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Once Control Manager was configured and my FS 2004 Map downloaded I proceeded into FS 2004 to configure the in-game assignments. This was more complicated than it sounds… It had absolutely nothing to do with the TQ… It is the complexity of FS 2004’s control system. To correctly configure FS 2004 you must pay close attention to control axis assignments, sensitivities settings and dead zone settings. The first few attempts to fly the DC-3 proved frustrating until I noticed that the sensitivities and dead zone settings for a few of my ‘extra’ axes were turned all the way down. Once they were properly adjusted everything worked flawlessly. It was really fascinating watching individual in-game throttles, prop levers and mixture levers move proportional to my inputs on the TQ… It really adds to the immersion factor and feels almost eerie! Take a closer look at the screenshot with the photo inset to get a better idea of what I mean. This made flying that old FS 2004 DC-3 much more fun… I may have to spend some more time with this ‘boring’ civilian flight simulation! Lets move on to an ‘action’ flight sim and see how the TQ handles that genre aviation gaming…

CFS3Since I already had the FS 2004 Map loaded and my installation of Microsoft’s Combat Flight Simulator 3 control assignments are configured similarly, CFS 3 was the next logical challenge for the TQ. I had to spend a little time locating and assigning in-game engine controls to the correct axis settings, but once completed the TQ performed flawlessly. It added another layer of depth to this classic, sometimes under appreciated, combat simulation. The ability to easily and accurately manipulate complex engine controls in a true to life manner really does add a level of immersion not easily duplicated! Once again, I was fascinated just watching the in-game throttle, prop, and mixture levers accurately move, directly replicating my inputs on the TQ. (Yes its true… simple minds are easily entertained!). I had a blast just flying around playing with the engine controls… I am actually now considering purchasing some of the add-on pay-ware titles for the MS flight sim series…

Oleg Maddox’s Pacific Fighters is one of my favorite games; I play it almost to the exclusion of everything else. I really had high expectations for the TQ in PF’s multi-engine aircraft. Unfortunately I discovered that PF has some limitations that restrict the accurate engine control the TQ was designed for. Oleg’s great flight sim lacks the ability to assign different control axes to each engine in multi-engine aircraft. There is only one engine and one prop axis; additionally the mixture and supercharger can only be controlled via keyboard commands. In multi-engine aircraft you must select the engine to individually adjust, perform the control input, and then reselect ‘all engines’. This is an awkward way to operate in a ‘combat’ situation. Even the TQ’s industry leading programmability cannot fully work around this problem. The only real solution would be a PF patch to allow separate axes assignments to individual engines and their subordinate controls.

The single engine aircraft in PF were a different story, the TQ once again proved to be a very useful and realistic tool. I mounted the TQ alongside of my CH Pro Throttle in a position that would be appropriate in a real aircraft. I then configured my HOTAS in the following mode: CH Pro Throttle slider as the throttle axis, the first TQ lever as the prop axis, and the next TQ lever as the mixture control via keyboard positional commands (Be advised this was a pretty useless control assignment as the mixture control in PF is NOT very realistically modeled on aircraft with auto-mixture). This configuration allowed me to use complex engine controls in a very realistic, natural, and intuitive manner. The unused levers on the TQ were quickly assigned to other functions like landing gear, hook, supercharger control, and tail wheel lock. It just FEELS more correct to drop the hook with a throw of a lever instead of a ‘peck’ on a keyboard! A noticeable but minor distraction is caused by PF’s heavy use of ‘toggle’ controls instead of single discrete key assignments, occasionally you end up ‘out of sequence’ with your control input. A simple solution is available; just ensure that all your controls are in the correct position prior to beginning the game.

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