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How to Interface PS2 Wireless Controller w/ Arduino

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Controllers have a long history in our lives; from controlling remote control cars and quadcopters to game consols and …, they all use wireless or wired controllers. In this tutorial, you will learn how to connect and use a PS2 game console controller with Arduino.

What You Will Learn

  • PS2 controllers features
  • How to connect a PS2 controller to Arduino
  • How to use a PS2 controller with Arduino

PS2 Controllers Features

Everyone knows Sony game consoles called PlayStation, and you have probably held it at least once. Sony game controllers have 12 analog keys sensitive to pressure, (4 keys for direction, 4 operation keys, Cross, Triangle, Circle, and Square, L1, L2, R1, and R2) and 5 digital keys (MODE, START, SELECT, R3, L3) and 2 analog joysticks. There are 2 motors inside controllers that can make vibration because of their imbalance.

The wireless controller works with 2,4GHz frequency and it has a range of 10 meters. It also has an optical indicator for sending and receiving data. This controller needs only 3 AAA batteries for power (in some cases it needs just 2 AAA batteries).

Where you can use a PS2 controller:

  • Controlling wheeled robots and remote control cars
  • Controlling robotics arms
  • Controlling a camera
  • Controlling flying robots

How to Connect PS2 Controller to Arduino

PS2 controller receiver includes 9 pins:

  1. Data: master line for sending data to slave (MOSI)
  2. Command: slave line for sending data to master (MISO)
  3. Vibration: vibration motors supply; 7.2 volts to 9 volts
  4. Ground: circuits ground
  5. VCC: circuits supply; 3.3 volts
  6. Attention: CS or Chip Select pin for calling slave and preparing the connection
  7. Clock: equivalent to SCK pin for clock
  8. No Connection: useless
  9. Acknowledge: acknowledge signal from the controller to PS2 receiver

Interfacing PS2 Controller and Arduino

In order to use a PS2 controller, you need to introduce the controllers key to Arduino. Then choose a proper function for each key according to your project.



You need to use the PS2X library for this code:

After adding the library to Arduino, you can open PS2X library Example or Copy the following code and upload it on your board. You can see the results in the serial monitor window by pressing different keys.

#include #include <PS2X_lib.h>   

PS2X ps2x; 

//right now, the library does NOT support hot-pluggable controllers, meaning 
//you must always either restart your Arduino after you connect the controller, 
//or call config_gamepad(pins) again after connecting the controller.

int error = 0; 
byte type = 0;
byte vibrate = 0;

void setup(){

 error = ps2x.config_gamepad(13,11,10,12, true, true);   //GamePad(clock, command, attention, data, Pressures?, Rumble?) 
 if(error == 0){
   Serial.println("Found Controller, configured successful");
   Serial.println("Try out all the buttons, X will vibrate the controller, faster as you press harder;");
  Serial.println("holding L1 or R1 will print out the analog stick values.");
  Serial.println("Go to for updates and to report bugs.");
  else if(error == 1)
   Serial.println("No controller found, check wiring, see readme.txt to enable debug. visit for troubleshooting tips");
  else if(error == 2)
   Serial.println("Controller found but not accepting commands. see readme.txt to enable debug. Visit for troubleshooting tips");
  else if(error == 3)
   Serial.println("Controller refusing to enter Pressures mode, may not support it. ");
   type = ps2x.readType(); 
     switch(type) {
       case 0:
        Serial.println("Unknown Controller type");
       case 1:
        Serial.println("DualShock Controller Found");
       case 2:
         Serial.println("GuitarHero Controller Found");

void loop(){
   /* You must Read Gamepad to get new values
   Read GamePad and set vibration values
   ps2x.read_gamepad(small motor on/off, larger motor strenght from 0-255)
   if you don't enable the rumble, use ps2x.read_gamepad(); with no values
   you should call this at least once a second
 if(error == 1) 
 if(type == 2){ 
   ps2x.read_gamepad();          //read controller 
     Serial.println("Green Fret Pressed");
     Serial.println("Red Fret Pressed");
     Serial.println("Yellow Fret Pressed");
     Serial.println("Blue Fret Pressed");
     Serial.println("Orange Fret Pressed");

