it comes with a ball topper but can also come with a MERU topper as well. This model is from OneSwitch and it comes in a landscape orientation, but it can come in a portrait orientation, if requested. It has quite a short throw distance for its size, so some players may find they need more travel for the stick. This is to have more ranged control over their game. However, we often use it for football games, kart racing games and platformers.
So the Zik-Zak Large Joystick is similar to the UltraStik. This is in terms of its footprint size but it also comes in a lower profile format. It is also used in portrait orientation instead of landscape as standard.
The distance of the throw of the sticks is also quite different. You have a larger throw than an UltraStik. This means some players have more room for control over how much force they apply and consequently the control they have using it. It also comes in either a metal or a plastic casing. It comes with a range of toppers, such as a ball shape, an acorn shape, and an elongated topper. Golf ball and Meru T-bar toppers are also an option.
The Zik-Zak can be customised when ordering to reduce the force required to move it. This is to make it more than 8 times lighter to move it. A firmer spring can be requested. The Zik-Zak is also available in smaller housing, if you need to find a smaller space for it, called a Zik-Zak Mini.
The Pretorian Optima Joystick has a similar throw to the Zik-Zak than the UltraStik in terms of distance, but also has less resistance than the Zik-Zak. It is described as having a ‘light touch movement’. It comes with a variety of toppers, including a foam ball topper, an acorn topper, and a small T-bar topper, and the case it comes in is also angled.
To switch between the Xbox and Mouse modes you hold the top two buttons, which act as Left and Right Click, for 12 seconds.
In this section we are going to have a look at the different ways that we mount analog sticks. Regardless of the type of analog stick that a person might be using, many of the people that we work with need them mounted in a very specific way to make sure that they can use it comfortably, safely and effectively.
For some people, this can involve securing their analog stick down onto a flat tray. This can be especially helpful for people who need the analog stick secured down onto a flat table, or a wheelchair tray. We tend to use trays with a loop Velcro surface, and then then secure the analog stick down by using hook Velcro on the base of the stick. Some people may benefit from using a non-slip material, such as Dycem, between the flat surface of the tray and the table that they wish to position the tray onto. This can be especially true for people who have strong or involuntary movements, which may mean that the analog stick or the tray may move unintentionally. The flat trays that we tend to use to mount analog sticks are either ‘Maxess trays’, or the small rigid trays that come with the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kits.
If a person isn’t going to be sat at a table, or doesn’t use a wheelchair tray, then we may use a laptray. We use the Trabasack Curve Connect. This is a laptray with a loop Velcro-style surface. We would then put hook Velcro on the base of the analog stick to help hold it in place on the Trabasack.
If a person needs an analog stick in a very specific position to be able to play, we will often use a Manfrotto Variable Friction Arm. This can be a helpful method if someone needs their analog stick in a similar position to their powered wheelchair joystick, or if they are going to be using an analog stick by their chin. The arms provide flexibility in terms of analog stick positioning but they’re also strong enough to help keep them in place.
We use the Manfrotto Super Clamp to help hold the arm into position. We tend to use 3M ‘Dual Lock’ on the base of the analog stick, and also on a mounting plate which helps secure a firm connection.
For smaller analog sticks, we use these small, round mounting plates, which are called ‘Mounting Plate for Lib Switch’. For larger analog sticks, we would usually use large triangular mounting plates.
To connect two controllers to use the analog sticks from both devices to control one player, you can use Copilot. Copilot is a feature that allows you to combine the inputs of two compatible controllers. This is so that either two people can play alongside each other to play one player in-game, or so that one person can divide their control inputs between two separate controllers.
To use Copilot on your Xbox One or Xbox Series S or X console, go to ‘My games & apps’ on your Xbox Home screen. Navigate across to the Xbox Accessories app and open it.
Turn on the controllers you would like to Copilot by pressing the Xbox button on each controller. The connected controllers will then appear in the app.
To turn on Copilot, go to one of the controllers you have selected for Copilot, then navigate to the three dots icon below and select it.
From the options that appear, go to ‘Turn on Copilot’ and select it. Now the two controllers are connected, so you can leave the app and play a game. These controllers will remain co-piloted even when the console has been turned off and on again, until you turn Copilot off by returning to the app and navigating to your Copilot controller to turn it off.
Alternatively, Copilot can be turned off by holding down the Xbox button until a menu shows up that says ‘Turn off Copilot’. Navigate to this option and select it.
On Windows 10 and 11 on PC, you can download the Xbox Accessories app from the Microsoft store.
For more information on the Xbox Adaptive Controller and compatible devices, please visit GameAccess.info.
In this video, SpecialEffect OT’s Frankie, Nomi, Jacob and Joe are going to look at the different analog joysticks that we use at SpecialEffect, with the Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC).
The XAC is a controller interface that lets you create a customised controller by adding appropriate joysticks and accessibility switches.
For more information on the Xbox Adaptive Controller and the devices that can be used with it, please use the XAC tag on the GameAccess site.
0:00 | Introduction
1:19 | Standard-Force Analog Sticks
4:12 | Low-Force Analog Sticks
8:12 | Large Analog Sticks
10:14 | Mounting
12:28 | Copilot Feature
Joystick Links (unaffiliated):
Standard-Force Analog Sticks:
(1:50) XAC Mini Stick (OneSwitch): https://oneswitch.org.uk/page/xacministick
(2:23) Mini Joystick (Celtic Magic): https://www.celticmagic.org/xac-buying-options
(3:17) XAC Mini Thumbstick (Evil Controllers): https://www.evilcontrollers.com/mini-xac-thumbstick
(3:44) Xbox Wireless Controller: https://www.xbox.com/en-GB/accessories/controllers/xbox-wireless-controller
Low-Force Analog Sticks:
(4:28) Light Spring XAC Mini Stick (One Switch): https://www.oneswitch.org.uk/art.php?id=270
(5:01) Light Force Joysticks (Celtic Magic): https://www.celticmagic.org/xac-buying-options
(6:02) Feather Joystick (Celtic Magic): https://www.celticmagic.org/feather
(6:51) Lightweight Xbox One/S/X Controller (OneSwitch) : https://www.oneswitch.org.uk/art.php?id=284
(7:43) Glidepoint Joystick MK3b for XAC (SevenMileMountain) : https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/1480919209/glidepoint-joystick-mk3b-for-xbox?click_key=a3589b781ca2572d4de77f61361af8401e0cef70%3A1480919209&click_sum=fdccb785&ref=shop_home_feat_2&sts=1
Large Analog Sticks:
(8:33) UltraStik (OneSwitch): https://oneswitch.org.uk/page/shop-ultra-stik
(8:59) Zik-Zak Large Joystick (OneSwitch) https://oneswitch.org.uk/page/zikzakstick
(9:41_ Zik-Zak Mini Joystick (OneSwitch): https://oneswitch.org.uk/page/zikzakmini
(9:53) Optima Joystick (Pretorian Technologies): https://www.pretorianuk.com/optima-joystick
Video by Tom Williams.