Review: TCA Quadrant Add-On Airbus Edition
By Ray Andersen
Quality hardware to increase theflight simulation experience is an everyday growing market and newproducts keep coming up and being released to the enthusiastic flightsimulation community. Some of the hardware is good and some isoutstanding with a high level of professionalism and quality.
I had previously had the exquisite experience of testing a replicaAirbus throttle quadrantcreated by ThrustMaster - that experience was totally awesome andusing the throttle quadrant was a great way of bringing my flightsimulation experience to a higher level. Today I am fortunate to beable to also test and review the new side pieces for this throttlequadrant, making the quadrant an even more interesting piece ofhardware. The pack that is covered within this review is the TCAQuadrant Add-On Airbus Edition.
Packaging, Delivery and Assembly
I ordered these new modules (side pieces) directly at Thrustmasterand the very same day I ordered them, I received an SMS from theforwarder FedEx that the pack was already received by them and theestimated delivery time would be the next day (Friday afternoon). Thismeans that from I ordered the modules till I received them, was only1.5 day for both packaging and the entire transport from theirwarehouse in France and to my address in Denmark. That is really quickwhich is perfect because when you order a new toy, you also want itsuper fast and this was just perfect.
Both modules were packed within one box. The outer box was atransport box consisting of hard thick multi-layer cardboard, which isperfect for transportation and provides a great support for the innerbox and the modules within. Inside the transport box was the displaybox which was made from thin cardboard and which also fitted perfectlyinto the transport box providing extra good support.
Opening the inner box I now found both modules nicely packed withina 2-piece form-shaped thin cardboard that created excellent supportfor each module. Additionally each module was also packed within athin foil or plastic bag - I think to prevent potential scratchingduring packaging or un-packaging. Overall the packaging was superbwith great support for the modules even during a long and bumpydelivery.
Included in the box are the two modules, two connection cables typeSATA, extra fittings and also extra screws. There are no toolsincluded which is okay since a prerequisite for using these modulesare, that you also have the throttle quadrant. Included in thethrottle quadrant was a Phillips screwdriver and this one is all youneed for the modules.
There is no assembly needed to get the modules working other thanconnect each module to the throttle quadrant using the SATA connectorcables included. However, I do recommend that you also mount thefittings using the screws to secure the modules properly to thethrottle quadrant.
Additionally there are also a very short assembly guide includedwhich does not provide much information. Here I would recommendvisiting the https://support.thrustmaster.com/ webpage where you canfind the modules and select to download the manual/guide in PDFformat. The download is quick due to a good connection to the serverbut also because the PDF file is not that big.
The manual is named TCA Quadrant Add-On Airbus Edition and is a 287pages long PDF manual describing all the various technicalinformation. First there is a layout of the functions on each moduleand the possible customization that you can perform. Secondly thereare a 'how-to-mount' the modules to the throttle quadrant using thefittings and screws and how to place the entire setup correctly on asupport. There are also described how to install software drivers andhow to map functions to each switch or lever, but this will be coveredin the section of Connection And Performance.
You don't have to read all the 287 pages since the manual iswritten in multiple languages to support most possible customers, andto make sure that most, if not all simmers, will understand and getall the basic information about the usage etc. of each module. Eachlanguage is about 14 pages long so it actually takes no time tocomplete the read. I would strongly recommend taking the time to readthe manual just to get to know all of the functionality of themodules.
Look And Feel
Taking a closer look at the modules I became really impressed. Eachmodule is inspired by the real Airbus flaps and spoilers lever modulesand the outcome is absolutely very realistic in the looks. Bothmodules are made from high quality hardened plastics which of coursehelps keeping the production costs to a minimum, but also keeps theweight to a minimum making the modules more affordable to transport. Iwould personally have loved to feel the levers being made from metalor simply metal coated which I think would have increased the realismand the experience. That said, the core of the levers or moreprecisely the cylinders, they are both metal cylinders for betterquality, steadiness and durability.
The modules are two different modules; one module is the spoilermodule that features a lever controlling the spoilers and a toggleswitch with a knob shaped as a regular but downscaled gearhandle. This module is to be placed on the left side of the throttlequadrant. Additionally there are also an auto-brake selection rotatorswitch with an Airbus style rotator knob with the following stops'Disarm, BTV, LO, 2, 3, HI'. The knob for the rotator switch isdownscaled but still very realistic and the lever for the spoilers Ithink is quite fair and realistic in size. I cannot confirm if thescale is 1:1 but it feels great and very realistic and the look isvery authentic. In total this module features one toggle switch, onerotator switch and one axis.
The other module features the flaps lever, a rudder trim left/rightrotator switch with a spring load for self centering - you could callit a Mom-Off-Mom rotator switch. The module also has a pushbutton forcentering the rudder trim as well as a twist switch for the parkingbrakes. The twist switch is probably a fixed rotator switch with abeautiful and very authentic parking brake knob on top of it. Theflaps lever is very authentic with the characteristic shape from thereal Airbus lever and the size also seems to be in accordance to reallife. The rotator switch knob for the rudder trim is downscaled aslike the auto-brake knob also is, and the knob for the parking brakeseems to be quite well in accordance to real life. All knobs are allmade from quality plastic materials but still feel very real andauthentic. In total this module features two rotator switches, onepushbutton and one axis. This module is to be placed on the right sideof the throttle quadrant.
