Joysticks recommendations

hultsfred

Captain
After many years I've finally upgraded to a new computer (actually in preparation for Squadron 42), and am now thinking about peripherals. A good look over amazon reveals a few joysticks and related flight-sim products. I'm also aware of things like the Thrustmaster MFD Cougar Flight Panels, and the various pedals available.

I was wondering what everyone is using these days, and if anyone has any recommendations.
 

Whistler

Commodore
For SC you might want to go with a HOTAS setup but my Logitech Extreme 3D Pro should hold up well till the transition. It's all preference after-all. I prefer looking in retail stores (like Best Buy) and compare the 'sticks on display. Usually my favorite way to pick one out. Afterwards I'll look for online deals if the retail one isn't sexy enough.

The key for a great stick is adaptability. Is it reprogrammable? Does it have multiple modes? How do reviews hold up, is it durable? Does it even feel comfortable? You're going to spend a lot of sweat and energy on this thing so carefully consider before you buy. Make sure the return policy is fair in case it's not exactly what you're looking for.
 

Six-Gun Slim

Captain
For SC you might want to go with a HOTAS setup but my Logitech Extreme 3D Pro should hold up well till the transition. It's all preference after-all. I prefer looking in retail stores (like Best Buy) and compare the 'sticks on display. Usually my favorite way to pick one out. Afterwards I'll look for online deals if the retail one isn't sexy enough.
I actually came here to recommend the same one; it's a really solid 'stick, and I use it for just about everything from flight to mech sims. Probably one of the more comfortable ones out there, too: for all the frills that my Saitek x52 has, it's not nearly as ergonomic.
 

Kyle Maverick

Rear Admiral
I use the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro as well. It's served me well for many years, and I'm on my second one, which I may have to retire soon as the Z Axis doesn't work anymore and three of the buttons on the stand have died as well. Only problem I have ever had with it was trying to remember which button did what!
 

hultsfred

Captain
So the Logitech extreme 3D pro seems to be the most popular. That may end up being my final choice.

I was thinking about going for a HOTAS style joystick; the Thrustmaster Warthog looks incredible, but I'm having difficulty justifying that kind of money to myself, and bizarrely it doesn't come with force-feedback. I've been considering the Thrustmaster T Flight HOTAS X, which seems to be cheapest of its style on the market, and then there's a step-up to the Saitek X52 Pro. Does anyone have thoughts on those, or alternatives?
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
I use a Saitek X52 (not pro). I actually have two of these sticks, I've been extremely happy with them. Fully programmable with external software. My two favorite features are the MFD with programmable time zones (which really helps me figure out server times related to my own and when events are kicking off online) and the thumb mouse/button on the stick, which lets me navigate menus when necessary without taking my hands off the stick.

I have four negative things to say about this, however:

1) It is much better to program the Saitek sticks in the given game engine then to do it with the programmable software. There is a microsecond delay when you hit a button and the software has to interpret that to match a keyboard command. This is a real problem for two reasons. First, a microsecond delay when popping chaff to save your life means your dead. Second, many games don't allow you to map all your joystick buttons to the in game functions, or only allow a limited mapping. This is less likely to be a problem in Star citizen.

2) The spring in my X52 does not offer as much resistance as I would like. I have considered replacing it, but this would mean disassembling the stick, something I have no interest in doing. This is really personal preference - I have always used sticks with extremely tight resistance and it was an adjustment to what I have now. This is something to consider but may really depend on what sticks you have used in the past. I got my start with a Microsoft Sidewinder, and it snaps back into center position like a champ. This stick...not so much. The pro may be different, I don't know.

3A) This is really a comment on the sad state of video games, but a lot of the games I play - especially the older ones - don't recognize the Z-axis. This means no twist. This games typically don't recognize the rudder pedals either.

3B) Point number four, and tied into the above, is that many of the older games also won't recognize the throttle. This can be extremely frustrating.

In addition to all of this equipment, for certain sims I round it out with a matching set of Saitek Rudder pedals. I only purchased the Saitek brand because they already used the same programming software I had installed, so it saved me some additional work. I also have a Track IR 4 that I use with certain sims that really enhances the experience.
 

hultsfred

Captain
That's extremely helpful Jason, thank you. Actually my flight sim experience hasn't advanced much since Prophecy (which probably tells you something about Chris Robert's influence on my gaming habits), so a lot of what you talked about is brand new to me. I remember getting a Sidewinder force-feedback fifteen-twenty ago, which was a formative experience of my teens...

I've noticed some throttle controls have two sticks instead of one, which can be moved together or independently. What's the reason for this?

I've never come across TrackIR before, which looks incredible! It's not cheap, but I guess if you're investing seriously then that's going to raise the experience considerably. Actually that's the sort of thing I used to imagine we might on day have when I was a kid... Well, I guess I better start looking into an appropriate helmet to go with it, to mount the sensors on!

The other product line I came across was the CH Products peripherals. How do those rate?
 

Jason_Ryock

Vice Admiral
That's extremely helpful Jason, thank you. Actually my flight sim experience hasn't advanced much since Prophecy (which probably tells you something about Chris Robert's influence on my gaming habits), so a lot of what you talked about is brand new to me. I remember getting a Sidewinder force-feedback fifteen-twenty ago, which was a formative experience of my teens...
Mine wasn't a force feedback, but I loved it all the same. I still have one floating around somewhere, but the USB cord shorted out and I need to splice in a new one before it will work again.

I've noticed some throttle controls have two sticks instead of one, which can be moved together or independently. What's the reason for this?
This is for Dual-Engine aircraft, like the F-15 or F-14. You can control the throttle input to each one independently.

I've never come across TrackIR before, which looks incredible! It's not cheap, but I guess if you're investing seriously then that's going to raise the experience considerably. Actually that's the sort of thing I used to imagine we might on day have when I was a kid... Well, I guess I better start looking into an appropriate helmet to go with it, to mount the sensors on!
If you look for the TrackIR 4 on Amazon it's cheaper (which is why I have four and not five). In practical terms, gameplay support for it is fairly limited. There's only a handful of sims that support it. But wowee - the games that have it are like playing something completely new. If you really don't have the cash and really want to try it out - look for some face tracking software. I don't know the name of it, but with a cheap webcam it can apparently do a passable job of imitating TrackIR functionality on your computer. You also don't NEED the proclip (which is like another 50$). If you're like me and you have a wireless headset, it's useless anyway because it requires a constant power source (there are vicious hacks I have seen out there of people splicing it into a wireless headset. If you're looking for a full helmet getup this might work for you, but probably not).

The other product line I came across was the CH Products peripherals. How do those rate?
I've only ever heard of my serious simming friends talk about Thrustmasters. They even poo-poo my Saitek sticks.


It should also be noted at this time that the setup I have been accumulating for some time I have every intention of turning into a full fledged fighter cockpit once we get moved into somewhere with enough space to support the setup.
 
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