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Unholy Disaster
12-24-2014, 06:39 AM
Post: #1
Unholy Disaster
This is probably the worst investment I've made in my simulator since I started simming more than 15 years ago.

I was a very early Kickstarter backer and plunked down my $550 with delight, even knowing that Iris Dynamics couldn't possible deliver in the May, 2014 they initially estimated. My yoke finally arrived yesterday, just a couple of hours after receiving the backer message that warned they'd had all kinds of manufacturing issues. I therefor opened the box with a mixture of great anticipation and significant trepidation.

Trepidation won the day.

The cosmetics of the yoke are terrible. My unit looks like something assembled by a cranky kindergartner -- before their nap. The yoke handle casting looks terrible. There are hideous, uneven seams, and surface defects everywhere. The trim switches fit poorly and are noticeably loose. Most of other switches look like manufacturing line seconds and the switch mounts to the ugly yoke surface look like they have some kind of disease. The surface finish of the case has scratches on the top and minor crackling of the finish. I'm seriously wondering if they accidentally shipped me their very first prototype unit instead of an early customer unit.

The unit shipped with exactly one sheet of documentation, a glossy (and damaged) two-sided "Quick Start" guide.

After tracking down an AC cord actually long enough to reach an outlet (seriously, guys? Of what possible use is a 1m long AC cord?), I plugged the unit in for a quick bench-test before starting to integrate it into my simulator. It powered up normally, and operated as documented in the quick-start guide. I noticed, though, that the elevator shaft binded up when pulling the yoke back to the full "nose up" position. This occurs at roughly 60% of travel to the rearmost position. It's not subtle -- the shaft basically sticks and needs an extra tug to get it moving rearward again.

I carted the yoke downstairs to my simulator and started the painful process of integrating it into my sim (the pain is from the complexity of my sim setup, not the yoke itself). About an hour later, I powered everything up to give it a try.

I'll say this: the unit is detected as a yoke. That's the last and only positive thing I have to say.

I'm running P3D v2.4, with all the usual nearly-mandatory add-ons for a serious simmer, mostly notably, FSUIPC. Every serious simulator in the FSX/P3D world uses FSUIPC. I knew this was going to be part of my integration pain, because as I recall, FSUIPC doesn't support force-feedback of any sort. That meant I was going to have to disconnect my elevator and aileron axes from calibration and axis assignments from FSUIPC and let P3D handle the yoke axes. Fortunately, that's not a big deal and didn't take too long to accomplish.

My first flight was with the Carenado Cessna C-337 ("Skymaster"), a plane in which I've logged many, many hours. Taxi and takeoff roll were normal, but when I rotated with the usual amount of yoke travel required, nothing happened. I pulled back more. Nothing. Finally, at just short of full elevator deflection, the nose eased up. After assuming a normal climb attitude and retracting the gear, the yoke sort-of started to behave normally. I say "sort of" because there was a noticeable lag between yoke movements and aircraft reaction to it -- much more so than with my old Saitek yoke. Yoke forces seemed OK.

Finally, the moment of truth: I set a target altitude and heading into my autopilot and engaged it. The airplane began to turn towards the target heading -- and nothing at all happened with the yoke. The plane settled into a roughly standard-rate turn and the yoke never moved. The airplane reached the assigned heading and the wings leveled -- and the yoke never moved.

After a few minutes, I reached the assigned altitude. The autopilot commanded nosed down, the trim wheel moved, and plane settled perfectly at the assigned altitude (just like it always has). And the yoke never moved.

Then, however, things got exciting.

As the plane leveled (still on AP), the yoke jumped out of my hand and slammed all the way forward to full nose down. A couple of seconds later, it slammed all the way backwards to full nose up. I got a couple of seconds of a stall warning horn from the accelerated stall that was induced by this abrupt motion, and then the yoke continued a periodic oscillation from SLAM! -- full nose up -- to SLAM -- full nose down. I let this repeat about a couple of times and then disengaged the AP.

After manually leveling the plane, I reengaged the AP to hold altitude. SLAM! full forward SLAM! full back. Disengage the AP. SLAM! full back -- and now I can't get the nose down. The yoke moved forward normally, but the plane wouldn't respond to the control movement. Around this same time I got the 'USB disconnect' tone from my speakers.

