Jump to content

Airbus sidestick mod (in progress)


Ifikratis Kamenidis

Recommended Posts

Ifikratis Kamenidis

Hi all,

I thought I'd like to share with you my mod idea for a realistic airbus sidestick. I am not talking about a replica of the real mechanism, but a good approximation for the casual airbus simmer, although with quality of parts. As the FSL Airbuses are my primary flight sim focus I thought it would be worth to invest in such mod. 

A few years ago, I replaced my Thrustmaster T.1600 joystick with the Virpil VPC WarBRD base + T-50CM joystick. I have also the Thrustmaster Warthog and F/A-18C grips which are compatible. The one I currently use for the Airbus, being more "left hand friendly" is the F/A-18C grip. It's a metal grip and while perfect to fly a fighter its still quite uncomfortable for a left handed use, compared to properly designed left-hand sidestick like the one found in the real Airbus.

The WarBRD base is a very well engineered base, full metal construction, hall effect sensors and aircraft grade aluminum gimbal. You can see this product here:

VIRPIL Controls - VPC WarBRD Base (virpil-controls.eu)

I had an eye in the market for quite a long for a grip that would fit this base but all grips I could find was way too expensive. Recently I came upon an amazing looking and made Airbus sidestick. It is made by a professional simulator cockpit manufacturer called "VIER IM POTT" located in Germany. They also sell a usb ready stick including the mechanism for around 900 EUR + VAT , however you can buy the stick separately for 149 EUR + VAT. You can see the stick here:

A320 Sidestick (CPT Side) - VIER IM POTT (vier-im-pott.com)

The stick comes with a 1.5cm hole and all necessary switch cables as well as a securing hole/bolt in the shaft. 

The missing link for this mod to be able to complete is that an adapter mechanism such is the one that the Thrustmaster grips have, is not separately available for purchase and thus I will need to find a way to make this fit. I thought of sending this to Virpil and pay them to do this mod for me, however as they are located outside the EU I was afraid of the extra costs included for shipping and unknown custom charges and so I decided to find another way.

This post has double purpose. First to let you know about this mod and if I succeed maybe others would be interested. Second I'd like to ask you if you know if there is any place where I can order such an adapter. Another option would be a Warthog grip that is for sale for parts, although these things are quite robust to fail.

If anyone has any ideas for this merging, I'd be glad to know! Thank you for your time!

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Following this topic. If anyone comes up with a screw-on solution for the Warthog/Virpil base, I’m certainly interested.

I currently have the Virpil WarBRD base with the Warthog stick, and one thing worth mentioning is, that the fully metallic Warthog stick is a bit too heavy for it, and gives it a bit of a wobble that the RW Airbus stick certainly doesn’t have. I wonder what material and weight the VIP stick are?

I also fly other types that need a trim switch and DCS where HOTAS is needed, so the option of having 2 different grips I can interchange by screwing on and off would be just perfect.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
ollie_taiani
On 12/4/2020 at 3:53 AM, Ifikratis Kamenidis said:

Hi all,

I thought I'd like to share with you my mod idea for a realistic airbus sidestick. I am not talking about a replica of the real mechanism, but a good approximation for the casual airbus simmer, although with quality of parts. As the FSL Airbuses are my primary flight sim focus I thought it would be worth to invest in such mod. 

A few years ago, I replaced my Thrustmaster T.1600 joystick with the Virpil VPC WarBRD base + T-50CM joystick. I have also the Thrustmaster Warthog and F/A-18C grips which are compatible. The one I currently use for the Airbus, being more "left hand friendly" is the F/A-18C grip. It's a metal grip and while perfect to fly a fighter its still quite uncomfortable for a left handed use, compared to properly designed left-hand sidestick like the one found in the real Airbus.

The WarBRD base is a very well engineered base, full metal construction, hall effect sensors and aircraft grade aluminum gimbal. You can see this product here:

VIRPIL Controls - VPC WarBRD Base (virpil-controls.eu)

I had an eye in the market for quite a long for a grip that would fit this base but all grips I could find was way too expensive. Recently I came upon an amazing looking and made Airbus sidestick. It is made by a professional simulator cockpit manufacturer called "VIER IM POTT" located in Germany. They also sell a usb ready stick including the mechanism for around 900 EUR + VAT , however you can buy the stick separately for 149 EUR + VAT. You can see the stick here:

A320 Sidestick (CPT Side) - VIER IM POTT (vier-im-pott.com)

The stick comes with a 1.5cm hole and all necessary switch cables as well as a securing hole/bolt in the shaft. 

