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Xealot
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Greetings everyone.

I have a friend that I recently introduced to lock-on,

He's now interested in buying a joystick, however have yet to decide which one.. So, Suggestions? :helpsmilie:

 

His max budget is around $300 USD,

and he says that he wants.. "the best" :P

The community newbie

 

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Ok, you can buy the cougar, but don't forget that you don't have a rudder with that....and you are going to need that. Next to that, you have to upgrade the cougar (basicly ripping everything in it out, to let it work properly).

If you ask me, go for this:

 

X52Pro

Saitek Rudders

TrackIR 4pro

 

Its the best price-quality deal you can make, working perfectly from out of the box.

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Personally i have the X-52, which is basically the best bang for the buck since it includes the rudders and everything, also it saves some money left over for the must-have trackir.

 

I didn't go for the X-52 pro version because i couldn't justify the extra 50 bucks or so over the original X-52.

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I've been looking into Frugalsworld and some of the threads there are like 130 pages, so it's kind of hard to really figure out what mod for the Cougar that is essential. My Cougar i s now 5 years old. Still working great but I can feel that it's kind of not brand new anymore :smilewink: I need quite some deadband on my microstick to make it not go bananas sometimes ( really annoying when you have fired the s-25l and the cursor just runs across the hud and tries to hide in the corner :( )

 

So I guess I could spend some money on upgrading it. What do I need and how much will it cost?

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I got the impression that Cougar + necessary mods to really make it good goes way beyond $300, and 300 really is his limit id imagine for some time ahead..

 

Do not be Mistaken - Mods are not necessary.

 

I have had my Cougar for going on ten months now and out of the box it was 100% and still is. Far outstrips the X52/X52PRO as far as precision and durability is concerned and to date it is yet to be modded in any form.

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Cougar is the best but take into account double the money to get a mod for it (gimbals) and like few already said, to have a complete flight setup you'll need rudder pedals but TrackIR should also be high on his purchase list. If he, doesn't want to spend that much money on moded cougar he should get X-52 or CH stuff. I have the Cougar myself (moded) and if I was to chose between X-52 or CH, I'd go for CH HOTAS as to me it looks better.

 

My advice is have a good think about it before you decide and purchase, do your homework and its good to hear personal opinions oh each... some will be biast some not but overall you'll be just getting more info which should help you/him make final decision.

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I have a Cougar with the FSSB-R2 mod and if I had to give you my personal opinion / advice ( I own two cougars currently-one stock, an X52, X45 , MS precision pro ) then I would tell you to get the CH Products joysticks or Saitek and steer far away from Thrustmaster Cougars. Not sure why everyone says they are the best but from my POV, other than the programming language, the actual internal construction of the Cougars is not good at all with pots failing, spiking, etc. The fact that the grips are cast metal and look like F16 grips doesn't really mean much when the thing starts to act up ( pots failing, having to mod things, etc check the Cougar World forums for more info on many things you have to do to get them to work correctly including getting rid of that loud clicker in the throttle that prevents smooth throttle and no sound effects). On the outside, the unit looks 1st class, but that's as far as the 1st class thing goes. I think a high percentage of all Cougar owners have had to do some, if not all of the mods on the Cougar World website to get them to work as they should work ( the pots, speedbrake, smooth throttle mod, Ant Elev mod, etc). I even had to send my R2 unit back to Spain for repair, as I had a strain guage fail, let me tell you 1st hand thats no fun either when you are left without a stick for some time.

For sure there are people that haven't modded their Cougars, maybe they were lucky or maybe not (you can just leave the thing as it is and fly with it since anythings possible) but when you pay so much for it you have high expectations. Everyone will have differing opinions but for more info read throughout the CougarWorld site, and this forum section under hardware for the many who have not been so lucky.

Like I said, these are my personal opinions after owning quite a few different sticks, and although I still fly with the FSSB-R2 modded Cougar, when you look at the total cost of what I have in it ($300.00 for the Cougar plus $600.00 for the FSSB-R2 plus shipping to Spain for repair) you would think that a $1,000.00 stick would be alot better than something you can get for 179.00. Well it isn't. From what I have seen from others I fly with, currently CH Products joysticks work very well and have the programming and reliability/functionality to boot also.

