BRD-DS ‘Raven’ Review - The Man & The Machine - ED Forums
 


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Old 03-07-2017, 07:35 PM   #1
Fubarbrickdust
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Default BRD-DS ‘Raven’ Review - The Man & The Machine

So. Got my little mits on one of these beauties the week before last - I thought I’d write a bit of a review for any that might be interested…

As some of you may know (or not) BRD is a small independent designer and manufacturer of boutique high-end flight sim gear. In fact, it’s pretty much one dude, Mr. Baur himself, based way off in Sochi, Russia.

From what I can gather, BRD are most known for their (his) line of rudder pedals, but there’s also a small range of flight stick controllers too - The BRD-DN, a behemoth floor mounted beast of a stick and its little brother, the BRD-DS, an under seat attached gimbal and stick, which is what I have between my thighs as I type!

So I’ll crack straight to it…How’s the stick in use?

Put simply, it’s the best gimbal and stick I’ve ever had the pleasure of using, and I don’t see it being bested by any of the current options, widely available or not.

To put that in context against my experience with the offerings from the more commercial manufacturers - I started out like most with the T-Flight HOTAS X. I then bumped up to an X-55. I then set on a journey of miscellaneous mods for my X-55 - centre mounting, button replacements, grip weighting, and my own spring based soft centring design, which, as it happens worked very well albeit a little rudimentary compared to the BRD. All of which unequivocally voided my warranty but completely upgraded the quality and experience. Around about the same time-line I got hold of a TM Warthog to see what all the fuss was about…I spent a week with the Hog before it went back to Amazon. Yeah it’s heavy and the grip is cast metal, blah blah, but that didn’t pull the wool over my eyes for a hot second! My modded X-55 was already blowing it out the water and the few highlights it did have were nowhere near worth the asking price. And the throttle was wobbly.

Time to start looking further afield for that meta stick!…

Back to the BDR-DS:

The industrial design that’s gone into the thing is outstanding - it’s complicated, but eloquently simple at the same time. It uses a per axis double cam self centring design coupled with super high resolution RAMS contact-less angular sensors. It’s made entirely from laser cut pressed steel, and when it comes together it’s as tough as a tank…I’ve even noticed I started positioning my flight chair in a bit by dragging from the shaft of the stick before sitting! Something that couldn’t even be considered with any other stick, it’s that solid. And my chair has a scaffold frame!

There are options for adjustability - It comes with 2 sets of cam profiles, free centre and soft centre. There are 3 sets of springs that compliment a further 3 possible attachment increments on the cam arms for tension/centring force/progressive resistance. There’s 2 separate base plates for mounting options and 2 I/O plates to use depending on what ‘guts’ you’ll be using for the stick (a little more on the electronics side of things later). The shaft also has incremented height adjustment options too.
I decided upon the free centre cams, middle tension spring set, middle tension cam points.

In use it’s as smooth as butter. There is NO centre notching or crossover point at all with my cam choice. At the same time the stick returns to dead centre every time on release. The progressive force is exactly as it sounds and adds another layer of subconscious feedback (coupled with a Gametrix Jetseat it’s awesome). There is nothing even remotely resembling any kind of stiction or deadzone freeplay at all. None. Using an extended stick took all of 5 minutes to get used to and the resolution of the stick, coupled with the natural height extension of the design translate into super fine grained and natural control that I hadn’t experienced until now.


Worth mentioning at this point: As far as my research outside of my own needs informed me, there are a number of options and variables when ordering a stick from Baur (please correct me if anyone reading this is more in the know and any of the following isn’t spot on).
The basic ‘package’ as it were does not come with a grip. Baur does make a beautiful looking replica of a KG13 grip, but if you’re not ordering one of those as well you’ll need to source your own, and attach it to the column, electronic coupling and all. These choices may also affect which main controller board comes with the the stick although I believe it comes down to two, one for his KG13 and another for any other given grip that has button/hat wiring based on shift registers (my own included). Now, Baur already has this in the bag with a number of options to cater for exactly this subject - I’m certainly aware that a stick with TM WH adapter is an option for example.

I myself fully intended to use my modded X-55 grip, and Baur thoughtfully suggested and included one of his custom lathe turned adapters during our initial conversations. This was a godsend, and with a bit of tweaking my grip is mated with the column more effectively and solidly than it ever was with the Saitek gimbal/column, also retaining the ability to remove the grip via locking collar mechanism (I removed the twist function in favour of a more solid stick, but that was my choice, I could’ve kept it and have it work with the controller board of the BRD).

Now, if any of the last paragraph caused alarm bells for anyone regarding a need for electronics and general technical skills, please don’t fret. Of course, it helps in life in general as with any other skill set, but not entirely necessary in this instance. From my understanding Baur is able to ship his products in two forms - More or less fully assembled, or in kit form.
The kit form, I believe, is normally reserved for the business he does within Russia, preferring to go fully assembled when despatching to the west or anywhere else. A wise choice on his part for obvious reasons, probably. Yet, after discussing skill levels with Baur and we were confident that I’d be able get through it with minimal fuss the kit option was deemed the way to go. In fact, if you feel confident with building stuff , are a general tinkerer and have the basic tools (and a rivet gun) I’d highly recommend it, it was a joy to build and gives you a real understanding of the stick, and a real appreciation for the design and fabrication work that’s gone into one of these things. (I’ll include a link at the end to the forum build guide for those that may be curious.)

On the other hand - If all you want to do is whack your WH grip onto the base, don’t worry, I believe that can be totally facilitated as an option. Although you will have to come up with your own mounting solution, but hey…

So anyway, the stick is f@cking awsome…That much I’ve probably made clear. What about the customer experience with Baur, lead times on order readiness, despatch, etc.

