More thoughts on Joysticks

More thoughts on Joysticks

Situation: Ive only ever owned a Logitech 3D Pro, and Im trying to figure out my next upgrade.

So my old 3.5 year old Logitech (Saitech) Extreme 3D Pro is giving up the Ghost, after years of trouble free flying. Lately it is having a few problems, in particular with a twitchy rudder. This is my own fault actually as I was over-loading the twist grip sometimes lately and that probably broke it somewhat.

Me like this:

TLDR its good and I recommend it, but now its time to upgrade. The Logitech 3D doesn’t use magnetic sensors it uses some other method I think mechanical to sense movement. The better units such as Thrustmaster and VKB use magnetic sensors.

Lets cover some ideas here:

Thrustmaster does the T16000. And now the basically same stick is released (Mid 2020) branded Airbus, and in conjunction no doubt with the impending release of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (Releases August 18 2020).

Basically the T16000 is 16 bit magnetic sensors – precision-wise. Same for the Airbus unit, although I also read 14 bit.

For me these are available locally and arrive in the post in a few days. And we are talking AUD$130 for the T16000 and the Airbus is AUD$120. (Yeh its newer and cheaper. lol.)

ALSO Locally for AUD$100 I can get a Logitech Throttle quadrant thing which appeals to me because it has three levers, ideal for WW2 warbird functions, chiefly Throttle, Propeller pitch and Mixture. Its a civilian unit but it would go well in combat me thinks for throttle and prop in particular. Again locally available so no expensive shipping costs with uncertain shipping times and so on.

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Side note: Downside to the T16000 is that it has a loose throttle slider and the aesthetic is very translucent orange. Kind of reminds me of 1970’s Star Wars themed but not as good, but not really appealing to a WW2 Warbird (Aspiring) Ace such as myself.

Next I’m looking at the VKB Gladiator MKII.

This is or was my favourite because it looks like a Bf109 stick.

Its 32 Bit magnetic sensors for X, Y and Z axis! So as far as I can see its the most precise and better than the T16000’s 16 Bit. 32 Bit means (I reckon) 32,000 sensor points – call them pixels I guess, where the unit has many points in space where it can sense movement.

Also the price is around US$100, plus postage. For me that equates to AUD$250 delivered form Xplane shop in the United States. I also dunno how long that would take to arrive, especially in current conditions. Should be fine, but who knows.

There has been some kind of supply disruption and distribution limitation with the VKB products – particularly the only one that I really wanted the Gladiator MKII. So you cant usually just go and get one or order one mail order and have it arrive – it may be out of stock.

A comparison of T16000 and VKB Gladiator:

All this detail – it begs the questions: Would a better stick make me a better combat pilot?

Hold that thought in mind, but lets now look at a few runners-up in my sentiments and readings:

Theres the $800 Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS (I STILL Dunno what HOTAS means. lol.)

Warthog eight hundred smackaroonies:

Theres the old-school Microsoft Force Feedback that I believe is out of production, but annecdotally other pilots have once said to me that they heard of a complete novice achieve flawless kills with this unit. It looks too ancient to me but its worth a mention I guess.

MS FFB:

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So I always thought that VKB was short for Virpil and they are the same thing, but no Virpil is a different company than VKB. A look at Virpil gear shows very jet-orientated aesthetics think F14 type sticks and characteristic of Virpil is the striking and effective black with red colour scheme. The price is at the premium end. They don’t seem to have any WW2 Warbird specific stuff though.

Virpil:

Next up to completely shift focus completely, there are emerging cottage industry type innovators who are using arduino electronics and 3D printed parts to make re-creations of WW1 and WW2 Warbird sticks and throttle units which look amazingly like the real thing.

A IL-2 stick:

These guys are across the World in different locations and are either producing a few units a month or are in the process of making prototypes or conducting Alpha, Beta type testing on these prototypes before considering production.

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Theres some real craftsmanship in these units they look really great. Some are bolt-on handles for existing name-brand base units, ie you’d attach a handle to a Thrustmaster or Virpil base etc. Others are completely original creations and are already, or are going to be ‘Plug and Play’. I don’t know about the precision and the whole 16 bit / 32 bit thing with these cottage industry units, but they look good and probably perform well.

Look below its a Ju88!

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Mig:

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Conclusion:

Theres a lot of cool ‘flight sim peripherals’ and something for everyone.