Configure a Linux-supported Gamepad

Configuring a gamepad input controller allows you to use a Linux-supported gamepad as a device to communicate with your machine. Linux supports most standard gamepads, such as PlayStation or Xbox type game controllers, as well as many joysticks, racing wheels, and more.

Navigate to the CONFIGURE tab of your machine’s page in the Viam app. Click the + icon next to your machine part in the left-hand menu and select Component. Select the input_controller type, then select the gamepad model. Enter a name or use the suggested name for your input controller and click Create.

An example configuration for a linux-based gamepad input controller component in the Viam App config builder

Edit the attributes as applicable to your input controller, according to the table below.

  "components": [
      "name":  "<your-gamepad-input-controller>",
      "model": "gamepad",
      "type": "input_controller",
      "namespace": "rdk",
      "attributes": {
        "dev_file": "<string>",
        "auto_reconnect": <boolean>

The following attributes are available for gamepad input controllers:

dev_filestringOptionalIf dev_file is left blank or not included, viam-server will search and use the first gamepad it finds that’s connected to the computer controlling your machine. If you want to specify a device, give the absolute path to the input device event file. For example: /dev/input/event42.
auto_reconnectbooleanOptionalApplies to both remote (gRPC) and local (bluetooth or direct USB connected) devices. If set to true, viam-server tries to (re)connect the device automatically. It waits for a device to connect during a machine’s start-up. If set to false (default) then start-up fails if a device is not already connected.

Test the input controller

After you configure your input controller, navigate to the CONTROL tab and select the dropdown panel dedicated to the input controller. View the current value of each input on your controller.

The input controller component in the control tab of the Viam app.

Work in progress models

Mappings are currently available for a wired XBox 360 controller, and wireless XBox Series X|S, along with the 8bitdo Pro 2 bluetooth gamepad (which works great with the Raspberry Pi).

The XBox controllers emulate an XBox 360 gamepad when in wired mode, as does the 8bitdo.

Because of that, any unknown gamepad is mapped as an XBox 360.

If you have another controller that you want to use to control your machine, feel free to submit a PR on Github with new mappings.


  • If you are not able to see a dropdown menu with the name of your controller appear in the CONTROL tab, try specifying the dev_file attribute to match the exact path to your device. You can also try setting auto_reconnect to True.

You can find additional assistance in the Troubleshooting section.

You can also ask questions in the Community Discord and we will be happy to help.

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If you notice any issues with the documentation, feel free to file an issue or edit this file.