The missing link for this mod to be able to complete is that an adapter mechanism such is the one that the Thrustmaster grips have, is not separately available for purchase and thus I will need to find a way to make this fit. I thought of sending this to Virpil and pay them to do this mod for me, however as they are located outside the EU I was afraid of the extra costs included for shipping and unknown custom charges and so I decided to find another way.

This post has double purpose. First to let you know about this mod and if I succeed maybe others would be interested. Second I'd like to ask you if you know if there is any place where I can order such an adapter. Another option would be a Warthog grip that is for sale for parts, although these things are quite robust to fail.

If anyone has any ideas for this merging, I'd be glad to know! Thank you for your time!

Hi,

I am wondering weather you have had any luck with this mod as I would be interested in doing it also? I have sent an email to both companies to see if they can offer a solution. 

Link to comment
Ifikratis Kamenidis

Hello guys, 

Thanks for your comments. I have received the sidestick handle and I am currently waiting for the adapter to attach it to the Virpil WarBRD base. I purchased a custom made adapter from a nice guy from Croatia. Here is the link of his facebook shop account:

Joysticks and stuff | Facebook

I have also placed an order for the controller needed to make the buttons work (HEF4021BT) , but I still need to buy the 5-pin adapter. Until I gather all the switches connectivity components I'll fly it without them. I only use the AP disconnect on landing, so its not a big deal for now. 

I will let you know as soon as I receive the adapter and also post some photos. 

@Antti Salo the sidestick is made of an epoxy material. When I got it I thought pity its not metal as I thought the real one to be metallic. I then asked the seller and he told me that actually the real one is made from the same material so it actually looks and feels like the real one in the touch. Because of that it is much lighter than the warthog. I actually just weighted them for you. Warthog grip: 1027gr, Sidestick: 194 gr. So, we are talking for more than 5 times lighter. 

Link to comment
ollie_taiani
13 minutes ago, Ifikratis Kamenidis said:

Hello guys, 

Thanks for your comments. I have received the sidestick handle and I am currently waiting for the adapter to attach it to the Virpil WarBRD base. I purchased a custom made adapter from a nice guy from Croatia. Here is the link of his facebook shop account:

Joysticks and stuff | Facebook

I have also placed an order for the controller needed to make the buttons work (HEF4021BT) , but I still need to buy the 5-pin adapter. Until I gather all the switches connectivity components I'll fly it without them. I only use the AP disconnect on landing, so its not a big deal for now. 

I will let you know as soon as I receive the adapter and also post some photos. 

@Antti Salo the sidestick is made of an epoxy material. When I got it I thought pity its not metal as I thought the real one to be metallic. I then asked the seller and he told me that actually the real one is made from the same material so it actually looks and feels like the real one in the touch. Because of that it is much lighter than the warthog. I actually just weighted them for you. Warthog grip: 1027gr, Sidestick: 194 gr. So, we are talking for more than 5 times lighter. 

Thank you for the update my friend. Am I correct in saying that with the adapter it will function as a joystick just the buttons won't work? 

Link to comment
Ifikratis Kamenidis
2 hours ago, ollie_taiani said:

Thank you for the update my friend. Am I correct in saying that with the adapter it will function as a joystick just the buttons won't work? 

Yes exactly. The buttons won't work, but the adapter has the hole in order to fit the 5-pin socket if you want to in the future. 

Link to comment
Norman Blackburn
52 minutes ago, Pascal Ad said:

Havent you said this will be my christmas gift?

Darn - there goes the surprise!

14 minutes ago, ollie_taiani said:

Compatible with WarBrd base? 

Thrustmaster Hotas base.

Link to comment
ollie_taiani
24 minutes ago, Koen Meier said:

if it uses the same hotas connector it could work with the virpil basis.

I emailed the A320 team and they asked weather the Virpil base has the same magnetic cross as the Thrustmaster. If it does then it should be compatible. Does anyone know?

Screenshot_20210103-162918.png

Link to comment
Ken Knowles
On 1/3/2021 at 2:29 PM, Norman Blackburn said:

Likewise.

Haven't ordered the Virpil or Hotas base yet (Stock seems to be an issue for both), would prefer Virpil if it's compatible but the seller doesn't have a Virpil base to test it.

On a related note, any real world A320 pilots who can say if the sidestick has linear deflection force or if it increase with deflection - wondered if the linear cams offered by Virpil would be sensible?

Update - Ordered the WarBRD and shipped to a320project to test / modify the side stick as necessary to fit the virpil base. Now just have to be patient ... and figure out how to manage without a POV hat on my side stick controlling my chase plane presets

Link to comment
Koen Meier
4 hours ago, Ifikratis Kamenidis said:

And I can confirm the ergonomics and weight is far superior to the heavy thrustmaster grips. 