If anybody has any suggestions, I'm willing to try anything to get the functionality sorted out, but I'm tremendously disappointed in what was delivered to me after waiting nearly a year from the time I paid in my Kickstarter funding for this yoke.

-M.
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12-24-2014, 12:58 PM
Post: #2
RE: Unholy Disaster
Mark-
Sucks that you got what sounds like a bad one. I've had mine for a couple of weeks now and it has been generally positive, but not perfect.

(12-24-2014 06:39 AM)Mark Hargrove Wrote:  The cosmetics of the yoke are terrible. My unit looks like something assembled by a cranky kindergartner -- before their nap. The yoke handle casting looks terrible. There are hideous, uneven seams, and surface defects everywhere. The trim switches fit poorly and are noticeably loose. Most of other switches look like manufacturing line seconds and the switch mounts to the ugly yoke surface look like they have some kind of disease. The surface finish of the case has scratches on the top and minor crackling of the finish. I'm seriously wondering if they accidentally shipped me their very first prototype unit instead of an early customer unit.

The handle cosmetics on mine are not great. IRIS took ownership of this with their last update. It doesn't bug me too much since the functionality and sturdiness is fine. My case looks great though, I don't have any scratches or crackling.

Quote: I noticed, though, that the elevator shaft binded up when pulling the yoke back to the full "nose up" position. This occurs at roughly 60% of travel to the rearmost position.

Mine has no binding. It isn't as smooth as I would like, but I can move it freely through the entire travel. The sensors are very precise. No jitter.


Quote:Finally, the moment of truth: I set a target altitude and heading into my autopilot and engaged it. The airplane began to turn towards the target heading -- and nothing at all happened with the yoke. The plane settled into a roughly standard-rate turn and the yoke never moved. The airplane reached the assigned heading and the wings leveled -- and the yoke never moved.

After a few minutes, I reached the assigned altitude. The autopilot commanded nosed down, the trim wheel moved, and plane settled perfectly at the assigned altitude (just like it always has). And the yoke never moved.

Then, however, things got exciting.

As the plane leveled (still on AP), the yoke jumped out of my hand and slammed all the way forward to full nose down. A couple of seconds later, it slammed all the way backwards to full nose up. I got a couple of seconds of a stall warning horn from the accelerated stall that was induced by this abrupt motion, and then the yoke continued a periodic oscillation from SLAM! -- full nose up -- to SLAM -- full nose down. I let this repeat about a couple of times and then disengaged the AP.

I'm on X-Plane, so I can't comment on how P3D handles stuff. My struggle has been finding a plugin or good support for providing forces. I did find a plugin (XPForce) which is working. The forces it sends aren't great but the plugin author has been working with me. I did not have any issues with yoke calibration or anything like that. Did you go through some sort of calibration process? Does P3D detect the full range of motion of the axis?

I had a similar experience with the autopilot, though I don't think it is the fault of the yoke. The plugin I'm using doesn't take into account autopilot, so the yoke still reacts to the aerodynamic forces generated. This is a problem because it fights the autopilot. That can cause large oscillations like you noted. Again, that is a plugin problem and the plugin author is working with me.

I have been working on another problem with IRIS. The fan in my unit is quite loud. When I've been able to get in touch with IRIS the support has been great. They've worked with my via email and on the phone. They even sent a new fan at no cost to me to test out somethings. As far as I can tell it is not a bad fan, but something in how the fan is mounted so close to the magnetic coils. When either fan I have is near the coils (in its mount) I get a loud drone. When moved away the drone stops. I'm still working to get the problem resolved, and when I've been able to talk with IRIS representatives they've been great. Unfortunately the response time the last few weeks as been slow. Maybe after the holidays it will get better.

This is definitely been a rough launch. Overall I'm pleased with the yoke I got. I hope you can get your problems resolved though, sounds like yours isn't in as good of shape as mine. Try and get into contact with IRIS support.

