Virpil, VKB, Thrustmaster, Oh My!

Hey guys,

I’m in the market to replace my spiky Saitek setup.

I had had a Thrustmaster or two in the very old days and found that the pots and switches (pre-warthog) didn’t seem to last long which brought me to the Russian developers. But I confess, I can’t tell the difference, especially in regards to mounts, ease of use, and cross compatibility.

I currently have my Saitek on a pair of Monster Tech mounts clamped to my desk and I think that is probably the way I’ll keep it, though a center mount sounds awesome. I’d like max buttons/hats, but I’ve never been all that lucky with microsticks, so that’s not a big factor for me.

I’ve always loved my Harrier stick, so being able to use the TM Hornet one, either native or on the Virpil mount might be nice. That’s not really a show stopper for me though. More of a nice to have.

Obviously, I’ll need a throttle. I know VKB doesn’t make one at present. Don’t know if that’s a problem with too many devices in some games.

Any insight you might have as to what you have, how you mount it, and any programming or cross compatibility issues would be greatly appreciated before I attempt to get one of these things ordered.

Thanks!

3 Likes

Love the VPC products, myself, but you might also want to consider Winwing…

1 Like

Crap! Now I got another one to consider. LOL!

Thanks Troll. That’s a good looking setup. I do like the old Mickey Doug’s stick.

1 Like

Nice review here that answered a lot of my questions:

2 Likes

Can only comment on one throttle: VPC MONGOOST-50CM2THROTTLE. Not the ‘3’ model with the burner detents :frowning:

I’d give it a 4/5 rating.
Pros:

  • It’s a tank, physically should last forever
  • Smooth action (16-bit)
  • Lots of buttons (I prefer generic HOTAS). Not sure I even use them all, which is a first.

Cons:

  • Software: ehhhh, it’s ok. Likely does a lot of stuff but a little tedious.
  • 8-way hats (possibly related to above): I have difficulty in registering inputs. Just seems the ‘contact points’ (not sure the term) are so close together it’s difficult to click, say, “North” position without hitting “North East/West” too. Kind of annoying. This happens on 2 of these hats. Perhaps they are cramming too much into too small a space. Hmmm, can the software ignore the other 4 points I wonder (I’ll get back on this).

My CH Fighter Stick is still working nice and smooth after…sheesh I dunno 15+ years? So, I’m no help there.

My “spidey sense” tells me the Virpil gear will out last the Winwing stuff based on nothing more than a lot of reviews.

1 Like

I’m digging all of my Virpil gear and run a TM Hornet grip on a T50 CM2 base with a short extension. I also use the T50 CM3 throttle and Control Panel #2. Monster Tech has adapters for your Virgil gear.

The CM2 or CM3 throttles work well for the Harrier because you can map the left throttle for nozzle and the flaps handle for Sto Stop.

If you get the same setup, I can shoot you a Joystick Profiler profile that will blast your new gear out to all of your modules in about 3 seconds. That is if you are not like @smokinhole, who relishes configuring his modules manually. Zen and the Art of Configuring Joysticks :laughing:

2 Likes

Still using my TM Warthog throttle here, its nigh on perfect IMHO especially with the popular slew mod, switches seem to be military grade and always get a wee thrill flicking them for the pure quality feel :slight_smile: Have heard issues of firmware upgrades bricking them and folk declaring them write off’s … this is a non issue, firstly, its been a long … long time since any firmware was issued for the Hog, chances are anything you buy now second hand or new is already updated, secondly they can be un-bricked if such a rare thing does happen, cant remember the procedure offhand, but yes it can be undone and flashed again to latest firmware, have done it myself and if I can do it, anyone can :slight_smile:

Anything can be bricked firmware wise, this is not a problem exclusive to Thrustmaster, it can happen when updating a Motherboards BIOS too as well as anything including controllers that can accept a firmware upgrade … just thought I’d mention that :slight_smile: Just wanted to undo that myth.

