Ray Proudfoot

Why do yoke and throttle makers not use Hall Effect sensors?

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Hall-effect sensors have been available for some time and their design makes them infinitely more reliable long term than potentiometers. I can understand in the cheap 'n cheeflul stuff like Saitek / Logitech they'll stick to pots and pretty poor quality ones at that. But by the time you're into spending several hundred pounds (PFC) then they should be mandatory.

Why then do all the manufacturers I've checked with still use pots even on kit costing several hundred pounds? It seems a bizarre decision.

Is it done for cost reasons or because hall-effect sensors are more difficult to build into a design? How expensive are they? Prohibitively it would seem if that's the reason but somehow I doubt it.

Call me cynical but maybe they want you to keep going back to them for repairs when the pots eventually fail as they invariably will do.

Happy to be corrected and educated on any aspect of this.

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I have the PFC  hall sensor yoke which is super.  Never a problem.  But the PFC throttle units are a God damn pain in the word not allowed.  The pontentiometers keep wearing out once every year and I end up having to send it away for repair.  

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Erich,

For units that cost as much as those do that is quite frankly disgraceful. If anything the pots on the throttles will wear out even quicker. My Saitek yoke is fine after 9 years but both throttle quadrants have been replaced. Not bad for £50 units but PFC should hang their heads in shame.

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13 minutes ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

Erich,

For units that cost as much as those do that is quite frankly disgraceful. If anything the pots on the throttles will wear out even quicker. My Saitek yoke is fine after 9 years but both throttle quadrants have been replaced. Not bad for £50 units but PFC should hang their heads in shame.

Ray, I am getting to the point where, if I have to send it back for another replacement card/pots/repair, I would have paid as much on cumulative repair and courier charges than I paid for the unit itself.  

I'm told its easy to repair it - perhaps I should learn how.

 

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Erich,

If it was me I'd be finding out the address of the CEO and writing a very stern letter. Maybe you were unlucky once but multiple times? I can't buy that.

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I have worked in electronics for my entire career as a tech and a trainer. If a manufacturer can save 2 cents on a product, many times they will do that rather than spend a few centsmore for reliability and accuracy. I have a T16000M Joystick now with hall effect IC's, and they are fantastic. I would not purchase any expensive controller that still uses pots. 

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Where PFC really should hang their heads is the cost of repairing the item (its almost the same as buying a new product from them).  I bought a defective yoke from them and sent it back 3 times before they could get it right, and I had to pay for shipping both ways on top of the repair costs.  While their products are well built for the most part, and will last for eons to come, they certainly do not entice simulation enthusiast to come back for upgrades or re-purchase.

The only time I will purchase stuff from PFC is if I am doing a professional build for a client.

PFC however, does offer hall effect sensors in their yokes (but you must specify when placing your order -which can now be done online), not sure about the throttle quads and rudder pedals.  Another solution is a fairly new competitor VirtualFly, makers of the Yoko yoke and throttle quadrants and they use hall effect sensors.  The price range is comparable to PFC's, and I think that the quality is just as good or even better.  MFG Crosswinds also makes a set of rudder pedals which has gotten rave reviews among the flight simulation community as well, and they to if I am not mistaken use hall effect sensors.

 

Cheers

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Bob,

It's a pity we can't use the power of AvSim to put the message out to manufacturers that we won't tolerate pots except on the cheapest hardware.

When you consider how much Erich has spent on PFC kit it's an absolute disgrace how many times PFC pots have failed.

Why can't people like Honeycomb see that if they put hall-effect sensors in their upcoming kit they could corner the market. I cannot understand their mentality, I really can't.

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1 hour ago, crosswind said:

PFC however, does offer hall effect sensors in their yokes (but you must specify when placing your order -which can now be done online), not sure about the throttle quads and rudder pedals. 

I have the hall effect sensors in my Yoke.  I specifically wanted that.  Unfortunately (4 years on),  it's still not an option for the throttle units)

I have fortunately found a local PFC distributor in the UK who has replaced a Windows 7 compatible circuit board with a W10 board and replaced the potentiometers.  Otherwise it would be a dud unit.  I certainly wouldn't return it to the US.  The local distributor says PFC  are quite bad with service generally - and has also alluded to the fact that the quality of their builds is not always consistent.  I do however really like the look and feel of the throttle units, especially as the units are interchangeable for the different types of aircraft you fly

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1 hour ago, crosswind said:

Yoko yoke and throttle quadrants

Maybe its just me but I can't take a product seriously if it's called 'Yoko' the yoke  and 'Ruddo' the rudder.  My custom was lost based purely on that silly nomenclature.   

