I've been away from DCS and these forums for a while as my focus shifted towards RL glider flying & Condor. I would like to share my experience and give some tips for the VPC MongoosT-50 Base + Grip, the Warthog, and the VKB-Sim T-Rudder Pedals Mk.IV.
The main reason I have acquired these controls is to do
and simulate the experience of
. In the past (2002-2017) I have been using the X52/Pro & Pedals from Saitek for
. These controls do the job well being light and controllable, but it just doesn't come close to the flight control experience I've had flying military grade Yak-130 & Mi-8 sims on MAKS, Yak-52 and
flights near Moscow, and around 700 glider flights. So mainly, the flight control experience for me is *logically* just a lot heavier "feel" than light plastic mainstream joysticks can offer. The Virpil MT-50 and the VKB-T rudder give me exactly that, adding to the simulation a real flight experience. Great!
During this time period (2002-2017) I've tried the TM Cougar and Warthog and although these sticks have a premium metal feel, the quality of the internal parts just does not live up to high standards. I've send the Cougar back to TM because of bad pots, and it never came back....after 4 months the seller gave up the wait and returned the purchase amount.
Then a few years later I gave TM another chance with the Warthog and well, the stiction issue made that Warthog end up in the closet...
Now, 7 years later, Virpil offers the opportunity to make the Warthog like it should be in the first place. After a few flights though, TM let me down again...finding myself with just the grip in my hands! :huh:
Ok, maybe the Warthog isn't designed for heavy loads you can reach with extensions and springs, but the part that broke (called a "stock") is made of cast metal which fine material for making the shapes of a grip, but a terrible choice for a connection part that has to deal with loads! So once again, damn you Thrustmaster! :mad:
VirPil customer service
I thought this was the end of my Warthog grip but when I informed Cyph3r via VirPil Controls FB, he came back to me in no time offering one of the mechanics to send me the VirPil T-50 grip stock plus wiring for €20,-. This stock turned out to be identical to the one of TM, but made of much stronger material (probably duraluminium?). The stock has not arrived yet, but I'm really happy this can turn my Warthog grip back to life!
Delivery times of VirPil products leave something to be desired though. My MT-50 base plus table mounts and extensions (ordered through their website) took well over a month to arrive and I've read there are even longer delivery times. Still, I can very well understand that a little firm only just coming out of the startup phase can struggle with the high request of the community. Later on I've purchased the MT-50 Grip through Amazon, and this was delivered in little over a week, so it's going in the right direction! Other than delivery times, Cyph3r has always been very helpful in the process of ordering and shipping. :thumbup:
VPC Mongoos T-50 Grip
After flying with the metal Warthog grip, the MT-50 Grip is well, plastic. This does not mean it is of low quality as it will probably survive a bunch of Warthog sticks, but it does miss that premium feel. The buttons and switches feel rather cheap. My advice towards VirPil would be to find a way to produce a metal stick with realistic and heavy buttons&switches. The MT-50 grip just falls out of line with the rest of the setup, which is a pity.
Still, if you don't have a Warthog stick laying around, do not hesitate to purchase this grip with the whole setup. The MT-50 grip is made of good quality plastic and with all the buttons/switches and brake lever it is certainly a level up from mainstream controllers like Saitek. So, overall the VirPil products will give you the best experience available on the market right now!
VPC Desk Mount
I can be short about the VPC Desk Mount. Unpacking makes you say wow a couple of times! It's heavy and it is beautifully finished. It can destroy cheap tables like mine though, so be careful with that. What I did is take the two metal plates from the TM Throttle and use it to provide a strong mounting surface.
The extensions are made of quality metal. Relative to the desk mounts these are quite expensive in my opinion. Which ones to get? My advice would be to get te whole set instead of trying to save money like I did, buying just the 75mm at first. Right now I have the 75mm and the 50mm coupled and I think this is the minimum. Understand that the 15 degrees of deflection of the MT-50 really isn't much. When you increase the extension the range of the grip from centre becomes much larger, and hugely increases the level of control. So, the MT-50 really is designed to use with extensions!
VPC MongoosT-50 Base
To take a look inside the base check the video below, it gave me a good guide of what to expect when opening the base.
