Here is my review of my new PFC Saab Desktop yoke.
There is a quite old (12 years now) review of this yoke on the Flightsim.com, (http://www.flightsim…iew/jetyoke.htm), but since this yoke provides a new redesign, I decided to make for you a detailed review, with some pictures and videos.
As I was deciding if to get one, I couldn’t find one decent video on the net, youtube or anywhere, giving a good impression of the smoothness of the yoke – a reason why probably most people contemplate if to get a PFC yoke.
I hope the videos I uploaded reflect exactly that and give an idea what this piece of hardware is capable of.
Also, I had to put some pictures as embedded, and some as part of the post, due to the limit of 10 photos per post.
Alright, let’s get going:
The yoke arrived in a big box, very well sealed and packaged. It was packed in lots of soft styrofoam, firmly holding the yoke in the box. A+ for packaging.
With it, an USB cable, some documentation (no, I didn’t read it yet in detail, but basically the info you can find on the webpage).
Nothing to it. Placed it on the table, connected USB cable, and went into the calibration window – all goes well.
Open FSX, open FSUIPC, check the ranges, all is well – assign axes… all smooth sailing.
There is a sentance on Flightsim.com that say “The butter-like smoothness is second to none.” – I can only confirm this. There is no stuttering at all. Nowhere. None. Zip. Nada.
We have to take into consideration that this is a desktop yoke, no a full stand yoke, thus having one system for both elevator and aileron.
Once I have felt this, every other yoke I owned (and I previously owned 3 Saitek yokes, hoping that the new series might be better) is going to fell into forgetableness.Let’s get into some details:
The cabinet is made out of powder coated aluminum (source PFC). The quality of the cabinet is exceptional, feels very good and very smooth, no sharp edges or anything, yet very sturdy and stable. Made with extreme care, I’d say!
Some photos of the cabinet:
The yoke itself is made out of cast heat treated and CNC machined aluminum (source PFC), which provides very sleek and very cosy feeling when holding the yoke. If I had my eyes binded, I’d say I was holding a real aircraft yoke. It’s greatly shaped, making for a really firm and natural hold, giving an easy access to all buttons and switches.
The Saab yoke comes with total of 12 button on the yoke, 4 buttons and 4 rocker switches. They are all normally assignable as buttons in the FSUIPC and are recognized accordingly.
According to PFC, these buttons are a commercial grade switches, making them highly durable. Pushing them is certainly something completely different than anything I’ve ever tried. They feel very strong and sturdy, like they were made to last a lifetime, which they probably won’t but nevertheless… it’s something to admire.
There is one year guarantee on the switches, so if they fail after that, you can obtain new ones from PFC, exchanging them isn’t too hard.
The stainless steel shaft is a shaft that is centerless ground with nickel plating and polishing to insure perfectly round shaft (source PFC). What I can tell you is that it looks absolutely astonishing, compared to some cheaper yokes.
The throttle knob, as unimportant as it is for most simmers, is still very nicely done and has a nice feeling to it. There is an important thing to mention here: there is a known issue of the yoke hitting the knob if the knob is pulled out fully – no way to change that. But as I said: most simmers usually have a TQ of some kind, especially with a cheap Saitek TQs available out there.
Let the photos speak for themselves:
Ahh, my favorite part. I just love knowing what’s inside!
This time let’s start with a photo:
As you can see, compared to some other systems of those plastic yokes, this is something completely different.
The only thing a bit discouraging to me was the bungee rope system, but I can tell you one thing: it works great! I’ve never flown a real jet aircraft, and also no yoke aircraft. But I flew a Katana. I remember having my hands hurt after 2 hours of flight – that’s how hard to yoke was to move.
The bungee rope is a high quality military grade rope (source PFC). I’d take their word on this one, it really looks and feels great.
The PFC desktop yoke reminds me of this, being quite hard to move, especially when doing those turn-pulls, just like the real thing did!I bet that a column yoke is quite different in this matter, but in all honesty: you can’t have a desktop yoke perform like a column yoke! Too bad is I never had a chance to fly a Cessna for real to have an insight in how it is compared to the Katana.
In my usage of the PFC yoke, I came to realize that I’ll either need couple of more muscles or simply put both hands on the “wheel” when taking off or turning. Which doesn’t mean it can’t be done with one hand! Au contraire, you’ll notice in the video how smooth is actually to fly with one hand.
The mechanism consists out two ball bearings, front and back, holding the shaft precisely in place.
Both front and back bearings are Thomson Super12:http://www.drillspot…er_Ball_Bushing
These bearings are super smooth, giving absolutely no resistance (notice the small distance of the shaft from the bearing bushing, giving you the idea how precise these things are).
The “plastic” parts you can observe, also in the bearings and side-sliders are not plastic, but Delrin (http://en.wikipedia….olyoxymethylene): Delrin is FDA compliant, has good mechanical properties, excellent dimensional stability, is self lubricating and provides excellent wear and abrasion resistance (source PFC).
Thomson Super12 ball bearing:
I can’t tell you what’s in the middle, but whatever it is, it’s smooth (if I get an info from PFC on this, I’ll update).