Reece Heinlein - PPL IR, KMZZ
X-Plane 10.31, Windows 7x64
IRIS Yoke, Saitek Rudder Pedals, Throttle, Radio and Multi Panels
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12-24-2014, 05:01 PM
Post: #3
RE: Unholy Disaster
(12-24-2014 12:58 PM)Pieces Wrote:  This is definitely been a rough launch. Overall I'm pleased with the yoke I got. I hope you can get your problems resolved though, sounds like yours isn't in as good of shape as mine. Try and get into contact with IRIS support.

Reece,

Do you have an email for Iris Dynamics support? I couldn't find one on the web site.

I forgot to mention the fan noise issue -- I have the very same problem with that as you described. When I powered it up for the bench test my very first reaction was "uh, wow, that's...loud."

Cosmetics aside, (which I also can deal with, albeit not very happily), I'm certainly willing to work with Iris if I can get in contact with them. I see that they're using a plugin for their force-handling in FSX/P3D called 'FS Force' which I've tried to buy already -- but that site is apparently not equipped to auto-issue keys and I think the holidays are biting me.

Thanks for the reply, btw -- it's giving me some hope.

-M.
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12-24-2014, 07:50 PM
Post: #4
Unholy Disaster
This makes me very nervous indeed...

I'm still waiting for mine and whilst it's a busy time of year, I'm having to chase for updates by email although I am in contact with Chad, the main man. It is requiring me to chase more than I'd expect though with initial emails missed and promised follow ups not given.

I'm most nervous as I live in Hong Kong and any teething problems will be very hard to fix if shipping back and forth is required.

Here's hoping you may have a unique issue that is easily addressable.

James
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12-24-2014, 10:33 PM (This post was last modified: 12-24-2014 10:51 PM by Hornet.)
Post: #5
RE: Unholy Disaster
FS Force 2 for FSX & Prepare3D v1, v2

A demo version is available that provides full force feedback effects in the Seattle area (KSEA). Download link below. A key is not required to try it out.

http://www.fs-force.com/download.htm

FSX and Prepare3D origins go back to a time when force feedback meant; a joystick with a vibration motor. FS Force 2 is much better, I do suggest you allow your sim. software to control elevator trim.
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12-25-2014, 12:44 AM
Post: #6
RE: Unholy Disaster
(12-24-2014 05:01 PM)Mark Hargrove Wrote:  Do you have an email for Iris Dynamics support? I couldn't find one on the web site.

http://irisdynamics.com/contact-technical-support/ - Email and phone number located on that page. I suspect you won't get anything until after the holidays, though.

Reece Heinlein - PPL IR, KMZZ
X-Plane 10.31, Windows 7x64
IRIS Yoke, Saitek Rudder Pedals, Throttle, Radio and Multi Panels
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12-27-2014, 05:44 AM
Post: #7
RE: Unholy Disaster
Oh bollocks - this doesn't sound good!
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12-27-2014, 12:07 PM (This post was last modified: 12-27-2014 12:11 PM by JN_.)
Post: #8
RE: Unholy Disaster
I got my yoke several days ago but haven't really had time to put it through its paces until today. For those wondering what to expect, here are my impressions. Note that I use Windows 7, with xplane (10.31), and I fly only light GA aircraft.