It looks really good. I might consider it for future upgrades.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Ifikratis Kamenidis
11 hours ago, Jules Marhuenda said:

Did you have to do the wire manipulation yourself ? And how much is it ?

Hello. I haven't connected the buttons yet. Yes, for this I need to do some wire manipulation. I have to actually find a 5 pin mini din adapter plus a controller chip. I have ordered the HEF4021BT currently. When I have completed the wiring I will let you know, however it will take some time. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...
Michael Olsson

Hello Simfolks,

I'm a old pilot but new here. Mostly flying the MS FS A320 with the FlyByWire A32NX mod. So, in addition to my Thrustmaster TCA Throttle Quadrant with add-on I bought Thrustmaster HOTAS Magnetic Base. My idea was two use the A320 sidestick with the base.

Now, this is my problem: I believe I run into a fraud! The webside " cockpitbuilderswebstore.com " showed a A320 sidestick made by some italian company. I placed an order in Februar, and I got a confirmation:

"Hi Michael,

Just to let you know — we've received your order #XXXXX, and it is now being processed:

[Order #XXXXX] (February 21, 2021)

Product Quantity Price
Subtotal: 129.00
Shipping: Free Shipping
VAT: 0.00
Payment method: Paypal
Total: 129.00
A320 Sidestick for Thrustmaster HOTAS - CPT 1 105.00
Shipping payment for Project A320 orders - Switzerland 1 24.00

 

"They" (the manufacture) say that they need about 3 to 4 weeks for the delivery. The money is gone from my bank account. But so far I have no more info about my order status. "They" have no direct email contact address. And trying to reach them via "cockpitbuilderswebstore" is also not possible. Email = no answer. The cockpitbuilderswebstore" Tel.Nr. is no more valid. Absolut frustrating but I can live the money lossed. Anybody here who has some info about these italian guys?

Maybe somebody here has a suggestion for another A320 Sidestick manufacture with the Thrustmaster HOTAS Magn. Base interface?

Thank's for any help! Michael

Link to comment
ollie_taiani
14 minutes ago, Michael Olsson said:

Hello Simfolks,

I'm a old pilot but new here. Mostly flying the MS FS A320 with the FlyByWire A32NX mod. So, in addition to my Thrustmaster TCA Throttle Quadrant with add-on I bought Thrustmaster HOTAS Magnetic Base. My idea was two use the A320 sidestick with the base.

Now, this is my problem: I believe I run into a fraud! The webside " cockpitbuilderswebstore.com " showed a A320 sidestick made by some italian company. I placed an order in Februar, and I got a confirmation:

"Hi Michael,

Just to let you know — we've received your order #XXXXX, and it is now being processed:

[Order #XXXXX] (February 21, 2021)

Product Quantity Price
Subtotal: 129.00
Shipping: Free Shipping
VAT: 0.00
Payment method: Paypal
Total: 129.00
A320 Sidestick for Thrustmaster HOTAS - CPT 1 105.00
Shipping payment for Project A320 orders - Switzerland 1 24.00

 

"They" (the manufacture) say that they need about 3 to 4 weeks for the delivery. The money is gone from my bank account. But so far I have no more info about my order status. "They" have no direct email contact address. And trying to reach them via "cockpitbuilderswebstore" is also not possible. Email = no answer. The cockpitbuilderswebstore" Tel.Nr. is no more valid. Absolut frustrating but I can live the money lossed. Anybody here who has some info about these italian guys?

Maybe somebody here has a suggestion for another A320 Sidestick manufacture with the Thrustmaster HOTAS Magn. Base interface?

Thank's for any help! Michael

Hi Michael,

I have been in contact with A320 project, thier email is: info@project-a320.com

They have been very helpful and seem genuine so try contacting them this way and I'm sure they'll give you a status update.

Link to comment
Norman Blackburn

Michael,

I have one of the sidesticks I bought directly from the Italians.  They are genuine and were quick to reply to any questions I had during the process.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
Ken Knowles

Mine arrived today complete with the Virpil base I had shipped to them for conversion. Working well on the quick test flight over lunch - looking forward to putting it through it’s paces later today  

(@michael, I kept in touch via Facebook messenger)

 

 

8485E979-00BE-4D51-8FF8-47A61E4CD174.jpeg

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Hi Guys,

my "Project A320" Sidestick came today. I wanted to share some pictures and information about the compatibility, maybe I will do a more in-depth-review in a few weeks.