Just my 2 cents.:thumbup:

 

By the way: the real reason I have a second Cougar was to have a supply of replacement parts for my main one. After reading countless forum threads where the threads in the cast alum. strips out, switch damage frequency, and wear & tear internally, I chose to buy a 2nd unit just for parts.

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I have IJ's NXT mod and hall sensors. I paid around AUD$800 for both few years back. The only thing I had failed were springs (of the NXT mod) that break eventualy due to material fatigue, but you can get replacements from IJ for around AUD$25 (latest price quoted from IJ to me was AUD$23 a set which is 4 springs)

 

I agree with people saying stock cougar is bit overrated because when someone decides to get it and pays substantial amount of money for it they expect the best quality and quite frankly I agree stock gimbals don't do cougar justice which is why many (if not most) are moding it (replacing gimbals/pots with custom gimbals/hall-sensors). Once you've done that though you can say you've got the best...

 

oh and no, cougar is not made of steel, the die-cast is of some aluminium alloy... hm.. actually maybe the outer case of the cougar is steel but surely the gimbals aren't.

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go for what ever you like.

 

If you want the best of everything, then i reccomend the X-52 with TrackIR and if you want, petals.

 

CH has no twist function, neither does the cougar (as far as i know. please correct me if i'm wrong) but this extra quality comes at a price.

 

I have had very few issues with my X52 and am very satisfied with it.

 

If 300 is your budjet, then it looks like the best you can d is an X52 and track IR or petals.

 

don't get the X52Pro. it's an X52 with a few fixes and a new coat of paint... for $100 more.

 

whatever you get, the HOTAS, petals and head tracker definitely add to the game.

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oh and no, cougar is not made of steel, the die-cast is of some aluminium alloy... hm.. actually maybe the outer case of the cougar is steel but surely the gimbals aren't.

 

It's called ZALMAC and it's a material very prone to wear and tear. For instance, just by unscrewing base plates in order to mod your Throttle or Stick you'll cut new threads in material and screws won't hold two pieces together as they did before disassembly.

 

Honestly, I used stock Cougar for a year now, Gimbals weren't greased properly so stick centerplay became so obvious that my Cougar ain't sitting vertical when relaxed anymore like it should in X-0/Y-0 position. It leans left or right dependable on wind direction!

 

Throttle: Ooomph, PITA, Friction was good when new but dissapeared within a year, I actually have to hold it firmly throughout the flight to prevent handle falling to a Full AB or Idle position. I applied 7 wraps of glossy duct tape around main shaft to fix this issue and I had to grease it thorougly to increase precision! Ant Elevation pot missed central detent.

 

I payed 400 US$ + shipping + VAT fot Cougar HOTAS, now I'll probably spend 550 US$ more to mod it with U2-NXT, Hall sensors and metal Speedbrake and dogfight housings. I also might buy spare NXT springs.

 

In total that's over 1000US$ for a functional, faithful and trustworthy Cougar, but there's another option that's much cheaper. It's called X52Pro and costs 250US$.

 

I already have Saitek Pro Flight Rudders but I heard people having trouble with X52 (be it Pro or plain) and Saitek Rudders interferance (?!)

 

Personally, I'd like to get my hands on Suncom (F-15 look-alike stick) but these are very rare!

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It was a way of saying when I said steel :thumbup:

 

But thanks for some clarification on what the Cougar may need. I have had my Cougar for 5 years and it hasn't caused me any troubles except the last 6-7 months maybe, my microstick have bothered me. So I think I can spend some money on it. I have changed my computerhardware twice during the same period! So I would call the Cougar durable.

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Your's Cougar is probably "early run" model. Try E-bay and look for used Cougars with serial No. < 20000.

 

New Cougars are full of issues!

 

Misalligned Speedbrake and Dogfight switches, Ant Elev pot without detent, poor friction and precision on Z-axis are out of the box problems you'll face with throttle.

