Running an excavator is confusing and complicated, even after you read the manual. Even if you can sort out how to drive your excavator, a simplified description of the controls is useful to help you remember what you are doing. Here is a run-down on the basic controls for a (generic) mini-excavator and how to make it do what you want.

...
Small but mighty.

Step 1

Use joysticks to control the bucket and the rotation of the cab of the machine. In the neutral position (the position that the joystick typically returns to when not in use), movement caused by each of the joysticks stops.

Step 2

Use the joystick on the right to control the scooping and make the boom go up and down. Scoop using the bucket by moving the joystick to the left (towards the driver) and dump the bucket by moving the joystick to the right (away from the driver). Notice that the direction of these controls is logical and somewhat intuitive (e.g., out to the right dumps, while in from the right scoops). Move the boom up, pulling back on the right-side joystick and lowering the boom by pushing the stick forwards.

Step 3

The joystick on the left controls the direction that the entire cab moves and extends or contracts the boom. Pushing the left stick forwards extends the boom while pulling on it contracts it. Pressing to the left and right on the left joystick will cause the entire cab to rotate to the direction that the joystick is pushed.

Step 4

Look at the drive rods (the two long sticks that come up between your legs). Each drive stick independently operates a different tread of the same side of the excavator that the stick is on. The further the stick is moved (either forwards or backwards) will change the speed that each tread turns. Pushing both sticks forward the same length will make the excavator go straight. Moving both sticks backwards makes the excavator go backwards. If only one of the sticks is moved forward (or is moved forwards more than the other stick), the tread on the corresponding side will move forward, turning the vehicle. If one stick is pushed forward and the other is pulled backward, the vehicle can turn in place.

Step 5

Use the foot pedals on the floor as a "super speed" boost and to pivot the hoe. The one on the left makes the excavator move very fast and is only used to move from one location to another on smooth, level terrain in a straight line. The other pedal tilts the hoe (the bucket and the arm combined) to the left or right.

Step 6

Look to the right side of your seat. There should be two sticks. The rear stick is the throttle stick (which controls the flow of fuel to the engine). The throttle opens further if you pull back on it to give the engine more gas. This throttle helps the engine when it is working against a load so that it has more power.

Step 7

Look just forward of the throttle. This stick is the dozer-blade control stick. Use the dozer-blade control stick to lift the blade by pulling back on it. Press the blade deeper (towards the ground) by pushing the stick forward. The dozer blade is pressed forward when scraping the ground like a mini-bulldozer.