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JOYSTICKS, YOKES, THROTTLES, RUDDER… Different names, same principle of operation…


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  • Aerosoft


Different names, same principle of operation…

PDF version here

Wonder why when you connect your throttle for the first time, engine 1 lever makes the plane turn right, and the button labeled “Engine Start” changes outside view ?
Or why advancing what looks like a throttle lever, the propeller or mixture changes in the aircraft ?

Well, because all the joysticks, throttles, rudders share the same type of interface board:

A series of analog-digital converters (usually 6 or 8 and a series of ON/OFF contacts (usually 32) hooked to a USB port

The analog-digital converters are called axes and the ON/OFF contacts buttons.

Potentiometers or Hall-effect sensors are connected to the analog inputs and switches and buttons are connected to ON/OFF contacts.

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What differentiate a yoke from a throttle for instance is the shape of the actuators mechanically attached to these potentiometers, Hall sensors, switches and buttons.

In this Honeycomb Alpha yoke, one can  see the usb interface board, some potentiometers (rotative and linear) and buttons.


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Same for this Saitek Rudder…

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So, from a computer standpoint, there is no difference between all those devices.
What is only seen are analog (fluctuating) and ON/OFF signals, whatever they are actuated by.

To help differentiate in the programs (simulators, calibration utilities), a device name is “embedded” in the firmware (small operating program) of the USB board.
When you plug the devices into your computer, the cards will be recognized as “Yoke”, “Rudder”, “Throttles”, etc. instead of “Board #1”, “Board #2”, “Board #3”, etc.


AUTIOMATIC AXES / BUTTONS ASSIGNMENTS : A cause of apparent problems

A common claim support teams receive is :
I connected my rudder that is advertised as Plug&Play but when I move the left brake, my aircraft pitches down… There must be a problem

With this device, I need to return it for repair or exchange…
"When I press a button on my throttle quadrant, the view switches from cockpit to outside view..."


Well, you rudder or throttle actually works perfectly well.
Simply, some axes have been automatically assigned to certain basic functions.

Back in the time when only one connected control was possible (usually a single combo device of yoke, throttle, yaw), a normalization was set up
with X Axis being ailerons, Y Axis 2 elevator, Z axis 3 yaw, etc.

The simulators automatically assigned the axes and buttons to their relevant functions.


The norm is still actual so you end up with exactly the same board (as seen by the computer and simulator) connected to completely different type of controls.

So in case of multiple controls, or controls not being a yoke, you may indeed experience strange behaviors because of automatic assignments.

There is no trick, easy or go-around methods…
The best way is to simply manually assign ALL the axes and buttons you need and unassign  ALL the other ones.

Double check that no unwanted default assignment remain. (wich could lead to double assignments and crazy behavior).

At least you know exactly what is assigned to what. It takes time, requires precision and rigor but easily pays off!

Never rely on default assignments. These are remains of the '90.


Some manufacturers develop drivers that usually assign axes and buttons to the relevant functions within the simulator.
Some others develop more advanced software that scan the axes and buttons and address the corresponding Simmconnect or FSUIPC addresses.

It saves some time, but don’t forget these are based on templates and assumptions that you will use certain type of aircraft in certain conditions.
These are wonderful programs, for sure. But don’t overtrust them.
Be your own judge. You are flying the aircraft. Not the driver.

Don’t blindly rely on drivers or configurations software !

Most of them only assign the buttons, leaving the user assign the axes from within the simulator

Configuration Panel.



Another common complain is :
I have an old joystick and it isn’t recognized in the new Microsoft Flight Simulator, I can see the name of my joystick but no picture, only a question mark.
Moreover, no functions are assignable


In the new Fligh Simulator automatic assignments are already programmed for some most common controls.

Most of the other ones are also perfectly compatible, but are not assigned at all. (wich is good)

To make sure you can make the axes and buttons assignments manually for an unknown control, go to the    

"CONTROLS" display, and make sure you set the "FILTER" on the left to "ALL" instead of "ASSIGNED"

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