Vive Controllers Get Joysticks With This 3D-Printed Mod

by David Jagneaux • January 25th, 2018

Hands-down my biggest issue with the HTC Vive as a platform is the lack of a thumbstick (or joystick or control stick or whatever you want to call it) on the Vive wand controller. While acceptable in most cases, the touchpad just doesn’t get the job done for some games. Moving across Fallout 4’s Boston Wasteland for dozens of hours by rubbing my thumb on a touchpad or trying to precisely maneuver the battlefield in Onward is just not ideal. I find myself preferring to play SteamVR games using an Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch a lot of the time because of the superior controller.

But this 3D mod by Thingiverse creator Clinton Strawn (Eisenmeower) could change everything.

We first spotted this 3D-printed mod on Twitter, when Bigscreen foudner Darshan Shankar shared the GIF of the thing in action, shown above. When we looked into it further, the design is actually quite genius. Instead of hacking the thing apart or replacing anything, it just adapts a little joystick device onto the top of the touchpad to fool it into thinking your thumb is making the movements.

We haven’t tried it ourselves yet, but the result is something that’s dead-simple to install and surprisingly accurate with few headaches it seems.

“They’re quite durable,” said Strawn on Reddit. “I’ve had quite a few orders over the past 2 months and zero complaints or returns. 50+ hours between Fallout and Orbusvr and no signs of deterioration on my end.”

While users are more than welcome to download the files and make them on their own using a 3D printer, you can also just purchase a single joystick ($7.59) or a pair of two ($14.99) directly from Strawn on eBay.

Between the Vive Wireless Adapter, these cooling fans, VR Covers, and now this, it’s only a matter of time before the Vive reaches Gameboy levels of moddable components.

Let us know what you think of this new mod down in the comments below!

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  • impurekind

    The stupid irony is that Oculus appears to be removing the sticks on the Santa Cruz controllers and going with track-pads like those on Vive. 😮

    • Crunchy005

      Lol. I actually like the trackpad…it’s a virtual surface that can be used for a lot of things in a game…sadly it’s not used to it’s full potential, but I don’t see the issue with them used as joysticks. Revive actually segments the trackpads to simulate all the rift buttons on each hand, after a short bit of practice you can find all the controls for a game easily. I use different parts of each trackpad when I play Echo arena, and I don’t have issues.

      • gothicvillas

        My trackpads brake all the time. I loose the clicking which can be fixed but annoying. I had my Vive wands opened already over 5 times each. I am waiting when it will eventually break completely during opening and closing. It is pain in the butt.

        • Crunchy005

          Ya, the design decision for that little rubber piece was unfortunate. Otherwise I very much like the trackpads (had to only fix 1 so far).

      • polysix

        You’ve never used oculus touch have you?

        I had vive (sold it – it felt like s*** with the awful front heavy ergonomics, bad SDE, bad strap, low quality build and the janky touchpads that were ONLY good for what you describe – virtual quad buttons etc) they are awful for real movement or moving around in google earth for example. Try rift + touch and experience what good ergonomics and VR controls actually feels like and you won’t so readily defend the awful vive wands!

        With the sticks you can ‘feel’ your way around with the built in physical push back of sticks vs the floaty ‘no limits’ stupidity of a track pad.

        Yeah, oculus have put (no doubt much better ) track pads on their SC, but they had better keep them away from any rift 2.0 because the sticks are awesome on touch. I don’t even see a need to change touch for rift 2.0 in fact. They will still be better than knuckles in many ways (knuckles have literally one gimmick -throwing things – big deal) vs all the downsides (track bad, welded to your hands so can’t type, oversized etc…). Touch is about as good as it gets for now. As is rift as a HMD ergonomically, comfort and finish wise. even samsung odyssey has a ton of janky points and sub par areas (along with ‘on paper’ nice specs) because once again it has bad controllers and other issues.

        • naffgeek

          We get it, you really really like your rift.

