Potentiometer vs hall effect joystick sensor

Before we compare alps joysticks and hall effect joysticks, let’s begin with explaining what are potentiometers and hall effects sensors in game controllers.

In game controller joysticks, a potentiometer (analog) and a hall effect sensor can both be used to measure the position of the joystick.

What is an ALPS joystick? A potentiometer (used in the “ALPS joysticks”) works by sensing the position of the joystick as it moves across a small range of motion. The potentiometer then sends a signal to the game console to tell it how much to move your character on the screen. However, over time, the potentiometer can wear out and become less accurate, which can affect the performance of the joystick.

On the other hand, a hall effect sensor (“magnetic joystick”) can be used to measure the position of the joystick without any physical contact. It works by using a magnetic field to sense the position of the joystick, which means it can be more accurate and have a longer lifespan than a potentiometer.

No more stick drift

The Hall effect solves the issue of joystick drift in game controllers because Hall effect sensors do not rely on physical contact between the sensor and the joystick, unlike potentiometer sensors.

Why hall sensors are the future of game joysticks?

Using Hall effect sensors in game controllers has several advantages. Firstly, Hall effect devices are very durable and resistant to dust, dirt, mud, and water. This makes them ideal for use in game controllers, which can be exposed to various environmental conditions during use. Other position sensing methods like optical and electromechanical sensors may not be as robust in these environments.

Secondly, Hall effect sensors can be used to create non-contacting current sensors. This means that the sensors do not need to physically touch the moving parts in the controller, making them less likely to wear out or break over time. They work by detecting changes in magnetic fields as the joystick or buttons move, which can provide precise and accurate measurements.

New:   Fixing stick drift on Steam Deck joysticks with hall effect replacements

Thirdly, Hall effect sensors have three terminals, making them easy to connect to other electronic components in the controller. One terminal applies a voltage across the sensor, while another measures the voltage across the third terminal, which is proportional to the current being sensed. This allows for accurate measurements of joystick position or button press without needing additional components like resistors (which are required for other sensing methods).

Overall, using Hall effect sensors in game controllers offers a reliable and durable position sensing solution, which is important for accurate and responsive gameplay.

Where to buy a Hall Effect game controller?

We already wrote an article on that: guide to hall effect controllers.

You also have an option to replace joycons in Nintendo Switch with hall effect magnetic joycons:

AKNES Gulikit Switch Joycon Replacement-No Drifting, Higher Sensitivity Hall Effect Joystick Replacement Parts for Switch/Switch OLED/Switch Lite, Repair Tool Kit, Left/Right thumbstick Cap(2 Pair)
  • 【Gulikit Electromagnetic Hall Effect Joystick】Gulikit Hall Sensor Joystick specifically designed for Switch 2017, Switch OLED Model 2021 Joycon, Switch Lite; Gulikit Hall joysticks can solve wore, out of control, insensitive and drift.
  • 【Hall Effect Sensor Joystick】AKNES Gulikit Switch Joycon Replacement features a higher sensitivity Hall Effect Sensor Joystick that solves the drift problem of ALPS joystick from the root, making it perfect for FPS shooter games. Hall joystick allows players to experience the game better.
  • 【Premium Material】The hall joystick replacements are made from Gulikit. Made from high-quality metal and plastic, these replacement joysticks are sturdy, ensuring a perfect replacement for your old or broken joysticks. All of the repairing tools are under professional quality inspection to ensure perfect quality.

You can also buy replacement joysticks for Steam Deck that have hall effect technology:

AKNES GuliKit Joysticks for Steam Deck (Type A & Type B), No Drifting, Hall Effect Sticks Replacement, Left/Right Thumb Grip Parts for Steam Deck Console-Electromagnetic Joystick (No Soldering)
  • Gulikit Electromagnetic Module joystick (New model: SD02), designed to perfectly fit Steam Deck Type A and Type B. The included converter allows you to easily select the TYPE you want. (‘Settings → System → Steam Deck Controller ID’, ‘MEDA’ is Type A, ‘MHDA’ is Type B), [Not compatible with OLED version].
  • Bid farewell to stick drift, creeping, stuttering, blind spots, non-centered, broken, and loose joysticks with GuliKit’s patented 3D Hall Effect Sensor joystick.
  • No need to worry about soldering, the joystick comes with installation caps that preserve Steam Deck’s original touch functionality. If you experience stuck joystick issues, it is due to the cap that comes pre-installed and came loose during shipping. You only need to press the cap vertically down in the center position to use it normally.

And soon enough there will be Hall Effect joystick replacements for Dual Sense Edge.

New:   How to Fix Joy-Con Drifting Problem in Nintendo Switch

Potentiometer vs hall effect sensor ELI5

A potentiometer is a small device that can help us measure how much something has moved. It has a little knob that we can turn, and as we turn it, it changes the amount of electricity that goes through it. By measuring the electricity that goes through it, we can tell how much the knob has been turned.

On the other hand, a hall effect sensor is a different kind of device that can help us measure how close something is to it. It works by using a special kind of electricity called a magnetic field. When something gets close to the sensor, it changes the magnetic field, and we can measure that change to figure out how close the object is.

So, in summary, a potentiometer helps us measure how much something has moved by measuring the electricity that goes through it, while a hall effect sensor helps us measure how close something is by using a special kind of electricity called a magnetic field.

Better times are coming

The use of Hall effect sensors in gaming controllers has the potential to significantly reduce the risk of joystick drift, a common issue with potentiometer-based controllers. Hall effect joysticks have already been successfully implemented in specialty controllers, demonstrating their effectiveness in this field. It is likely that Hall effect sensors will become more widely used in the production of gaming controllers in the near future, offering gamers a more reliable and precise control option.

Marcus Richardson

I love testing and writing about new tech. I'm also a gamer and an engineer. Check out my Twitter for keyboard stuff.

Leave a Comment