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Worth it to get a MS FFB 2 for helicopters?


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Yes, the joystick moves freely if the motors are powered off. In the helos with good FFB trim implementations (so, anything except the Gazelle), if you hold the trim switch, the forces on the stick are greatly reduced, and when you release it, that becomes the new center point. Highly recommend the FFB2 if you can get one. I've got one, and I want more buttons, so I'm in the process of frankensteining something together, but.. if you're okay with relatively few buttons on your grip and relatively short throw (no extensions w/o hacking) go for it!

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I recently got my FFB2 ($30 off shopgoodwill.com I can die happy) I upgraded from a MSFFB. The upgrade from the FFB to the FFB2 is worth it. The only things I can add that Alterscape hasn't is the functionality for planes. In most planes, I'd say the upgrade isn't worth it. Though, it's still awesome to have FFB. In most aircraft you can trim the force on the stick, so if I hold the stick in place and hold down the trimmer, the aircraft wont pitch up or down. The amount of force I feel will change, and if I let the stick move on it's own it will move to a new center. Basically that means you can move the stick to a position where the aircraft is flying level, and then trim until you don't feel any force. This is the case for all modern jets except the Tomcat.

 

Oh boy the Tomcat. If you're like me and mostly fly helos and the Tomcat, the FFB2 is worth every penny you can pay for it. As you near a stall in the F-14 the stick starts to shake, it shakes more violently the deeper into a stall you get. So in a turn fight you can hold the jet just on the verge of a stall and get max performance turns just by feel. Also, when you hit turbulence you feel that too. When you fire a phoenix for example you'll feel the stick shake as you fly though the missile trail.

 

Warbirds are really cool too. They're where force feedback is awesome, though I don't fly them much. In a warbird your speed affects how much weight there is on the stick. As you near a stall the controls become really light. As you stall the stick shakes. 

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Posted (edited)

Basically every module supports FFB (except the horrible Gazelle module).
In WW2 planes the stick reacts to forces on control surfaces, on ground it's loose - the faster you go the more force is directionally applied to the stick.
In A-10C's, F-14B and F-5 it uses the realistic offset center trim. In the Mig-21 you get the SAU functionality where the autopilot controls the stick. In ED helicopters it's simply the best way to get as close to real helicopter controls as possible. The rest of the planes supports the trim functionality pretty well, how much, depends on the module and it's FCS capabilities.
Pro tip: block the deadman sensor on the grip with a tape, to prevent shutdown of the motors if you let the stick go.


Edited by RealDCSpilot
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i9 10920X @4.8GHz, X299X HEDT mainboard, RTX3090 OC, quad channel 64 GB RAM @3600, Valve Index, HOTAS & Rudder: all Virpil with FFB base mod (G940), DCS: all modules

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Alterscape said:

Yes, the joystick moves freely if the motors are powered off. In the helos with good FFB trim implementations (so, anything except the Gazelle), if you hold the trim switch, the forces on the stick are greatly reduced, and when you release it, that becomes the new center point. Highly recommend the FFB2 if you can get one. I've got one, and I want more buttons, so I'm in the process of frankensteining something together, but.. if you're okay with relatively few buttons on your grip and relatively short throw (no extensions w/o hacking) go for it!

It sounds like a good value.  Do you use it with other sims besides DCS?  So in DCS you press force trim, move the joystick to the new position and release.  Is the plane moving according to the joystick movements while you press force trim?  I’m new to the concept.  But it sounds like I can find the hover sweet spot and then trim and apply slight adjustments from there to keep the hover.


Edited by potbellypig2000
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Yes, you've got it exactly. The force trim button is a DCS bind, and the functionality adjusts the commands the sim is sending to the stick. You still get control authority. It's simulating the functionality of the trim system in real helicopters.  The others have described the functionality in fixed-wing planes too, which I also use and like (I just generally stick to my other stick for the modern fighters, because I need the buttons).

 

As far as other sims go: I've used it extensively in Condor, a soaring simulator. I used to fly sailplanes in real life (RIP my budget / ability to commute to rural areas where gliderports exist) and I'd say FFB is vastly superior to spring centering for that use, where control feel is really everything. It's close enough that I didn't find the differences objectionable when I was flying the sim on and off along with real gliders. IL-2 also has support (good IIRC, but it's been a while). I believe you need a (relatively inexpensive) plugin for XPlane 11, not sure about MSFS2020, as I don't own it yet.

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1 hour ago, potbellypig2000 said:

It sounds like a good value.  Do you use it with other sims besides DCS?  So in DCS you press force trim, move the joystick to the new position and release.  Is the plane moving according to the joystick movements while you press force trim?  I’m new to the concept.  But it sounds like I can find the hover sweet spot and then trim and apply slight adjustments from there to keep the hover.

 

I've tried MS Flight Sim. FFB is not implemented.

 

I should really try an old game like Crimson Skies.

Light the tires kick the fires!

 

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3 hours ago, Braeden108 said:

I've tried MS Flight Sim. FFB is not implemented.

 

I should really try an old game like Crimson Skies.

I think there are some plugins available.  Though I don’t have the device yet and haven’t tried them.  But the joystick seems intriguing for helicopters which is why I want to try it. 

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On 5/24/2021 at 11:46 PM, Alterscape said:

Yes, the joystick moves freely if the motors are powered off. In the helos with good FFB trim implementations (so, anything except the Gazelle), if you hold the trim switch, the forces on the stick are greatly reduced, and when you release it, that becomes the new center point. Highly recommend the FFB2 if you can get one. I've got one, and I want more buttons, so I'm in the process of frankensteining something together, but.. if you're okay with relatively few buttons on your grip and relatively short throw (no extensions w/o hacking) go for it!

