Ergonomic, simple, waterproof remote control

I find the existing approaches for a thumb or finger controlled analog remote control too sensitive. At every wave or bump i vary the power unintended and have to concentrate finding the right power setting for the situation again.
The analog finger control is a challenge to waterproof and the designs i have seen look bulky and huge. Why not use a kind of up and down buttons which can easily be waterproofed for controlling the speed in steps and a dead man switch, which has to be held all the time, if released the motor stops directly.

Three steps would be too rough, 10 steps would be sufficient from my point of view.

Is there such a control available, is it compatible with our ESCs or bluetooth or maybe VESC?

I am working at an approach with a wii nunchuck with an arduino inside. C and Z button will be used for cruise control, so it won’t be in steps but to set and resume to a given speed.
What kind of remote do you have? I guess allof the DIY remotes mentioned in the forum will have that feature (or at least it will be easy to add it).

I don’t like the momentary trigger designs either. They lack good control. I have been looking at a slider that remains in position and using a dead-man’s switch to activate it.

Just to share experience from this setup. If there is water ingression in your deadmans switch, it may short the button, if so a sliding switch that does not go back to the origin (0 throttle) is sketchy. We had a trigger that would stay in position, we also had water ingression in the deadman-button that shorted the button, overall not a joyful experience.

A trigger that goes back to 0 throttle gives additional safety, if your dead-mans button is shorted for some reason.

The idea would be to have a perfectly sealed remote. An overall kill-switch would also take care of any situation where the throttle may get stuck.

So how is this done on e-longboards?

There is a custom firmware for the VESC (the common open source speed controller for ESK8), which offers “cruise control”. I never tried it, but IIUC, the idea is to use the second channel of the car remote (the “wheel” potentiometer), for changing the maximal set speed. Hitting the wheel changes the currently set speed, kind of like what you have for real cruise control. Then, you still use the main trigger for accelerating and breaking, but now you can feel free to press full throttle when your set max speed is as you want.

For our purpose, I think we can do with three “on/off” switches (which are much easier to watertight):

  • Increase speed - each click increases speed by X
  • Decrease speed - each click decreases speed by X
  • Run - only when pushed, does the motor accelerate slowly (to protect the gear) towards the currently set speed.

I don’t think I’m saying anything new here, just organizing our thoughts. Does anyone have an example for such “cruise control” type controller (trying to figure out what would work best for which finger is used for what).

Thanks, this is what i meant. Releasing the Run Button stops the motor fully. Should be the trigger finger. Up/Down by the thumb. Change your speed in steps while driving by your thumb. Question: Is it safe to make a preselected speed happen by pressing only the run button? Or is it better to always start from zero? Lets say we have 10 steps. Would make it easy to count the number of increments. Press the Run Button, click 7 times on Up might be safer and easy enough. What do you think?

My idea for the controller is similar to what you guys are discussing. The idea is to have a adjustable maximum speed mode, maybe three stages, Launch, Cruise, Expert (fast). This can be adjustable via up/down buttons by the thumb. Then still have the deadman switch and trigger finger. For starting you set Launch mode. This would allow you to gradually increase speed while getting balance with trigger finger then hold trigger fully down, which would limit the speed to a pre-determined speed. I plan to incorporate a speed sensor into my ESC control. The idea is than you do not have to maintain a constant trigger position to achieve a consistent speed, while trying to get flying, just hold it fully down.

Only downsides are now there are 3 buttons and 1 trigger. Which makes it more complicated. Has anyone found good waterproof push button switches?

Check Mouser or Digikey for IP67 switches - many styles available.

A simple scheme for speed control:

  • Run enable trigger - must be held for prop to spin
  • Speed Up button
  • Speed Down button

Remote is programmed to offer say 16 speed levels from very slow to max (0 to 15). When run trigger is enabled, Speed is reset to 0. Each push of speed up, increases speed by one. Each press of speed down, decreases speed by one.

we have looked for a true waterproof switch and came up without a off the shelf solution. The solution we arrived at is to duplicate a waterproof camera housing controls. Simple tube, with a sliding or rotating “piston” that has an o-ring grove cut into it, spring loaded if needed. Then you can use any switch you like.

Here are some links that show the parts.

We can confirm. Ip67/68 switches does necessarily NOT mean that they can be operated in the water! Rubber cap buttons will work, as long as they are properly installed.

Try search for submersible or underwater switch. Seems like there are some off the shelf solutions for marine environment.

The GoPro remote is definitely submersible:


Chinese knockoffs of GoPro remote on Alibaba for about $20 each:

prompting the question of hacking a receiver for the GoPro transmitter…

I’m working on a simple ergonomic waterproof remote that reduces the trigger sensitivity through deleveraging the action of the throttle and by also keeping the trigger in closer to the grip so your hand/finger is somewhat supported by the remote to stabilize the finger.

As for buttons working in the water, technically 2.4ghz/Bluetooth wireless remotes don’t transmit underwater really. Thus, buttons, triggers, thumb sliders etc… should not be used under the water when possible. Waterproofing is tough, and anything that moves underwater has the potential to leak, even submarines leak :slight_smile:

I just ordered a “wireless Nyko Kama nunchuk” used for nintendo wii and in the ESK8 scene in combination with a VESC, which has a special input port and code to interprete this remote.
It can be used to set up a cruise control, so if you press a special switch, the speed is maintained if you release the thumb throttle and you can also override while holding this switch to set up a higher or lower speed. As soon as you release the switch the motor is turned off. I did not test it yet, but this video from benjamin explains it really good:

It is not waterproof from scratch, but with such a rounded shape it should not be a problem to use condom or plastic bag. Maybe it can be integrated in a waterproof housing. At least it is very ergonomical, you just hold the Cruise button and by short pushes on the joystick you can increase and decrease the speed. You do not need to concentrate on your fingers position any more! Its awesome!