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Airbus sidestick mod (in progress)


Ifikratis Kamenidis

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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!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Antti Salo

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.

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  • 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. 

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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. 

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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? 

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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. 

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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.

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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

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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

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Ifikratis Kamenidis

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

  • Like 2
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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
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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
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  • 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

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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.

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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.

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  • 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
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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!

 

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