by Will Reynolds
In late July this year, a company called “VirtualFly” announced pre-orders of their Throttle range was ready to ship.
On offer, we saw two products, the TQ3 and TQ6. The first with three levers, and the latter, obviously with 6.
This represented a wave release from this developer, whose prior release “Yoko the Yoke” was met with very good reviews and feedback from the Simulator world.
So I decided to get to know them a little better, and here are some points to help our Avsim readership know the developer.
We meet Emilio Batlle, from Virtual Fly:
Emilio, can you please tell us the origins of VirtualFly?
-Sure, we can look back to 2004 when our main developer started looking at Research and Development in the Flight Simulation world as a free-lancer. After several prototypes, in 2011 VirtualFly was established as a company (Pty. Ltd) so we stopped looking at only local development and started working as a group project at an International Level with one product, called “OVO-04” which had been under development for about 7 years.
Today we have over 20 Products, scalable and interconnected. We are actively working in the Aviation Industry and have participated in Boeing’s 100 year anniversary celebrations, we even got a mention in the New York Times!
We are close to achieving full certification for our integrated products but more importantly, our customers are the ones giving us the thumbs up with their satisfaction using our products.
For us, satisfied customers come first and foremost. It is why we invest money, people and all our energy. Our goal is for people to feel our products are exactly what will give them the satisfaction in Flight Simulation, and we aim at surpassing their expectations.
Your new range of Throttle Quadrant...the TQ6 in particular, what was the aim?
-We wanted to show a robust, reliable and realistic Flight Simulation hardware module. Also, it has to be Plug and Fly!
That is our philosophy for all our products. With the TQ6, we were very interested in allowing our customers to enjoy all piston engine, turbo-prop and turbo-fan features on the same throttle quadrant simulator.
What type of Flight Sim user do you have in mind for the TQ6?
-We are aiming to those customers who seek a superior look and feel, plus extra performance. That is the reason why all TQ6 customers will be able to avoid third party plugins like FSUIP or FSX/P3D control setting menus in order to enjoy reverse thrust, prop feather or mixture cutoff features. Our customers can even adjust the strength of the resistance of the levers to match their comfort.
Can you tell us about the materials used in the construction of the TQ6?
-We chose full metal construction in order to deliver a robust, reliable and realistic product. We estimate you can push all 6 levers for a minimum of 6000 hours non stop. Or put it this way, we expect you to run this for many years without stopping.
Let’s talk about one of the critical components of a good Throttle Quadrant...the Potentiometers, what can you tell us? How is yours different?
-We did our research and settled on Potentiometers from a company called Bourns. It is one of the most expensive components in the Throttle Quadrant and they have similar characteristics to the ones fitted in the YOKO the Yoke units. These have already shown very good performance and durability in all kinds of environments around the world.
Can you tell us a feature you really like in this product?
-In our research, we discovered most of our customers do not get to master the wide range of possibilities inside their Flight Simulators therefore we decided to design a product that offered more added value whilst being simple to set up. For example, our specifically made driver for this unit allows to setup the features of the unit directly, without needing to dabble into the control menus of the simulator itself or using a third party program. But, if that is what you wish to do, the unit will also support it.
What is the warranty on the product?
-We offer a standard One Year warranty on the product. However, let us stress we chose the components on this product so you have to perform no maintenance, and we expect you to use it heavily for many many years without issue.
But is there a possibility of purchasing spare parts for the units should the need arise?
-Yes of course, we can deliver parts like Potentiometers or Mechanical Links as requested.
Many thanks Virtual Fly team!
Ordering and Delivery
Currently VirtualFly is available through some of the major retailers, as well as having their own authorised sales agents in the USA and AustrIa/Germany/Switzerland. I believe more agents and distributors will be announced soon.
You can purchase directly from the manufacturer ( like I did at the start) and get the setup organised. Their service was very prompt and corteous.
You receive a single cardboard box with the unit packed in some “ribbed” flexible plastic packaging, very sturdy, no damage would occur.
You will receive the unit, as well as a USB with drivers and soft copy of manuals, plus a trusty Allen key, the metal clamp and some stickers.
Once unboxed, you can decide what orientation you will use for the clamp. By the way, it is worth noting the solid metal clamp is included in the package and is not an additional extra.
At this point, you can see an introduction to the unit:
The unit is quite obviously solid metal with thick hard plastic gears on the inside. Now I did make a mistake in the video, it is not riveted, the lugs at the top and bottom holding it together can be unscrewed but I truly don’t see the point unless you are performing maintenance yourself, which, according to the developer, you will not need to do for many years.
Modding the unit may be possible, but again, could be far more trouble than it is worth.
And a short video of it:
A lot of people use Saitek (myself included), so here is a short comparison:
As stated before, the unit is designed with two throttles, prop pitch levers and mixture levers, that is what you get. I have used it in the default Baron in FSX and P3D and could not be simpler.
You need to follow the instructions given to set it up (I didn’t, thinking I knew all about throttle quadrants, and later had to admit defeat...it is given to you for a reason).and you have the choice of setting it up directly as a control in your simulator, or use fsuipc, or use the control driver given in the included USB. I chose the driver and that was all I had to do...the levers works immediately without further input from me.
I next tested it with PMDG’s 777 and again the throttle levers worked straight away, without me having to do anything at all, and I even got reverse thrust, fully controllable, without any programming on my part.
Final test for this review was with X-Plane, using the IXEG B733 and yes, I had to go through the X-Plane interface and worked straight away but none of the détentes work (reverse detente, feather or mixture cutoff).
Fear not, there are ways around it, and I am more than satisfied with it:
After many years of using Saitek hardware, I decided to save up for a while and upgrade to the next level of hardware.
I have to admit I had reservations getting a dedicated unit like this as opposed to my “jack of all trades” setup I am so used to.
Will it be a restriction on my varied aircraft fleet? Will I miss not having interchangeable knobs to simulated what I want? The answer was quite simply No.
Again, I am stating a personal preference, I do not have 4 engined aircraft nor any setup that requires specific levers, etc...my needs were for a good quality throttle quadrant so my needs were met, it vindicated my choice. What if you have 4 engined aircraft or specific requirements? You may still be able to fully use this TQ, but with certain aestethic compromises (I am using one of the Prop levers as a throttle for my 3 engined 727) but it works, and works well.
In this sense, this unit has excelled, I cannot put any fault to it. It is an unbelievable jump from a plastic quadrant to a full metal one, and a unit with thick gears featuring a very good potentiometer...no more twitching throttle levers, no more dealing with null zones, no more dreading the next few months when I would need to open my quadrant and carefully clean it inside and out.
VirtualFly are a company expanding rapidly, and this Throttle Quadrant fits nicely with their top of the range integrated simulators, so do your research. If you wish to have a generic setup which satisfies your needs and budget, your choice is elsewhere.
If you wish to have a setup that is built to last but has a dedicated functionality in mind, however it meets and exceeds that functionality, then look no further, this product is top shelf.