Force-operated – also known as stiff stick – joysticks have no moving parts, and are therefore extremely reliable. They are an obvious choice for applications that require careful control of movement within a small control space, such as vehicle-mounted or airborne equipment. We are proud to be one of the few specialist companies to engineer our own miniature force-operated joysticks.

17 Commercial and military applications2

Force-operated joysticks use strain gauges attached to a fixed metal post to convert applied force into a proportional electrical output. Typically a movement of less than 1mm is needed to achieve full-scale output. Daco force-operated joysticks consist of a force-sensitive spring fixed into a base and surrounded by a housing. The force applied to the spring in the plane parallel to the base is resolved into X and Y components. These are sensed separately by strain gauges bonded to the spring and connected to form two half Wheatstone bridges. The resulting analogue output has infinite resolution and is proportional to input voltage and applied force.

Force-operated joysticks are noteworthy for their small footprint. They require less space for mounting and the base assembly is smaller than an equivalent displacement joystick; if a grip is fitted no space is needed to accommodate an arc of travel.

Daco's force-operated joysticks provide full proportional control yet take no more space than a simple switch. Our devices typically have a body length of approximately 25mm (1 inch). This makes them ideal for fitting in control grips, such as Daco's MG1, for use as thumbsticks. The low mass of the thumbsticks reduces their sensitivity to vibration and increases the effectiveness of mechanical damping.

Despite their size, our force-operated joysticks are extremely resilient, having an overload capability factor of 10. We have tested all our products to 10,000,000 cycles, with each cycle being full scale in both +ve and -ve directions. All units are fitted with an internal protective bellows that can be supplemented with an external elastomer seal. These features, coupled with the use of fully anodised aluminium exposed components, mean that the devices are suitable for the most demanding applications.