Today I’ll be reviewing a newly acquired PFC Throttle Console including two addons for the console, a TQ for 737 and a multi-engine prop/mixture quadrants.
As there is no review to be found on the Internet to this fabulous component, I decided to put it prominently on my blog, because I really think this piece of hardware is engineered as well as the yoke and is holding the same PFC quality.
I tried, as always to make detailed photos and videos, to show you as best as possible what this piece of machinery can do.
I previously used the double Saitek TQs, coupled together for 2 and 4 engine configurations.
Alright, let’s begin.
The TQ Console including the Quadrants arrived well packaged in the box, with a whole bunch of packaging material, well secured for transport. As usual, absolute A+ for packaging!
Along the hardware, a well written documentation stating how to correctly calibrate the TQ and USB cable were inside.
The installation went well, though I did have my first “ooops” at that moment. Nothing serious, until you figure how the console works with the quadrant. The system is quite ingenious, when you think about it, a system which allows PFC to have a most realistic modular throttle quadrant system! Something noone out there has came up with.
Basically, the console has six push-pins, on top of which the quadrant is mounted. This way, the quadrant can be configured freely, and the console stays the same. Excellent solution!
Here are some pictures of the system:
As you already guessed, the inside half-circles press against the pins, and this is why it is so easy to make a modular console. Besides, it is really really precise. But more on it later.
As I was impressed by their first product, the Cirrus Yoke, the impression wasn’t smaller with this piece of equipment. Same as with the yoke, the lever movements are very very smooth, and you can even tweak it! On the side, there is an allen-screw which can be used to make the movement harder or softer. Maybe it wasn’t ment for that, but it works.
So, time to mount the quadrant onto console and connect it via USB. The quadrant is mounted via two thumb-screws on the sides of the quadrant. Connected it via USB, and opened a calibration window. According to the manual, following the requests in the calibration, it was all a breeze.
So, it was time to fire up FSX, and as I have my controlles disabled in FSX, and configured via FSUIPC, I checked the ranges there, and as usual, all was well.
So, time for the inital test: fired up NGX, set up the most important levers, Throttle1+2, Flaps, Spoilers… and off we go! Great feeling on the throttle. One thing I noticed is that it has quite a small movement range. Not really bad, but only noticable as I moved from the Saitek TQ. When you compare the movement of the hardware lever vs NGX lever in the VC, you simply notice that you move less than the NGX lever TQ moves. This is something I noticed less on the Saitek TQ, as it has much bigger movement. Minding that though, it was still a great feeling holding a nicely shaped throttle which moved smoothly and silently!
The flaps lever also gave more immersion as it is actually shaped like a real flap lever! There are no detents, but you have both visal feedback in the NGX and the sound.
That was the first takeoff. All went well, great feeling on the throttle.
And I have to admit, it looks really well beside the Cirrus Yoke, very nicely complementing it!
After the inital setup, I went into deeper configuration via FSUIPC, configuring reversers, seeing how the idle is performing etc.
Please note that the setup of the 737TQ was done on the PMDG 737 NGX only, apart from small tests that were done on the default 737.
The 737TQ is quite precise, as I already mentioned. This means, it is moving in the FULL RANGE of its movement. Meaning the smallest movement from the full idle already means a recognition in the FSX. Now, most already know that FSUIPC has calibration facilities that accomodate any kind of perverse configuration. The best tool out there by far. But, when it comes to the very best addon for 737 out there, the PMDG 737 NGX, these facilities should not be used. Why is this a problem:
The Saitek TQ, when pulled back, has by default a little deadzone before the idle detent is entered. It virtually exits the potentiometer range before ending the movement of the lever.
The PFC TQ doesn’t do that. The lever, when calibrated, reaches zero idle when pulled fully back, there is no deadzone. As known with FSX, this can cause sometimes a no-idle in many aircraft, creeping forward etc. Sometimes it will idle and sometimes not. Usually you can have help through the FSUIPC, but with NGX you can’t. So I was really thinking how to solve this, and came with a simple and effective solution:
You calibrate the levers by putting the smallest allen-key you have, and putting it between the lever and the casing, effectively making a small deadzone, which, when FSX is fired up, is working pretty similar like the Saitek TQ is! And the aicraft is always going into idle. So, first problem solved. Please note that this is not a hardware fault, it’s simply a little obstacle we simmers have in daily operation of FSX.
