Ray Proudfoot

Saitek Throttle Quadrants - how easy to clean potentiometers?

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I bought my Saitek Pro Throttle plus extra Throttle Quadrant in October 2008. It's behaved well over the years but I now have two axes displaying signs of dirty potentiometers with spiking during part of the travel.

I have watched a couple of videos on YouTube and whilst it's fiddly it does appear to be fairly straightforward to clean them with alcohol.

Given its popularity I'm guessing many of you may gave cleaned yours. How did you find it and does it solve the problem long term?

Apparently Saitek deliberately use low grade potentiometers made exclusively for them so finding a higher quality alternative is impossible. They want you to buy a new throttle all because something costing a few pence is dirty. :m_marah:

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I should think zapping them with a bit of WD-40 through the little straw you get with a can of it would do the trick, it usually makes any dirt on the contact points run off. Any excess can be easily wiped away and if things still feel greasy, a bit of lighter fuel on a rag will sort that out. It usually works on most things with dirty pots.

I've lost count of how many 'broken' electric guitars I've bought cheap and 'fixed' with that method, then sold them for a profit. :cool:

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I clean potentiometers with alcohol on my saitek yoke a quadrant once per 2-3 years on average. I own them since 2008 and it still serves very well. Looks like this year is year of cleaning again :-).

 

Rado

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15 minutes ago, Chock said:

I should think zapping them with a bit of WD-40 through the little straw you get with a can of it would do the trick, it usually makes any dirt on the contact points run off. Any excess can be easily wiped away and if things still feel greasy, a bit of lighter fuel on a rag will sort that out. It usually works on most things with dirty pots.

I've lost count of how many 'broken' electric guitars I've bought cheap and 'fixed' with that method, then sold them for a profit. :cool:

Have you seen the size of these potentiometers? They're tiny. A cotton bud appears to be the best thing but you need tiny fingers and I don't have them.

Is this something you've done Chock? I don't want to bugger my throttles. I'm not a natural DIYer.

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14 minutes ago, radorabatin said:

I clean potentiometers with alcohol on my saitek yoke a quadrant once per 2-3 years on average. I own them since 2008 and it still serves very well. Looks like this year is year of cleaning again :-).

 

Rado

Do you consider it easy to do? Any tips that might help a first timer?

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Nah, WD-40 won't bugger it up, it's exactly what it was created for, just think about when you spray it all over your dizzy cap on a car, or over the plugs to get it sorted, it never does any harm, and if you'd do it on a 10 grand car without fretting, then doing it on a 50 quid PC throttle is not gonna be a worry.

Not personally done it on a Saitek throttle, but I have done it on a lot of other controllers, including my Saitek rudder pedals more than once, since they are on the floor and consequently pick up a lot of dirt and the lubrication helps with wear and tear too. You can get that little WD-40 straw into a lot of tight places, which means you don't have to risk pulling soldered wires off and then having to get your bloody soldering iron out to fix things. For more gentle precision, you can spray WD-40 onto a cotton bud (q-tip for you Yanks) and then use that to get it onto small parts.

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Hi Ray,

 

I also suffer the same problem with my Saitek Throttle Quads. This is the method I use:

Quote

If you're having trouble with the signal coming out of the pots in the Saitek Throttle Quadrant, do the following:

 

1. Unplug the USB cable.

2. Place the unit on its right side on top of a table (so the LED is at the top and T5/T6 are at the bottom).

3. Use a spray can of electrical contact cleaner with a straw on the nozzle and shoot plenty of cleaner at the base of the throttle arm. Move the arm back and forth its full length a few times.

4. Wait a few minutes for the spray to evaporate, then test.

I found this in another thread and it does work nicely. I have to do mine every few months but it literally takes minutes to do.

Hope this helps.

 

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31 minutes ago, JRS182 said:

Hi Ray,

 

I also suffer the same problem with my Saitek Throttle Quads. This is the method I use:

I found this in another thread and it does work nicely. I have to do mine every few months but it literally takes minutes to do.

Hope this helps.

 

Thanks Joe but is that actually getting to the potentiometers? They are quite well protected in a frame. I've seen that video. Bit shaky isn't it?

