Daedalus

Best way to connect USB flight controls?

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Posted (edited)

Hi all,

I lately increased the number of flight controls devices that I use, and I would like to avoid plugging - unplugging USB cables, so I want to have them all connected all times. I used to have a PCIe 4-USB card but due to the increased now number of devices and cable restrictions I am thinking to use a single powered 7-port USB 3 HUB. 

But before I invest on a 30$ powered usb 3 hub, I would like to ask you if there is any known problem with plugging all my flight simulator controllers on a single powered usb hub. Also is there any benefit by using PCIe USB adapters instead? For me the hub solution would look better as I can hide it somewhere, and also would be easier to manage the cables so I prefer it. But of course if this means problems with my devices, I would avoid it.

Thank you very much for your time! 

 

Edited by Daedalus

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No problem using a powered hub as I do myself with all my GoFlight modules.

But do not buy a USB3 one. It must be USB2. That is extremely important.

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I don't know if having 7 active flight sim controllers is a good idea. Errors and conflicts have got to creep into a setup like that.

I have 3 controllers ( one yoke, two joystick) and plug each into the same USB port one at a time as needed. KISS method.

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11 minutes ago, Twenty6 said:

Errors and conflicts have got to creep into a setup like that.

I have twelve controllers connected in my sim and it works pretty robustly. I also have a Saitek radio and two Elite AP-4000 radios.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, flyforever said:

usb3 are backward compatible

Many devices do not like USB3. There is no need for the extra speed over USB2.

It would be helpful if the OP listed what hardware he intends connecting. GoFlight or Saitek radio modules are very different to a joystick or yoke. Be specific please.

Edited by Ray Proudfoot

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

No problem using a powered hub as I do myself with all my GoFlight modules.

But do not buy a USB3 one. It must be USB2. That is extremely important.

or a USB 3.1 compatible HUB.  There was a backwards compatibility issue with USB 3.0 that was corrected in 3.1.

I run two USB 3.1 HUBS with all USB 2.0 compatible devices without issue.

Also... be sure to turn off USB power saving on all your USB Flight Controls.

 

Edited by DaveCT2003

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17 minutes ago, DaveCT2003 said:

or a USB 3.1 compatible HUB.  There was a backwards compatibility issue with USB 3.0 that was corrected in 3.1.

I run two USB 3.1 HUBS with all USB 2.0 compatible devices without issue.

Also... be sure to turn off USB power saving on all your USB Flight Controls.

 

If you already have a 3.1 hub then it can be utilised but personally I’d stick to USB2.

The blasted Windows 10 insists turning the power management option back on every so often. I wish I could meet the programmer who thinks that’s a good idea. He would not forget our meeting for a while. 🤨

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Posted (edited)

Windows has a very difficult time keeping track of devices and usb ports. At times, you may find that some devices are not recognized and you'll receive a "game controller" not recognized error. It's a bit of a hit and miss, and the only way to find out is to try. Keep in mind that each USB device draws some power, so with so many devices you need to be aware of potentially overloading your usb. It's definitely a good idea to have a USB with its own power supply to feed all the additional devices.

Edited by flyforever

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8 hours ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

But do not buy a USB3 one. It must be USB2. That is extremely important.

I overwhelming disagree, Ray.  All of my USB flight controls and devices are connected to USB 3.0 ports, either on my CPU or on hubs.  I had significant issues with what I perceived was USB 3.0 beginning with Windows 7.  Over time I determined that the issues were 100% due to Windows Advanced Power Management.  Working into Control Panel, Human Interface Devices, identifying the controls, and under advanced properties deselecting power management cured most of my USB flight control issues.  My Saitek USB devices also benefited from small apps that patched Windows Registry values for power management for the Saitek devices.  Those apps can be located with simple web searches.

I am currently Windows 10 and 100% of my USB flight related devices are connected to USB 3.0 ports or hubs and I now have zero issues.

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6 hours ago, fppilot said:

I overwhelming disagree, Ray....My Saitek USB devices also benefited from small apps that patched Windows Registry values for power management for the Saitek devices.  Those apps can be located with simple web searches.

I am currently Windows 10 and 100% of my USB flight related devices are connected to USB 3.0 ports or hubs and I now have zero issues.