Next thing was to configure reversers:
The two reverser levers on the 737 TQ are full axes which can be moved way back. The FSX by default doesn’t have axes for reversers, instead it is using F2 key, as throttle decrease. This doesn’t ever present problems, and my previous Saitek TQ was configured as such: the “button range” which was entered below the axis was configured to decrease throttle 1 when pushed and repeat. That worked great.
Now, it would be very stupid to use a button for the axis range on this marvelous TQ, when you have the full axis available. FSUIPC offers a reverse axis, so that can be used, even via calibration window (only throttle should not be configured through FSUIPC calibration!).
This is when the problem presented itself. Note yet again, this has nothing to do with the PFC, but rather how the FSX and NGX work. When on the ground, the reversers worked great. Entering the reverser idle, and then slowly pulling further on the levers worked great! The problem presented itself when I tried landing and pulling on the reverser – they did not activate! The problem is already known, and is called approach idle vs. ground idle. The reversers can’t be activated as long as the aircraft is not in the ground idle. In the real 737, ground idle activates once the gears touch down. In the NGX, it doesn’t, and this is why F2 (decrease throttle) works great, as it is basically like the F1 (throttle idle), just goes past the ground idle. The axis doesn’t send the F1 or F2 by default, thus to activate the reversers after landing, one has to press F1 or move the throttles a bit forward and back again after aircraft has touched down or do a little trick like I did through FSUIPC:
FSUIPC offers a possibility to send a key or a function when a range of the axis is entered. This is exactly what I did: I set it to send the Throttle 1 Cut in s small range at the beginning of the reverser axis. This is working beautifully. Now, after landing, when I pull on the reverser, a command is send to cut the throttle, effectively entering ground idle, and then activating the reverser when the small button range is exited.
I hope this part of the review will help some other soul out there, as most who would buy this TQ, will buy it for NGX, as it is as of now, the most advanced 737 available for FSX.
Furthermore configuration of the flaps and spoilers went without a problem, this is working great, configured via FSUIPC also.
Gear “lever” is quite a nice addition in my opinion, and it is basically two buttons, which can be configured via button dialog in FSUIPC. No brainer really.
The rudder trim: this is one thing I am still unable to set up in NGX. It is working great in the default 737, it is a simple left-right slider and this is exactly how it works in the default 737, but in the NGX, this is a spring loaded knob. Maybe it can be configured via range-button-configuration in FSUIPC, but didn’t yet have the time to play with it.
Now, with the configuration out of the way, let’s continue with some pictures of the cabinet and the hardware itself.
Like the yoke, the cabinet is made out of power coated aluminium. The quality as expected of exception quality, feels very smooth, durable and is very stable. It complements the yoke quite well, giving a nice cockpit look. The size of the cabinet is slightly smaller than the one of the yoke, same height though, so if you want to play something on top of both, no problem! It’s a bit shorter and a little narrower though.
Some pictures of the 737TQ:
The console has the landing gear lever, which as previously mentioned, acts as 2 buttons, rudder trim with acts as an axis, then GA button, which can be configured however you like, and the flap switch on the right side.
The 737TQ is very smoothly machined hand holders, really a nice quality, very smooth, without any sharp edges, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say I was holding the real throttle (never held one though!). On the Throttle1 Lever, there is a button which usually acts as an A/T disengage (I am using it also as such). Beware that the “GA” button on the console and the A/T Disengage buttons are electronically one and the same button (explanation from the PFC: so that the users who don’t have the quadrants with the button, also have the function available to them). I find it a nice touch.
As usual, for the switches and pots, there is one year warranty, and spare parts can be obtained via PFC. But they really don’t look like the brand that fails often.
Some close-up pictures of the 737TQ:
As already previously mentioned, the mechanism of the TQ is somewhat unique. It allows the PFC for a completely modular system, giving you a chance to have a real to life looking throttle quadrant, and still only one console.
