HOTAS, HOSAS, Dual Joysticks, Omnithrottle, Space and Flight sim controllers

What are these terms and how do they work in terms of control schemes? In this world you generally get what you pay for – if it’s cheap, then it’s probably plasticky and nasty. If it’s expensive, then it’s probably high quality. Saitek and Logitech have equipment running from low to midrange. Thrustmaster from mid to high range.

The VKB Gladiator NXT is currently the most popular midrange joystick you can find around $120 – $150 which comes in left and righthand versions.

If you have the money though, you go for the Virpil (VPC) Constellation Alpha (both left and right hand) and MongoosT-50CM2 grips and bases

HOTAS

The world of flight sim control used to be fairly straightforward: ideally you had a stick on the right, a throttle unit on the left and rudders in the middle. Some stick makers tried to replace the rudder with a twistable stick grip and maybe a little throttle lever on the stick so you could get full control cheaper – the four degrees of freedom (roll, yaw, pitch and thrust) / 4 DOF on a single stick. You had less buttons but you used the keyboard and mouse more.

HOSAS / Dual Stick

Now in the resurgence of the age of space sims – (Elite Dangerous, Star Citizen, No Mans Sky, Star Wars Squadrons and Tie Fighter Total Conversion to name a few) the traditional HOTAS (Hands on Throttle and Stick) is losing ground to the HOSAS (Hands on Stick and Stick). The HOSAS offers six degrees of freedom (6 DOF): roll, yaw, pitch, thrust + horizontal and vertical translation / strafing, which makes sense for a space plane that can not only go backwards but can also strafe directly upwards and downwards or left and right.

This gives rise to some interesting control schemes:

Left stick
x-axistranslate / strafe left + right
y-axisthrottle
z/twist-axistranslate / strafe up + down
Right stick
x-axisroll
y-axispitch
z/twist axisyaw

a variation which seems to be popular in Star Wars Squadrons is

Right stick
x-axisyaw
y-axispitch
z/twist-axisroll
`

another variation with throttling

Left stick
x-axistranslate / strafe left + right
y-axistranslate / strafe up + down
z/twist-axisthrust

often combined with:

rudder left footthrottle backwards / reverse
rudder right footthrottle forwards

Different combinations work better or worse depending on the person and how tiring it is for them personally. As Reddit user Enfiguralimificuleur points out: “It worked best for me with Z/twist being the throttle. I found it very efficient to adjust your speed properly. Very easy to stay at that speed as well.
However due to wrist issue and tendinitis, some positions are VERY awkward. Try pulling+right+twisting. Ouch. And even without the pain, this is not comfortable.”

Throttling and the Omnithrottle

The throttle can be set in different ways: a traditional HOTAS throttle is set to where it’s pushed to. Generally sticks have a recentering mechanism. This means that it’s easy to find reverse but can get annoying because to throttle you need to keep pushing the stick forwards. There are a few solutions to this.

First, The VKB gunfighter III base has a dry clutch which will remove the centering spring back of the pitch axes, meaning you can assign that to thrust and basicly have a stick that stays there mimicking a throttle while still allowing for rotation and roll axes.

Second, people can use a traditional throttle as well (so then I guess it becomes a HOTSAS)

Third, you can map a hat to 0, 50, 75, 100% speed and set speeds that way as a sort of cruise control

Fourth you can use the rudder (left foot back, front foot forward) or z-axis (twist) for thrust / throttle control. This will not eliminate the problem though.

The omnithrottle is when you angle the left hand stick around 90 degrees downwards so that it looks like a throttle. You retain the three axes and the extra buttons and hats, giving you more freedom.

Sessine has a guide to converting a VKB stick to an omnithrottle – he gives credits to users JaguarMG and Pretagonist

This extension can also be found on Thingiverse with instructions

There is a Youtube video of the Angled Virpil Stick Adapter / Omnidirectional Throttle here using a Gardena hose to hose fixing adapter

and Issalzul has a two part writeup of their throttle (part 1 / part 2)

r/hotas - Finally finished my omnithrottle mod, thanks to this sub for giving me the idea!

For the VKB Gunfighter, ArtoriusPendragon has made a 3d file for the 3-Axis Throttle Adapter

r/HotasDIY - VKB Gunfighter 3-Axis Throttle Adapter

And Sarai_Seneschal has some tips on how to work with the #10 spring on his chair mounted HOSAS build.

r/hotas - VKB MCG Pro, VKB Kosmosima, Monstertech Chair Mount, 3D Printed throttle adapter designed by u/ArtoriusPendragon

CAD / 3D design mice

The 3D Connexion space mouse Pro has 12 programmable buttons and offers 6 DOF as well. It’s a left handed controller but might be interesting.

Attaching stuff to desks and stairs

For that I have a whole other post you can look at. Have fun!

Discuss

For Reddit discussions see r/HotasDIY and r/hotas – thanks for the input there, guys!

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