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JohnsonPBX

Saitek Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant Causing Stutters

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Hello everyone. Today I want to share my (curious) experience with FSX with you. Here’s my setup (hardware and software):

 

Motherboard: ASUS Z87-PRO

Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K (stock speed and cooling, 3.5GHz) – HyperThreading enabled

Videocard: 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4870 manufactured by MSI

RAM memory: 1x 8GB Corsair Vengeance Pro Series DDR3 2133MHz (CMY16GX3M2A2133C11)

Hard disk 1: 1x 128GB Corsair Force GS SATA3 6 Gb/s SSD

Hard disk 2: 1x 500GB 7.200 RPM Samsung Hard Drive

Yoke: Saitek Pro Flight Yoke plus one additional Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant unit

Joystick: Saitek X52 HOTAS

 

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64 (installed on the SSD)

Flight simulator: Microsoft Flight Simulator X Deluxe Edition + SP1 + Acceleration expansion pack (installed on the 500GB hard drive)

Add-ons (that interact directly with the simulator): PMDG Boeing 777-200LR/F + SP1 + 777-300ER expansion, Real Environment Xtreme 4 Texture Direct, Active Sky Next, FS Real Time, FSUIPC 4.929, ORBX FTX Global 1.00

Tweaks: fsx.cfg run through ******* Altuve’s tweaking website (although not advised lately, I still have a 2008 videocard), and applied his Shader 3 mod 1.6 – no external fps limiter, and FSUIPC’s patchsim1friction=Yes for the simulator’s ground friction.

 

 

It is to note that I still use my Saitek X52’s throttle unit (alone, the stick is stored), because given the fact that I have no pedals, its Y axis (the biggest rotary knob) is the one I use as the plane’s tiller while on the ground, and I use the slider just beneath it for brakes.

 

Everything in this PC is new (March 2014) except the videocard and the 500GB 7.200 RPM hard drive, which date from 2008. I got the Saitek X52 as a gift in 2009, and bought both the Yoke and Throttle Quadrant in 2013.

 

This computer was bought with the idea to improve FSX’s performance, since I previously had a non-overclocked 2.4GHz Intel C2Q 6600, 2x 2GB DDR2 RAM memory modules (all from 2008), and no SSD. I am aware that even though FSX is more CPU-dependant, the videocard is also important when it comes to clouds / addon sceneries, and vital for other videogames, but I preferred to leave the videocard last since it’s the most expensive single component, and my budget didn’t allow me to go that far, so I updated what FSX needs the most first. Of course a new videocard is my next most immediate to-buy item when I can afford it.

 

When I first set everything up – a.k.a. install Windows, FSX and add-ons in the SSD and tweaking - everything was going flawlessly (I even remember posting about it somewhere here), but all of a sudden it became pretty frustrating. Frame rate was high but the stuttering was so severe that it made my flying experience almost un-enjoyable. If the view from the cockpit was stuttering constantly, the outside (locked) spot view was practically unusable due to the even higher amount of stutter going on. What was causing it if it worked so well at first? Tried everything: tweaks, no tweaks (deleting fsx.cfg so the simulator created a new one), playing around with the simulator’s settings, leaving frame rate unlimited in the simulator, limiting them, using an external limiter, deleting FSX from the SSD and re-installing in the hard drive, and anything else a desperate person in need of a decent performance can do. Nothing worked.

 

Only two theories left I had (just to calm myself and reduce the frustration it causes to NOT know what’s going on) were that it was either my videocard doing a bottleneck, which makes sense if we combine a brand new 2014 hardware with a 2008, 512MB videocard, or that it had to do with the clouds and the way Active Sky Next interacted with the simulator. The latter didn’t make much sense though since I experimented stuttering with both Active Sky Next open and closed; therefore, I was keeping the (fake) hope that once I updated my videocard the stuttering issue would be gone and I’d be happy. Not a very encouraging solution since I’m still months away from updating my videocard.

 

Whenever I first run Windows my yoke’s X axis is always offset to the left, so I have to un-plug and re-plug it and it fixes itself. One weird thing I noticed in this PC (which didn’t happen in my previous one) is that whenever I unplugged the yoke (while also having the X52’s throttle and the Throttle Quadrant plugged), its icon in the notification bar took several seconds to disappear, as well as Windows’ sound that plays whenever I plug / unplug any USB device. Seemed as if something got frozen in the meanwhile, but I didn’t give much importance to it. At first I had both X52’s throttle and the additional Throttle Quadrant plugged into the yoke’s rear USB ports, but since I read somewhere that the yoke’s power alone might not suffice the other devices on it unless a power adapter was plugged on it, I preferred to plug each device in a separate USB port in the PC.

 

When both SP1 and 777-300ER were released on the 18th I came back to my simulator (hadn’t touched it since the World Cup started), with the hope I could finally fix the issue so I could enjoy the plane. Since I had already tried anything else I could think of, I remembered the above mentioned USB unplugging freeze, although I always was like “nah, that wouldn’t make sense”. Well, this time it did! In one of my “what if…”’s I decided to unplug the Throttle Quadrant and leave only the yoke (with its default throttle) and X52’s throttle unit and voila! Stuttering disappeared. Vanished. I just couldn’t believe it. Went into the simulator, panned around and the stuttering was gone both in the cockpit and the outside locked spot view. The next day I did an entire flight to make sure it wasn’t just a wrong impression and that stuttering wouldn’t be back. Flight went out flawlessly! Only rare times it had an almost un-noticeable stuttering was when first loading big scenery objects or when focusing on IVAO’s MTL traffic, which is pretty normal. It is so heartwarming to finally have tracked down and fixed such an annoying issue and finally be able to fully enjoy flights!

 

Now I have four questions:

 

1.    Has anyone else experienced a similar issue?

2.    If that’s the case, could anyone find a solution to it? I don’t really know if it’s related to the devices or some conflict with the USB ports, since I didn’t experience this in my previous PC. I wouldn't like to ditch my Throtlle Quadrant just for the sake of a better performance, either.

3.    Has anyone experienced having any of the yoke’s (or any other device’s) axes offset, and that unplugging / replugging fixes the issue?

4.    If that’s the case, could anyone find a solution to that? I suppose it has to do with the drivers, but honestly have no idea.

 

Yes, I know this topic is waaay too long, I just wanted to describe it the most detailed way possible so it’s easier for other people to reproduce. When I found out what was causing me such stuttering I felt so happy that I wanted to share it, and possibly help anyone who might also be experiencing it but has no idea of what is causing it (yet).

 

Thanks to those who actually read it fully!

 

Regards.

 

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