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What can you do with the PlayStation Access controller?

Published by Tim Hanlon on December 24, 2023 at 6:16:22 PM UTC

The PlayStation Access is Sony’s answer to the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which has been around since 2018. It’s designed to make gaming more accessible to people who have difficulty using conventional controllers, but what got me interested was the ability to make my own input devices without unofficial hardware, like a Brook board.

To answer the question posed in the headline — you can do anything you want, as long as it only requires four inputs...or eight inputs if you’re willing to buy two of them.

I couldn’t find anything in the way of documentation from Sony, but after figuring out that the four 3.5mm expansion ports were compatible with inputs for the Xbox Adaptive Controller, we were off to the races. Here’s Microsoft’s excellent documentation for the XAC, and an equally excellent article on Adafruit.

My first project was turning the clutch pedal from an old set of Logitech G27 pedals into a handbrake.

AMSTUDIO has put out a ton of awesome DIY sim racing stuff over the years, including the guide which served as the inspiration and base of this project. I bought the 3D model for the handle from there, and had to improvise a little to get it to print in my small Up Mini. If you’re doing the same thing, don’t be like me and forget to RTFM — use the recommended infill and perimeter settings.

As a complete rookie when it comes to hardware hacking, Adafruit's 3.5mm jack plugs with terminal blocks made it super easy to do what I needed to do. For digital inputs like an arcade button, you’ll need the three-pole/TRS version. For an analog input like the handbrake, you’ll need the four-pole/TRRS version.

For the potentiometer on the side of the Logitech pedal, wire the left pin to the third input of the TRRS, the center pin to the first input of the TRRS, and the right pin to the fourth input of the TRRS. Then plug it in to the Access and it should show up ready for mapping.

I’ve been able to use the handbrake in Gran Turismo 7 and EA WRC without any issues, which is the benefit of having an official solution like the Access offering button mapping at the system level.

My main gripe with the Access at this stage is that having just four 3.5mm expansion ports is incredibly limited when compared to the XAC, which has individual 3.5mm inputs to match every input on an entire Xbox controller plus a USB input. That rules out building something like an six-button arcade stick or hitbox straight out of the gate, even if you cough up for a second Access.

But for sim racers, one Access is enough for an analog handbrake and sequential shifter, the latter of which I’m going to tackle next.

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