• Review: Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel

    Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel

    By Nigel Martin (12 December 2008)

    OVERVIEW

    Have you ever aspired to a home based cockpit, to really immerse yourself in Fight Simulation big style? But not had the Space in the house, the money, or a very understanding wife/girlfriend, or boyfriend come to that? Well, a small and affordable step in the right direction is the new Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel, a subtle unit but promises to provide multiple functions improving accuracy, effect and functionality.

    OK, I am sure we have all dedicated various keys to perform the primary tasks, on flight yokes joysticks or keyboards, but it would be great have a single unit where the primary switches are bundled into one unit; this flight panel is the answer.

    If you already have the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System, I understand you can simply attach it onto top of this unit. I use a X52 Pro system, so what do I do? Simple, it has been designed to also be a free-standing use. This little beauty will control your landing gear, engine start/stop options, landing lights and eleven other important aircraft functions from one compact unit.

    Some of the key features quoted are:

    • Realistic landing gear control with LEDs indicating actual gear status from Microsoft Flight Simulator X
    • Start your aircraft engines and access other cockpit functions with ease
    • Conveniently attaches to the base of the Pro Flight Yoke System (sold separately)

    FIRST IMPRESSIONS

    The unit arrives in a sturdy oblong box with impressive graphics and tech info. No confusion as to what is enclosed, there are several pictures of the panel on three sides. It does look pretty good.

    Open the box, and once you have extracted the cardboard end support you can remove the panel, and as you do so, you will find a CD. This has the interface on it, which you will have to install. It is all auto executable, so no worries here.

    As you remove the unit, and take a first 'peek' it looks, well, 'business-like'. Guess that is exactly as it should!

    The dimensions of the panel are: 28cm w X 7cm d X 8cm H. It is made of a sturdy black plastic, and has a pleasing rearward slant with a series of brass threaded rings which fit into the holes across the top (6) and the same across the base (minus the brass threaded elements).

    When you are facing the front of the panel, you will see at all four comers (facing) four knurled screws, situated at the four outer corners. They look very, well, purposeful, but are fixed. Then you arrive at all the switch options, rotary knob to the left of the panel, selecting the magneto's OFF option and BOTH/ALL one more click to the right, you have START, moving to the extreme right, you have the GEAR LEVER with the LED's showing you Wheels Travelling and Locked UP & DOWN. The white graphics used for the text is clear and works well on the matte black surface.

    INSTALLATION

    Pop the CD into the computer and follow the clear instructions, the entire installation process take approximately 5 minutes or less.

    Plugged into a spare USB port, I selected the Panel Test option (after installing the set-up program from the CD provided) via START/ALL PROGRAMS/SAITEK PRO PANEL TEST, an image of the panel appears Select a few switches, and you should see them move on the test panel, and mine did not. I was utterly confused, I had followed the instructions to the letter. To cut a long story short, I traced the issue to the fact I had an USB extension cable affixed, once removed, and re-plugged, I got a recognition message on my desktop, opened the PANEL TEST page, and observed a perfect reaction/response.

    So, close that down, open Microsoft Flight Simulator X, wait what seems to an eternity, selected the Mooney, (any aircraft of your choice) and wait.


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