VOGONS


First post, by retrofanatic

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I have accumulated quite a large collection of joysticks over the years with the intention of using most of them for pc gaming. My favourite joysticks are the CH flight stick series especially for x wing and tie fighter and flight sim games. Some of the older ms sidewinder joysticks are pretty nice too and at one point plentiful in pawn shops and thrift stores which is why I have so many of them.

Here's some photos of just a fraction of my collection.

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I try to have as many different joysticks as possible because every game seems to work better with a specific joystick...seems like there is not many all in one solutions for me.

Last edited by retrofanatic on 2014-08-14, 00:31. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 2 of 58, by retrofanatic

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F2bnp wrote:

What's your opinion on the Attack 3 Joystick? I may have a chance to snag it for free!

I like it only when the buttons are in good shape. Let me try to explain. The buttons click "very quickly" (there is very little "throw distance" to the switches) and as such if they wear out over time they can lose the tactile feel of the "click". So make sure the one you are getting is in good shape for this reason.

Another consideration is the fact that because it is designed for left or right handed people, the throttle control is right smack dab in the middle bottom of the joystick base, which, for me, makes it a pain to use for flight sims where you will most likely be using it a lot. I find it awkward to hold when I am using the throttle...I prefer the throttle to be on the side like on the CH flightsticks. Also, I have seen many of throttle controls on these joysticks become very loose over time and wear out as well, so again make sure it is in good shape to make it worth using.

Besides that, I like the feel of the actual stick movement and the base is mostly metal and fairly robust overall.

If you can get one for free, I would go for it (but again, only if the buttons and throttle are not damaged or too worn out).

Reply 3 of 58, by MaxWar

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I just put an Attack 3 in very good condition for sale on ebay :p
What I do not like about it is that the buttons are all around it.
I wonder is they wanted to make a ambidextrous stick or something.
I mean as is you would need 3 hands to take advantage of all the buttons.

I prefer the logitech Extreme 3d pro.

Op, What is your opinion on force feedback sticks?

FM sound card comparison on a Grand Scale!!
The Grand OPL3 Comparison Run.

Reply 4 of 58, by retrofanatic

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MaxWar wrote:
I just put an Attack 3 in very good condition for sale on ebay :p What I do not like about it is that the buttons are all aroun […]
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I just put an Attack 3 in very good condition for sale on ebay :p
What I do not like about it is that the buttons are all around it.
I wonder is they wanted to make a ambidextrous stick or something.
I mean as is you would need 3 hands to take advantage of all the buttons.

Very good point as well regarding the Attack 3...that's another thing I don't like about it as well, but it is nice to have all those buttons for commands that you may only use once in a while.

MaxWar wrote:

Op, What is your opinion on force feedback sticks?

I find force feedback sticks to be a bit 'gimmicky' for many games, but I do find it to be a pretty cool feature for some games where the actual rumbling sensation can help anticipate your next move or help warn you when you need to move....for example, if you get too close to the edge of a road in a driving game it's nice to have a tactile warning. That said, I do like the force feedback on my momo logitech steering wheel controller for that same reason when playing colin macrae rally.

Reply 5 of 58, by MaxWar

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I have a big lot of joysticks. I got them donated to me "as is" by a thrift store owner who likes me. But most are in pretty good condition.
I do not like the feel of the force feedback sticks i tried so far. It feels kind of "Granular" unlike the smooth feel of spring based sticks.
I like the idea of motor feedback but do not like the rough feel of the electric spring.

My favourite as far as the throttle and smoothness is the Logitech Attack 2.
But sadly it does not have handle twist and has very little buttons.

If I had an Attack 2 with more buttons and twist motion it would be awesome.
So I use the logitech Extreme 3d pro as it is a solid stick with lots of buttons but the throttle is annoying to reach, that is its biggest flaw.

FM sound card comparison on a Grand Scale!!
The Grand OPL3 Comparison Run.

Reply 6 of 58, by [GPUT]Carsten

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retrofanatic wrote:

Here's some photos of just a fraction of my collection.

