Serious about your chopper abilities, then you need  Helicopter specific sticks.

 

The sticks in question are ones supllied by HELI KIT.   They come in 2 versions, the basic one as pictured above and a version with a more functional cyclic grip.

 

These kits are made from plastic and are in the lower price bracket for such type sticks. However, there is a good reason fot them to be lighter, and plastic. Unlike many of the more expensive options  for choppers, this unit is designed to be portable. the whole thing folds up and can be  packed away after use easily. More expensive units tend to be built on a steel frame which is not so handy if you lack space for a dedicated  sim space in your home. This is the reason I choose them over the more expensive ones.

 

Because of the fold up nature, this also makes it easy to set the pedal length to suit your leg length.

How well does it work with FlightGear. Well, initially it wont, you need to make one small  modification ( before you shy away in fear, its not that difficult ). Thee problem is with the way FG currently recognises  various Axis. It should recognise a dozen or more without any problem, in reality, its not. The FG development team  have been made aware of the issue so hopefully  it will be addressed in a future release. Meanwhile, you will need to do this  little modification to the Sticks, fear not it is  a simple fix.

The fix:-

Remove the plug in cyclic and rest the base unit on its side ( usb cable removed ).

On the bottom of the base unit, under where the Cyclic  sits, is an inspection cover. Remove the 6 retaining screws from the inspection cover  and gently  remove it. The PCB is mounted on the inside of the cover.

Remove it far enough to see the connectors, but not far enough so you pull them all out. The is a group of Individual connectors, a set of unused pins, then a block connector followed by 3 more sets of unused pins. The individual plug nearest the block connector is the Pedals. Move it to the unused pins that live right next door.

Replace the inspection cover back into the  base of the unit,  put the screws back in, plug in the cyclic and the USB, and its ready to go.

 

This little fix bypasses the axis the FG  is not reading - Y Rotation. The pedals are now recognised as Z Rotation according to the windows  Joystick calibration tool. FG can see the Z rotation, but not Y rotation.

 

Back to how this works in FG.

I have  made a basic  config file for the sticks so you can plug in and go, then  retune things  to suit yourself later. You can download  the config  HERE.

Flying with them  take the Heli experience to a different level, a level you will not get from  a generic "Fighter" stick and pedal set up ( Helicopter pedals operate slightly differently on a mechanical level ), It does take some getting used to and some practice. The Cyclic has no springs, no auto cantering function which in a way is more realistic. The Pedal box provides no auto catering function, but the pedals are stiffer to move ( possibly a little too stiff but that may loosen up over time ). The collective again  has resistance in it so the collective will stay at the point you leave it without dropping and suddenly closing the collective on you, and the twist grip is the same, it stays where you put it.  The twist grip in my config file will  alter the engine power on any heli that uses the  nasal from the bo105, bk117, ec130 or ec135 to manage the engine power levels, which is pretty much covering  90% of the huge chopper selection  available in FlightGear.

One other little mod I did, and it was to the twist grip, was to put markings on it for the power level.

 

It is a large investment, but worth while in my opinion. The sticks are also able to be used in pretty much any other sim or game as well, so  its not a one trick pony.

 

Technical Data

  • - Works in Windows & MAC systems
  • - Compatible with MS Flight Simulator, X-Plane,
      DCS Black Shark, Take on Helicopters & others
  • - Helicopter looks like controls
  • - Long shaft Cyclic command with square travel
  • - Collective with Twist Throttle
  • - USB 2.0, HID compatible. No drivers needed.
  • - One free USB port required
  • - Adjustable pedal board length
  • - Total Weight: 3.1 kg (6.8lbs)
  • - Controls injected in plastic Nylon 6/6 GF30
  • - 6 ft USB cable (1.8m)included
  • - No spring loaded controls
  • - Cyclic grip with buttons and HAT available!

 

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