Parallax Insider News

Hitec Aurora Joystick and Adapter PCB

  • By: Ken Gracey Published: 25 November, 2013 4 comments
You’ll notice that Parallax doesn’t resell too many electronic accessories and components. This is because we only sell products that we agree to support on the phone and with well-written documentation. We also want our accessories to be quick to integrate into your project, which is why some accessories take a pass through our own manufacturing facility for an adapter PCB, headers and any signal/power conditioning needed to make the component easy to use. In other words, when we commit it should be in earnest and for the long term.
The Hitec Aurora Joystick and Adapter PCB is our newest Pilot Product! 
Over a year ago I started to evaluate several original design manufacturer (ODM) joysticks. Specifically, I was looking for a higher-quality two-axis R/C joystick. We’ve all worked with the little Playstation-style thumb joysticks, and you’re probably familiar with the more expensive and larger industrial versions. But the right R/C joystick design fits perfectly in between these two by providing the smooth tactile interface, the right size, the right price under $25, and usually a couple of configuration setups with springs, click-steps, or no friction. 
The Hitec Aurora 9TX Joystick is what we chose. It had only one problem - thin little wires leading to a connector. Instead of asking our customers to cut them off and solder to a PCB, our Engineering Technician Nick Ernst decided to make you a little adapter board with the connector. Now you can use the joystick within minutes of the UPS guy arriving! 
And this is our newest Pilot Product. Why? Because we buy these in 500-lot purchases - big commitment, and they’re very difficult to procure for this kind of use. The lead times are many months, the inventory cost is high, and the supplier isn’t fully accustomed to dealing with our kind of use. If you buy them, we’ll remove the Pilot Product label and make them a permanent product. We’ll give you the confidence to design them into your products, knowing the chances of an End of Life (EOL) notice from Parallax are much lower. That’s the benefit of running a Pilot Product test market. 


Hey there, I've received several questions about this product so I'll answer them here. And, I also encourage you to post your questions right here - no need to send me an e-mail.

Question #1: Can I buy this without the PCB? Unfortunately not, for two reasons. First, it's not easy for most of us to work with these little wires. First, they're a bit short and a few errors with really 30+ AWG stripping will leave you with no wire at all. And like many OEM products, the supplier wants us to offer it as a Parallax item and not appear as a distribution product (for which they offer different channels). This second requirement is very common for other parts, like GPS sensors.

Question #2: Will you have a version with pushbutton or twisting handle? If it exists for a reasonable price and we can source it, sure! This particular joystick is from a quality Hitec R/C radio system. In that kind of application there's little reason to have a joystick pushbutton when the radio is loaded with switches and knobs for other channels.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Ken Gracey
Parallax Inc.

In the picture where the joystick is mounted, is that enclosure available at Parallax? If not can you point me to the source for the enclosures?? It looks to be perfect for my project using that joystick and the 4D Systems 32ptu display....

Mike B. North Carolina

Hey Mike, the enclosure shown above is something Nick designed and cut on our laser cutter, not available for sale unfortunately. We've found that when we offer enclosures almost nobody is happy because we all prefer a slightly different set of features. What I suggest is that you draw the enclosure you'd like and send Pololu the files so they can laser cut it for you. Would that work okay?

Ken Gracey