2N2222 transistor from Radio Shack links Arduino UNO and Teensy 2.0

This screen shot may not seem like much, but it marks the first time I have ever used a transistor:

Reading Transistor Switch

My Tandy joystick project has two goals. The first is to allow an analog Tandy joystick be used as a USB device for a modern computer. This part is easy, since the variable resistors in the joysticks can be easily read from the Arduino/Teensy’s analog inputs, and the joystick buttons can be read on a digital pin.

The second part is a bit trickier. The idea is to use a modern input device on an old Tandy 1000 or Color Computer. To do this, the USB device’s analog position (if it is an analog stick or a mouse) has to be turned in to a resistance value that the old computer can read through it’s joystick ports. I found a tutorial on the Arduino site that shows doing this with an AD5206 digital potentiometer chip:


That seems easy enough, but I wasn’t sure how to make a digital output pin from the Teensy turn in to a dry contact switch. A bit of research led me to a few useful tutorials dealing with transistors and optoisolators:

…and I found various projects where they were using these devices to simulate a button press on a camera, to automate it:


The above project is precisely the type of thing I want to do, so I wired up an Arduino like his layout, and then instead of running wires to the switch of a Canon camera, I ran them to a digital input of my Teensy 2.0 and its ground. Using the Fritzing program, here is a diagram of what I did:

Hooking digital outputs to digital inputs.
Hooking digital outputs to digital inputs. (Diagram done with Fritzing)

I hacked a bit of code on the Arduino side that just toggles that digital pin HIGH and LOW (basically, I hacked the LED blink example to also do pin 12):

int led = 13;
int transistor = 12;

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup()
    // initialize the digital pin as an output.
    pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
    pinMode(transistor, OUTPUT);

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop()
    digitalWrite(led, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
    digitalWrite(transistor, HIGH);
    delay(1000);            // wait for a second
    digitalWrite(led, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
    digitalWrite(transistor, LOW);
    delay(1000); // wait for a second

Then, on the Teensy, I wired up to the transistor similar to the Input Pullup example (which reads a button) and reports if the status of the pin had changed. Here’s some quick and dirty code:

void setup()
    // Initialize the serial port.

    pinMode(3, INPUT_PULLUP);

    pinMode(LED_PIN, OUTPUT);


int oldStatus;
int status;

void loop()

    status = digitalRead(3);
    if (status != oldStatus)
        Serial.print("Pin 3: ");
        oldStatus = status;
        digitalWrite(LED_PIN, status);

Now, with both devices running, on the Arduino, every time the LED turns on, it is also turning on the pin connected to the transistor. On the Teensy, that pin connects to digital input 3. (I started at 3 since that is just passed the three pins used by SPI, which I will be needing for my real project.)

When the light on the Arduino goes on, the light on the Teensy goes off. I would need to change how I wired them (active high versus active low) to make them sync. But, it works.

I have much learning to do on all this, but this proof-of-concept gets me one step closer to what I am trying to do. I will be next be trying the same thing using optoisolator chips, though I am not sure there really needs to be any isolation between the joystick buttons and the Teensy.

More to come…

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