The sidestick itself feels amazing and is much heavier than i expected and the buttons make a satisfying "click"-noise.

I can confirm that without any modifications the stick will only fit on the thrustmaster-base and not on the virpil-base. I hope the pictures are a good explanation. Project A320 build the sidestick exactly to fit shape of the thrustmaster-base. I am not sure, what kind of modifications they have done to Ken Knowles base, that would be interesting to see.

Maybe Ken can share some pictures of the base as well.

From what I can see there are two reasons. The first aspect is the screws of the sidestick that prevent the connectors to fully slide into each other on the Virpil-base. The second aspect is the two-piece-mount of the sidestick that holds it in place. The neck of the Virpil-base-plug is too big and the mount does not fit around it. Mine is a little bit to narrow even for the Thrustmaster-plug-neck (you can see the gap in the picture where the stick is mounted.) 

I have no experience with 3D-printing at all but i have the feeling the mounting-solution lacks a little bit of quality compared the stick itself. Sandpaper might be the solution here.

Anyway its just my first impression but I thought this information might be relevant for anyone here who is thinking about buying one of these sticks.

I did one flight today and my left hand is not used to controlling my virtual airbus but the feeling of the sidestick was really really good!

 

index21.jpg

index17.jpg

index16.jpg

index22.jpg

index11.jpg

index12.jpg

index14X1.jpg

index6.jpg

index13.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to comment
MinhPham
On 1/3/2021 at 6:23 PM, Ifikratis Kamenidis said:

Hello guys, 

Thanks for your comments. I have received the sidestick handle and I am currently waiting for the adapter to attach it to the Virpil WarBRD base. I purchased a custom made adapter from a nice guy from Croatia. Here is the link of his facebook shop account:

Joysticks and stuff | Facebook

I have also placed an order for the controller needed to make the buttons work (HEF4021BT) , but I still need to buy the 5-pin adapter. Until I gather all the switches connectivity components I'll fly it without them. I only use the AP disconnect on landing, so its not a big deal for now. 

I will let you know as soon as I receive the adapter and also post some photos. 

@Antti Salo the sidestick is made of an epoxy material. When I got it I thought pity its not metal as I thought the real one to be metallic. I then asked the seller and he told me that actually the real one is made from the same material so it actually looks and feels like the real one in the touch. Because of that it is much lighter than the warthog. I actually just weighted them for you. Warthog grip: 1027gr, Sidestick: 194 gr. So, we are talking for more than 5 times lighter. 

I'm doing the same thing with you so please keep me updated about how the wiring goes, i would appriciate it a lot !

And as a real life bus driver, from what i have seen on all the testing videos, the sidestick from Vier Im Pott would be a more realistic option if you want to put in the extra work. Don't get me wrong, the one from A320 project is also great since it comes plug and play and also you would get half the price but the shape of it is not really correct and also the a/p disconnect button does not feel like the real thing. If you guys check out the Stick from Vier Im Pott you would hear a really tactile sound with deeper traveling just like the real thing. Just a tip from me for you guys to consider!

Link to comment
Ifikratis Kamenidis
11 hours ago, MinhPham said:

I'm doing the same thing with you so please keep me updated about how the wiring goes, i would appriciate it a lot !

And as a real life bus driver, from what i have seen on all the testing videos, the sidestick from Vier Im Pott would be a more realistic option if you want to put in the extra work. Don't get me wrong, the one from A320 project is also great since it comes plug and play and also you would get half the price but the shape of it is not really correct and also the a/p disconnect button does not feel like the real thing. If you guys check out the Stick from Vier Im Pott you would hear a really tactile sound with deeper traveling just like the real thing. Just a tip from me for you guys to consider!

Hello! Happy to hear you also like this solution, especially being a real bus driver :) I have received the parts for the wiring but haven't found the time really to make it yet. But I think hopefully until next week I'll make it and post here. 

Link to comment
  • 4 months later...
András Major

Hi there, this is my first post, I just want to share what I have so far in case it's of any use to anyone.

Despite the price, I also ended up with the combination of a Virpil WarBRD with the Vier-im-Pott sidestick (after testing and immediately disliking all cheaper options I could get my hands on).  That brings me to the adapter issue.

