The Trackir 5 professional head tracking unit, although strictly not a flight controller like the CH Products Fighterstick USB or even necessarily a flight accessory such as a Saitek Pro flight BIP Panel in terms of hardware and peripheral acquisition in should be the second product you think about buying after you have a joystick and rudder pedals.
Simply what the Trackir 5 does is it maps your real world head movements and translates those into virtual head movements in video games. Even more simply put, you can now look around your virtual cockpit or scan the world in a first person shooter just by moving your head around. There is no need for an 8-way hat switch or to fiddle around with turning on and off mouse look.
Trackir 5 does this by using a high speed infrared camera that is positioned on top of your monitor, while you wear a three pronged LED tracking clip on a hat or mounted on your headset. Trackir 5 picks up these reflective LED tracking spots and uses this as a basis to track your head movement. With version 5, trackir can now track movement with 6 degrees of freedom.
As long as your game supports it it means that Trackir 5 will allow you to
- Turn your head left and right
- Look up and down
- Tilt your head left and right
- Move your head backwards and forwards
- Move your head up and down
- Move your head side to side
If you want to look under the yoke to see your light switches than you simply make the necessary head movements and Trackir 5 will translate that into a virtual camera movement in your game, in fact such a movement is not even possible using a simple 8 way hat switch.
Trackir 5 Features
- Out of the box support for over 100 games such as
- Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004, X
- Lock On Modern Air Combat and Flaming Cliffs 2
- DiRT 3
- Test Drive Unlimited
- Arma 2, Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising and America’s Army
- 10x the resolution of the previous TrackIR 4 for head smoother tracking
- A fast 120 fps sample rate on the camera (your standard webcam runs at 24fps)
- 6 degrees of freedom
- Ambient light filtering settings
- Detachable magnetic base (Camera and mount is two separate pieces)
- Buy Trackir 5 at Amazon
- In the box
- Trackir 5 camera (6ft USB cable)
- Black TrackClip (you attach this to any baseball cap)
- Sensor Resolution: 640 x 480
- Reporting Resolution: 96,000 x 72,000
- Field of View: 51.7°
- Resolution/Horizontal Degree: 1850 subpixels/degree
- Sample Rate: 120 fps
- Size (without base): 2″ x 1.5″ x 0.57″
- Weight: 1.8 oz
Trackir 5 Review
The unit comes in a clam shell package and you get just the Trackir 5 camera and the reflective 3 prong attachment. The camera comes in 2 pieces, as the base is detachable. The unit is attached via a single magnet, which means you can easily pop the camera in and out of the base. This has the unfortunate side effect that the camera will rotate on the magnet too easily if you bump the usb chord. The unit uses a simple three claw type grip that is designed to sit on top of your LCD monitor.
Installation of the Trackir 5 is straight forward. The only requirement is an internet connection so that you can install the latest Trackir software. The camera does not function and in fact will not even turn on until you have the Trackir 5 software installed and actually running on your desktop.
The included 3 prong reflector LED tracker is made of metal and fits snugly on any baseball cap. There is an optional headset attachment which you can buy that emits rather than reflects, however this is an additional purchase and the standard reflector works accurately enough. Unfortunately there is no included cap to get you started, but just make sure to purchase a cheap hat before hand as you do not want to keep removing and attaching the 3 prong reflector.
The unit work by sending and detecting infrared, as such ambient lighting does play a role in how well the Trackir 5 works. Ideally there should be no sunlight or ambient light source behind you (ie infront of the camera) Although there is room for some light filtering in the software, the whole setup works better if you just cover all your windows. If ambient light is a problem than buying the Trackir 5 PRO clip that emits rather than reflect infrared might be a better option.
Once you are installed and setup the thing works. You just run your game and your head movements are translated into in game camera changes flawlessly. I was so surprised at how seamless this was, there was no need tweak or assign any additional axis in the games I tried. All you had to do was run the Trackir 5software and then launch your game! Too easy.
Although head tracking and VR products have come and gone, you would be mistaken to think that the trackir 5 is just another one of those useless barely workable gadgets. Nup, this is not a power glove.
In Microsoft Flight Simulator X I was suddenly greeted by the ability to truly see around my cockpit! I was even more ecstatic to realize that I could now peer under the fight yoke of the baron beech-craft plane to see where all my switches were. It simply isn’t possible to get this kind of camera movement using the hat switch alone.
In case you were wondering, MS FSX does bound the camera to within the cabin. When you peer left and right in MS FSX it will only allow you to peer realistically up to the windows, as though you were squishing your face against it. There is a funny quirk though where if you adjust the seat height impossibly high you can stick your head through the roof of the cockpit and look around. This is purely a Ms FSX thing, not a track ir thing!
Flying helicopters just go easier as well, as I could visually survey my surroundings and look through the bottom of the helicopter to line my landings all using a quick fluid movement of my head. Simply impressive stuff. Landings just got so much easier and more accurate.
Trackir 5 Review Conclusions
Although the Trackir 5 seemed a little bit gimmicky, once I bit the bullet and tried the unit I was very surprised. The Trackir 5 works. There is no need for me to over hype and sell the product. If you have the chance to use it than you will never go back. If you are still sitting on the fence than all the better for us pilots in the virtual world, we will be blowing you out of the sky and you will never know why. We finally have a workable head tracking unit that gives us true situational awareness, Ill keep that competitive advantage.
- Easy to install, the default settings work without any need for you to spend hours tweaking settings
- In game head tracking, just magic. Flying virtual cockpit just got so much more enjoyable
- Support for new games seems to be improving (All the popular flight simulators are covered however)
- Pricey. The cost of a good joystick, or even HOTAS setup
- Your games need to be supported. Not all of them have 6 DOF too.
- Product only comes with a low tech 3 prong reflector clip. It works fine though.
Trackir 5 User Reviews
Check out what other users had to say about the Trackir 5…
I fly Microsoft Flight Sim X as a way to keep my head in flying while I cannot afford to exercise my real life certificate. I’ve been wanting one of these for a while and during the wait, Natural Point put out the new version 5. I finally bought it and, all I can say is “WOW!” Okay, that’s not all I can say. When the package arrived, quickly I might add, from GoGamer, I was surprised at the size of the box. It was well over-packed and protected from the rigors of shipping. The actual unit is quite small. Unpacking from the bubble package is easier than the normal bubble packaging, too. I was going to wait for Christmas, put it under the tree, etc. but the kids will just have to understand![…] Read the rest of the Trackir 5 review >
Yes it’s expensive but one you have used it, you can’t live without it. Using a hat-switch to look around in air combat simulations cannot compare to simply moving your head naturally to pan around as if you are in the plane. Once you own one, flying without it is just not worth it. Do yourself a favor and buy one. I bought mine directly from the trackir website. You can get a better deal by buying from Amazon or an Amazon retailer. […] Read the rest of the Trackir 5 review >
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