This is how it looks like:
As you can see, the system that is built is very sturdy, stiff, and precise. Why?
I have seen some other TQs in my life (and I won’t be naming names here), but this is by far the sturdiest and most stable system. It allows for no free movement, everything is under pressure when mounted. This ensures there is no chance of free movement of the lever which FSX won’t recognize!
As you can see on the last picture, the levers are connected with one big screw going through the whole quadrant and virtually tightening together all levers providing a good stable base for the movement.
The material that is pressing the levers together, is I believe the same one as on their yoke – Delrin. The Delrin, apart from plastic, is much harder, has good mechanical properties and excellent stability, which I would guess is the right choice to choose for pushing the levers together. The movement is thus also very smooth even if it is only mounted like this.
The six levers are working on the slider principle in the yoke itself. As far as I can see, it is very precise and reacts to the smallest movements of the lever (FSUIPC calibration sees delta movement of below 30 if moved really little).
When flying, these smallest movements ment really a lot: they ment that I could fly with the utter precision on the throttle, making smallest adjustments, virtually controlling the speed with quite an easy a knot up or down.
There is a little thing I noticed, and this is really nitpicking, is that the left throttle is slightly, really slightly, higher when in idle than the right one. This is due to the rubber holding the cable for the button on the left throttle. PFC could easily fix this by applying a little rubber onto the right lever. While in use though, this is neither visible, nor affects the flying and usage.
There is no much need to fix the console with anything, as it’s already quite stable, but if you, like I do, like your throttles a bit harder to move (remember: screw on the right side), then you’ll need something to stick it to the table.
As with my yoke, I am using the Nanopads:
As already mentioned, easily removable, very slip resistant, washable after they get dusty, price for 2pcs here about 15€ (cut in half for 4 pcs). They work great throughout my setup as I like to remove the setup to have a clean table.
Pictures of the console with the turboprop quadrant:
I made two videos representing the console and 737TQ usage while in flight.
Please note that I wasn’t much concentrating on the flight, but more on the usage of the TQ, and this was actually my first real flight with the TQ. So spare the comments on high taxi speed, poor alignment at Innsbruck etc 🙂
The videos feature a taxi and departing from Gatwick and arrival to Innsbruck.
And yes, this is a promised approach to LOWI from my PFC Cirrus Yoke review, although I was a bit too far on the right, the landing was quite smooth!
Dimensions and Weight:
Height (incl. Feet): 13,3cm
Depth: about 27cm (the housing is a bit askew on the front)
As a simple matter of a note, I’ll give the TQ 90/100.
The price of the whole thing is actually neither positive nor negative. It is quite high priced, if you want to get more TQs. But, considering how much a single configurations from some other companies cost, and with that you can only fly usually one configuration, this modular system is by far the best for the FSX user who usually has couple of aircraft. You have the ability to set up each aircraft with the most realistic TQ for the best price.
A bit of the disappointment is a somewhat short travel of the lever. That would of course require quite of a redesign of the TQ and the console, maybe even doable with only redesign of the TQ. With it also comes a bit fumbling return from the full reverse – when you pull the reverse levers the full back, it’s impossible to get a full grip onto them (the best is to check videos, you’ll see what I mean). Furthermore the little thing about the not the best alignment of the left and right throttle coule be remedied quickly. I find that these negatives don’t have very high weigh on the quality and usage of the TQ, though.
I very much like the feeling when flying the 737, especially using the gear lever, which is really great addition to the console, and the flap lever, which feels quite comfy in the hand.
In the end: is it worth the dough? Yep. Although maybe not the same as the real thing, for the price, it is the closest you’ll get to the real thing and the “heavy” feeling is unique. Much unlike some cheaper counterparts, that begin with S… 🙂 This is definitely something for the longer run, much like PFC yoke!
Simtech Design Online Store (Spain, they deliver to whole Europe)
A word on their support: with the issue about the reverser, I was contacted by their technical support, which were very helpful. Also, the TQ was missing one little part, apparently the production missed it, the part was sent over the very next day and was here in Austria from USA in 3 days. Can’t beat that. One of the best support I have seen.