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How to Connect a Sixaxis PS3 Controller to an Android Device

Gaming on Android can be a whole spectrum of experiences from face melting awesomeness to shameful meh . Recent games releasing on Android have stepped up the controller support in a lot of their apps to encourage a more responsive and engaging experience. The problem then becomes finding a controller to connect. The Sixaxis controller made for the PS3 is a solid choice due to its solid build quality and high availability in retail stores. The primary drawbacks to using this controller are the cost, which is around $50, and connecting it isn’t always easy.

In attempting to use a SixAxis controller there are two approaches wired, or Bluetooth.

Wired:

For a wired connection you’ll need a full sized USB port on your device. There are very few Android devices that have this but Asus Transformer Docks and the Toshiba Thrive come to mind. With this approach the process is simple; find a USB wire (the wire you charge the controller with) and connect it to the device and to the controller. Most honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich devices will recognize the controller immediately and you should be ready to go.

Bluetooth:

Wired controllers are an inconvenience though, so many people will want to attempt a Bluetooth connection. In this case you’ll need to meet some requirements before you proceed.

  • First, you have to be rooted. This sucks, I know, but this is because of the unique way Sony implemented the Bluetooth technology into their controllers and console. Superuser rights are needed to control BlueTooth. This will almost certainly never change. Once you do root the device and learn about all the great things you can do you’ll kiss your controller for forcing you into a new Android universe.
  • Second, you need to make sure the Bluetooth connection app will work for your device. Download the free app, Six Axis Compatibility from the market to check if your phone/tablet is supported. If it is, and you’re rooted….
  • Purchase The Six Axis Driver which is about $2 USD at the moment. Yes it sucks that it isn’t free, but this app is constantly updated to support new devices, so you’re money does go towards your future ability to use it on other devices.

Once you’ve met all the prerequisites you’re ready to connect. Normally with a Bluetooth device you need to get the host and client devices to do a handshake so they connect and stay in synch. Due to the Bluetooth implementation on the Sixaxis controller we need to force the handshake using a PC and a driver (free) that was written by DancingPixelStudios, who also made the Android driver. Pick up the PC driver at this page where you can find instructions for Windows, Linux, and Mac. The tool itself is pretty simple.

Ok – you finally have all the pieces so lets roll through the steps.

  1. On your Android Device launch the “Sixaxis Controller” application you previously downloaded.
  2. With that open go to your PC and connect the SixAxis controller using the charge wire
  3. On your PC launch the SixAxis Connect Tool – You’ll see a window that looks simiar to the following:
  4. On your Android device locate the Bluetooth key code in the bottom right hand corner of the screen
  5. Type the key (including the colons) into the Sixaxis Pair Tool window and hit “update”, this will change the “Current Master”
  6. Unplug the controller
  7. On the Android device hit “Start”
  8. Now on the controller hit the PS/HOME button to connect
  9. The phone should show “Client Connected: 1” as the final prompt
  10. DONE!
  11. The default settings work for many games, but stay tuned for an upcoming guide on how to configure the settings for some of those tricky games.

    ENJOY!

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