Using Arduino Uno to power an excavator arm via XBOX360/PS3/Wii controller

I have an excavator arm that is anchored down to a box to serve as its base. It currently is controlled by 4 manually operated valves that in turn move 4 pneumatic double acting cylinders. I am trying to switch the valves over to this valve which is controlled by a moving solenoid.

I was wondering if anyone here could point me in the right direction for tutorials/code that shows how to control the solenoid valves by using a remote control. I have the arduino uno, access to Simulink, Matlab, LabVIEW, Arduino.exe and many transistors/resistors/wires/bread boards/etc

Here are some current photos of the excavator arm and base it sits on with the valves and hoses.

Again, currently this is a purely mechanical setup driven only by changes in pressure when the operator moves the nob up and down. I want to be able to press a button or move a joystick on any type of gaming controller to tell the cylinders on the arm to move up and down. Any help is greatly appreciated. I am not receiving any monetary wealth from this project, it is purely an educational project for kids interested in building things.

The solenoids on the valve you have linked are 12V, 3W (and 12/3 = 400ma). This solenoid tutorial on shows how a solenoid would be connected. You'll need to use a transistor capable of 400ma but that's not hard to find.

With respect to making it work with a video game controller I would instead suggest using momentary switches for now.

Ok cool, would a joystick setup be even easier? I could eliminate even the use of the arduino with using the basic joysticks, but my hopes were to include the arduino in my project.

Depends on the joystick, but more than likely yes. Still, you're jumping past the first part of your problem (controlling the solenoid valves) and going straight to the controller part. One step at a time ;)

I'd use a joystick for control and use large servos to operate the existing hydraulic actuators.

I currently have these joysticks that I could use to control the open/close of the solenoids. They are manufactured to be closed in the neutral position. It would simply be a forward/backward motion to control flow. I just don't really see then where the arduino could be integrated. I guess I wanted the design to be a little more complex.

I guess I wanted the design to be a little more complex.

Well, I suggest you chose a method that is within your current capabilitys if you want the project to work.