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Standard Conventions for HOTAS Controller Mappings?


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Finally getting out of "lurker" mode here :) Sorry for the novel...


I just this week upgraded from my X-52 setup to an X-65F setup. The X-52 was decent, but I had to set up deadzones all over the place and the controls were sloppy even after I performed each and every one of the various stick and hall sensor mods out there to tighten things up. I am much happier so far with the X-65, especially the throttle. I have done a lot of searching (on this forum and others) for profiles and programming advice for the X-65 and there is some stuff out there, but this brings me to the reason for my post and my actual question...


Has anyone ever sat down and analyzed the various real-life HOTAS setups from various sims/airframes and come up with a generic, lowest-common-denominator, standard conventions "template" on how to most logically map any given controller?


What I'm trying to get at is that we have basically 3-5 true "HOTAS" options, all of which are different but have some similarities. They each have a stick and throttle, trigger, pinky switch, etc. Most sims/airframes have at least similar functions regardless of their acronyms (target management, countermeasures, navigation, radar, weapons, trim, etc). The big differences can really be found in the physical number/placement of buttons, hats, rotaries, etc. Has there ever been an effort to take a look at all of the hardware options versus the various sims and come up with a basic foundation for mapping controls that would be applicable as a starting point for *all* the popular HOTAS controllers? I'm talking about a document or diagram here, and not necessarily an actual software "profile" or "key file" or whatever each particular sim/controller software requires. Obviously everyone would probably want to customize their own based on their own preferences and hardware but there has *got* to be a better way than a bunch of different people re-inventing the wheel each time...


What brought this idea to my mind was my consideration of the daunting task of getting my new X-65 configured as closely as possible to the real-life setup for A-10C. I then thought about having to do the same thing for Falcon BMS...and then considered all of the upcoming DCS stuff (F-15C, F-18C, MiG-21) which was truly the biggest reason I made the jump to a better HOTAS in the first place. I totally realize that there isn't a ton of commonality between HOTAS functions across airframes, but unless everyone can afford to purchase a "plug-n-play" controller (if they exist) for each sim (TM Warthog for A-10C as an example) we have no other option than to go through a LOT of work to make different profiles for every airframe using the one controller each of us eventually end up purchasing. I realize that is just "the way it has to be" but IMHO it would be very helpful to have at least a generic template to reference when mapping controls that is somewhat rooted in reality and/or a general consensus of what would work best and be most efficient.


I hope that's not too confusing, but does anyone know of anything out there (research, documentation, diagrams, discussion, whatever) that has already been "worked on" towards this end or would it be better for me just to go find a lot of documentation about the real-life HOTAS configurations and functions for each and every airframe I want to fly and roll my own (or heavily modify previous efforts)?




Edited by bax
I, um...missed a few words. I know, hard to believe I could have left any out!
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  • 3 years later...

Necro-Post, but may be useful to someone else...


I use an X-65f too. I love this thing! I hate the Saitek software, but the hardware is solid!


To add my $0.02,


WAAAaaay back in 1994 when I got my first Thrustmaster HOTAS, I started developing my own "standard" or "Template" for control function placement. Since most sims/games will have at least SOME functions in common, and I was working with a single set of physical controls, I would map the specific "functions" available in any given sim or game to the same physical control whenever possible.

For instance: In my standard control scheme, the "Pickle Button" or "A" button for the X-65F is "Fire Missile", which can also be used for "Release Weapon" (bombs), or Fire Secondary Weapon". The point is that if I want to fire missiles, drop bombs, or any other "Non-Gun" weapon, this is the button I use. Keeping this standard has made it MUCH easier to transition from game to game, since there are fewer differences in the control layout. This is especially true when you play more than one game in a given day.


I also standardized other aspects of my control setup, such as function labels, and how to use the "Mode" switch: "M1" is my default for Air-to-Air combat. M2 is Air-to-Ground, M3 is Navigation, and M4 is Ground Ops (take-off and landing).


I developed an excel spreadsheet that allows me to categorize a game's FUNCTIONS into logical groups (Flight Controls, Weapons, Radar/Avionics, Countermeasures, etc). This helps me see how closely I can map the in-game functions to my "Standard" physical control layout.


The A-10C is a bit of a different animal, though. For this Sim, I have decided to use the Control configuration function in DCS World to map the A-10's default DMS/CMS/TMS functions, as closely as I can to the physical controls in the actual Aircraft. Of course, since the X-65F doesn't have the same physical controls as an A-10 stick, there will be some differences.

"We call them MISSiles for a reason. If they always worked, we'd call them HITtiles." - Unknown Combat Aviator


"I was just pondering the immortal words of Socrates who said: ' I drank WHAT??!! '...- Val Kilmer as "Chris Knight" in REAL GENIUS

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