        • Crunchy005

          All I hear from you anymore is “I spent all my money on VR and need to really really justify my purchase”…

          “They will still be better than knuckles in many ways (knuckles have literally one gimmick -throwing things – big deal)” – Because you have tried the knuckle controllers and found this out yourself, right? Seems like someone is jealous of hardware upgrades coming to another platform…lol.
          “all the downsides (track bad, welded to your hands so can’t type, oversized etc…)” – Because the controller is strapped to your hand that means you can’t type? Who types in VR…if you need to type you get that nice split keyboard and use the trackpads, not ideal but I have no reason to type while I play. Seems like your trying to find an issue that doesn’t exist.

          “Touch is about as good as it gets for now” – Ya, no…I went to The Void Star Wars VR experience, and that is awesome. They use the leap motion, while not ideal do to limited field of view having your full hand tracked in VR is the way to go. I can’t wait for the hand tracking gloves to come out.

          “You’ve never used oculus touch have you?” – I have and while they are better I’m still not a fan of joysicks in general. The only thing the touch does better is some capacitive sensors to tell if your finger is up or on the control, and ergonomics. Rechargeable batteries would have been a nice touch as well…

          “I had vive (sold it – it felt like s***…”- Again, you spent all your money on VR apparently…although it sounds like you haven’t ever owned the vive as the only thing you can think of as an issue is google earth(a good demo program). As for SDE the rift uses the same resolution screens and the SDE is just as bad. Not sure where low quality build comes in. You can’t seem to elaborate ever either. ” front heavy ergonomics” – Clearly didn’t know how to set the headband, and audio strap is great in basically removing that all together. Also the rift has a very thin ridge with thin foam where it contacts your face making it fairly uncomfortable as well.

          “Try rift + touch and experience what good ergonomics and VR controls actually feels like and you won’t so readily defend the awful vive wands!” – I have tried it, I have even admitted the touch is better, but it’s not a night and day OMG touch is soooo much more immersive experience. That came from full hand tracking at the VOID VR experience. Along with tactile feedback vests and wireless VR.

          Lol, a lot of what you try to claim as objective criticism is very subjective. There are certain objective things, but your sitting here trying to claim comfort as an objective point and it’s really not. Neither is your argument of bad SDE on vive, when rift suffers the same.

          • SendsV8

            Crunchy005: Fanboy much? I could’ve saved you all that typing. The Rift Touch joystick is infinitely superior to a digital trackpad because it’s analog and let’s you move at slow to fast pace in any direction. Your Vive wands suck for movement because it’s either ON (fast) or OFF (stopped). Have fun convincing yourself that all-or-nothing movement is equivilent in any way when moving around in first-person.

            It’s ok you really shouldn’t feel so victimized when somebody points out something that doesn’t justify your all-in purchase. Vive is great and pretty much equivilent to Rift in most things that matter. But certainly not even a contest when it comes to the controllers by any measure.

            No need to feel an inferiority complex, if you like Vive just keep liking it, it’s currently a great VR system for the most part!

          • Crunchy005

            “Your Vive wands suck for movement because it’s either ON (fast) or OFF (stopped)” – Actually that’s not true at all. Depending on where your finger is relative to the center of the touchpad effects the speed at which you move. I can move slow if I want to. Do you have any experience with the vive wands? Trying to justify the joystick with ignorance isn’t helping anything. Why do you think these 3D printed joysticks are in the middle and you can slide them to any edge. If it was just go and stop with no variability this entire mod would be useless. As soon as you touch the joystick your ON(fast) then OFF(stopped) and the whole point of a joystick would make no sense. You should understand that the touchpad cna offer an analog like experience merely by the context of the article, but that clearly seems to go over your head. Talk about an inferiority complex…

            I agreed the touch controllers are better, I have never said otherwise. What I am not a fan of is the blatant Sh 1 ll That polysix is.

          • SendsV8

            Actually I did not know that, and must’ve read somewhere or gotten the mistaken idea that it was just a digital pad. I’ve held Vive wands before but haven’t used them.

            I don’t know or care about this seeming arch-nemesis of yours poly-whatever so I’ll try not to get in the way of your d1ck measuring war over who can best justify their purchase or whatever.