Regarding stick bases, big fan of Virpil here, have two and eagerly awaiting their Helicopter Collective controller, as for grips, love my TM all metal F-16 and Hornet style grips, tried a Virpil grip too once and it was fine … excellent in fact, but prefer the TM grips … just a personal choice.

Rudder pedal wise, again I prefer TM’s latest TPR with a damper mod, tried several over the years, this is my preference.

Regarding Civilian type flying, use the Honeycomb Alpha Yoke and Bravo throttle unit, works for me and very satisfied with my controllers and choice this way, even have a notched 3D printed trim wheel slip on cover for it now … it feels just right.

There is no perfect controller combination my friend, you are doing the right thing by asking here, lots of knowledgeable people here willing to help … indeed the market for different types of controllers has never been so good, even in these strange times, choose well, choose what’s right for you is my advice, lots of reviews out there.

Enjoy and have fun

2 Likes

For more than a year I am using the following:

Throttle: VPC MongoosT-50CM2
Well built, no problems with either switches, buttons or levers. A good number of buttons and switches to work with, a good number of 2-way and 4-way hats + an analog ministick (great for TDC). A nice feature which I use often is a 5-way mode dial which can be used either as a 5-way switch or a mode selector which changes logical buttons (so one button can be used for different actions depending on the position of the 5-way mode dial). Neat. I would not change and I hope it will last forever :slight_smile: The software could be more user friendly but I set it once and forgotten since.

Base: VPC WarBRD Base
Also coming from Virpil with a specification that it is supposed to stand on a table and be used with no extensions. I found it too high to be used on the table so I mount it below the table (more on that below). It comes with different springs and cams and I settled on the no-center cams which feels very well and natural.

Grip: Thrustmaster F/A-18 Grip
Here I deviate from Virpil. Mostly because they were too slow with getting out their Alpha grips but hey, I am actually REALLY happy I got the TM F/A-18. Besides being almost a perfect replica of its real world counterpart, it works with the WarBRD base flawlessly and is very easy to mount and set up (as long as you become friend with the VPC conf software). It took already a lot of beating from my reckless flying :slight_smile: and it starts to be a bit loose at the screw. I need to tighten it but havn’t found the time so far (too busy flying when kids sleep to “waste” it on maintenance :-)).

Mounts: monster.tech
After checking few reviews I chose this one. Sure, it is the most expensive one out there but I have no regrets at all. The whole gear already comes at a price (not to talk about the PC and the VR!) so at least it is mounted properly. Very good materials, easy to adjust and easy to clip/unclip to the table. Just bear in mind that it weights a ton so make sure you have a table that can support it (no glass, obviously :slight_smile:

As you can see no strikingly new devices here but a solid high-end (?) in desktop flight sim genre. In case your pocket can afford, do not aim lower than that :+1: (and do not tell your wife :crazy_face:)

6 Likes

@apollon01 thanks for the overview and mini-reviews! Very informative, thanks for adding in pictures as well.

Now that we have a review of almost all your peripherals, I can’t help but ask:

What about pedals?

And what do you use for cockpit interaction in VR? Regular or trackball mouse, VR controllers, or PointCtrl?

1 Like

Thanks for all the great replies! There’s a lot here to unpack. It sounds like VKB is perhaps a little less popular than the others? I’ve read that they can be difficult to get ahold of.

So how’s programming these things? I remember taking a Masters Course in CMS programming with TM and slightly less so with CH. I have to admit that I really appreciated plugging the Saitek stuff in, going to the ingame menu and knocking it all out in about 20 minutes with little “dead buttons” to worry about.

My Fortran is a little rusty!

And thanks for the offer @chipwich! The answer is, “No” I don’t particularly like Zen and the Art of Configuring Joysticks!:grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

1 Like

The Virpil (VPC) gear just needs to know what handle you put on the stick base and then you flash it with a profile for this. The GUI has a basic and a pro version. The pro version lets you change how the buttons and switches react. Takes a little getting used to, but not really hard. Just different. There are some great walkthroughs on youtube.
When set up, the controllers are mapped just like any other controller, in the sim.

