Thursday, January 4, 2018

Thrustmaster Flight Stick X

Last Spring I renewed my interest in flying.
I went to the local airport (KPOC) Brackett and wandered into the flight school.
(There are two)

After spending enough time as a hanger on I was offered time aloft for labor.
Washing planes is not easy. I can see why they were willing to trade.
And the crap people leave behind in the cockpit after a lesson?

I've gotten 65 hours in the logbook when I was encouraged to use a flight sim to hone real flight skills.
I own FSX. Flight Simulator X

This was supposed to be Microsoft's crowning achievement in the twenty years since they had first bought the base code from Bruce Artwick of Sublogic.

This is what I saw on my Trash 80.
A six mile by six mile square grid with "mountains" on the northern side. If you "flew" past the boundary in any direction and continued to fly straight you would eventually end up on the opposite side of the map from which you departed. The "world" was a thirty six mile ball with only six miles graphically represented.
Upper left has engine "gauges." Lower left are flight management "gauges." Basic indicators of throttle, roll and elevator or pitch on the right. Airspeed and altitude on the bottom.
Yes, those are mountains ahead. There were two airports. One was the enemy base if you were flying combat and shooting the enemy down.

Today it looks more like this.
I had to dig out my ten year old joystick, a Logitech 3D Extreme Pro. A $30 stick with twelve programmable buttons, a throttle tab and  twist handle rudder control.
However, it had issues since the day I bought it. After searching the web I found I was not alone by any means.
The issue was when you plug the stick in, it very rarely was centered. Usually the '+' denoting the center position on the calibrate screen would show it pinned to a corner.
You would be forced to plug and then unplug the stick until it magically would center.

Enter the Thrustmaster Flight Stick X.
Same twelve buttons that can be programmed. You can save a couple of profiles and switch on the fly. It has an eeprom to store settings even if you unplug the stick for long periods.

Same $30 with free shipping. (That somehow showed up twenty three hours after I ordered it)

Same throttle, although a thumb slide and not a tab or lever.

It has a weighted base. A variable resistance knob to control the free play. And a very long USB cord.

The fundamental difference is this works out of the box. In fact, as the name implies, the stick is pre-programmed for FSX.

Ergonomics - it is larger both at the base and the height of the stick itself. It is also thicker about the handle.

There are things it does not do. You get no sense of the force needed to cause the plane to  rotate or bank. Twisting a joystick does not translate into pulling the yoke in a real aircraft.

Same thing with the twist handle for the rudder control. It feels nothing like pedals.
As you rotate you go, "Heels down," meaning feet are on the floor and not the tops of the rudder pedals. Obviously this doesn't happen when you're twisting a joystick instead.

The "switch view" button is right next to the hat switch so it is very easy to switch views when you meant to look around via the hat.

Overall I am pleased. I am one of those people who do not feel it necessary to spend thousands of dollars to buy a yoke and pedals and every possible add-on.
For what I do with FSX, practice real life procedures, try weather I'd never fly in et cetera this works well.

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