     Serial.println("Star Power Command");
    if(ps2x.Button(UP_STRUM))          //will be TRUE as long as button is pressed
     Serial.println("Up Strum");
     Serial.println("DOWN Strum");
    if(ps2x.Button(PSB_START))                   //will be TRUE as long as button is pressed
         Serial.println("Start is being held");
         Serial.println("Select is being held");

    if(ps2x.Button(ORANGE_FRET)) // print stick value IF TRUE
        Serial.print("Wammy Bar Position:");
        Serial.println(ps2x.Analog(WHAMMY_BAR), DEC); 

 else { //DualShock Controller
    ps2x.read_gamepad(false, vibrate);          //read controller and set large motor to spin at 'vibrate' speed
    if(ps2x.Button(PSB_START))                   //will be TRUE as long as button is pressed
         Serial.println("Start is being held");
         Serial.println("Select is being held");
     if(ps2x.Button(PSB_PAD_UP)) {         //will be TRUE as long as button is pressed
       Serial.print("Up held this hard: ");
       Serial.println(ps2x.Analog(PSAB_PAD_UP), DEC);
       Serial.print("Right held this hard: ");
        Serial.println(ps2x.Analog(PSAB_PAD_RIGHT), DEC);
       Serial.print("LEFT held this hard: ");
        Serial.println(ps2x.Analog(PSAB_PAD_LEFT), DEC);
       Serial.print("DOWN held this hard: ");
     Serial.println(ps2x.Analog(PSAB_PAD_DOWN), DEC);
      vibrate = ps2x.Analog(PSAB_BLUE);        //this will set the large motor vibrate speed based on 
                                              //how hard you press the blue (X) button    
    if (ps2x.NewButtonState())               //will be TRUE if any button changes state (on to off, or off to on)
         Serial.println("L3 pressed");
         Serial.println("R3 pressed");
         Serial.println("L2 pressed");
         Serial.println("R2 pressed");
         Serial.println("Triangle pressed");
    if(ps2x.ButtonPressed(PSB_RED))             //will be TRUE if button was JUST pressed
         Serial.println("Circle just pressed");
    if(ps2x.ButtonReleased(PSB_PINK))             //will be TRUE if button was JUST released
         Serial.println("Square just released");     
    if(ps2x.NewButtonState(PSB_BLUE))            //will be TRUE if button was JUST pressed OR released
         Serial.println("X just changed");    
    if(ps2x.Button(PSB_L1) || ps2x.Button(PSB_R1)) // print stick values if either is TRUE
        Serial.print("Stick Values:");
        Serial.print(ps2x.Analog(PSS_LY), DEC); //Left stick, Y axis. Other options: LX, RY, RX  
        Serial.print(ps2x.Analog(PSS_LX), DEC); 
        Serial.print(ps2x.Analog(PSS_RY), DEC); 
        Serial.println(ps2x.Analog(PSS_RX), DEC); 

The most practical functions in this library are:

ps2x.config_gamepad(clock, command, attention, data, Pressures? Rumble?); function sets the controller pin and sensitivity to pressure and vibration of the motors. If you want keys insensitive to pressure, or motors don’t have vibration, set Pressures, and Rumble as false. This function returns value for error

ready();function determine the detected controller type. 0 means the controller is not detected correctly, 1 means DualShock controller detection, and 2 means GuitarHero controller detection.

read_gamepad(boolean motor1, byte motor2); function start reading the status of the keys when the state of the vibration of the motor is determined. (motor 2 is the bigger one. )

Button (but type); function returns 1 when the specific key in function argument is pressed. In DualShock controller keys are named as follows:

Key Function Digital/Analog
PSB_GREEN Triangle Analog
PSB_PINK Square Analog
PSB_RED Circle Analog
PSB_L3 L3 Digital
PSB_R3 R3 Digital
PSB_L2 L2 Analog
PSB_R2 R2 Analog
PSB_L1 L1 Analog
PSB_R1 R1 Analog
PSB_RX Joystick right x Analog
PSB_RY Joystick right y Analog
PSB_LX Joystick left x Analog
PSB_LY Joystick left y Analog
Analog (but type); function returns analog keys value, then you can decide for your operation accordingly.

What’s Next?

Try to build a remote control car with 2 wheels that moves to a different direction by pressing direction keys. And the cars speed change with the amount of pressure on the key. The car beeps by pressing a square key, and its lights turn on with pressing the cross key.

Buy 2.4GHz Wireless Shock Game Controller

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Comments (2)

  • Valerius Ferrao Reply

    I read your article and I have a question. How would I connect my Wired Ps2 Controller (should I follow the same wire that is linked directly to the controller) ? and is there any thing more that i needed to get other than Arduino Uno, since i am going to us it to play games on my android device Via Bluetooth?

    September 16, 2020 at 9:32 am
    • Mehran Maleki Reply

      Your project consists of the two parts. First part is connecting your wired PS2 Controller to Arduino Uno. This can be easily done following this article. Second part is connecting your Arduino Uno to your smart phone via Bluetooth. For this you need to buy a Bluetooth module since Arduino Uno doesn’t have a built-in Bluetooth module. Then by connecting the Bluetooth module to your Arduino board, you can send Controller data to your smart phone via Arduino board and Bluetooth module.

      December 6, 2020 at 2:12 pm

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