3 Likes

I’ve only used the Virpil software for the bare minimum, and it was very easy for that. Good documentation as well if you are as bad at seeing what’s in front of you as I am.

I pointed at the grip and then inverted an axis (due to me mounting it to my seat instead of my desk) and that was it.

2 Likes

Not sure how deep your pockets are @Deacon211, but surely this is a sign from the controller Gods.

10% off the entire Virpil catalog when you purchase a collective base and grip :grin:

3 Likes

As @Deacon211 was not explicitly asking about the rudder pedals, I did not include them in the list. But I am happy to just to complete the picture. So…

Rudder pedals: VKB T-Rudders Mk.IV
I was looking for rather a small device so I ended up deciding between the VPC WarBRD Rudder Pedals and the VKB T-Rudders Mk.IV - both offering about a footprint I was searching for. I picked the VKB as they looked bit more stable (confirmed by reviews). They came with two different springs and cams IIRC. They work as expected and are precise. In contrast to the usual forward-backward movement design, these rudders are pressed top-down. It took a bit getting used to but now it feels natural. What has to be said about these rudder pedals is that they do not include toe brakes. So far I flew just Russian style aircraft so that has never been a problem. Should you need them, there are more or less complex solutions, including their own differential braking emulation achieved by T-link app.

And as for other peripherals I use - none really, just an ordinary mouse :smiley:

Mouse Reaction GIF by Demic

4 Likes

That’s no ordinary mouse!

3 Likes

And yes, I will need rudder pedals.

If a box shows up at my house with a stick, rudder, throttle, AND a collective…

all my $&!T is going to be going out the door in it! :joy:

3 Likes

I am thinking of upgrading my Virpil stick base with a Virpil handle, a MongoosT50CM2 handle. It’s expensive, but it has a wheelbrake axis and this snazzy trigger guard thing. I also suspect my old Thrustmaster handle is starting to fade, as sometimes the hats go unresponsive when hoggin’ it up.

5 Likes

That Sir, depends on what aircraft you intend to fly. Since for me it’s either the Harrier (God’s gift to those who like to hover, but would also rather push for power), Hornet, or something from the mid 40s. I really enjoy the TM Hornet grip on the Virpil MT-50CM2 base, with that curvy extension, of course. It feels and looks so sexy.

2 Likes

Yeah, my CMS switch has lost at least one direction, and the press function is spotty, so I’m looking at a new stick too. Have to admit, the Hornet grip has had my attention for a while. @chipwich , which spring/ cam combo are you using with the longer extension (that’s the one I have as well)?

1 Like

When it comes to gear at this level of quality, and cost, I personally skip past “how long will it last” and go straight to “How easy is it to self service?” I’m at the point where, sure, if I were directly in the market for a new Hotas, I’d not blink at spending a thousand USD, as Id expect at LEAST a decade of service out of it. At some point, with heavy use, even the best items will need SOME form of maintenance. So, the question is, how easy is that maintenance?

My MFG Crosswind pedals illustrated this point when I got them. Way easier to keep clean than the Saitek pedals they replaced, and even if MFG had closed shop long ago (thankfully for simmers everywhere, they have not!) I feel I’d still be able to replace the electronics/sensors, and hardware such as bearings.

It very much changed my attitude towards high end flight sim gear.

That said, Virpil builds their stuff very transparently, at least based on the sticks (can’t speak to throttle). the metal parts will clearly last a long, long time. And the bearings, and to an extent springs, which one day will wear out, appear off-the-shelf, so replacement is possible without needing to go to Virpil.

Can’t speak to others, but when looking at reviews I tend to focus closely on how easy it is to break down the device, and are critical.

5 Likes
© 2021 Mudspike.com | Articles Website | Forums Rules & FAQ