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Old 01-11-2019, 09:04 PM   #1
Deano87
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Default TM Cougar TQS 2.0 - Design & Build Diary

Hey all.

I am a bit of an F-16 nut. Its been my favourite jet since I can remember and when my brother got to fly them for his dayjob my Envy-o-meter was well and truly pegged at 11. You can see why I'm extremely excited about the upcoming F-16 module.

With this in mind I cast my eyes over my old TM Cougar Throttle (TQS) and found myself somewhat underwhelmed. Yes its a fantastic shape, but lots of things bother me about it. And IF i was going to swap to it when the F-16 came out it would have to replace my Warthog throttle and thats a tough act to follow, specially with the Delta Alpha Lima Force TDC Slew upgrade I've made.



So here we are. This thread is about me upgrading my TQS to "2.0" status. Correcting the things that irk me. Probably failing a lot along the way. Who knows some of you might find it interesting .

I think I'm going to split this project up into 2 stages. Stage number 1 will be dealing with the throttle handle itself and related switchgear/rotaries. Stage 2 will be addressing the real weakpoint of the Cougar TQS and thats the base unit. The main issues with this are the short throttle throw itself, throttle friction or the lack of it, and the pretty terrible AB detent. Plus also the lack of any switches/other rotaries which I desperately need to hand as I mostly fly in VR.

Here is my outline plan of Stage 1:

Increase reliability and longevity:


For this I have sourced new pots for both the ANT and RNG rotaries on the handle and I've purchased a spare Microstick from TM so should it fail the future when they are no longer available I can replace it.





Make it more realistic where possible:

While the stock Cougar gets 90% of the way there, there are a few things that aren't quite right. The main issue for me is the angle of the Airbrake and Dogfight switches. Which I intend to rotate to better represent the real thing. I've taken a look inside and there shouldn't be an issue with this, I'll just have to modify the plastic switch holders slightly. The Dogfight switch should be perpendicular to your thumb, giving you the ability to swipe your thumb across it and easily switch modes. The airbrake rotation is a well known issue with the TQS and means the airbrake switch ends up being incredibly stiff because the plastic housing doesn't actually line up with the mechanical switch inside. Thankfully not difficult to correct.



The photo above also helpfully shows my last issue with the TQS handle... Its too damn shiny! I mean look at that thing, you get a whiff grease on your hand from the preflight and you're going slip right off the damn thing!

To fix this I plan to spray the black outside with a few good coats of Matt Clear while its all disassembled, I've yet to decide on the exact paint but I used some Plasti-Kote on my Cougar Stick which was just as shiny and I have to say I like the result. It seems fairly hard wearing so far. I'm sure that it will wear off eventually but then it'll make the throttle look naturally worn



Thats all so far. I will update as I make progress!

Cheers
D
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Old 01-12-2019, 03:19 PM   #2
Revvin
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I wonder if with DCS:F16 coming why Thrustmaster don't re-release the HOTAS Cougar TQS as a standalone throttle like they did with the Warthog eventually. Some updates to the internals, pots changed for halls for example and its good to go. They must still have all the mouldings to make the parts surely so no development costs for that. I still have my old TQS, I might buy the RealSimulator TUSBA and hook mine up
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Old 01-12-2019, 03:33 PM   #3
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Really interesting .. will follow your progress, maybe I end up painting my own .. how will you replace the white lettering?
Cheers!
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:31 PM   #4
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Very nice project and good idea using flat transparent paint.

Regarding your stage 2 ,may be you don't know, there is a guy on viperpits.org who provides an amazing replica all metal of the throttle arm and throttle rail.

Basically you take the electronics out from your cougar tqs and mount it in the replica he provides and you have 1:1 tqs replica with correct movement and travel and all the detents like the real one.

Sorry tried to insert a picture of it but I've never done it before and I don't know how to do it....

Last edited by gianlu320; 01-12-2019 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:48 PM   #5
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Hey Guys, Thanks for the interest.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvin View Post
I still have my old TQS, I might buy the RealSimulator TUSBA and hook mine up
I have a TUSBA and it is a must have if you have a Cougar TQS tbh. It makes everything so easy and also increases the resolution of the pots and the microstick by over 10x. Highly Recommended.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudel_chw View Post
Really interesting .. will follow your progress, maybe I end up painting my own .. how will you replace the white lettering?
Cheers!
I'll be painting it with matt finish clear coat so I will still be able to see the existing black and the white lettering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gianlu320 View Post
Very nice project and good idea using flat transparent paint.

