Thumbsticks and where to use them



The story of thumbsticks
and where to use them

The thumbstick as we know it today first made an appearance in the gaming world in the late 1980s when the idea to use your thumbs as control digits was implemented on a new handheld controller. Back then they were called thumbpads and as gaming companies introduced new systems, they all adopted this new ergonomic control and replaced the D-Pad array of pushbuttons and fingertip joysticks used previously.

The use of the analogue thumb-control joysticks in gaming gave the user who, let’s face it back then, would have been a spotty faced teenager feverishly playing the latest release, a more accurate, responsive, and immersive experience.

Industry was to follow…

Many of those young people would grow up to become engineers and operators of all sorts of machinery, therefore it was just a matter of time that heavy duty, sealed and robust Hall effect thumbsticks would move into industrial applications such as remote controls, belly boxes, and miniaturising CCTV workstations.

APEM introduced our first thumbstick in the late 2000s in the form of the TS Series, a 2-axis Hall effect thumbstick which was only available with one handle option but was panel sealed to IP65. It was well received in the marketplace and more options and new series were added.

Thumbsticks can be used for various purposes on remote controls and panel solutions, however, they can also be added to the face plates of handgrips, pendants, and fixed grips.

Learn more about where to use thumb controls in the table below.

For proportional control in handheld remotesWhen digital functionality is all that’s needed in a basic handheld controlFor infinite rotation, e.g. scrolling through a menuFor automotive Forward, Neutral, Reverse functionalityFor display navigation with centre confirmation
TS Series
Hall Effect two Axis
HS Series
Micro switch two axis
HR Series
Single axis Hall effect thumbwheel
FR Series
Single axis 3 position thumb control
NV Series
Switch 4 direction with pushbutton

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