Linux has two joystick modules, joydev and evdev.

Most joystick calibration tooling is for joydev, but that's deprecated. There aren't any default tools for saving evdev calibrations.

This is my notes on how I got my joystick calibrated.

Problem Statement

I would like to use a joystick in the game Elite Dangerous, played via proton from steam, and my joystick is way out of cal.

Turns out it can only use the evdev module, but this post is more of an overview of what I learned along the way.

This is pretty much a more in depth solution to the problem discussed at a reddit post.


I have a Saitek CYBORG 3D GOLD USB joystick. It shows up at


usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-joystick is a symlink to js0, and whatever-event-joystick symlinks to eventXX

js0 is the joydev stuff, and event24 is the evdev stuff


Calibrating for the "joydev" system

What I ended up doing was the automated cal in jstest-gtk, and then manually editing the values till the deadzones worked out.

Export the cal with jcal -p <device-name>, it'll print out the jscal command to set the settings to how they are.

For me, it was

jscal -s 6,1,0,91,98,9941750,8134159,1,0,97,102,8521500,9099229,1,0,80,85,8658944,8388352,1,0,108,109,5965050,8012754,0,0,0,0 /dev/input/by-id/usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-joystick

Turns out, Debian's joystick package does some nice stuff with /lib/udev/rules.d/60-joystick.rules and jscal-store/jscal-restore to automatically apply calibrations for joydev.

Calibrating for the "evdev" system

I used evdev-joystick-calibration to get the calibration values, but I don't value it's attempts to be the program a udev rule calls to re-apply the call when we already have evdev-joystick, so I just took it's json:

{"5": {"minimum": 16, "maximum": 152, "analog": "ABS_RZ "}, "0": {"minimum": 32, "maximum": 164, "analog": "ABS_X "}, "1": {"minimum": 34, "maximum": 161, "analog": "ABS_Y "}, "6": {"minimum": 16, "maximum": 177, "analog": "ABS_THROTTLE "}}

and turned it into commands:

evdev-joystick -e /dev/input/by-id/usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-event-joystick  -m 32 -M 164 -a 0
evdev-joystick -e /dev/input/by-id/usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-event-joystick  -m 34 -M 161 -a 1
evdev-joystick -e /dev/input/by-id/usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-event-joystick  -m 16 -M 152 -a 5
evdev-joystick -e /dev/input/by-id/usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-event-joystick  -m 16 -M 177 -a 6

I would prefer to convert the jscal format to evdev-joystick commands, but I think the unedited output from evdev-joystick-calibration is close enough for today. I found a post about how the format works so it shouldn't be too bad when the time comes.

So in the end I have the very readable /etc/udev/rules.d/85-saitek-cyborg-3d-joystick-jscal.rules:

SUBSYSTEM=="input", ATTRS{idVendor}=="06a3", ATTRS{idProduct}=="0006", ATTRS{product}=="CYBORG 3D USB", ACTION=="add", RUN+=" /bin/bash -c 'evdev-joystick -e /dev/input/by-id/usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-event-joystick  -m 32 -M 164 -a 0; evdev-joystick -e /dev/input/by-id/usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-event-joystick  -m 34 -M 161 -a 1; evdev-joystick -e /dev/input/by-id/usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-event-joystick  -m 16 -M 152 -a 5; evdev-joystick -e /dev/input/by-id/usb-SAITEK_CYBORG_3D_USB-event-joystick  -m 16 -M 177 -a 6'"

Testing the inputs in programs

Testing SDL

SDL is a cross-platform library a lot of games use. I have no idea if the game I care about uses it, but I thought it did for a while.

To test how input looks to sdl, Grumbel/sdl-jstest works well. It is important to run git submodule init.

One thing a bunch of places on the internet recommend is putting SDL_JOYSTICK_DEVICE=/dev/input/js0 into your environment somehow. This worked with SDL 1, but not SDL2, you can see that by trying it with sdl-jtest and sdl2-jtest

Testing whatever windows gets via proton

To test whatever the windows inside wine gets, this works:

WINEPREFIX=$STEAMLIBRARY/steamapps/compatdata/$APPID/pfx $STEAMLIBRARY/steamapps/common/Proton\ 5.0/dist/bin/wine64 control