20140515_182247_resized_1~2.jpg

I had the F15E Fighter Stick back in the 90's as an replacement for my Thrustmaster X-Fighter... probably got overwhelmed by the many switches on the F15-stick, dunno. Anyway, it was too large for me and too feature ladden for my use. So I sold it again and got me back an Thrustmaster X-Fighter, which I still have to this day.

Apart from that it's a Gravis Gamepad Pro and nothing else.

Reply 7 of 58, by retrofanatic

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MaxWar wrote:
My favourite as far as the throttle and smoothness is the Logitech Attack 2. But sadly it does not have handle twist and has ve […]
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My favourite as far as the throttle and smoothness is the Logitech Attack 2.
But sadly it does not have handle twist and has very little buttons.

If I had an Attack 2 with more buttons and twist motion it would be awesome.
So I use the logitech Extreme 3d pro as it is a solid stick with lots of buttons but the throttle is annoying to reach, that is its biggest flaw.

I agree, but the twist ("3D") motion is cool but only for games that use it. One of the earlier games I can think of that use this is flight sims like Red Baron to control rudder, but on some other games where it's not needed, it's a little annoying as the joystick tends to twist just slightly sometimes when making a regular x-y axis motion.

[GPUT]Carsten wrote:

I had the F15E Fighter Stick back in the 90's as an replacement for my Thrustmaster X-Fighter... probably got overwhelmed by the many switches on the F15-stick, dunno. Anyway, it was too large for me and too feature ladden for my use. So I sold it again and got me back an Thrustmaster X-Fighter, which I still have to this day.

Apart from that it's a Gravis Gamepad Pro and nothing else.

I agree that the f-15E has many buttons (programmable) and is big which is two reason I like it actually, but my complaint with it is that the motion is a bit stiff and limited compared with CH flightstick prioducts and some early sidewinder joysticks.

The Gravis gamepad is a classic for sure. The only thing I could find with that though is that the buttons are a bit too recessed and make it a bit more difficult to press with people like me that have bigger fingers.

Reply 9 of 58, by [GPUT]Carsten

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retrofanatic wrote:

I agree that the f-15E has many buttons (programmable) and is big which is two reason I like it actually, but my complaint with it is that the motion is a bit stiff and limited compared with CH flightstick prioducts and some early sidewinder joysticks.

The Gravis gamepad is a classic for sure. The only thing I could find with that though is that the buttons are a bit too recessed and make it a bit more difficult to press with people like me that have bigger fingers.

Actually, I found the F-15E to be not stiff enough. 😀 Since it's that big, I needed to use the handrest at the bottom of the stick quite a lot and couldn't control movements not exact enough for my taste, because my entire arm did not rest anywhere, but only the side of my hand on the rest. If you know what I mean. The X-Fighter was quite a bit stiffer and not as top heavy, so it worked better for me personally.

The problem with recessed buttons doesn't exist on the Gamepar Pro, which actually mimics the PS2 controller quite closely.

Reply 10 of 58, by retrofanatic

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Darkman wrote:

how is that Sidewinder Strategic Commander? is it actually useful for strategy games? Im assuming its not useful in other types of games.

Yes...actually it works really well with a lot of strategy games as seen in this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooB7K6HThlc
I for one tried it with warcraft...it takes a bit getting used to, and I didn't use it for too long, but I can see how it can actually become very useful once you get used to it.

[GPUT]Carsten wrote:

The problem with recessed buttons doesn't exist on the Gamepar Pro, which actually mimics the PS2 controller quite closely.

You're right, I was actually thinking about the original not the pro. I use the logitech precision as well. For me, it's very simple and comfortable to use.

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Reply 12 of 58, by retrofanatic

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Darkman wrote:

yeah Ive seen that video , but I wasn''t too sure given its just marketing, good to get an actual opinion , I might get it if it really is good

like I mentioned if you get used to it, it is a great controller. One thing to keep in mind though is that when panning or rotating you have to be aware of how much you are moving the controller because it can tend to pan too quickly in some instances and you'll find yourself panning back and forth trying to find your bearings. Once I got used to it though it got a lot better....I learned how to moderate the amount I would slide the controller when panning better.

I have to add that the build quality is very nice and it has a great ergonomic design for small and large hands alike.

One reason I bought this controller was mainly because I got it for really cheap (I think it only cost me $9) but I would have paid much more after using it and seeing how awesome it is for strategy games.

