Ray Proudfoot

Viable alternative to expensive throttle quadrants?

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I have searched for a suitable throttle quadrant to replace my Saitek / Logitech units. It is not going well. Most appear to be made of plastic and prices are eye-watering. Reviews are sparse so it's difficult to come to a decision with any degree of confidemce.

What I want is a quadrant that can control up to 4 engines with a spoiler axis. No requirement for a flap lever. The best in terms of quality is the VirtualFly TQ6 but that is aimed at twin-engine props and having chatted to the team they have no plans to produce an equivalent for Boeing / Airbus.

But the biggest drawback with the TQ6 is the angle of the throttle levers. In real aircraft they are set at an angle of roughly 45 degrees at idle. That makes handling them much easier than the 90 degrees of the TQ6 which are very awkward to handle at idle especially for 4-engines. The expensive Boeing units (1000GBP) do have them set at 45 degrees - same as in real life.

The Saitek / Logitech throttles also have an idle position of 90 degrees - same as the TQ6 but nowhere near the quality. But they are as cheap as chips and will last more than 7 years.

I'm now thinking of an alternative solution and because it's less than fifty quid is a low-cost viable alternative. Essentially it's a container for two Saitek / Logitech units which crucially angle them at 45 degrees making them much easier to handle. There are also alternative handles for different type of aircraft but that isn't a high priority just yet. Another advantage is I retain the very useful toggle buttons which the other units don't have.

This is what I'm considering. https://www.cockpitphd.com/cpqb.html

So although not the ideal solution in terms of quality it seems to give me a reasonable alternative for minimal cost. Has anyone tried these boxes and what are your thoughts?

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Hi Ray, 

I was in the same position some years ago, trying to find similar solutions, but wasn't happy with any of them. With cheap throttles you usually get cheap potis. OK for one engine, but not ok to control multi engine jets. You get four different potis, the cheaper the more difference. The result can be 10% or more thrust difference, and if you move all four a bit forward, you have that difference on another engine. Not realistic at all to control e.g. a 747. 

I usually ended up assigning one axis to all four engines, and move the other three axes like "as if" dummies. 

I don't how much money I wasted for this Saitek and other stuff. To make long story short, unfortunately there is no alternative to high end throttles.

Probably not what you wanted to read, but it is really my experience. 

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Posted (edited)

Mike, thanks for your feedback. The aircraft I will be flying are the PMDG737 and once it’s released in 64-bit, Concorde.

I am on my second set of Saitek throttles the first pair lasting around 10 years. Yes, the pots are not the best but you do get years of use out of them until they eventually start to spike.

I haven’t found any problems controlling two engines and with four as when flying Concorde the hardest part is trying to keep all four levers together rather than variations in thrust at a given position.

But that is because of the angle they are set at rather than inaccuracies in their calibration. That difficulty would be solved with one of those boxes to hold them at a more comfortable angle.

In any case controlling Concorde is very different to other aircraft since the throttles were often fully forward for the majority of the flight. And also remember, you have that alternative cap that binds all four engines together.

I’ve checked the hardware for your kit and I see you probably have a home cockpit costing thousands. Mine is far more modest - a desktop setup. Whilst I’d love a setup like yours it’s not something that is feasible.

Edited by Ray Proudfoot

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I would go for that solution if I where you. This is the setup I started with a few years ago:

IMG_20121206_164345.jpg

I was stupid enough at that time to think I needed a trim wheel too at the time I orginally bought the NGX. It worked fine. I just use VR now and MSFF stick now for everything.

I think you can calibrate each lever in FSUIPC to account for big differences in pots but I think it would take a while.

Excellent solution for very little money. After I move in the next few months I will be making a small permanent sim setup and I will use the same setup you are proposing.

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Just seen this today, if you can wait a bit longer.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Avidean said:

I would go for that solution if I where you. This is the setup I started with a few years ago:

 

I was stupid enough at that time to think I needed a trim wheel too at the time I orginally bought the NGX. It worked fine. I just use VR now and MSFF stick now for everything.

I think you can calibrate each lever in FSUIPC to account for big differences in pots but I think it would take a while.

Excellent solution for very little money. After I move in the next few months I will be making a small permanent sim setup and I will use the same setup you are proposing.

Thanks for posting that Dave. Looks like it suits your setup just fine. I've been calibrating using FSUIPC for years and am happy with the results. The replacement units I've had for around 6 months are absolutely fine. And as you say, for the cost it's well worth trying.

10 minutes ago, MarkDH said:

Just seen this today, if you can wait a bit longer.

I saw that this morning on Facebook. But look at the throttle axes. Same problem as VirtualFly and Saitek with the idle position making them awkward to handle. And when fully forward how accessible are those switches?

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32 minutes ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

Yes, the pots are not the best but you do get years of use out of them until they eventually start to spike.

