In all my life in front of the PC I had many joysticks. At 1986 I got the first one, it had only two digital axis and two buttons. Since then, for my flight simulators, I changed multiple times the controller for them. It allowed me to see and test many brands, technologies and joystick complexities. Now I use the Thrustmaster HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) Warthog. It’s not the cheapest one, but worth all the cents that it costs.
This HOTAS includes two important pieces, the main joystick and the throttle quadrant. Both are connected to the PC via USB and have upgradeable firmware through this connection.
A manual is included and explains everything to you install this joystick. The installation was easy and without any problem. After installing the drivers and connect it to PC, it’s completely ready to use. Yes, you needn’t to calibrate the joystick and throttles. This joystick not use potentiometers as the standard old analog joysticks. This HOTAS Warthog has 3D magnetic sensors (Hall Effect) to detect the axis position.
This new technology not have the old problem that exists in other joysticks. In other joysticks, after some time, you start to have spikes and reading errors on the axis. This problem appears because the wear that exists inside the potentiometers. In this new sensor not exist any friction to detect position. So, the durability of this new joystick hugely increase compared with the older ones. After the installation of the joystick and throttle, is also recommended installing the provided software tool. It calls TARGET (Thrustmaster Advanced pRogramming Graphical EdiTor) software and is required to use all the features of this HOTAS.
The look of this joystick and its overall quality is truly impressive. It is a replica of the throttle quadrant and joystick of the real A-10 Warthog. The construction quality is also very good. It is almost all metal and total a weight around 14 pounds (+/- 6.4 kg). Everything in this joystick was done to make all the hard-core simmers happy.
The handle is extremely ergonomic, comfortable and all the buttons are easy to access. Thrustmaster used buttons that have the same pressure as the real A-10 aircraft. So, some buttons require more pressure than usual to activate it, but is like the real Warthog controllers. It increases the feel that you are in a real aircraft and not at home. An important feature is the possibility of change the joystick grip with the one of Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar (replica of the F-16 controller).
– The Joystick
The X and Y axis of the joystick is amazingly smooth. With the joystick, if I make a circle movement in the half of deflection, I didn’t noticed any notch when crossing the main axis. It uses a five coil spring system to get this linearity and fluid tension with no dead zones. The X and Y axis use a 16 bit resolution sensor. It’s very precise and with a resolution of 65536 x 65536 values you didn’t need more.
The buttons installed are:
1 x 8-way “point of view” hat
2 x 8-way hats
1 x 4-way hat with push button
1 x metal dual trigger
4 x push buttons
Important to mention is that the metal base are detachable, if needed, for easy install on a desk or cockpit-style place.
– The Throttle Levers
The HOTAS Warthog has two independent throttle levers and have many nice features. It also have Hall Effect sensors and with 14 bit resolution (16384 values) on each lever. An impressive resolution for a throttle lever. To increase the realism this levers also have special detents, including a lock system, as in the real A-10. But if you prefer without them, it’s very easy to remove these detents. The documentation provided explain how to do it easily.
Here also exist many buttons and controls. Only on levers you can find this:
1 x mouse hat with push button and 3D magnetic sensor (Hall Effect)
1 x 8-way hat
1 x 4-way hat with push button
1 x push button
1 x 3-position switch (2 momentary + 1 permanent)
2 x 3-position switches (3 permanent)
1 x 3-position switch (1 momentary + 2 permanent)
The friction of the levers is very fluid and linear. You can also adjust the intensity of it for what you prefer. Important to mention is that exist a tiny bar to hold both levers together. Very useful if you are piloting a single engine aircraft or not want to use differential throttles.
Overall the quality of levers are excellent, sad that it’s not full metal.
– The Throttle Base
When I connected for the first time the throttle controller, was another “Wow”, the labels of the switches are back-lighted. It’s very beautiful and a nice feature for a home-made cockpit. For people that not like it, no worries, it can be adjusted with many levels of intensity, including turned off.
The base has many controls to interact:
1 x TRIM wheel
2 x push buttons
5 x 2-position switches (2 permanent)
2 x 3-position switches (1 momentary + 2 permanent)
2 x 3-position switches (3 permanent)
Also exist 5 programmable LEDs.
– The TARGET software
All buttons, hats, switches and axis are fully custom programmable with the use of the mentioned TARGET software.
This software is essential to use all the features of this HOTAS Warthog. It was developed by the Thrustmaster to configure and program the HOTAS Warthog, MFD Cougar, HOTAS Cougar and T.16000M. With it you can have multiple programming levels, from basic to complex scripting.
The basic configuration is very easy to do, only need to select the joystick button and the associated keystroke that you want. The advanced mode is also easy and use more advanced possibilities like the multiplexing of all the buttons according to the position of a switch. This is like if you have three layers in all buttons and a specific switch to change between layers. It’s a precious feature if you use it in very complex modern combat flight simulator. There you usually need to control multi-radar modes, many cursors and complex weapon systems. With this HOTAS you almost never need to use the keyboard.
About scripting mode, the limit is your imagination. It uses a language similar with C and you can do very complex configurations. You can even twist the X-Y with the angle you want or do conditional configurations.
This software saves all your configurations in profile files. When you run them they create a virtual integrated HOTAS with the configuration you choose.
– Final words
It’s an almost perfect joystick. It’s amazingly well done, highly custom programmable, and it’s very immersive. The HOTAS Warthog is not a cheap controller, but well worth all the cents.
With an actual price that is around 320 € in many retail shops, I hugely recommend this one for all really hard-core flight simulator simmers.
Only after using many other joysticks and then use this one, you will understand why exist joysticks that cost 20 € and another more than 300 €.
Finally, if you are a frequent virtual pilot of the DCS A-10 is a sin if you didn’t use this HOTAS Warthog with it.
For more information, visit here.
Intel i7 920 2.4GHz, 6GB RAM, ATI/AMD Radeon HD6970 2GB
TM Hotas Warthog, TM WCS, CH TQ, Track IR, Raildriver, Logitech G25
Windows 7 Ultimate x64