What Joystick should I get?

I know know all you simmers must have opinion on this… What do you use to play Freespace 2 or IL-2?

Back before XP I used CH Products “Figther Sticks” since I loved their feel and fluid control, but I when my joystick didn’t work on XP I refused to get a new since I felt kinda burned. All this talk of Freespace 2 recently has brought back my old dog fighting itch though, and I just can’t resist any longer.

What’s a good stick to get? Are CH Products and Thurstmaster still the best? Is there some consensus on a cheaper stick that’s “best bang for the buck”? I’m considering getting a twisting stick since I’m not forking out for rudder pedals, but I’ve never tried one. How well does that work?

I have both a CH setup and a Thrustmaster Cougar and my advice is go with CH Products unless you have a wad of cash to burn on 3rd party upgrades for the Cougar.

I went with an Evenstrain upgrade (I don’t know if the guy still makes 'em anymore) for about $500. Yeah it was very expensive but the upgrade is phenomenal when you compare it to the stock Cougar.

Anyway, you can’t go wrong with CH Products. Hell I’m still using analogue Pro Pedals that I’ve had since Mechwarrior 2 days (torso twisting baby!) I also have an original CH Flightstick from 1988 that still works! Get the Fighterstick, Pro Throttle, and the Pro Pedals.

I think newegg sells CH stuff for a lot less than the CH homepage.

CH Products are still top of the line when it comes to joysticks and other controllers. However, they are expensive.

Saitek have two considerably less expensive HOTAS (Hands-On-Throttle-And Stick) units called the X-45 and the X-52 that are generally considered to be pretty good. They each come with separate joysticks and throttle units and have a relatively large number of buttons, point of view hats and rotaries to assign to various controls. The X-45 has a rocker switch on the throttle for rudder control while the X-52 has a twist axis on the joystick. I had an X-45 a few years back and it was decent but nothing special.

I actually prefered another Saitek product, the Cyborg Evo. It has an integrated throttle control and a twist axis rudder. It doesn’t have as many controls, buttons, rotaries and other bells and whistles as the HOTAS products and the throttle lever is poorly positioned but I liked the feel of it better than the X-45. It’s also relatively inexpensive. I picked one up at CompUSA for $25 about 1 1/2 years ago.

A twist axis rudder takes some getting used to, that’s for sure. It’s very difficult to get any kind of fine rudder control and having to twist your hand around is not only tiring but I can’t imagine it’s good for your wrist.

I just bought the Cyborg Evo for BF2 and Freespace 2. If Frys had had an x-52 I probably would have picked one of them up, because I’m a sucker for gadgets.

The Cyborg is nice, and as a bonus you can change the height of the hand support and the angle of the buttons at the top of the stick. It’s got a nice smooth feel, and plenty of buttons. But man, does the throttle positioning suck.

If the price doesn’t bother you, I recommend CH gear. Top quality hardware, excellent support, yada yada yada. :)

Might as well pick up a Naturalpoint TrackIR while you’re at it!
:wink:

My experience has been with the Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS and the CH Fighterstick (limited). Cougar’s an amazing bit of machinery especially if you couple it with rudder pedals. But here’s the rub, it’s insanely pricy and prone to wearing out. Fixing the problem requires third party kits that cost nearly as much (or more?) than the already wildly expensive stick itself. I’ve gotten some great use out of the Cougar while it was working and there’s simply nothing better than the feel of a metal stick with tough springs working resistance. The throttle was butter smooth and steady. For real geeks it’s highly programmable and there are many premade templates available for downloading.

The CH Fighterstick was pretty hard to find, in fact I picked up the last one in stock from Amazon at the time when I read about a fellow who had the same problems I was having with the Cougar and recommended this as a more reliable alternative. The plus is that it takes up less space (if you use the on-stick throttle) but if you like resistance and a feeling of solidity, this feels alot like messing around with a toy. Worse, it seemed to shoot random spikes out (even after tuning it up) into SWG and sending me into unwanted half-rolls. Not so big a deal in a space sim but it could be a killer in a flight sim. This was not a cheap stick.

Then most recently I picked up the recent Mechwarrior 4 Compliation with MW4, Black Knight Expansion Pack and MW4: Mercenaries for twenty bucks. At that price I had to say yes. Unfortunately I didn’t want to use my broken Cougar and my old rudder pedals need a gameport (or a Cougar to hook into). As mentioned above torso-twisting is a big part of fighting (strafing) in Mechwarrior. No rudder on the Fighterstick. No desire to get a second set of foot pedals. So I broke down and found someone selling a used Microsoft Sidewinder 3D with a USB adaptor. Haven’t tried it yet but if this works out I’ll be kicking myself for not having done that in the first place back when I didn’t have to buy it for $70!

Those are just my adventures with joysticks so far. PC gaming is d0med.

I’m tempted by TrackIR, but moneys a little too tight right now. :-(

Really? I couldn’t get my Fighterstick to work under XP: the stick travelled full speed off to the side, and there wasn’t anything I could do to calibrate it. Since their older models weren’t listed as working under XP, I concluded the drivers became obsolete and were never updated…

Did you have to do anything to get yours to work, or are you perhaps using a previous version of windows? Obviously I’d prefer to get the stick I already have to work…

CH sticks definitely take some getting used to, but once you get used to them their tightness, light touch, and quick precise response is awesome; their joysticks straight up improved my game. I never could get a Thrustmaster to move as quickly and accurately, since the extra force needed to overcome it’s stiffness messed up my precision when moving the stick swiftly. Compared to the Fighterstick, Thrustmaster felt like trying to fence with a broadsword.

The CH Fighterstick was pretty hard to find, in fact I picked up the last one in stock from Amazon at the time when I read about a fellow who had the same problems I was having with the Cougar and recommended this as a more reliable alternative. The plus is that it takes up less space (if you use the on-stick throttle) but if you like resistance and a feeling of solidity, this feels alot like messing around with a toy.

I find I much prefer the lighter spring tension in the CH Fighterstick for WW2 flight sims and space sims. The Cougar was great for modern jets (until mine developed a rediculously large amount of center play) but the stiff springs made any kind of combat that requires reflexes a lot more difficult. I find I have much greater precision with the CH products.

Worse, it seemed to shoot random spikes out (even after tuning it up) into SWG and sending me into unwanted half-rolls. Not so big a deal in a space sim but it could be a killer in a flight sim. This was not a cheap stick.

Did you contact CH? The stick should not be spiking at all and they would have repaired or replaced it for you very quickly. CH Products have great support, the guys that work there take good care of their customers.

Really? I couldn’t get my Fighterstick to work under XP: the stick travelled full speed off to the side, and there wasn’t anything I could do to calibrate it. Since their older models weren’t listed as working under XP, I concluded the drivers became obsolete and were never updated…

Did you have to do anything to get yours to work, or are you perhaps using a previous version of windows? Obviously I’d prefer to get the stick I already have to work…[/quote]

I should’ve been more specific and sait it still worked when I last used it which was quite awhile ago when I had a machine that could accept an ISA joystick port card.

Is your Fighterstick an older analogue model? If so then I’m not sure how to get it work under XP.

My Saitek X45 works fine for Freespace 2/Falcon 4.0 Allied Force. Great value considering I paid around 60 bucks for it.

I have the X52 and i like it. Mostly use it for IL2.