My GoFlight modules do not like USB3. I'm speaking purely from personal experience. Let the OP decide. Devices like yoke and pedals may be less fussy but they simply so not need the extra speed of USB3 and compatibility issues can arise.

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10 hours ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

blasted Windows 10 insists turning the power management option back on every so often

As I discovered repeatedly with an Iomega USB HDD that switches on when I have not even initiated it although it is connected to a USB port.

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15 hours ago, DaveCT2003 said:

Also... be sure to turn off USB power saving on all your USB Flight Controls.

I've heard this for years now and have tried it but I run all my controls through a powered hub and I have the power management on for all USB devices because I struggle from time to time with the PC not going to sleep IAW the windows power settings. I know I can manually put it in sleep mode but it's annoying to me when I walk past the study and my 40" screen is lighting up the room like daylight because the PC won't sleep. I never have any USB control issues using the power management. This is just my experience...

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1 hour ago, bbuckley said:

I've heard this for years now and have tried it but I run all my controls through a powered hub and I have the power management on for all USB devices because I struggle from time to time with the PC not going to sleep IAW the windows power settings. I know I can manually put it in sleep mode but it's annoying to me when I walk past the study and my 40" screen is lighting up the room like daylight because the PC won't sleep. I never have any USB control issues using the power management. This is just my experience...

Whether or not USB power management becomes a problem depends on how/what you fly...if you fly airliners where you're on autopilot for extended periods and not stimulating the USB port with control inputs, Windows power management detects that the port is not in use and depowers it, and once that happens you're not getting it back during the flight, ruining it.  If you have a noisy pot that occasionally sends spikes, that might have the unintended happy side effect of keeping the port alive, where a good Hall Effect-based controller that doesn't send unwanted inputs will drop dead on you in the same circumstances.  I check that it's turned off after every Windows update, because apparently some treehugging waste of gravity at MS has decided for all the rest of us that saving a hundredth of a watt is so good for the planet that our operational needs aren't important...

w/r/t to backward compatibility, USB 3 is--in theory--backwards compatible with USB2, but i have a lot of experience with programming serial devices in my other hobby (ham radio) that has repeatedly proven that is not always the case.  Many of those problems have been resolved as USB3 matured, but older devices that use older drivers may still have issues with missing/incorrect settings in the registry, and some of those problems persist even after removing and reinstalling the driver and/or device.  I had fits with serial to USB drivers for FTDI chipset-based devices for a long time...if you plugged the device into a USB3 port before first plugging it into a USB2 port in that PC, it required hours of troubleshooting esoteric entries scattered all over the registry to correct.  So I still subscribe to the philosophy of using USB2 hubs connected to USB2 ports for USB2 devices where possible.

Regards

 

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7 minutes ago, w6kd said:

Whether or not USB power management becomes a problem depends on how/what you fly...if you fly airliners where you're on autopilot for extended periods and not stimulating the USB port with control inputs, Windows power management detects that the port is not in use and depowers it, and once that happens you're not getting it back during the flight, ruining it. 

That explains my experience, I fly relatively short GA flights with lots of various controls inputs. Thanks! I finally understand this.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, w6kd said:

Whether or not USB power management becomes a problem depends on how/what you fly...if you fly airliners where you're on autopilot for extended periods and not stimulating the USB port with control inputs, Windows power management detects that the port is not in use and depowers it

Very true, and especially true for devices like Saitek Panels.  I can be performing all sorts of functions with my Saitek yoke but do nothing for an hour or more with my Saitek Multipanel (autopilot equivalent).  If I have Windows Advanced Power Management enabled for the devices and the Multipanel (USB) plugged into the USB port on the yoke, inactivity with the Multipanel will shut down both devices, even if I have the yoke powered with the Saitek AC power adapter.  If I disable Windows Advanced Power Management for the devices I never get power disabled and I have no need to use the power adapter.  At one point just after I built my current system and was experiencing the issue, everyone jumped on the USB 3.0 as the cause.  It was not the cause.  After tackling the APM via Control Panel settings and application of a patch to Windows Registry I have not since had an issue.

Edited by fppilot

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5 minutes ago, bbuckley said:

That explains my experience, I fly relatively short GA flights with lots of various controls inputs. Thanks! I finally understand this.