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There's more to the equation than pots vs. HE Sensors... the design and manufacturing of the controller.  Good quality pots will survive well in a product built to reasonably tight tolerances and good manufacturing practices (although HE Sensors are always preferred).  Point being... even the best quality HE Sensor will quickly be trashed by a poorly designed and/or built controller.  And therein lies the problem in the flightsim controller biz... quality vs. cost = too many people dealing with failing controllers.

Before committing to pots or HE Sensors the first priority should be the quality of the controller.

Greg

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Almost $1000 for a yoke with potentiometers   Wow, now i have heard everything. 

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11 minutes ago, lownslo said:

There's more to the equation than pots vs. HE Sensors... the design and manufacturing of the controller.  Good quality pots will survive well in a product built to reasonably tight tolerances and good manufacturing practices (although HE Sensors are always preferred).  Point being... even the best quality HE Sensor will quickly be trashed by a poorly designed and/or built controller.  And therein lies the problem in the flightsim controller biz... quality vs. cost = too many people dealing with failing controllers.

Before committing to pots or HE Sensors the first priority should be the quality of the controller.

Greg

PFC controllers was about the best you could buy 4 years ago.  - that's what I thought.  After watching Word Not Allowed's  EDIT: (No idea why his name is not allowed) video on the Throttle unit I decided to get one.

9 minutes ago, Bobsk8 said:

Almost $1000 for a yoke with potentiometers   Wow, now i have heard everything. 

No, the Yoke has Hall Effect sensors.  The Throttle Unit has potentiometers.

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There are a couple of notable off-the-shelf units that do use HE transducers--on the inexpensive end, the Thrustmaster T16000M (~$50), a plastic consumer gaming stick (which can easily be set up for left-handed use, i.e. as a Scarebus Captain's sidestick) which has HE sensing on the aileron/elevator stick axes, but *not* on the throttle.  In the mid-range is the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog, a sturdy all-metal A-10 replica stick and throttle combo with HE sensors on the aileron/elevator and also on both throttle axes (~$400).  On the high end are the PFC yokes, which use HE sensors on the aileron/elevator axes, but nothing else (~$1200).  I don't know of any stock rudder pedal units that use HE transducers.

About 5 years ago I did a custom retrofit of my 2002-vintage PFC yoke/throttle/rudder setup and replaced all of the position transducers with HE sensors, which connect to the PC via one of several Leo Bodnar BU0836X USB interface boards.  It was a real project, especially the throttle quad, as I could not find any sort of linear HE-based slider that would work as a drop-in replacement for the slide pots.  I ended up fabricating a set of brass piers that hold rare earth magnets over each end of the pot slider's travel, and I placed an Allegro A1321 HE chip on an extension to the slider lever so that the HE sensor moves between the magnets together with the pot slider.  I had to write custom driver software to take the nonlinear output from the sensor and transform it to a linear position value.  The yoke was easier--the pots were replaced with Honeywell rotary HE transducers, which are electrically linear and a close physical match to the original rotary pot, although it required rewiring the yoke because the HE transducers use a three-wire connection instead of the simple two-wire setup for the original pots.  The PFC rudder mod uses a 3/4" cube Neodymium magnet mounted on the crossbar with a HE sensor mounted just above it to measure the angular rotation (it's pretty linear across the limited pedal throw, so it calibrated directly).  I glued 1/4" diameter neodymium disc magnets to the bottoms of the 1/4" diameter brake shafts and replaced the brake axis on/off switches with an A1321 sensor--very nonlinear and requires the output to be transformed as well.  It's not a project for the timid, but it's been awesome and worth the trouble ever since. 

Yes, it sure would be nice if there were a no-fuss commercial version out there...

Regards

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Posted (edited)

Virtual Fly will be offering all there controllers with Hall-effect sensors sometime this year rumor has it. I also heard that it should be easy to swap out the pots with the new Hall-effect sensors when the time comes when mine ware out.

 

Edited by FreeBird(Josh)
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Pots based on hall sensor technology still cost an average of 30-50 each. I agree that customers should at least have a choice to pay the additional cost. It's important to remember that if item A costs 200 without hall sensors , and that same item  costs 400 with hall sensors, that's twice the cost. The customer needs to know and must have a choice. My approach is to have hardware in which some wearable components like pots can be changed easily, which is not the case with the Saitek.

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@flyforever, that would be 30-50 per axis I presume so for a 4 axis throttle quadrant that would add up to 200USD (or 150UKP).

Given they would outlive any pots alternative I'm sure there are many who would like the option. I certainly would as long-term they would be the cheaper option and would sell second-hand in a heart beat.