Reply 13 of 58, by Darkman

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heh, if I can get it , I have a range of games I can think of using it with, hows the OS support on it? any luck on getting to work on a non Win9x system? (say, Win2k and up)

would be cool if I could use it with both Starcraft 1 and 2 for instance.

Reply 15 of 58, by retrofanatic

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Just picked up another ms strategic commander and a flight stick pro and another original Gravis joystick. Also a multi tap/multi port EA sports joystick splitter with 2 matching Gamepad controllers. I really like the feel of these two game pads...they are very solid, responsive and remind me of the sega genesis 6 button game pads (gen 2). Got everything for a really good price. I was happy to get another Flightstick Pro since I feel that these are one of the best flight sim joysticks around.

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Reply 16 of 58, by Cloudschatze

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The RE-PC store in Tukwila, Washington (south Seattle), had a few NOS Microsoft Strategic Commander units for $30 a few months back. For all I know, they're still there.

Despite the "strategic" moniker, I picked one up, thinking it might be interesting for use with Infogrames' (Accolade's), "Slave Zero," when paired with the supported Logitech Wingman Force Feedback Mouse, and in lieu of the "WASD" keyboard configuration.

FPCT_2.jpg

I created a key-mapping profile that allows for exceptionally fluid character movement, the likes of which would be awkward, at best, if attempted with the keyboard.

Certainly, controlling a giant, city-destroying robotic character with two "mice" ranks pretty high on the scale of awesomeness... 😀

Reply 17 of 58, by retrofanatic

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Cloudschatze wrote:
The RE-PC store in Tukwila, Washington (south Seattle), had a few NOS Microsoft Strategic Commander units for $30 a few months b […]
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The RE-PC store in Tukwila, Washington (south Seattle), had a few NOS Microsoft Strategic Commander units for $30 a few months back. For all I know, they're still there.

Despite the "strategic" moniker, I picked one up, thinking it might be interesting for use with Infogrames' (Accolade's), "Slave Zero," when paired with the supported Logitech Wingman Force Feedback Mouse, and in lieu of the "WASD" keyboard configuration.

FPCT_2.jpg

I created a key-mapping profile that allows for exceptionally fluid character movement, the likes of which would be awkward, at best, if attempted with the keyboard.

Certainly, controlling a giant, city-destroying robotic character with two "mice" ranks pretty high on the scale of awesomeness... 😀

Very cool!!! I was wondering about using it with a mouse....it would take me a bit getting used to but I'm sure it would be very fun....one day when I get some time to play some games i might try it out.

Btw...those roland speakers are awesome...they look great and I bet they sound great too.

Reply 18 of 58, by NamelessPlayer

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It would take me a while to get all my current PC game controllers together for a photo, but I might as well comment on some of the ones I have now, as well as the ones I had in the past. I'll limit this to gameport/serial gear for now, because this is VOGONS and I'd have to double the length including all the USB stuff I've tried.

-Microsoft SideWinder 3D Pro

This was the stick I mainly played with back in the late 1990s. I didn't think much of it then because it wasn't a HOTAS, but now I have a newfound respect for its optical sensor system and analog gameport compatibility.

However, it has a really short throw and the spring system feels weird around center. Makes it difficult to make fine adjustments.

-Mad Catz Panther XL

A most unusual stick with a trackball derived from the FPgaming Assassin 3D right into the base, this thing was mainly pitched at FPSs in an age where WASD + mouselook wasn't quite the standard yet. It actually has proper mouselook with the trackball in Hexen, curiously enough.

However, the stick itself feels really cheap, and I'm talking sloppy in the center. I suspect it's because the gimbal springs don't provide a whole lot of force by themselves and most of the resistance comes from the rubber boot.

There's a passthrough for gameport rudder pedals, but there's a major setback in that I CANNOT calibrate the rudder axis properly with the Windows drivers installed. It's always very off-center, and I know it's not the pedals' axis pot at fault. The DOS calibrator works fine, though. I have no idea what's going on there, but it seriously cripples the Panther XL's usefulness when the only viable rudder axis control is through emulation on the trackball, and that obviously means no sense of center.