Instead of buying an adapter kit, I decided to use my own solution.  As it turns out, the M36x2 metric thread on the WarBRD base is used in the hydraulics industry, where they call it "28L".  So I obtained a nut of that size, and turned an aluminium adapter on the lathe.  This picture shows the adapter (left) and the nut (right), accompanied by my first attempt at the electronics (middle):

 

1a.thumb.jpg.db0c3b6003154d9240b794cad81578f8.jpg

 

You can see that I also cut three M2 threads into the nut, allowing me to secure the nut with M2 set screws, just like on newer versions of the the Virpil grips.  The adapter tube is about 50mm long overall, the outer diameter is 34mm, being the core diameter of the M36x2 thread.  First, I turned the narrow part to a tiny bit more than 15mm in diameter, then trimmed it down in small steps to just fit into the sidestick with little effort.  There is space of about 12mm in diameter inside the adapter, that's where the electronics have to go.

My first three attempts at making the electronics were all plagued by poor mechanical stability (the sidestick's wires directly pull the pads of 0603-size SMD resistors!), so I eventually gave up on this.  I ordered some PCBs instead in order to make a more solid solution, they haven't arrived yet, unfortunately.

So, for the time being, I use the stick assembly without the buttons, and it looks like this:

 

2a.thumb.jpg.982b9a3d8495b85485dea49b1f9f568f.jpg

 

I don't think you could lower the stick onto the base a lot more than this.  From all documentation I have on real aircraft (Airbus, Falcon 7X), it appears that both travel and forces are comparable to the real thing.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
András Major

Well, well, well, look what the cat postman taxman brought in today!  Actually, they made me pay a charge for paying duty and tax so that, in total, I paid most for the fees, followed by shipping, for a product that cost even less than that.  Tax was minimal, but they put that flatrate charge on top of it, which I find absolutely ridiculous.   Imagine a pizza delivery man charging you $20 for preparing your bill for a $5 pizza delivered to your door for $8.  I guess you get the picture.

 

j1.thumb.jpg.fa9fbbc4875bcc7a7c787d672156c9d5.jpg

 

In any case, these little PCBs are designed to fit inside the aluminium tube and connect directly to the pins of the Mini-DIN connector:

 

j2.thumb.jpg.e02cd4fe883c9c62e1cb9155e592f24f.jpg

 

On the right is the populated PCB (4021 is on the other side), on the left you can see the heart of the Mini-DIN plug (after removing all the bulk).  Two of the Mini-DIN contacts are soldered directly to pads on the top of the board, two more to pads on the bottom, it's only the remaining pin (+5V) that's too far away from the PCB and therefore needs a short wire for connection.  The joystick buttons are then soldered to the four pads on the right, it all looks like this before final assembly:

 

j3.thumb.jpg.d7e9fdfd37ac1bdbcd96b500edd44a29.jpg

 

It's mechanically much more solid that any of my earlier attempts.  And, best of all, it works!

I don't need all those PCBs (incidentally, volume pricing means that I would have paid the same total amount even if I only had one made...), so give me a shout if you're interested.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
Diogo S Ferreira

Hello Good Evening i received today the Sidestick from Project A320 to use with Warthog magnetic Base and i'm very Happy with it it's great!!  But i have one question the Tiller doesn t work unless i press the Tiler button on The VC i Use mainly 2D ;). I've tried to change it to "T" and nothing.... I don t use FSIUPC if someone can help me i'll be very thankful :).

My Best Regards

Diogo Ferreira

Link to comment
Holger Teutsch

I consider buying the combo Virpil / Italian stick as well but I'm a bit concerned about ergonomics with the base on the desk.

@Ken KnowlesCan you do me a favor and measure the distance from desk to hand-rest on the stick, i.e. height of hand above the desk?

I came across this solution: https://www.prusaprinters.org/prints/30610-virpil-vpc-warbrd-base-desk-mount that looks quite attractive to me. It requires either turning the plug or connector in the base by 90°. Does this look feasible for you? 

Link to comment
Ken Knowles

@Holger Teutsch I measured the distance and it's about 13cm which you are correct in thinking doesn't feel the most ergonomic. Fine control is quite difficult without the ability to rest your arm on something.

That's an interesting adaptor. I looked at the plug in the base (see photo), there are two screws which can be removed allowing the plug to rotate however there are no addition threaded bores to secure it so I don't think that's and option. I also looked at the connector on the side stick and while there are removable screws (see photos in my earlier post) which I removed and could feel a bit of play, it didn't rotate easily. I didn't want to force it and risk damaging any internal solder joints or wiring. I'd recommend contacting them to ask if it can be rotated 90 degrees when they produce it as they were pretty responsive via facebook chat when I reached out to order one. 

I also note from a YouTube channel that there is another manufacturer doing side sticks (for different chinese manufactured bases) - https://www.facebook.com/winwing.cn/

The advantage I can see here is the option to have a hat switch built into the sidestick.

IMG_0464.jpeg

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...