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Manufacturer: Macsense
Min OS X: Not Supported    Requires: USB Port

FunStick Pro F-108
February 20, 2002 | Tim Morgan

Both joysticks contain horizontal and vertical trim controls that, like the CH F-16 CombatStick, do not require software support. All trimming is done in hardware (in fact, if one looks closely, one can see the mechanism that alters the trim beneath the plastic). Therefore, the trim controls work regardless of the computer game.

Both joysticks are formed around the right hand with finger grooves and a palm rest. The F-108 has an eight-way hat switch, as opposed to the F-106, whose hat can only move in four directions.

Combat Readiness
At first I had a number of problems installing the joystick software. Installing the outdated drivers that came with the install CD left my system in shambles. After some reconstruction, I installed the latest InputSprocket extensions. For whatever reason, both joysticks did not work until after restarting my computer, which conflicts with the goals of the USB protocols.

After working things out, the first thing I noticed while using these joysticks is their sensitivity. These joysticks almost overreact to even slight motions, creating a disorienting situation in high-performance aircraft simulators like Falcon 4 and F/A-18 Hornet. Obviously, many games support sensitivity controls; buyers may have to fiddle with the gameís settings to return the sensitivity to more realistic levels.

The column of LEDís that light up sequentially as the throttle is increased, while very appealing to the eye, turned out to be close to useless. Obviously, the purpose of a joystick is not to be looked at; gamers will have their eyes on the screen. Plus, over time, one could conceivably gain a feel for the position of the throttle.

Ambitious new pilots may buy sims like Falcon 4 or F/A-18 Hornet, in which case, theyíre in for an overwhelming surprise. However, even when Falcon 4 is adjusted to its easiest avionics settings, the dismal count of three buttons is simply not enough to control the F-16. Simmers will have to decide if that means they need to buy a more expensive joystick or a less complex game.

Neither the F-106 nor the F-108 has a throttle detent for the afterburner position, which means that the afterburner kicks in at an arbitrary position on the dialís stroke. The F-106ís four-way hat, when used for changing the view, can become disorienting when padlocked on an enemy fighter.

Sims like X-Plane and Fly! II are not as reliant on a joystick bristling with buttons and hat switches, so the low count of controls becomes less of a concern. In fact, for pilots who simply want to take to the skies in a Cessna and do some casual sightseeing, the FunStick is up to the job. Admittedly, the one throttle is hardly enough for in-depth control of a two-engine aircraft, but such fidelity is usually reserved for civilian-aviation fanatics anyway.


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