Both levers - the spoilers and the flaps lever has built-in detentson both the axes - this detent can be enabled or disabled as you likewhich will be described later in the review under the part withConnections & Performance. Both levers / axes are super smooth andprovide a very nice feeling and a very nice flight simulationexperience. Each axis also features an adjustable friction optionwhich is located on the front end of the base - this function workssimilar to the adjustable friction screw on the throttle quadrantwhere you can either turn the screw to the left for a looser motion orto the right for a more tight and firm motion of the levers. Thedefault setup is 50% meaning right in the middle. Please do becautious when tightening the friction screw so that you don't forcethe screw to much which will damage the friction function.
Connection And Performance
Connecting the modules are quite simple - there are no USBconnectors so you cannot connect these modules directly into yourcomputer. You need the throttle quadrant as base before being able toadd these extra modules to your setup. Connection is done using thetwo SATA connectors found on the bottom of the modules and thethrottle quadrant - the two cables are included in the modulespack.
When the modules are connected, you are now able to use them aswell as to also assign various functions to them through the built-inassignment tools of each flight simulator. I have tested the moduleson the following platforms: Lockheed Martin Prepar3Dv4.5, LaminarResearch Xplane11 and DCS World 2.5 - I haven't tested the modules onFSX or the new MSFS2020 but I would imagine that they could easily berecognized as gaming ware through the throttle quadrant. You can alsouse the T.A.R.G.E.T. software provided by Thrustmaster or even FSUIPC,LINDA, SIOC, C++ or similar I would assume.
When you assign functions through the assignment tools within theflight simulators, you need to select the throttle quadrant to be ableto assign the functions. You have a total of two axes and 15 buttonsthat can be assigned as you prefer providing you with a good number ofassignments to your home cockpit simulator setup. If you have just onethrottle quadrant, just select that one within the assignment toolsmenu and you can now assign functions for both the add-on moduleshowever, if you have two throttle quadrants connected in between theadd-on modules, the assignment will have to be split in two. Thisbecause the spoilers module is now connected to the left throttlequadrant which as default could be named 'ENG 1&2' and therefore toassign functions to this module you will have to select the FCA ENG1&2 within the assignment tools menu. The exact opposite for the flapsmodule which is then connected to the right throttle quadrant which asdefault could be named 'ENG 3&4' and therefore you need to select thisthrottle quadrant within the assignment tools menu to be able toassign functions to that module.
The modules feature the exclusive H.E.A.R.T. technology also knownas 3D Hall Effect with magnetic sensors and the letters stand for HallEffect AccuRate Technology. Each lever (spoilers and flaps) have atotal of 65536 values on the potentiometers providing great accuracyand feeling when using the levers.
There are not many, actually no other connectors to be found on themodules other than the SATA connectors, and the modules are ment to beassembled with one on each side of the throttle quadrant which ofcourse is not according to real life - in real life you here have theelevator trims instead. Both modules are in real life placed furtherback from the throttle quadrant, but never-the-less, then this ideaand setup is absolutely awesome.
By flipping over the modules and taking a look at the bottom of themodules, you will there find two screws on each module which you canunscrew and take out the internal part. This part you can turn 180degrees and put back in - hereby you can now either enable or disablethe detents on the levers.
To wrap up my experience of the TCA Quadrant Add-On Airbus Editionbuilt by Thrustmaster, then this add-on set is perfectly in line withthe throttle quadrant - it is beautiful, it is very authentic andcertainly a high quality set featuring 3D hall effect magnetic sensorsfor a super accurate experience.
The set is professionally built with the usage of high qualityplastics and with metal cylinders for each lever for bettersturdiness, feel and durability. The surface is a smooth Airbus bluepaint that is indeed very much in accordance to real life andfurthermore each module also features authentic laser engraved legendsthat makes the frostings on top of the cake.
The look is certainly very authentic even though some parts aredownscaled, and the feeling is just awesome. The flaps lever knob isperfect as well as the spoilers lever knob and they just add greatlyto the overall impression and experience of using these beautifuladd-ons.
If you like high quality hardware, this is absolutely a set that Iwould recommend. Even more if you like flying Airbus aircraft, thenthis is a must have. The price is fair, the quality is high and theexperience that I got using these add-ons, were defiantly lifted to ahigher level. Best of all, you can also use these add-ons for otheraircraft styles from Boeing to GA to Turboprops etc. meaning that theset is also a very versatile set, and where you can easily eitherenable or disable the detents on each axis.
The add-on modules scored a superb 4/5-Star rating, and they areabsolutely a set that I most certainly will recommend. High qualitymodules, great flight simulation experience and all for a very fairprice.
Thank you Thrustmaster for bringing these awesome add-ons out tothe flight simulation community - they are beautiful!
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