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blave

M.H.O. about the ideal joystick for FS helicopters

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Hi folks,A couple days ago I decided to put my CH joystick setup back on-line, and put my fairly new Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS setup back in the box... As much as I dig the coolness factor of the Cougar, I finally decided that it just isn't suited to flying helos in FS2002. This made me realize that perhaps the reason that some people seem to have a really hard time flying the FS helos well is their control setup. So the overall point of this post is that if you're having these troubles, perhaps it's time to consider either switching brands or at least having another setup that is dedicated to the helicopters.Out of the box, the Cougar joystick and throttle were completely unsuitable for flying *anything*, at least to my hands - which admittedly have gotten quite used to the very light feel of the CH stuff over the last five or more years. The joystick's springs are very stiff (apparently they do "loosen up" over time), making precise input difficult - I couldn't hover *anything* with the stick in its original form. As far as the throttle goes, its movement is quite "sticky" - again it's very hard to made the small collective changes which are absolutely required when doing (for instance) a pedal turn in the hover.So I took both of these gizmos apart and tried to fix the problem. I installed some springs from an earlier Thrustmaster stick (F22? I forget - a friend sent 'em to me) which result in a significantly lighter touch - still not as light as my CH Janes Combat Stick but more useable, although now there's an annoying "play" in one of the axes (which is a never-ending topic on the Cougar user site). I also removed the Cougar throttle's friction adjust gizmo, which helped some. But the end result was that I still wobbled about like a (drunk?) 1st time student most of the time when trying to fly helos. I even found it more difficult that I liked to use the throttle effectively in fixed wing airplanes - the design (or perhaps it's the lubrucation grease?) of the throttle means that it just doesn't move in tiny increments well, and one gets this sort of "stuttering" movement as small throttle movements are attempted.It got to the point where I just avoided flying the helicopters in FS2K2, and instead, spent time in the new Cessna 421C payware airplane that Flight1 recently released...Finally, on Friday evening I decided I wanted to re-sample my trusty old CH stuff again, so I hooked up my (gameport) Combat Stick and Pro Throttle back up, along with my CH Pro Pedals which worked nicely with the Cougar setup. Suddenly I could fly my favorite helicopters again - the stock 206, as well as the wonderful Bell 47 and Sikorsky S-51 freeware add-ons. I can now land on the tops of some of the buildings in San Jose the way I used to... Precision landings are no longer the exception. And perhaps most importantly, the feel is a lot closer to the real thing - as you probably know most light helicopters require a very light touch on the controls.So, perhaps that was more detail than needed to get my point across but my conclusion after that (expensive) experiment is that a joystick with a light touch is practically required to fly the FS helicopters well... and it goes without saying that the joystick should be part of a full HOTAS setup with pedals - none of this twist-stick nonsense (although budget and/or available space might make this necessary). If you're trying to do this with any of the higher-end Thrustmaster sticks (that have the strong springs), or perhaps another brand that has a stiff action, you could benefit from a change.Or else, maybe try to hover using a Yoke!!! (I tell ya, I just crack myself up...)My opinion, along with twenty-five cents or maybe a Euro, might get you a nice cuppa Joe somewhere - but there you have it anyway.blue skies, Dave BlevinsKRHVP.S. all is not lost with the Cougar stuff - I suppose I'll save it for when I have the room to build my "Reconfigurable General Aviation Cockpit". Maybe by then TM will have some sort of upgrade kit or something to improve the action of these devices.

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Speaking as one who is having difficulty flying helos.....ANY helos in ANY sim!! -- I appreciated the detail in your post. Finances dictate that my current joystick/pedals setup remain my current setup, at least for the foreseeable future. But my Saitek Cyborg 3D USB stick with regular CH pedals appears to be adequate to the task...... it's just my own lack of helo experience. :-) But I'm working on it with a goal to landing on a rooftop someday soon. ;-) -Lindy :-rotor in training

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Hi Lindy,Just out of curiosity, what frame rates are you getting in the sim?

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Peter, when I want to do some serious helo practice, I load up Canberra airfield in Oz. I almost never turn on the FR counter, but for helo practice I check and at that location I average 12-15 fps on the ground w/panel.In general though with FS2K2 in any plane or helo, on the ground, I average 10+ fps. Not a lot, I know and not what most users are used to getting, but with very few exceptions I have smooth performance -- which is my main concern. Of course, once in the air, my frames increase to mid 20s to low 30s. -Lindy :-wave

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I see. The reason I ask is that for helo flying you need at least a steady 15 fps. That's especially true near the ground where response time is more critical (i.e. take off, hover and landing). If you have less than that, you end up correcting too late and having to overcorrect. The result is less than desireable and frustrating for the pilot.As a test, try reducing the visuals to Minimum. Yes, it'll look ugly but give it a try. You may find that helos are suddenly better behaved.

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Absolutely!As a long-time R/C helo "pilot" I have never come across a proper helo transmitter that has a "center" of any kind. All of the ones I use will freely flop around, making the ever-so-important fine inputs smooth as silk.I'm thinking about getting a cheaper joystick for helo flying in FS and popping the springs out...Does anyone have a brand and model suggestion?

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