1. I concur on the cosmetic issues. That made me sad while unboxing, but it's not the most important thing for me, so I can live with it. It makes the device look home-made, not a finished commercial product, so I'm sure Iris will make some changes here. There's no way I'd pay $500 for a cast-metal yoke. I think Iris should explore alternatives which will not increase price. They should not try to hand-fashion everything in-house; stick with your core competencies and out-source those which others can do better/cheaper.
2. Upon setting it up, the first thing I notice is how loud the fan is! I'm not a quiet freak, but I do try to keep my computers on the quieter side, since I have to share the family/tv room. This means ssds, airy cases, quiet fans, etc., so that my computers are not very audible. With this yoke, all that effort is out the window. I wish somebody would tell me this is a defect, but I'm not hearing any unusual rattling, so I think it's a design flaw. If anyone gets any discernable improvements from servicing the fan, I would love to hear about it.
3. Someone else reported problems using a usb hub. I have a high-speed, powered usb hub and the device works fine (except for the button issue described below; may or may not be related to the hub).
4. One of the buttons (right thumb) does not seem to register with the OS at all. I tested with the following software which do not appear to see this button: Windows "usb game controllers" control panel, trackir, x-plane. At first, I thought the button was DOA, but I later found that the device does respond to control command inputs with this button (the "quick calibrate" command documented in the quick start guide), so the physical button works ok, and maybe it's a firmware issue or perhaps a conflict with another device that prevents my software from seeing it. Does anyone else see this issue? I noticed in the control panel dialog that the right trigger button shows up as "button 5" and the trim buttons show up as "button 3" and "button 4", which is contrary to how the buttons are documented in the quick start guide (which claims the right buttons should be 3 and 4).
5. My old yoke had 8 buttons (excluding hat switch), so a device with only 3 working buttons is definitely a step down. There are several important functions which I like to have at finger's reach. Now that I don't have enough buttons, I will have to compromise.
6. Without any plugin support, the unit will run in stand-alone mode. This mode is not interesting/useful at all, as it just applies forces to self-center, similar to a spring-centered joystick without any control loading. To reiterate, a plugin is needed! I thought Iris was going to work on a plugin or integrated firmware support for x-plane. Since I haven't heard any recent news of this, I would love to hear an update on their plans. The only usable plugin I'm aware of for x-plane is XPForce (thanks to the mention by Pieces), which seems reasonably priced.
7. XPForce has a free/demo mode which stops working after 10 minutes, and requires a restart of x-plane to re-enable. I'll probably buy it, but since I haven't yet, I can only test the yoke in 10-minute intervals.
8. With my very limited (and time-limited) testing, I noticed a drift in the center of the roll-axis, which was a little annoying. Will keep an eye out for this.
9. As others reported, I saw violent oscillations when trying to engage autopilot. This is presumably an issue with the plugin fighting against the autopilot, so should be fixable. In the meantime, autopilot cannot be used.
10. If you manually hold a specific pitch attitude rather than trimming properly, after a short while the fan gets much louder/scarier. On the positive side, after using the yoke for a while this will definitely train you to trim properly to avoid getting into this state.

As for general impressions, the accumulation of disappointments described above have made me feel underwhelmed and somewhat sad. If I get some usable driver software (including auto-pilot mode), I'll feel a whole lot better... at the price point I paid. I personally would have a hard time justifying paying much more.

I'll reserve my assessment of the actual feel of the stick under control loading until I've gotten a chance to do some longer testing.
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12-27-2014, 12:23 PM
Post: #9
RE: Unholy Disaster
Can anyone please post a link or send me a pictures showing where is the problem with the cosmetics. Also noise problems could be an issue. I hope this could be fixed with a different or maybe more quite fans.

Thanks

evanbanalian@hotmail.com
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12-27-2014, 02:38 PM (This post was last modified: 12-27-2014 02:46 PM by JN_.)
Post: #10
RE: Unholy Disaster
Before going into more detail on the cosmetics, I'd like to state that while I respect Mark's opinion, in my personal opinion "unholy disaster" is a bit of an exaggeration. The biggest issue in my opinion is the need for good driver support (i.e., plugin or firmware). I don't want the cosmetics to be blown out of proportion either.

Regarding the cosmetic defects, I want to emphasize that they are just that, "cosmetic", which means they have no bearing on the functionality of the unit whatsoever. The unit just doesn't have the fit and finish you'd expect from a mass-manufactured device. There are a lot of people who wouldn't be bothered by it at all; I personally prefer function over form, so I don't mind the cosmetics too much. It's just that when you plunk down a big chunk of money, you tend to expect what you receive to meet a certain standard of quality.

I took some photos in macro mode, which allows me to get some really close shots. Please keep in mind that the defects in these shots are really exaggerated by the closeness as well as the flash lighting. I'm also including a wide shot (with a 30" monitor) for a larger perspective.

The seams between the front and back halves of the yoke handle body are uneven, so there is a noticeable ridge, and the unevenness itself is not uniform (it varies across the body). The ridges are noticeable visually and tactilely. The surface appears is smooth in some places, and a little rougher in others, as if perhaps some kind of glue or sealant adulterated the resin. The surface has an uneven oily appearance, but it does not feel overly oily.


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