Cut the Cord, Man!

Originally published at:

Guest Contributor Eric “smokinhole” Anderson gives us some insight on his shift from hardware to virtual controllers in his quest for full immersion virtual reality. A Revolution Within A Revolution With a dollop of hyperbole – this is how I view the ability to use Virtual Reality (VR) controls to replace the traditional joystick and…


Many thanks to Guest Contributor @smokinhole for providing some great insight on how he has taken VR controllers a step further by diving into the deep end while leaving his hardware on the edge of the pool.

Don’t worry - your HOTAS Warthog is safe - don’t panic. As my recent obsession with Aerofly FS2 proves, there is definitely a great connection to be had by reaching around a virtual cockpit with hand controllers. The motions help complete the VR experience and really put you “there”. Getting it right (VR interaction) is definitely an art because nothing kills immersion faster than getting frustrated with a VR interaction that just isn’t working (oh - hello Mount Granite while I fiddle with this knob!).

Anyway, excellent article with some great information about controller setup that I was unaware of. Give it an experiment. I’m interested to see where finger-tracking technology takes us in the next few years - that should even further ramp up the experience.

Nice job @smokinhole!

3 Likes This has great potential…

TL;DR: Dude is building and mass producing ring-like hand controllers to replicate mouse movement for DCS (and other sims) cockpit interactions. You wear 'em on your index or ring finger and they shouldn’t interfere with regular HOTAS usage.


Nice article! :slight_smile:

He convinced me! I cut the cord…there was an audible pop from the computer and everything went dead…perhaps I should have just unplugged the cord…:wink:


Gorilla Glue should fix that up no problem I’m sure.


I’ve been messing around with Flyinside for FSX and a Leap Motion recently, it’s fun but it’s not quite there yet (more the Leap than Flyinside).

That said, I love the ability to reach out and flick a switch in DCS (I’m using a plugin that makes SteamVR think the leap is a pair of Vive controllers). Combined with a force feedback centre mounted stick and a (warthog) throttle in the right place by your left side it is quite immersive!

Also the kids think it’s great :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks for reading, guys! And thank you @BeachAV8R for letting your community contribute. I know that it is a lot of work on your part. And we both knew that content like this wasn’t going to have wide appeal but you put in the work anyway.


Great article!

The reason I have NOT cut the cord is for a different reason not mentioned in the article; tactile feedback.

I own VTOL VR and I think its a great project, but the awkward way of manipulating controls that have no weight or resistance is just not very immersive for me.
I am sure you can train this, but its very easy to overcorrect due to this and frankly I like my expensive hardware setup too much.

You can even argue that using hardware controllers is actually MORE immersive to the experience if your head is already placed well within the VR world. But I digress.

Great article and its a great showcase of where interactive entertainment is making giants leaps! :slight_smile:


I tend to agree.
But I was surprised at how well VTOL VR works in this regard.

I would love to try sitting in a real full size cockpit of the virtual aircraft I’m seeing in my VR display, to see if I could interact with the physical controls, buttons, levers and switches, while just seeing the virtual ones…


Finally had time to read this article completely. Good writeup @smokinhole

the lack of centering resistance feels odd, maybe even initially uncontrollable. It’s a hump to overcome.

I think B407 was great choice for the initial VR controllers try out. These small helos has usually hydraulically boosted controls what is realy close in ‘feedback’ to spring-less joystick or the VR controllers.

Fast movers or warbirds could be bigger hump but as you mentioned it’s just another way of controlling and with time and some effort it can become ’ new neutral '.

And… to add something. Just recently I reread the Saitek X55 article from @fearlessfrog ( there was a reason I did that ) .
In contrast to this ’ Cut the Cord ’ article it suggested that everyone should get HOTAS because that’s the way VR siming will be done :wink:

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That would be a good experiment. Perhaps when they come out with a nice DASH-8 in XP-11 you could set something up with your airline…albeit not during an actual flight…might upset the passengers. :open_mouth:

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Given that was written in January 2015, I won’t spoil your upcoming viewing of the Patriots vs Seahawks Superbowl DVR viewing party. :wink:


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The benefit of tactile feedback is lost somewhat with a typical joystick because it is simply sprung to center. The only plane or helicopter I have flown in real life that works that way is the A320. Still, it is what we are all accustomed to and we are totally familiar with the information we get from the centering tension. The VR controller is also providing the brain information about displacement. But it takes the user quite some time before he is able to fully grasp it. Even then I admit that its not the same.


I guess a simple stick, to sort of rest the VR controller and hand on, would make a difference…
Think broom stick with a small plate on top.

I was thinking maybe just a simple…err…um…well…rubber shaft. When VTOLVR came out I seriously considered doing something like that to help separate twist from roll.

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