I haven’t found any problems controlling two engines and with four as when flying Concorde the hardest part is trying to keep all four levers together rather than variations in thrust at a given position.

Ok, that sounds you are more lucky than I was regarding cheap potis. I found the result far worse, and potis usually don't get better with age.  I wish someone would have told me before :). However, maybe now they are better than years ago.

Homecockpit is a different story, my post was not meant as comparison to that.  I still have use P3D on a regular desktop occasionally for other planes.

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Reading Nels' review he states the parts ship from Hong Kong and no VAT is included in the price. That has to be paid before your national postal company will deliver.

Alternatively there is this quadrant box from an Italian company with a British outlet. They build the components once they receive your order. This one has a template to overlay on the quadrant and a similar price. https://flightsimpm-uk.co.uk/product/boeing-quadrant-box-grey/

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Posted (edited)

Throttletek stuff too expensive for you?

https://throttletek.com/

The PFC console with interchangeable throttles also looks good.

 

Edited by GHarrall

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22 minutes ago, GHarrall said:

Throttletek stuff too expensive for you?

https://throttletek.com/

The PFC console with interchangeable throttles also looks good.

 

I created a topic on this company last year as I was attracted to the Lear unit. The problem is two-fold...

1) It’s extremely risky to buy something ‘blind’. You cannot evaluate something by looking at photos or videos. You need to get your hands on it.

2) Throttletek build to order so should it prove unsuitable for any reason returning it without incurring a significant cost would be risky.

The company is based in El Salvador and has only been running a few years. Would they still be in business in 10 years or less if a problem occurred?

I’m put off PFC by variable quality and very high prices for their modular system.

It’s bonkers. It’s either a 60GBP option or 600GBP for a VirtualFly TQ6 which isn’t suitable for Boeing or over 800GBP for taking a risk with something I can’t try before I buy.

These companies need to attend European flight sim events preferably RAF Cosford in October. It makes deciding so much easier and reduces the risk considerably.

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Ray Proudfoot said:

I created a topic on this company last year as I was attracted to the Lear unit. The problem is two-fold...

1) It’s extremely risky to buy something ‘blind’. You cannot evaluate something by looking at photos or videos. You need to get your hands on it.

2) Throttletek build to order so should it prove unsuitable for any reason returning it without incurring a significant cost would be risky.

The company is based in El Salvador and has only been running a few years. Would they still be in business in 10 years or less if a problem occurred?

I’m put off PFC by variable quality and very high prices for their modular system.

It’s bonkers. It’s either a 60GBP option or 600GBP for a VirtualFly TQ6 which isn’t suitable for Boeing or over 800GBP for taking a risk with something I can’t try before I buy.

These companies need to attend European flight sim events preferably RAF Cosford in October. It makes deciding so much easier and reduces the risk considerably.

Good points.

I suppose the GoFlight stuff kind of sits in between but I have heard not so great things about the gear from them.

Personally, I have switched most of my controls to using the Warthog and for airliner ops I also have a CH Throttle Quadrant. Its a bit cheap looking but its surprisingly good in terms of the levers etc. Not what you are looking for though I think. I had some similar dilemmas a while back. It is crazy how it goes from really cheap consumer stuff to immediately being crazy expensive.

There is this one too which is still blind but at least the price is better:

https://www.fsxthrottle.com/?page_id=481

Edited by GHarrall
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Posted (edited)

I dont like Siatek there shelf life is pretty short with my experience.

FSthrotlles are pretty cheap $119 base price... of course the extras are all must haves lol . The dev can add anything you want to them and gives a lifetime warranty on all throttles and is prompt with email reply's

This is the entry level you could request 4 throttles instead of the current layout. They are made of wood

He starts to build when ordered. They are not in stock, hand made only

 

https://www.fsxthrottle.com/?page_id=481#!/TwinPro/p/78782836/category=0

Edited by zmak

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If you can wait that long Cosford may be your best bet try before you buy, you may even get a better deal.

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19 minutes ago, GHarrall said:

Good points.

I suppose the GoFlight stuff kind of sits in between but I have heard not so great things about the gear from them.

Personally, I have switched most of my controls to using the Warthog and for airliner ops I also have a CH Throttle Quadrant. Its a bit cheap looking but its surprisingly good in terms of the levers etc. Not what you are looking for though I think. I had some similar dilemmas a while back. It is crazy how it goes from really cheap consumer stuff to immediately being crazy expensive.

There is this one too which is still blind but at least the price is better:

https://www.fsxthrottle.com/?page_id=481

We posted the same time. There is a safety net with FSXthrotlles as the owner promises lifetime warranty no questioned asked returns. 

and this also

"If you’re not happy with our quadrant, we’ll gladly take it back and refund your full purchase price less $25.00, which covers our initial shipping fees."