Regarding your stage 2 ,may be you don't know, there is a guy on viperpits.org who provides an amazing replica all metal of the throttle arm and throttle rail.

Basically you take the electronics out from your cougar tqs and mount it in the replica he provides and you have 1:1 tqs replica with correct movement and travel and all the detents like the real one.

Sorry tried to insert a picture of it but I've never done it before and I don't know how to do it....
Thanks for the suggestion, I'm on Viperpits and I'm well aware of all of the options out there, and also well aware of their cost. I'm sure he creates wonderful products but I have a 3D printer and have access to a Laser cutter and CNC machine so I'd prefer to design my own solution that works for my cockpit space and my wallet better. I do intend to accurately replicate the real throttle travel, lift detent for AB and Pinky lever fuel cutoff gate, just like the real thing. Although bare in mind that I fly in VR so i'm not so concerned about it looking 100% realistic, just as long as the movement is correct. You shall see what I mean later.

Cheers
D
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PointCTRL VR : Finger Trackers for VR -- Real Simulator : FSSB R3L Force Sensing Stick. -- Deltasim : Force Sensor WH Slew Upgrade -- Mach3Ti Ring : Real Flown Mach 3 SR-71 Titanium, made into an amazing ring.

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Last edited by Deano87; 01-12-2019 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:22 AM   #6
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Can't wait to see your progress on this

Sooner or later I will buy a 3d printer as well
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:29 PM   #7
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Couple of Questions...

A.) Will you share the source for the Range and Ant pots?

B.) Have ya given any thought to the dismal Idle/Mil/AB detents as delivered from TM? Mine have all but worn away leaving next to nothing...I am looking at modifying the edges of the part shown here in yellow with notches and printing a housing for a spring and ball bearing to provide a better "Click" but I'm curious what others have done.
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Old 01-14-2019, 10:15 PM   #8
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PM sent re pots, and I probably won’t be using any of the Cougars existing base unit (apart from the PCB etc) so I haven’t given much thought to improving the standard detents.
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Old 12-25-2019, 10:09 AM   #9
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Hey Deano.
I managed to source a Cougar myself for a good price and just found your thread.. how did you source the pots, and what is the progress of your project as I would like to do the same to mine..
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Old 04-22-2020, 01:50 PM   #10
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Hello guys, bit of an old thread but I wanted to share my knowledge so you don't have to go through the same pitfalls.

I fully refurbished my cougar stick around the time of the OP and I came across a few things that are relevant:

The whole Hotas, including bases, is advertised as made from metal and they are, but from a cast Zamak metal. If you decide like me to fully strip away the original coating then in order to get a suitable primer coat down use a self-etching primer.

Some of the metals used in Zamak don't react to well to acids/alkalais so another layer of an anti-corrosion primer would be a good idea.

For the base colour you have 2 choices:
  1. use a basic 1K spray can and overcoat with a 2k or
  2. use a 2k base and a 2k overcoat.

Why 2k?
Your sweat is corrosive. Standard rattle cans (department stores and even plastidip) are 1K paints including clearcoats. They bubble and peel after prolonged exposure to sweaty palms, so unless you are ok always wearing gloves (which will make your hands rot from sweat) a 2K paint or clearcoat are a must.

I am uk based so used these guys: www.jawel.co.uk
They will create any paint or clearcoat based on BS/RAL/PANTONE colour charts in a 2-part acrylic spray can. You could if you wanted to paint it candy flip pink but that would just be wrong for a joystick.

At some point I'll write up the whole thing. Hope this is helpful.

Here are a few pics of the grip referb:

Sanded, smoothed and degreased


Grey parts, Halfords grey anti-rust primer (Trim/CMS Hats and S2/S3) I found was a very good match to the original TM grey:


Some Ferrari red was left over from referbing a model:


Anti-Corrosion coating needs to be all over to work properly. the anti-corrosion is light grey red primer was so I don't sand through:


Gloss Black:


Sanded the surface smooth ready for clearcoat. A full strip meant loosing the labels. Colour Ink jet waterslide transfer replacements. Colour matching is ok but not perfect so trimmed as much of the black of as possible:


Satin finish 2K clearcoat. Looks rough but it is smooth to the touch:


1 yr on no chips or wear patches with hundreds of hours use, pride of place at my side:

Last edited by Mearcat; 04-22-2020 at 10:51 PM.
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