Once you have a joystick, flight pedals and a copy of ms flight sim in hand you have started the move from casual simmer to hobbyist. Whats next? Well the next step would be to make all those dials and switches on the instrument flight panels more than just a mouse click able item. If you are on the starting line to building a home based cockpit you can either go with a touch screen PC to emulate control boards or start investing in some real switch panels. I do not have a lot of space in my room to build a full blown cockpit (actually the money is the real problem) but this is where the saitek pro flight switch panel fits in real nicely. It is affordable and small enough to fit on my desk.
Although I have already memorized a lot of the keyboard shortcuts as far as starting a plane is concerned, (or have one of those keyboard flight templates fit over your keyboard as an aid) it is nice to be able to perform all the various start up routines and flight tasks off the keyboard and on a combined switch unit.As an added bonus for those who own a saitek pro flight yoke system you will find that the saitek pro flight switch panel attaches right on top of the unit. Otherwise the unit can be assembled free standing as well.
A quick glance at the switch panel and the things that I like most on it are the landing gear controls, with position LEDs that indicate if the gear is up or down. Its also a nice feeling being able to toggle each switch in session as you work your way down the light switch panel.
The switch panel is broken up into approximately 3 distinct areas. You have the engine starters on your left, your light switches and master switches in the middle and your landing gear on the right.
One thing to be aware of is the the text labels on the switch panel do not actually illuminate, which means if you turn of the lights in the room you will have a hard time reading the text labels painted on unfortunately.
All the knobs and switches have a good strong click to them and everything feels sturdy will you use it, the unit is painted black and it blends in nicely on my desk. However the unit is made all out of plastic, however being painted black does not make it so obvious.
The unit is easy to install, it just plugs and plays. A quick 5 minute install of the cd is all that is required. However a slight drawback is that you can not reassign the switches to do as you want. Sometimes that means as you fly around some switches will not do anything. Still, with a separate switch panel I found that it was very convenient to free up some controls that where previously on assigned on the joystick or yoke and use it and There were some bugs when the unit first came out, but I am pleased to announce that Saitek do update the drivers to the unit and it just takes a bit of poking around to download the correct one.
If you do not screw mount the unit on the saitek pro flight yoke, than the unit gets attached to the table via some velcro tabs. Which, although workable isnt the most elegant of solutions and means the unit wobbles around a bit as you flip switches etc.
Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel Design
Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel Features
- Realistic landing gear control with LEDs indicating actual gear status from Microsoft FSX
- Start your aircraft engines and access other cockpit functions with ease
- Conveniently attaches to the base of the Pro Flight Yoke System (sold separately)
- 23.7 x 13.2 x 11.7 inches ; 1.4 pounds
- Connectivity: USB 1.1/2.0
- Works with: Windows XP, XP64 and Vista (all versions)
- To buy the Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel, you can find them here at Amazon
- Free up assignments on your joystick/yoke for other things
- Adds an extra touch of realism
- The only switch panel on the market at an affordable price
- Landing gear lights are individual for left and right. Good for quick gear troubleshooting.
- Flimsy velcro mount
- Only good out of the box for MS FSX, will work with MS 2004 with some tweaking. Needs a lot of tweaking in X-Plane.
- Can not reassign controls
Check out what this user had to say about the Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel
This is one of those items that you can live without but it does have a few nice attributes. Once I connected this switch box to my computer the way the plane I chose when I opened it in FSX changed. The very first thing I have to do as soon as the screen opens and I’m inside the plane is to immediately press all the buttons on and then off again, (or vice versa), and turn the starter knob and even activate the landing gear knob, (not in every case), so that the chosen plane recognizes the buttons and their functions [...] Read the rest of the review >
If you think to fly simulator truly, use this product. It give more feeling to your flight , I was getting tired using the mouse to click the switches light on off, landing gear on off , But with this product give simple and easy in simulator cuss you are only one pilot. the insulation of the software simple and easy, but no change the programming in the switches, but its no problem cuss its main switches light and de icing [...] Read the rest of the review >
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