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robertpdx

Saitek Yoke on Rails Mod

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This is not a full fledged how-to, but I did want to relay my success with this mod to my Saitek Pro Yoke.  

 

Basically, I mounted the yoke into a cabinet on a platform running on ball-bearing drawer rails.  I imagine this has already been done, but I haven't seen it.  It has been a great upgrade to get smooth elevator action with no sticky points and no detents in the elevator.  

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The idea here is to have the whole base move rather than the yoke rod, and fix a connection from the elevator pot to the cabinet.  This makes the elevator control run on ball bearings of the drawer glides.

 

I removed the elevator springs from the original yoke and pulled the yoke all the way back.  To make it "fixed" in this position, I blocked it off with a piece of scrap wood attached to the plastic housing with screws.  I put some packing tape on the front to keep it slippery against the plastic end cap of the yoke rod.  I also have some blue tape there to give the wires a bit of abrasion resistance but it's a temporary solution.

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I made a base from 1/4" plywood, added 1x2 rails, attached ball-bearing drawer slides, and built a small particle board cabinet to support it all.

 

Make a template and drill holes out for the screws that hold the original Saitek housing together, then you can screw down one half of the housing to the base, and access the screws to close it back up.

 

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To control the elevator potentiometer, I drilled a small hole in the armature and fitted it with a piece of push-rod used for RC aircraft.  

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A hole is then drilled out the back of the original Saitek housing and attach the other end using an L-bracket and a wingnut.  You'll need to make sure you have physical stops to keep the base from moving back and forth beyond the control range, else you'll put stress on the push rod and probably break the armature connected to the potentiometer.  The range of travel of the Saitek yoke is about 3.5".

 

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There is about 3/4 to 7/8 of an inch between the bottom of the platform and the bottom of the cabinet sides, so you can fit springs or a bungee there for centering.

 

I did not yet make a front panel, so there is only a plywood strip acting as a stop from the front.  I will cover the front with two strips of 1/4" plywood and drill a 2" hole for the yoke rod using a forstner bit.  Add some rubber feet to the base, and you can use some of that kitchen drawer lining as bumper material to soften the contact with the range stops.  Of course you'll probably sand, maybe router the edges and paint it too...

 

The weight depends on what you build the cabinet with.  5/8" particle board is pretty heavy but I may end up securing it with a clamp or screws system.  This also depends on how stiff the springs or bungee centering system you come up with.

 

If you're interested in getting a ball-bearing smooth elevator control, you might give this a try.  I used 14" drawer rails from the big orange home store.  The tolerances are decent in that there is no up-down play so when you're turning the yoke, there is no discernible bumping, etc.  The original Saitek design also has the flaw of binding when you both turning and pulling/pushing the yoke..the drawer rails have bearings top and bottom so when you're turning, you're still rolling smooth.

 

If you give it a try, let me know - I'm sure there are improvements to be made.  It has made a world of difference for me especially on climb out and landing.

 

Clear skies,

Robert

KPDX

 

 

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Thanks for showing this. Looks like a lot of work, and I doubt I'll be doing it myself (!) but it certainly seems like a good cost alternative to get smooth yoke action. I know exactly what you mean about that sticky yoke tendency when you are giving it even a little aileron and trying to smoothly pull back at the same time, especially on those lighter planes where you are trying to almost stall before touching down. I've had far too many wheelbarrow landings as a result.

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Thank you for posting this.  I have a Saitek yoke that sits in the closet because I find it unusable with it's binding.  I've been trying to figure out how to make a floor mounted column yoke out of the Saitek, which I still may try, but your idea is rather simple, innovative and inexpensive.  If I run into trouble with the column, then I'll give your idea a try.

 

Thank you,

 

jetjerry

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I'm thinking along the same lines as Jerry, but it a good option.

 

Cheers bud :good:

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Nice Mark!  I've been away but just checked in and saw your post.  I see you've made some upgrades.  I hope it's working well.  

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