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28 minutes ago, zmak said:

There is a safety net with FSXthrotlles as the owner promises lifetime warranty no questioned asked returns. 

and this also

"If you’re not happy with our quadrant, we’ll gladly take it back and refund your full purchase price less $25.00, which covers our initial shipping fees."

Of course, the big problem with this sort of promise is that "lifetime" in this context generally means as long as the owner, whose identity and location remain anonymous and hidden behind a small company website, remains in the business.

Regards

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5 minutes ago, w6kd said:

Of course, the big problem with this sort of promise is that "lifetime" in this context generally means as long as the owner, whose identity and location remain anonymous and hidden behind a small company website, remains in the business.

Regards

I bought from him about 7 years ago so he has been around but of course he could kick the bucket at any time. He sent me vids during stages when he was building it. Good guy, straight shooter. Unfortunately I didn't even have a chance to plug the throttle in when it arrived due to a sudden real life situation meant no simming and sold everything off but the build was good, felt solid and the throttle was huge!

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39 minutes ago, zmak said:

I bought from him about 7 years ago so he has been around but of course he could kick the bucket at any time. He sent me vids during stages when he was building it. Good guy, straight shooter. Unfortunately I didn't even have a chance to plug the throttle in when it arrived due to a sudden real life situation meant no simming and sold everything off but the build was good, felt solid and the throttle was huge!

I don't mean to impugn FSXThrottle or their products, but my radar comes up when I click on the "contact" link and all I get is a web form, and there is no address, phone or other contact info listed anywhere on the site.

The dearth of throttle quad options has always been something of an unscratchable itch in the sim universe.  I have had a PFC floor-mounted yoke, throttle quad, and rudder set for 17 years now (??!), and in the first 8-9 years I probably replaced every pot in the system several times as they eventually started to wear and throw spikes.  Mechanically, the PFC controls are super-sturdy and precise, so I finally declared "enough!" and engineered a custom conversion to Hall Effect sensors that has required no maintenance intervention ever since.  It was a really interesting, but complex project that I'd not care to repeat if I can help it.  I see that PFC has finally seen the light and they offer their control yokes with a Hall sensor option, but their throttle quads appear to still use the same troublesome 100 ohm linear pots of the type found in my 17-year old quadrant.  Those pots are a real pain, because not only do they wear out with some regularity, they are soldered in place and require a fair bit of work and at least basic electrical construction skills and tools to replace.

I'll never again even look at another potentiometer-based throttle unit.  The Thrustmaster Warthog uses Hall sensors in its throttle unit, but alas, it's only a 2-axis unit.  The T.16000M uses HE sensors in its pitch/roll/yaw axes, but a pot in its (single) throttle axis.  The TQ6 uses Hall sensors, but its physical lever arrangement precludes use with a 3-4 engine acft or an aircraft that needs reverser, spoiler, or flap axis controls.  I'm not aware of other throttle quads that use Hall sensors, even the expensive ones discussed upthread, and that's a real shame.

Regards

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Posted (edited)

Non Hall effect Pots,Problems....

 

Edited by BIGSKY

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Glenn & Zoran, thanks for your posts and recommendations. I had looked at them before and was amused by all the extras such as painting. So few of these companies attend flight sim shows in Europe. I might write to them and ask if they will attend Cosford. I can hold on until then and it will help enormously in making a decision.

Disappointed at GoFlight. Excellent modules but there's too much lateral play in the throttle levers. I've handled them and wouldn't pay the price they ask.

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Cosford now a 2 day event may get more devs interested.

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Ray,

Sounds like you've decided not to get that piece of vinyl they call a quadrant box. Good choice! I bought one some years ago, mounted everything and took a flight or two. Ripped it back out and eventually tossed it. That's my quick and dirty review. Maybe they've improved it, but I really disliked that thing. 

On to the V-Fly TQ6. A superb product and yes, the thing is somewhat awkward when mounted horizontally. I modified an old GoFlight Captain's deck for mounting it, which came out pretty nice. I'm going to build a quadrant box (wood) for rotating it up 45 degrees or so. Just saying, if you're handy with wood and/or metal, a custom quadrant box can take care of that issue.

cheers,

Greg

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Greg,

No, I haven’t ruled it out simply because it looks like it will hold two quadrants and the levers are then in a far more comfortable position. If there is any slippage then either  Blu-tak, Velcro or double-sided tape will fix that.

What specifically didn’t you like about it? Looks surely not an issue. It’s just a container. I’m not getting those fancy replacement Boeing levers. If you have to modify (irreversible) the original levers then no way am I touching those. But the box seems a low-risk option so the levers are in a comfortable position.

 

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I'm working with getting fsxthrottle guy and you can get halls. They do basically anything you want.  The only issue I have is it's wood but I'm at my wits end with my two saitek quadrants.  And yes I bought the cheap plastic box to put then together..... I've had a very good experience so far with fsxthrottle 

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