            But I must concede the point about digital/analogue and thank you at least for correct my incorrect assumption.

    • polysix

      sc will be more targetted at casuals and soccer moms, they (like valve) assume morons can’t handle analog sticks so use trackpads. Which are AWFUL for anyone with a brain and some experience.

      It doesn’t mean they’ll go trackpads for rift 2, in fact they’ll probably continue using touch which is fine by me, they are great controllers and much better.. MUCH MUCH better than my now sold Vive (wands) and waaaaaaay better than my sold PSVR (with move that barely tracked right half the time). Knuckles are just another disappointment in waiting, trackpads, bad design, over thinking without addressing the core issues etc.

      Oculus is the only game in town for getting things right, first time. Rift saved gen 1 for me, after me being am FB hater and Vive owner and only buying rift cos of the sale, my eyes were opened to the sheer quality of rift vs psvr and vive.

      I had dk2 first, years ago, and should have just stuck with oculus instead of over-reacting to the FB and ‘walled garden’ thing. It’s too early in VR for US to suffer by caring about such things. “Good VR is where you find it” – Dick Jones

      • Crunchy005

        So, I’m curious. What is it like to have priorities out of place and go broke because you apparently bought all the VR headsets. Keep justifying your clear wasting of money…

      • Caven

        Getting things right the first time? I had no idea the XBox controller and Oculus remote were such a perfect control scheme.

  • Robbie DeRoo

    Shame I cannot actually buy them from the links provided. Grrr.

  • Robbie DeRoo

    Note from seller: *** This totally exploded beyond what I ever expected. I’m out of stock
    on eBay. Requests are flooding in and there’s no way I could keep up
    with such volume on my own. I might look in to the possibility of some
    sort of small manufacturing partnership to get these and potentially
    some other ideas out there if the demand persists. In the end I never
    had huge financial ambitions with this endeavor and its all open license
    right now so print away my friends.

    • TracedInAir

      Thanks for posting this I messaged him on eBay a few hours ago but haven’t gotten a response yet. I really want to buy these since I don’t have a 3d printer.

  • Nosfar

    I bought one of these when they first showed up online it’s a good addition doesn’t work with every game well, but makes the Fallout style games a lot more familiar

  • polysix

    Yep… hated touchpads when i had my vive, useless compared to the beautiful mini analog sticks on rift touch controllers (which are very high quality btw and you can really nuance your movement with them in ie google earth – touchpads just dont feel or work as well).

    I can’t believe they are sticking with them for ‘pro’ and knuckles, still under-estimating their audiences abilities to use sticks even though 99% of them grew up on stick based gamepads. Soccer mom’s don’t buy vive (or rift). And now oculus are using touchpads for Santa Cruz! ffs… they better not ditch the sticks for any rift 2.0, the sticks are one of the best bits of the rift (and overall ergonomics and ease of use + high quality build/materials). Don’t ruin it oculus!

    • Crunchy005

      Wow, google earth really is your only experience with the vive…Stop claiming you owned the headset when you just demoed it once…

      “99% of them grew up on stick based gamepads” – Yep, I did and I’m still not a fan of joysticks for VR. A proper VR game shouldn’t really have to heavily rely on them. Actually a nice feature of the trackpads is that you don’t need to push the entire joystick forward again when you want to move after releasing your thumb. You just touch the end of the trackpad and off you go. You clearly haven’t used them much at all. I play echo arena all the time and the wands work great, I use the touchpads as buttons as the game doesn’t need a joystick.

      ” the sticks are one of the best bits of the rift” Only when that is your argument, otherwise some other bit is the best part…

      “high quality build/materials” – Ya, no more of less than any other first party controller in the world. If your that in love with the joysticks just keep your touch for the next Oculus, the hardware should be modular right? I mean all the new vive stuff is completely modular. I will be able to upgrade just my HMD later this year…is oculus not doing this?

  • Crunchy005

    Now I just need a 3D printer…just another reason to get one I guess. They have become quite affordable.

  • Evgeni Zharsky

    Sad