|A Joystick for Flight Simulator|
| ||April 27, 2006|
|After using Flight Simulator for three years, I finally decided to do research to find out if I was getting the most out of my input controllers. First I noticed there were a number of controls on my Saitek X45 controller that werenít being utilized by default. So I decided to start off by setting up an elevator trim assignment. I must say, assigning the elevator trim to an Axis control made flying so much easier that I almost felt I was cheating. However, it canít really be considered cheating since on real planes the actual elevator trim really is a wheel.
Using the Joystick buttons or the keys on the keyboard always left something missing. I had often used the mouse wheel. However that required taking my hands off the other controls. I was restricted to having to be in a view mode that showed the trim. Positioning the mouse cursor and focusing my attention to where the mouse pointer was positioned was a chore.
Using a knob on the Joystick made the control always available. Iím now able to adjust the trim without even looking at the knob. It frees up a lot of attention that could be focused on other aspects of flying.
I strongly recommending assigning a Joystick Axis control for the elevator trim. Before writing this article and recommendation, I did research to find less expensive Joysticks that had more than one Axis control. It surprised me how few store clerks could understand the concept. I posted messages on a number of forums and found that simmers didnít fully understand the concept either.
First Iíll mention that most joysticks have at least one Axis control, the throttle. My first joystick was the Saitek ST90. It had (what appeared to be impressive) a 4-position digital throttle with LED indicators. The key word was throttle. I didnít know of the Axis type control at the time. Also, the ďdigitalĒ in the name sounded impressive. I was also shopping for cost efficiency for my new venture. The price tag was about $15.00. I believe it was the only one I saw in the store for under $50.00 that had a throttle control.
It turns out that 4 positions are not nearly enough to have sufficient throttle control for flying. The next time I emphasized throttle while shopping and picked the Saitek X45 which has a huge throttle that is separated from the joystick. At the time it retailed for about $99.00.
Now, finally Iím realizing the true power of this joystick. Having more than one Axis control is an overwhelming plus. I have an after school program where I use Flight Simulator as an educational tool. So in an effort to recommend a joystick to my students, I started looking for a less expensive joystick that has more than one Axis control so they could inexpensively enjoy more ease in flying. As it turns out, I canít find any. I came up with an alternate work around of adding a second inexpensive joystick and assigning its throttle for the elevator trim control. This also provides for more buttons that could be programmed to do other things such as change views and pan around.
Other joysticks that I use in our workshop are the Saitek ST290 and the Logitech Attack 3. The hat button control on the ST290 is a nice alternative for assigning controls for the various view points. Since many people will already have at least one joystick, it might be economic to add a second joystick for more functionality. It turns out that two single Axis control joysticks cost much less than one joystick that has two Axis controls.
For those who have less need of concentrating on cost, I would recommend looking at the CH products. Adding the CH Throttle Quadrant will give you rotary controls for many of the controls such as aileron trim and other rudders.
There are other advantages to having multiple controls. The Hat Button by default is assigned to the ďLook around optionsĒ. I assigned the Hat Button 2 to the Eyepoint positions. I assigned the X45ís Mouse cursor control button to the Eyepoint forward and back positions. Having given all these assignments, I found flying in the VC (virtual cockpit) to be easier. I rarely have to take my hands off the joystick.
Finally, when making Axis control assignments, donít forget to set the sensitivity option, otherwise some of the controls might fail.
| ||by L. D. James|