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33 minutes ago, Chock said:

Nah, WD-40 won't bugger it up, it's exactly what it was created for, just think about when you spray it all over your dizzy cap on a car, or over the plugs to get it sorted, it never does any harm, and if you'd do it on a 10 grand car without fretting, then doing it on a 50 quid PC throttle is not gonna be a worry.

Not personally done it on a Saitek throttle, but I have done it on a lot of other controllers, including my Saitek rudder pedals more than once, since they are on the floor and consequently pick up a lot of dirt and the lubrication helps with wear and tear too. You can get that little WD-40 straw into a lot of tight places, which means you don't have to risk pulling soldered wires off and then having to get your bloody soldering iron out to fix things. For more gentle precision, you can spray WD-40 onto a cotton bud (q-tip for you Yanks) and then use that to get it onto small parts.

Yes, the cotton bud was recommended in a YouTube video I watched. Okay, I'll give it a go. Probably next week now.

I've had my CH pedals for donkeys years and never cleaned them. But then again I can't remember the last time I checked for spiking. Leave well alone eh? :wink:

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1 hour ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

Thanks Joe but is that actually getting to the potentiometers? They are quite well protected in a frame. I've seen that video. Bit shaky isn't it?

It definitely has some effect. It really bugs me when I try to fly the A2A birds, especially the Texan. With the T6 spikey throttles result in backfires and when doing touch & goes its a nightmare trying to put the power back in with the spikey inputs choking the engine.

As soon as I've sprayed some contact cleaner in there, its as good as gold. Obviously this is not as good as dismantling and cleaning but its good enough for me and only take a few minutes to do.

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You can even just exercise the axis vigorously for a few minutes and that seems to scrape off the gunk and will make the response smoother. I know it's not the ideal method- it doesn't work well at the extreme ends of the range obviously but it will keep about 90% of the travel pretty clear and it doesn't cause them any harm.  I've got one axis that's a bit noisy at the top end but the other five have remained reasonably smooth after years of use and I've never taken them apart or used cleaner.  That being said, I've been contemplating using some electronics cleaner on them just because they aren't perfect any more.

At any rate, it might be worth a shot to see if it clears it up to a usable state for you in the mean time.  I'd just recommend waiting until those you live with aren't around because the noise of sliding them back and forth rapidly gets annoying quick!

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Download from their website the calibration software and you can see the bar graph spiking in real time.

squirt electronic contact cleaner with straw attached where the throttles pivot.

Go back and check the calibration and **presto** no more spiking..works every time

 

Ignore the scary video out there that opens up the unit and exposes the very delicate wiring inside. I wish i had , it turned my first throttle into an expensive door stop before I heard about the contact cleaner

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Thanks Joe. On reflection it might be with trying first especially after reading zmak's reply.

Grant, yes I've already tried that as it's a well known workaround but sadly no joy.

My flying is with Concorde so the end stops are very important as max thrust is engaged for the majority of the flight and when throttles are retarded at 15ft I need to be sure thrust is zero before idle reverse is engaged before reverse thrust is engaged.

The problem is only around the min and max areas on one lever and midway on another. The rest are fine.

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This is the best video I've seen on how to clean the pots. Yes, it's all in Russian but the pictures are clear enough on how to do it.

I've seen two now that show the pots have to be exposed before cleaning rather than just spraying cleaner into the general area of the axis. Maybe that sorts out other issues but for dirty pots this seems to be the best method.

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I got as far as removing the bottom plate to expose the assembly. But there is no obvious way on how you remove the individual throttle assemblies. I wasn't going to force anything so I've decided for now to leave things as they are.

i can see the pot assembly but as the dirt is inside there seems very little point spraying the outside of it.

None of the videos on YouTube show how to take things apart. They all start with things disassembled. That's not much help for the novice. Oh well. :mellow:

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1 hour ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

I got as far as removing the bottom plate to expose the assembly. But there is no obvious way on how you remove the individual throttle assemblies. I wasn't going to force anything so I've decided for now to leave things as they are.

i can see the pot assembly but as the dirt is inside there seems very little point spraying the outside of it.

None of the videos on YouTube show how to take things apart. They all start with things disassembled. That's not much help for the novice. Oh well. :mellow:

They are very tricky buggers and the wire breaks off them very easily. My hands are not as steady as they used to be, and you really need a vice and magnifying light to fix these pots.

In the end, I ended up buying a new throttle quadrant right in the middle of the shortage. (you can imagine how much fun that was).

