• Review: Saitek Pro Flight X-65F Combat Control System

    Review: Saitek Pro Flight X-65F Combat Control System

    By Nigel C. Martin (4 April 2010)

    Introduction

    You know, since I have been involved with flight simulation, playing with a polygon Mustang, resembling more of a wire shaped 'aircraft', and the same scenery, on my Elonex 360, thinking this was incredible and realistic, the hobby has taken a ballistic leap into new heights of realism, both from the software products and hardware on offer.

    I make no excuses, I love Saitek's innovative products, and the Pro-Flight range is ever increasing, good for us all.

    There are some other very fine manufactures out there playing a vital role in the improvement of the overall experience, but one only has to look at the myriad of Pro-Flight products now available, proves the commitment Saitek have to increase the realism and therefore experience for all of us.

    I do not have a yoke control system, however I used the Saitek's Yoke, set up in my Flying Club, where it is used for teaching new PPL students the basics of flight, and has stood up to years of well, 'enthusiastic' use without a mishap.

    Don't get me wrong, I have had minor issues with some of the products, but in the main all have been superb. Perhaps one other element I like, you can feed back comments to Saitek and they have the decency to respond, and I hope prompt them to consider a development to improve further products.

    Now, what is this review all about? Well a revolutionary control system, more akin to the actual system found in some expensive jet fighter. The system functions on pressure applied to the joystick rather than physical movement. The throttle unit obviously works in the traditional way. In this offering, however, the throttle unit is split into two, so one may apply different levels of thrust to the port/starboard engines; more about that later.

    This really is a revolutionary control feature, and one I am very keen to use in 'anger'. Not exactly a cheap price tag, but this promises to be a real piece of engineering, and I hope will provide years of trouble free use. Only time will tell on this one.

    I am sure it will be loved by all you fighter jocks, but all one has to do look at the Airbus and indeed other 'heavies' that utilise the joystick as their primary control input system. So there we have it, if it is commercial or military (let's not leave out the GA selection!) you fly, you just may be interested the X-65F.

    The box arrived, superbly packaged. Looking at the exterior of the box, you are under no illusions what is enclosed, like a child at Christmas I 'eagerly' opened the box. Customary with Saitek the internal black foam packaging is superb, packaged in a way that will allow the equipment to survive the rigors of the postal/courier system..

    Upon opening, and removing the sturdy packaging, one thing that struck me was the metal casting used for both units i.e. the throttle/joystick, was very substantial, and indeed heavy, indicating the metal used in the construction.

    There are two sheets of pictorial instructions showing how the 'bits 'n' pieces' fit together. It really is not difficult. A manual is also included providing you a schematic of the setup, and 'Getting Started' section, running through Force Settings Controller settings, and many other useful areas to enable full use of the new set-up.

    Oh yes, when I was fitting all the elements together, I noticed I was missing two supports. These affix to the base of the throttle unit so you can attach the force setting switching unit, well 'huffing and puffing', at these being missed, I looked again, and you will see a 'bracket' shape in the foam, if you remove the top, the brackets are there. So remember this before you fire off an angry email re the 'missing' brackets..

    You will find the customary selection of screws, allen key and tape in plastic bags. I also found pieces of plastic, having clips on the edges and a 'soft feel' surface and numeric graduations to one edge, I could not find reference to it, however, ladies and gentlemen, it snaps over the throttle hand rest plate, to provide a larger surface area for your hand to rest on, actually a very nice and convenient addition.

    So, all unpacked and sitting on the desk. The throttle (three cables clearly identified, where they should be attached, i.e. computer/joystick/force feedback module, a nice touch) unit you have to apply one or both metal supports which you apply a panel showing the force settings of which there are four T buttons which you can allocate function to.

    There are two units as mentioned designed to be mounted on the throttle unit. If you own any of the digital instruments now on offer from Saitek, you have the option to apply two on top of these units mounted to the throttle.

    I have to brutally honest, and wish we had an option to adjust the force settings within the Saitek interface (as supplied on CD in the pack), and not have the force setting unit mounted, I just don't like it, purely a personal view. I like the elegance of uncluttered control units.


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