Warning about removing the cams and prevent stripping of the screws:
These screws are installed with strong threadlocker. You will need to heat the screw with a soldering iron or hairdryer and then carefully remove the screw with a screw driver that fits well and with a firm grip.
Tip If you just want to change springs: Save some time and just remove the 8 socket screws on top of the base and the 4 on the bottom. With the top & bottom plate removed you will have enough access to change springs.
Tip Also take note: if you screw in the pitch and roll force adjusters too much, it will start limiting the maximum deflection of the stick. The spring will be fully pressed before it hits the mechanical range limiter of the stick.
I have tried all cams with different springs and I can say the following about them:
No center cam (3 dots)
Like the name says, no center bump. What I did not like about it is that it is not clear where the center is. The forces around the center are very low, even with a heavy spring. To make it even worse, the force increase towards the edges are way too progressive. This cam might be useful for helicopter flying. But even then, it is probably better to use the soft center cam with low spring tension for helicopter flying.
Soft center cam (2 dots)
Factory installed and I think, with a reason. This cam is definitely the most realistic. It gives a nice balance between a soft but clear center bump, medium forces around the center and a progressive force increase towards the edges.
Hard center cam (1 dot)
This cam has a more traditional joystick feel. The center bump is very pronounced. To me this feels very unnatural as it is nothing like what can be found in real aircraft. The outer edges of these cams are nice though as the force increase on the outer edges of the cams isn't that heavy.
I've ended up using the soft center cams (2 dots) combined with a heavy spring (red) for pitch and a medium spring (black, factory installed for both X and Y axis) for roll. I screw in the springs until a little bit before the spring is fully pressed when deflected.
The reason for using the heavy spring for pitch is because in reality the pitch control is often a bit heavier than the roll. Another reason for me is to simulate the usually longer pitch deflection than roll deflection in real aircraft. A longer pitch deflection would be great to have in future base designs, preferably on the pull part of the axis. VirPil, I would love to see that! :thumbup:
Another thing I would like to see is more cam types. I've been sanding down a no center cam for testing (not going to use that one anyway) and I'm thinking of adjusting the soft center cam outer edges and make it like the outer edges of the hard center cam. I would like to have a somewhat less progressive force increase on the edges of the stick deflection. In many aircraft there isn't much force increase between half and full deflection because the control surfaces are aerodynamical (horn or inset) balanced.
Another "upgrade" I've made is changing the rubber cover. The original rubber that comes with the stick does let dirt go in rather easy, so I thought this may be better. I've found rubber cuffs used on cars right for the job. Turned out VirPil has been working on that part with the VPC WarBRD base. ;)
VKB-Sim T-Rudders Mk.IV
Now the VKB-Sim T-Rudders. The first thing I noticed is how compact they are. Not really impressive, but this turned out to be a good thing! Never thought I was going to do this, but it's so easy to disconnect the T-Rudders and put it out of the way and when it is off the ground it isn't dusting away all the time.
The VKB-Sim T-Rudder is a very simple design made of quality material. It does the job right (and I really don't miss toe brakes). One thing I would like to see is VKB to offer more cam types. Right now you have one flippable cam with a hard center on one side, and no center on the other side. I really miss the soft center!!
So, there we go again with sanding machine. :D
What I did is take the hard center side and carefully flatten out the center bump. If you ever plan to do this, you are taking a risk. On the outer sides I've flatten out the curve to simulate the rudder being "sucked in". This is the case with many gliders. It is not very pronounced, so still suitable for other aircraft as well. Having the force increase reduced on the outer parts is actually very comfortable and more balanced. The red lines indicate till where the roller goes.
One other thing I've changed is the spring with a stronger one. This isn't really required but the spring I ordered makes the forces more in line with the rather heavy feel of my MT-50 stick setting. If you plan to take over the exact measurements of this spring, keep in mind that this spring is a bit too short (go for 43mm instead of 40.3mm) I had heat & bend the hooks a bit. Do not go stronger than around 264.16 N too. Also the little quality T-Rudder has limits. ;)
VPC, VKB....you make great products! The precision and smoothness of these controls are amazing. Compared to mainstream joysticks you gain a ton of control. I've always said, if you can fly it in the simulator, you can do it in reality. It is because small joysticks simply give less control as in reality. These controls equal reality in the level of control, and the feel is really.....amazing. VPC & VKB, thanks!!!