I'd probably use it more if I could just fix that ONE problem with the rudder pedal port, because that trackball would be really nice for slewing target designator cursors around.

-Logitech WingMan Interceptor

This is, without question, the best stick Logitech has ever built. Ergonomic grip, THREE hat switches, three pushbuttons and a two-way digital rocker switch right underneath the trigger. It would make a great HOTAS if there were a full-size throttle to go with it instead of that little throttle lever on the base.

Also, the main stick axes use some kind of contactless sensor, possibly Hall effect with a bunch of PCB traces and metal-lined wedges hovering over them. Unfortunately, this is also what makes them much more difficult to PCB-mod with a USB controller.

There's no keyboard emulation here; it's a Logitech ADI digital gameport stick without any analog fallbacks, so don't think about using it in DOS. It's an awesome stick for Windows 9x, however, if you've got some gameport rudder pedals handy and don't mind resorting to keyboard emulation for two of the hat switches because most games don't know how to properly interpret DirectInput hat switches 2, 3 and 4 (they're not mapped as sets of four DirectInput buttons like modern sticks).

Windows 2000 and XP recognize the stick fine, but have a problem in that there's no way to enable rudder pedals with it. If not for that, again, it would probably be one of my main retrogaming sticks.

-Suncom SFS Stick and Throttle

The stick is ergonomic and easily has one of the best gimbals of any joystick I've ever used, though it's a complete pain to take apart and leave the rubber boot intact. Thrustmaster/Guillemot would go for something similar years later in the T.16000-M and HOTAS Warthog, only they somehow did it WORSE. These old Suncom sticks still feel better.

However, the SFS stick has two main flaws that keep me from using it: crappy slide pots and chorded buttons for the hat switch ala CH Flightstick Pro. That second point means it's no good for Wing Commander/Privateer and anything else that needs you to depress multiple buttons simultaneously. I get the feeling the F-15 Raptor/Talon/Eagle sticks don't have this problem thanks to keyboard emulation.

As for the throttle, it's probably the best-feeling throttle I've ever used. Nice, long throw, handles that are solidly in place and without too much of a gap in between, gentle idle/AB detents, and a generally quite ergonomic switch layout. It still uses those crappy slide pots, though, and they made the dumb mistake of making the boat switch and china hat/weapon mode switch programming bank selects instead of actual keyboard emulation controls.

You also have to be careful with mapping keyboard commands to it, because while it will support modifiers, chorded inputs aren't held. For instance, if you need to hold, say, Ctrl-B to retract your speedbrakes, it'll almost immediately let go of Ctrl after you press the button, likely to keep from interfering with other keyboard emulation mappings on the other buttons and switches.

Due to analog gameport limitations, the left handle takes up the rudder axis. You can disable it with a hardware switch if you have proper rudder pedals, but that also detracts from one of the nicer features of the throttle itself. Suncom was probably too ahead of their time with it, considering that USB was just on the horizon and flight sims with proper multi-throttle support didn't quite exist yet.

One of these days, I'm gonna mod that throttle with a modern USB board and switches more true to the F-15E, like a real analog antenna elevation rotary on the left throttle, proper analog slew control with click-down (maybe just cheating with a gamepad analog stick) and a weapon mode switch that holds its position instead of springing back to center.

-Thrustmaster F-22 Pro (not currently owned)

Thrustmaster's top-of-the-line gameport stick, before they went bankrupt and Guillemot bought them out. Fully-functional F-16C-style grip with better ergonomics and a few more functions than the CH Products Fighterstick, metal gimbals, the first to feature logical programming...this was THE stick to have.

But the gimbals were cheap pot metal that had a nasty center play problem, an issue that would come up again in the later HOTAS Cougar. The analog gameport interface also meant only four DirectInput buttons sans hat switch and some axis spiking, though it wasn't until later that I realized said spiking was the result of not having a modern USB controller reading the pots (high-quality CTS ones similar to what CH Products uses) in voltage divider mode.

There's a set of rare SWF22 digital upgrade chips that can be used with the F-16 FLCS/F-22 Pro and F-16 TQS throttle that give them much better Windows support with a digital gameport interface, double the logical flags (funnily enough, the HOTAS Cougar regressed back to 48 flags) and all the DirectInput controls you could ask for, but at the complete expense of analog gameport support and DOS game support along with it. I wish I could get my hands on a set, but for the prices they usually fetch, I'd rather put it toward a modern USB HOTAS setup.