Looking into this more, it seems quite a buy.  The force feedback is said to be pretty good. The Brunner is more than 25 times the price at least for just the base and doesn’t support direct input.  Though I’m sure the force implementation is better.  I think I read strength wise, it can provide about 10x the force feedback of the MS ffb2.  I’m not very handy or else if I find I like it, I would mod the microsoft one.  

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23 hours ago, potbellypig2000 said:

Looking into this more, it seems quite a buy.  The force feedback is said to be pretty good. The Brunner is more than 25 times the price at least for just the base and doesn’t support direct input.  Though I’m sure the force implementation is better.  I think I read strength wise, it can provide about 10x the force feedback of the MS ffb2.  I’m not very handy or else if I find I like it, I would mod the microsoft one.  

The force of the FFB2 is good. I can just about overpower it all the time. I see no practical need for more force. I even tone it down in most aircraft. But I like lighter controls.

Light the tires kick the fires!

 

[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

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47 minutes ago, Dirt_Merchant said:

yes its worth it, and its worth it to mod it too. slap you a virpil grip on that hoss and you've got something very special.

I wish I was capable of it.  I’m not that handy.  I don’t know if there is anyone around willing to take a commission to perform the mod for people.

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The easiest approach would be designing and 3D-printing an adapter for the Virpil grip. Like what did for the G940 a couple of years ago: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3849592
You would need to buy a Virpil grip and a WarBRD base (to get the controller PCB). From there you will have a 2-in-1 device.

i9 10920X @4.8GHz, X299X HEDT mainboard, RTX3090 OC, quad channel 64 GB RAM @3600, Valve Index, HOTAS & Rudder: all Virpil with FFB base mod (G940), DCS: all modules

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2 hours ago, RealDCSpilot said:

The easiest approach would be designing and 3D-printing an adapter for the Virpil grip. Like what did for the G940 a couple of years ago: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3849592
You would need to buy a Virpil grip and a WarBRD base (to get the controller PCB). From there you will have a 2-in-1 device.

that made my day!  I thought I was going to have design one for my own frankenstick project.  

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3 hours ago, RealDCSpilot said:

The easiest approach would be designing and 3D-printing an adapter for the Virpil grip. Like what did for the G940 a couple of years ago: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3849592
You would need to buy a Virpil grip and a WarBRD base (to get the controller PCB). From there you will have a 2-in-1 device.

Oh god.  Both a Virpil grip and the base?  That alone is a lot of money.  But if you like ffb I guess it’s worth it.  Are there cheaper alternatives to the grip?

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Well, i chose the most lazy path. This way i also have a backup stick base. I'm sure you can get a much cheaper controller (Arduino/Leo Bodnar) to get any grip running.

i9 10920X @4.8GHz, X299X HEDT mainboard, RTX3090 OC, quad channel 64 GB RAM @3600, Valve Index, HOTAS & Rudder: all Virpil with FFB base mod (G940), DCS: all modules

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On 5/25/2021 at 1:32 AM, RealDCSpilot said:

Pro tip: block the deadman sensor on the grip with a tape, to prevent shutdown of the motors if you let the stick go.

 

What's that?

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On 6/4/2021 at 6:10 PM, Doon1 said:

What's that?

The MS FFB2 sensor has a photocell + IR LED pair on the front of the grip. Unless something like your hand blocks the sensor, it disables the motors. This is probably good for the lifetime of the motors/drivers, since it means it's only driving the motors when you're actively holding it, but it can be frustrating because the stick flops over if you let go, which can be a pain if you're using a mouse or similar to click things while flying.

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Posted (edited)

It's for preventing the stick from hopping uncontrollable from your desk if certain rumble effects are applied whithout your hands on it. I think it's more like a safety measure, but very counter productive for flying a trimmed helo. Once you let go, no forces are holding the stick in place and stick and aircraft will flip over as soon as you let go. Logitech's G940 has the same sensor on the grip and blocking it with a tape, was the first thing i did nearly 12 years ago.


Edited by RealDCSpilot

i9 10920X @4.8GHz, X299X HEDT mainboard, RTX3090 OC, quad channel 64 GB RAM @3600, Valve Index, HOTAS & Rudder: all Virpil with FFB base mod (G940), DCS: all modules

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Stock, yes. I've read that there are some G940 software and hardware mods that may improve its performance, but I've never owned one so I'm not familiar with all that. I know some folks on the forums have worked with them, and probably have opinions!

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On 6/6/2021 at 3:24 AM, RealDCSpilot said:

It's for preventing the stick from hopping uncontrollable from your desk if certain rumble effects are applied whithout your hands on it. I think it's more like a safety measure, but very counter productive for flying a trimmed helo. Once you let go, no forces are holding the stick in place and stick and aircraft will flip over as soon as you let go. Logitech's G940 has the same sensor on the grip and blocking it with a tape, was the first thing i did nearly 12 years ago.

 

I put a piece of tape over the sensor.

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15 hours ago, Alterscape said:

Stock, yes. I've read that there are some G940 software and hardware mods that may improve its performance, but I've never owned one so I'm not familiar with all that. I know some folks on the forums have worked with them, and probably have opinions!

 

I used mine for years, they're good but only the stick is worth having - and yes you're correct about the hardware and software mods they're necessary. big shout out to @fred41 for his contributions here! 

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