Good read.  My average flight is just under 2 hours.  The inactivity issue I was having was focused on the Saitek Multipanel.  It is essentially an autopilot module with trim and flaps controls.  I adopted the Multipanel back when I was flying the Carenado C90 King Air a lot.  That model's autopilot is on the lower tier of the throttle quadrant, as is the AP in the Alabeo C421 and the Carenado F406 Caravan II. For those the Multipanel puts the AP controls in a more convenient location. 

When flying most other aircraft I use the mouse and on-screen AP instead of the Multipanel.  It was on those flights that I would lose the Multipanel and yoke.  It was very frustrating as nothing would bring back the yoke.  ex. unplugging and plugging back in.

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Posted (edited)

Just reporting satisfactory results with a HooToo 9-port HT-UH010 USB 3.0 hub (~ USD$30 on Amazon) and these devices all connected to the hub:

RealSimGear GNS430

Thrustmaster TPR pedals

Saitek Pro Flight Throttle Quadrant

Saitek Pro Flight Radio Panel

Saitek Pro Flight Cessna Trim Wheel

Windows 7, ASUS H97 Plus motherboard, hub plugged into a USB 3.0 port on the motherboard.

I wanted a non-bus-powered USB hub, so that when power was removed from the hub, the devices would truly be disconnected from the host (don't want the whole radio stack, GNS430, etc., powered up all the time when the PC isn't being used for flight sim stuff).  This hub fit the bill and seems to work fine.  Flights in P3D of about 45 minutes or so (KAUS-K11R at about ~ 110 KTAS as an example).

Edited by AustinLonghorn

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It has been my experience that my GoFlight modules require USB2.0 hubs. All else, my TM Warthog HOTAS, Throttle and Crosswind rudder pedals work fine on powered USB3.1.

I have had fairly good luck with my Hubs not going to sleep. If I get a Win10 update, I have to take serious time and go through all of the devices in device manager to ensure they were not reverted back to having power management turned back on. And the boxes DO get checked back on. Very frustrating.

Daedalus... pretty impressive hanger... how do you find time to fly all those aircraft?

Cheers,

Bob

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Posted (edited)

Thank you all so much for the time to reply to my question by posting your experience and suggestions. I am very grateful. 

@Ray Proudfoot the devices that I want to connect to the hub is the six referred on the second line of my signature.

As far as I know all these devices are all USB 2.0 devices, so I guess buying a USB 2.0 hub would be the safest option. I would assume that backwards compatibility of USB 3.1 as Bob and Bruce suggested would assure that the devices would work, but reading some of the replies, I have some second thoughts now. Maybe a USB 2.0 only hub would be the wiser option. I also understand now (did not know that) that USB 3.1 is the newer version and advisable to use instead of 3.0

As for power management, I am aware of the sleeping function so I would certainly turn off the power saving setting.I forgot that a powered hub would always power the devices, so maybe better buy a hub with a switch to turn the power off when not in use. Still not the most convenient to do every time. The other safe option would be to avoid altogether the hub and buy 2x PCIe cards and try to move my pc tower closer to my rig so to avoid cable length issues. 

Thank you all for your suggestions. You answered my main concern which would be that a hub may not work. The answer is that it should work as far as I understand. I'll think all aspects again and hopefully do the right decision. 

@Radial9 thanks for the comment.:)  As you can imagine this fleet is impossible to satisfy in a frequent basis. I try to fly a different category every time, however depending on available time and mood I also fly what is more convenient each time. My dream app would be an app assigning me flights/aircraft so I don't have to find out where/what to fly each time 🙂

Edited by Daedalus

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3 hours ago, Daedalus said:

@Ray Proudfoot the devices that I want to connect to the hub is the six referred on the second line of my signature.

As far as I know all these devices are all USB 2.0 devices, so I guess buying a USB 2.0 hub would be the safest option. 

You should be fine with a USB2 powered hub with that kit. Just to prove how temperamental GoFlight units are I have two GF-166 radio units that are plugged into a powered USB2 hub. If I connect that hub to a USB3 port on my computer the displays will not light. If I plug it into a USB2 port they do.

That)s why I always advise to avoid USB3.

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9 hours ago, w6kd said:

some treehugging waste of gravity

I’ve heard people called a waste of space before, but waste of gravity is a new one for me! I love this, I’m going to steal it 😀

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