-Microsoft SideWinder Freestyle Pro

It's a typical gamepad...with a not-so-typical-for-the-era accelerometer. Microsoft beat Nintendo and Sony to the punch there, and it actually handles pretty well in the bundled Motocross Madness, I have to say. No real latency or spiking, and the lack of a tactile center wasn't a problem for that game.

However, it has THE MOST GODAWFUL, INACCURATE D-PAD EVER. No, seriously, the Xbox 360 D-Pad is downright godlike compared to the Freestyle Pro's piece of crap that tends to have you pushing down-right when you wanted right, among other similar problems all around. It's quite a shame, because the rest of the pad feels quite nice and it's ergonomic to hold, but there's no way I can recommend this thing without some significant D-Pad modification.

-Spacetec SpaceOrb 360

Successor to the Spaceball Avenger, competitor to the Logitech CyberMan 2, predecessor to today's 3Dconnexion devices, and THE controller for Descent, Forsaken and any other 6DoF game you can think of...but most especially Descent. I'll explain why later.

The ball feels a bit loose with a bit of play, but otherwise, the tactile feeling's great and the force sensor array or whatever it is provides clean, accurate axis output. You just work the ball like you'd want to move in a 3D space. It's a bit tricky to not accidentally input across other axes when you just want to move along one or two, but coordinated motions are so much easier that it's hard to go without it afterward.

The main setback is that there's only six buttons; Descent II has enough functions that I still need to reach for the keyboard now and then. It would've been nice if the ASCII Sphere 360 had a PC equivalent with its additional buttons and D-Pad.

After playing my share of Descent with the SpaceOrb in its original DOS incarnations, I played today's source ports and the turning just felt all WRONG. I later found out why: Spacetec IMC outright removed the turn rate limits on Descent II somehow, and the DescentBB community actually thinks using one is cheating because of that, especially with older SpaceWare versions having a 180-degree flip button from what I've heard. Said source ports do not implement this, so it feels all gimped even if I set up my 3Dconnexion SpacePilot as the controller of choice.

Reply 19 of 58, by retrofanatic

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NamelessPlayer wrote:
-Suncom SFS Stick and Throttle ... As for the throttle, it's probably the best-feeling throttle I've ever used. Nice, long throw […]
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-Suncom SFS Stick and Throttle
...
As for the throttle, it's probably the best-feeling throttle I've ever used. Nice, long throw, handles that are solidly in place and without too much of a gap in between, gentle idle/AB detents, and a generally quite ergonomic switch layout. It still uses those crappy slide pots, though, and they made the dumb mistake of making the boat switch and china hat/weapon mode switch programming bank selects instead of actual keyboard emulation controls.

You also have to be careful with mapping keyboard commands to it, because while it will support modifiers, chorded inputs aren't held. For instance, if you need to hold, say, Ctrl-B to retract your speedbrakes, it'll almost immediately let go of Ctrl after you press the button, likely to keep from interfering with other keyboard emulation mappings on the other buttons and switches.

Due to analog gameport limitations, the left handle takes up the rudder axis. You can disable it with a hardware switch if you have proper rudder pedals, but that also detracts from one of the nicer features of the throttle itself. Suncom was probably too ahead of their time with it, considering that USB was just on the horizon and flight sims with proper multi-throttle support didn't quite exist yet.

One of these days, I'm gonna mod that throttle with a modern USB board and switches more true to the F-15E, like a real analog antenna elevation rotary on the left throttle, proper analog slew control with click-down (maybe just cheating with a gamepad analog stick) and a weapon mode switch that holds its position instead of springing back to center.

I've always wanted a suncom throttle! they look to be built very well and I have never seen one in person. I am always on the lookout on ebay for one, but they rarely come up for sale. Can you post a pic of it by any chance?

Great information BTW!!!! I will take everything you mentioned into consideration if I ever get one of those throttles. It would be a shame to modify such a rare controller, but I see how it can be a great project if everything ends up working out the way you want it.