In What is the motivation behind designing a control stick that does not move? the F-16's control stick is discussed. What is the method that is used to sense the pilot's input to the stick and convert this to an electrical signal?
The stick measures force by using strain gauges. These work by measuring the change in electrical resistance caused by stretching or compressing the thin metallic foil, which is bonded onto the stick shaft.
An accurate setup requires two strain gauges at opposite sides, which are measured using a Wheatstone bridge: the difference in resistance of the two gauges is used for the force signal.
There are other ways of measuring input force, but none are more accurate than the strain gauge/ Wheatstone bridge setup which can measure force in both directions and has little to no hysteresis.
The side stick controller uses two sets of quad-redundant, linear variable-displacement transducers to measure stick position against a linear spring force. One set is for pitch and the other is for roll. The electrical signals from the LVDTs go to a computer. Control law software interprets the inputs and controls the hydraulic actuators that move the control surfaces.