 

Now, the stick: Looks great, feels great, but like I said after a year of constant daily use (3-4 hrs a day) centerplay became so irritating that I had to investigate by disassembling stick base. I found out that gimbals weren't greased at all causing the stick shaft to cut into aluminum gimbals and there was a lot of aluminum debris sitting on the base plate. Pitch movement (Y axis) has a large centerplay, especially in positive G direction so I had to reprogram dead zones in the center of Y axis to a 15%!!!

 

Cougar looks sturdy and heavy, able and precise when U install it (if you neglect Ant pot, SB and DF buttons) and with use you get used to it but friend of mine bought brand new Cougar few days ago and asked me to help him install it. When I layed my hands on this new HOTAS I noticed same button problems but I also noticed that new joystick had almost no centerplay. (of course, it's new). That's when I realised how my Cougar stick became so rickety and wonky, unprecise and loose after a year of MP dogfights in LOFC.

 

I'm very disappointed with a quality of Cougar, it's supposed to be long lasting product able to run at least two generations of flight sims but it's not how it seems.

 

Modding your Cougar with a IJ's U2-NXT + Cubby's Hall Sensors will double your investment. Same goes with a FSSB mod that turns Cougar into force driven controller, denying any movement (just like F-16 sidestick) but it's also expensive.

 

I know that many Saitek users also have issues to report but X52 and it's 150US$ price will withstand at least another year more than US$400 Cougar.

 

I'd rather buy 3 Saiteks than 1 Cougar and I'll have enough controllers for a life time for a price of single Cougar

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$300 is a pretty decent budget for a HOTAS. It all comes down to personal preference of course but in my personal experience I'd go for CH Products over the Cougar any day having owned a few of them, if CH Products stopped making sticks and my current CH Hotas died then I'd likely go with Saitek as their new stuff looks ok though I've not tried them out. This topic came up on the IL-2 forums not so long back and this was what I posted about it:

 

I have experienced Cougar ownership and it was not a good experience for me, so bad that I nearly gave up on flight simulations due to them constantly breaking. Over an 18 month period I tried to stick with the Cougar and forgive its failings but after the third died I sold the fourth before it had chance to break. The first Cougar I bought came direct from Thrustmaster’s official shop here in the UK but it was dead on arrival. When I contacted their tech support I was told to send it back and then wait four or more weeks for them to fix it which I found totally unacceptable customer care, for a new stick I expected a straight swap for a working model.

 

I decided to get refund and bought a new one from another shop but that had to go back after it developed a fault in the electronics on the throttle. I got a replacement but that also developed an electronics fault as well as paint peel, increasing centre play and a broken speed brake switch. This speed brake switch is an issue that has been reported many many times by users right from the first Cougars sold yet the Cougar still apparently ships with the same problem, a problem that could be easily fixed during assembly. Its like they just don't care they just want to throw them out the door as quickly as possible. The shop owner tried to fix my speedbrake by contacting TM for the part and would save them a full return but they actually charged him for the part! After seeing the HOTAS open when he tried to fix it I don't have much faith in the build quality. It was all wires held in place with pieces of tape, shrouds around hat switches made of tape and the hat switches themselves held in place with blobs of hot glue. Although I had the cash to mod it why bother when it broke in areas that would not be fixed by a mod. Ask yourself why so many Cougar owners bought a second one as a spare.

 

I find the CH gear much more sturdy and well assembled, my Fighterstick and Pro Throttle feel and work just the same way they did the day I took them out of the box around 4 years ago (I should also add my old gameport Force FX and Pro Throttle are still working some 8 years on). Much is said about the metal vs plastic, the CH gear feels very solid as it's made of very strong and durable glass filled nylon and ABS which CH use for their industrial and aviation controls. They have been making controls for industry for 25 years, knowledge that has gone into their gaming devices and it shows. CH is well known for its durable controllers. The metal used on the Cougar is Zamak or 'pot metal' which is very low quality.

 

CH Products also has a very good reputation for quality which I feel is aided by the fact they assemble their devices in house rather than sub contract out to the lowest Far East bidder as Guillemot seemed to do for the Cougar. For programmability then I feel CH certainly is one of the most programmable available and its software is still being developed by Bob Church who is working on new versions as we speak.

 

This is just my opinion having owned a Cougar based on my own experience. I'd recommend the CH gear I wouldn’t buy a Cougar.

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