My yoke came on the request to PFC with Hall Effect Sensors. The HE sensors are built into their more expensive system, while cheaper desktop yokes have potentiometers. I had a chance to try out both, there was no visible difference in the sim, but as you know, HE sensors last longer.
The good news though is: PFC offers an upgrade possibility ($125) to Hall Effect Sensors, even for their smaller yokes (can’t beat that!). Keep in mine also that a whole other system is needed for the HE sensor upgrade (the cog wheel you see on the right side of the mechanism is the part of the HE sensor upgrade).
Hall Effect Sensors:
Now, I was talking about the bungee rope the PFC introduced as opposed to springs. The bungee rope mechanism is virtually noiseless. The big achilles heel of many such yokes are noises coming from the mechanism. I can tell you (and you “hear” in in the videos) is that the yoke is not really noisy.
The small downside of this mechanism is quite low centering force of the yoke – when measured in the FSUIPC, the full range is +16384 to -16384, but the centering of the yoke is not perfect: it has a center where the rope has no effect, that is about +150 to -500.
Of course, this non-centering is also at the same time providing no detent, which many simmers love, including me.
This quirk is also putting the yoke a bit offset (OK, I’m nitpicking here, but neverthelss, worth mentioning!) on the right side. Could’ve been better centered.
From this photo it’s quite understandable why there is a high tension on the mechanism while in roll and pitch simultaneously.
Furthermore, the rails, that I already mentioned above, are made out of Delrin, are there for the stability of the mechanism, mostly for the pitch according to PFC, provide good sliding and no problems here:
Now that I finalized the mechanism review, one thing more worth mentioning before we move onto videos.
The yoke comes with no clamps or mechanism to keep it in place, and believe me one thing: it is going to move if you don’t fixate it onto a table somehow.
Now, PFC told me they experimented with different clamps, but could not come to the viable solution, which would work for all the yokes (I have no details here as to why), but the fact is, that you need something to keep it on the table.
PFC recommended velcro taping it to the table. I tried it, while it worked quite well, I didn’t like the velcro being on the my table while I wasn’t using my yoke, as I move it aside when not using it.
My solution, and a simple one at that: nanopads. (http://www.nano-pad.com/). Easily removable, very slip resistable, and washable after they get dusty. Price 2 pieces (cut them in half) around 15€ here. No biggie. Works great.
First video is a video in which I attempted to represent the smoothness of the yoke.
Please note that holding a camera in one hand and trying to represent the yoke with the other doesn’t do the job well, but I hope I managed to give you the idea of the perfect smoothness this yoke provides.
Now, if I might give a little of my opinion on the comparison to the Saitek Pro Flight yoke, which I also owned.
These movement that I’m showing in this video, were on a Saitek yoke very very stuttery. Especially at one part of the video I show how you can turn the yoke with one hand, and still do very small movements without the yoke twitching a little bit. That was the main reason why I wanted to have a full metal all ball bearing yoke, simply so that it doesn’t hang on any movement. Ever.
The second video, is a PMDG NGX takeoff from LOWW, in which I did the simplest setup possible to have a smooth takeoff. If you ever wonder, the cockpit movement effect is coming from EZCA.
You will notice how easy it was to hold the pitch while taking the first turn on the MOTIX departure.
Please don’t take my flying skills for serious yet, as I’ve been flying a stick for a 737 since I’ve know a word simulator. I already told myself I’ll need a long time till I’m completely at home with a steering with a yoke. Nevertheless, I think I did a quite well job
If I feel compelled, at some point when I master the LOWI approach with the NGX, I might post a video of that one, so stay tuned!
Width: 36cmHeight (incl. Feet): 13,3cmDepth: about 31cm (the housing is a bit askew on the front)
I give this yoke 97 points out of 100.
– strong forces on the turn-pull (a matter of opinion probably)
– throttle knob quite useless (it broke off, lol, exactly as with the other review)
– a bit off center alignment, about 2mm on the right side (details in the review on the dead zone)
– Price (taken quality into consideration)
– Build quality
– Great feeling in hands
– Great PFC support
– Lifelong warranty on the mechanism
– Replaceable parts
The final question: is this yoke worth the money? Absolutely! Is it worth compared to those cheaper yoke: All the way.In all fairness, you can’t even compare this to any cheap plastic >$200 yoke. Cheap yokes are cheap, stuttery and unrealistic (but again: cheap). Good if you are looking for a shortterm fun.
From the product like PFC, you are gonna get many years of satisfaction on a high quality grade level. It’s a long term investment. Doesn’t matter if you are a casual or serious simmer. The fact is: PFC yoke delivers.
Simtech Design Online Store (Spain, they deliver to whole Europe)
I can only say from my experience with both Simtechdesign (Dutifristore) and PFC, these guys are what you would call an example support. Excellent communication and great help.
I will not hide that my first yoke was broken and I had to send it back, but the replacement yoke was sent by PFC swiftly, which you saw in this review. According to PFC, something must have gone terribly wrong with the delivery or transport, since it wasn’t as nearly as smooth as this one.
Guys and gals, hope you had fun, if you have any questions, just shoot!