Initially, my thoughts were probably in line with every other westerner who’d found out about BRD gear in whatever way - “So there’s a guy in deepest Russia that make cool gear. Doesn’t speak English (nor I, Russian). No website. No Paypal. No…[insert random lack of confidence phrase here]…
Forget about it! - From start to finish, Baur has been an absolute pleasure to do business with. In many ways, in the area of customer service, he has ousted the vast majority of big commercial firms I’ve had dialogues with.
Pretty much any query or contact made with Baur had been replied to within the hour in my case, often not only with the answer but also additional helpful info too. He was prompt with notifications regarding lead time, payment verification and shipping. And in general very knowledgeable and pleasant to deal with. He cannot be faulted on that front.

Obviously there is the language barrier that might cause initial reservation for some, but that’s nothing that Google Translate can’t deal with and you’re concious of the inherent difficulties when translating (i.e keep your syntax and sentence structure digestible).

As for lead times, payment and shipping - I first contacted Baur mid December last year. After the initial discussion Baur gave me a tentative order readiness time of January (obviously this was case specific). Right on cue I got an email from Baur mid January informing me my order was ready

Payment was very simple, Baur doesn’t do Paypal but the preferred Western Union transfer was very simple to set up. I did just that. Western Union called me personally to verify the transaction and as soon as it went through I let Baur know, he confirmed receipt of the payment with me the next day. A week later I got a shipping notification from Baur complete with full international tracking info (the tracking was traceable through both Potcha.ru and Parcelforce International) - It took about a month to hit my doorstep and there was about a 14 day window where the tracking info wasn’t updated, but this was nothing to do with Baur’s service, the parcel just decided to take the scenic route, I guess. It arrived very well packaged and surprisingly untarnished given it’s 2000 mile/28 day journey.

All in all I’m a very happy flyer!

BRD-DS = ***** Editors Choice Award!

Mr. Baur = ***** Editors Choice Award!

Edit: Links (google translated) -

Build Guide: https://translate.google.com/transla...-text=&act=url
Controller Board Thread (the one in my base): https://translate.google.com/transla...-text=&act=url

Edit 2: As reviews and info for this particular bit of gear in the wild are pretty thin on the ground please do feel free to ask any questions you might have, I’d be happy to answer with my observations or opinion, respectively.

The ever-so-nearly complete setup:
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Old 03-07-2017, 07:51 PM   #2
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Congratulations on a great stick!
I got the BRD-N Black Stork, and it's fantastic! I wrote a review of it over at Mudspike.com, if interested.
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Old 03-07-2017, 07:53 PM   #3
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I own and use a BRD-DS since almost a year, best stick I have ever used. I ordered the KG13 grip in addition, and it is excellent. My experience was exactly the same as yours. Baur is a great guy,always helpful and reliable.
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Old 03-07-2017, 07:56 PM   #4
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How did you fasten it under the chair?
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Old 03-07-2017, 07:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goblin View Post
Congratulations on a great stick!
I got the BRD-N Black Stork, and it's fantastic! I wrote a review of it over at Mudspike.com, if interested.
Yep, I read it as part of my research into Baur's stuff. Great review btw
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Old 03-07-2017, 08:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harle View Post
How did you fasten it under the chair?
It's integrated as part of my flight chair which uses 34mm scaffold tube for the frame. Gimme 2 mins and I'll UL a photo (it'll explain it better).

Edit: Here's the method.


...it's not going anywhere!
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FC3 | F-5E Tiger II | Spitfire LF Mk. IX | P-51D Mustang | Fw 190 D-9 Dora | Black Shark II | UH-1H Huey | SA342 Gazelle

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Old 03-07-2017, 08:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lausbub78 View Post
--SNIP-- My experience was exactly the same as yours. Baur is a great guy,always helpful and reliable.
Totally. Really helpful chap. He even offered to help and walk me through some wiring complications I had with my X-55 grip - I had previously gutted it and wired it for a 4x4 diode matrix which wasn't compatible. I didn't want to put that on him though so I did the research myself an re-did the internals for shift registers. I'm sure he had a little sigh of relief when I let him know it was all fixed...I know I would have!
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FC3 | F-5E Tiger II | Spitfire LF Mk. IX | P-51D Mustang | Fw 190 D-9 Dora | Black Shark II | UH-1H Huey | SA342 Gazelle
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Old 03-08-2017, 02:37 AM   #8
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Excellent review!

I can also report the Baur is a perfect businessman. Order my F3 pedals in January, and they arrived 4 weeks later. I have it in my garage, ready to start building (I also ordered it in parts - I enjoy assembling things, one of the reasons I probably still enjoy Lego, and Technic lego in particular).

Seeing as I'm currently in a position to buy a new stick, and this is heading up the list...

I have a Warthog, but want to keep the warthog as is so I can keep using it (I have 2 PC's in different countries, the Warthog will be a nice second rig setup).

So.. Anyone know where to get hold of just a Warthog grip? I woudn't mind standardising my control grips, and I quite like the warthog layout.

Otherwise, I guess a Virpil or VKB grip is an option (once VKB have a jetfighter or space sim grip out in the wild).

Now, how do we convince Mr. Baur to make a Throttle ?

Also, thanks for the pic, it has given me ideas for my coffee table sim pit...

Z...
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Old 03-08-2017, 06:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fubarbrickdust View Post
Yep, I read it as part of my research into Baur's stuff. Great review btw
Cool! Thanks...
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Old 03-09-2017, 12:23 PM   #10
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I have a BRD-N on order..cant wait.
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