• Review: Thrustmaster Pendular Rudder System

    The middle of the walking beam is attached to a scissor-like arrangement that moves to extend two springs. These springs provide the "feel" for the system, and are adjustable in a variety of ways to provide a range of resistance. Each pedal is also attached to a sensor unit that measures pedal deflection in the brake axis, and sends the signal to the simulation to apply each brake, and by how much.

    Thrustmaster Rudders
    The assembled pedal showing the connection of the brake sensor

    The net result of all of this syncopated rhythm is that the pedals move straight in and out, just like the real ones. The brake pedal action is also exactly like a real airplane with but one exception that will be discussed in a moment. There is no comparison at all to the simple rudder pedal hardware that slides in and out. Even some of the other higher end products would appear, from looking at the pictures, to feature at least a bit of curvilinear as opposed to purely rectilinear motion. The TPR's are the only pedals I have seen (a significant caveat to be sure, since I have such limited experience) that move more or less exactly like the pedals on a real airplane.

    Thrustmaster Rudders
    The pedestal, showing the mounting holes for secure positioning and slide-free operation

    So much for movement, but how do they feel? I have written before of the chimera of "feel" in flight simulation. In fact, feel is something of a chimera even in the real airliners, particularly those with fly-by-wire or hydraulically boosted control systems, which means just about everything after the DC-7 (the 707 and DC-8 actually had hydraulic boost on the rudder). Flight control feel in airplanes is the result of several factors; specifically, the design and the mechanical resistance of the flight control system itself, and the forces generated on the displaced control surfaces by the air flowing over them, which is transmitted back to the yoke or pedals through the control cables. The mechanical resistance is the same all the time, but the air loads vary considerably - mostly due to speed, with increasing resistance as the speed of the airplane increases. In simple airplanes with basic cable and/or pushrod control systems, there is no need for artificial feel systems. But big airplanes with control cable runs over great distances and flying at higher speeds end up with control forces that are beyond the ability of a pilot to overcome. Various schemes were employed over the years to assist the pilot in moving the controls, one of which is the servo tab, which was found on the early generation of jets like the 707 and was called manual reversion in the 727. Google this term if you want to know more.

    1. flapman's Avatar
      flapman -
      Thank you for the review. I am seriously considering these as I have just bought a Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS
    1. Sporg9's Avatar
      Sporg9 -
      I saw your review recommend on the Thrustmaster Facebook page.
      However, have you checked out pedals in the same price range?
      There are quite a few, and I think they are better quality than even these Thrustmaster pedals.
      Look for MFG Crosswind (slightly cheaper), Slaw (same price but wastly better), Baur (if you can get these, otherwise check out VirPil in the future).
      I think you will find that there are a few quality offerings out there.
      In this price segment Thrustmaster faces fiercer competition than one might be aware of.
      Only disadvantage is that these pedals are from smaller manufacturers (sometimes single person), so might involve some lead time before you can get them, if they are at all available. I think the MFG are the most available ones for now.
    1. kirk66's Avatar
      kirk66 -

      MFG Crosswinds are great if you want to fly a Bf-109 - but NO aircraft made these days have that type of rudder pedal (feet ON the pedals). TPR is a much better representation of modern (or even US WW2) rudder pedals.

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