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43 minutes ago, flyforever said:

Pots based on hall sensor technology still cost an average of 30-50 each. I agree that customers should at least have a choice to pay the additional cost. It's important to remember that if item A costs 200 without hall sensors , and that same item  costs 400 with hall sensors, that's twice the cost. The customer needs to know and must have a choice. My approach is to have hardware in which some wearable components like pots can be changed easily, which is not the case with the Saitek.

There are three of them in the Thrustmaster T 16000M and the total cost for that stick is around $50. Hall effect IC's have been around forever and are inexpensive. 

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20 minutes ago, Bobsk8 said:

There are three of them in the Thrustmaster T 16000M and the total cost for that stick is around $50. Hall effect IC's have been around forever and are inexpensive. 

Two, actually...the throttle axis on the T16000M is a pot...at least that's what the Guillemot customer service guys told me.

The bare Allegro HE chips I used were ~$2.50 each in quantities >10.  The Honeywell rotary HE sensor units were $45, IIRC.

Regards

 

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, w6kd said:

Two, actually...the throttle axis on the T16000M is a pot...at least that's what the Guillemot customer service guys told me.

The bare Allegro HE chips I used were ~$2.50 each in quantities >10.  The Honeywell rotary HE sensor units were $45, IIRC. 

Regards

 

You are correct, I was thinking the three axis of flight, forgot one of them is my CH rudder pedals...LOL.....$45 for a hall effect IC is a ton of money, must be made out of solid gold. 

Edited by Bobsk8

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The price of $3.50 does not include the circuit board and the mechanical components. Essentially, the chip alone is useless.

As to the Thrustmaster, only a mass produced unit that sells potentially millions can justify the use of hall sensors. That is, if i were guaranteed 100,000 or more sales of my product, I would contract for 400,000 hall sensor pots at a great discount. This calculation does not apply on small quantities.

Clearly, Saitek had the market to go hall. They didn't because it added a few additional dollars net profit  per unit  to their sales.

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6 hours ago, crosswind said:

Where PFC really should hang their heads is the cost of repairing the item (its almost the same as buying a new product from them).  I bought a defective yoke from them and sent it back 3 times before they could get it right, and I had to pay for shipping both ways on top of the repair costs.  While their products are well built for the most part, and will last for eons to come, they certainly do not entice simulation enthusiast to come back for upgrades or re-purchase.

The only time I will purchase stuff from PFC is if I am doing a professional build for a client.

PFC however, does offer hall effect sensors in their yokes (but you must specify when placing your order -which can now be done online), not sure about the throttle quads and rudder pedals.  Another solution is a fairly new competitor VirtualFly, makers of the Yoko yoke and throttle quadrants and they use hall effect sensors.  The price range is comparable to PFC's, and I think that the quality is just as good or even better.  MFG Crosswinds also makes a set of rudder pedals which has gotten rave reviews among the flight simulation community as well, and they to if I am not mistaken use hall effect sensors.

 

Cheers

Yeah I agree! My usb port stopped working in the back of my Cirrus 737 yoke and I opted to repair it myself. The parts cost my $250 with shipping from PFC. The parts probably cost PFC $10. I will never buy another product from them!

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, w6kd said:

I don't know of any stock rudder pedal units that use HE transducers.

The MFG Crosswind Rudder Pedal Units use Hall Effect transducers.  From their product page:

Unparalleled accuracy, longetivity and response time
High resolution contactless magnetic sensors guarantee high precision without degradation over time, making spikey potentiometers thing of the past. Modern electronics provide up to 500 updates per second

3rd generation triaxis digital Hall sensor on rudder axis ( 4096 positions ) and analog hall's for brakes ( 2048 positions per brake )

 

MFG Crosswind

 

Oops, just noticed that Yukon Pete already noted this.

Edited by jt_williams
Credit to Yukon Pete for noting MFG
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5 hours ago, ErichB said:

No, the Yoke has Hall Effect sensors.  The Throttle Unit has potentiometers.

Correct.  Unfortunately my TQ6 lost one potentiometer while in warranty, but has now lost a seond one out of warranty (18 months since purchase) and I'll find out soon what the replacement cost will be.  Will post when I learn.

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9 minutes ago, jt_williams said:

The MFG Crosswind Rudder Pedal Units use Hall Effect transducers.  From their product page:

Unparalleled accuracy, longetivity and response time
High resolution contactless magnetic sensors guarantee high precision without degradation over time, making spikey potentiometers thing of the past. Modern electronics provide up to 500 updates per second

3rd generation triaxis digital Hall sensor on rudder axis ( 4096 positions ) and analog hall's for brakes ( 2048 positions per brake )

 

MFG Crosswind

 

Oops, just noticed that Yukon Pete already noted this.

Have had mine for 18 months of heavy use and they work perfectly. The software is great.  When they get out whack from too many FSUIPC adjustments, they snap back every time.

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