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i had this problem and done the exact thing in the video in page 1...the pots are secured with a glue gun, so you need to free them and then split them in half to get to the copper tracks..care is needed as its very flimsey and weak, easy to break......think i used nail varnish remover with a cotton bud. It did work, but not for long. The spikes soon returned. Like the other poster stated, flying with throttles like this is not enjoyable at all, almost impossible unless firewalled.

 

Drove me nuts, so ordered a thrustmaster warthog. yes they are not cheap...but what a diffrence! they have magnets instead of copper tracks so this problem will never happen with this controller / throttle, ever!

 

is so precise that i can sit in the NGX and throttle up in decimal points...65.7% throttle, no problem....45.3%...no problem..

There are drawbacks ofcourse, its a stick not a yoke, left handed throttle, but you will soon get used to it :)

I strongly advise  investing in one.

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Am I going nuts. Why wouldn't anyone invest in a few dollar can of contact cleaner first. 

A good blast would at least clean out the guts and at the very worst you can spend a fortune on a thrust master or a smaller fortune on another saitek that will break within 12 months again. 

Ray

"I can see the pot assembly but as the dirt is inside there seems very little point spraying the outside of it."

myself and many others watched the saitek graph spike and then gave it a squirt and all good .

Its not black magic :biggrin:

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2 hours ago, Greggy_D said:

Did you have a look at DigiKey?  They may possibly have a replacement that will match.

https://www.digikey.com/

Greg,

I read on another forum that there are no replacement potentiometers for the Saitek. Done deliberately to force you to buy another throttle quadrant.

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1 hour ago, Jude Bradley said:

They are very tricky buggers and the wire breaks off them very easily. My hands are not as steady as they used to be, and you really need a vice and magnifying light to fix these pots.

In the end, I ended up buying a new throttle quadrant right in the middle of the shortage. (you can imagine how much fun that was).

I agree Jude. There may be some very clever people out there who can disassemble these units but they're in the minority. I got so far then the warning bells started ringing. Time to stop whilst the units are still usable.

These are two axes where there is significant noise but they aren't that bad that hand flying is impossible. I've had them nearly 9 years so they've done me well.

I've looked at Goflight and PFC but neither are entirely suitable. The PFC is the closest but you need a console to connect the throttle quadrant to and I don't need that.

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46 minutes ago, zmak said:

Am I going nuts. Why wouldn't anyone invest in a few dollar can of contact cleaner first. 

A good blast would at least clean out the guts and at the very worst you can spend a fortune on a thrust master or a smaller fortune on another saitek that will break within 12 months again. 

Ray

"I can see the pot assembly but as the dirt is inside there seems very little point spraying the outside of it."

myself and many others watched the saitek graph spike and then gave it a squirt and all good .

Its not black magic :biggrin:

zmak,

sorry but I fail to understand why cleaning the outside of the unit holding the potentiometer would help. The muck is probably inside it.

I've also read that once you start to use cleaner fluid it's necessary to repeat the action at fairly regular intervals. Frying pan to fire springs to mind.

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3 minutes ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

zmak,

sorry but I fail to understand why cleaning the outside of the unit holding the potentiometer would help. The muck is probably inside it.

I've also read that once you start to use cleaner fluid it's necessary to repeat the action at fairly regular intervals. Frying pan to fire springs to mind.

'I've seen two now that show the pots have to be exposed before cleaning rather than just spraying cleaner into the general area of the axis. Maybe that sorts out other issues but for dirty pots this seems to be the best method.'

what makes you think you dont have other issues. whatever that means ?

what other issues could there be but spikey throttles :huh:

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1 hour ago, MaDDogz said:

Drove me nuts, so ordered a thrustmaster warthog. yes they are not cheap...but what a diffrence! they have magnets instead of copper tracks so this problem will never happen with this controller / throttle, ever!

 

is so precise that i can sit in the NGX and throttle up in decimal points...65.7% throttle, no problem....45.3%...no problem..

There are drawbacks ofcourse, its a stick not a yoke, left handed throttle, but you will soon get used to it :)

I strongly advise  investing in one.

Luke, I still have my old CH Pro Throttle should the worse happen. CH is decent kit but their throttle quadrant has very short travel on the axes. Pity really as it would be a decent alternative.

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