Hardware & Technical $450 Joystick Review - The VKB Gunfighter MK2 (3600+ words and some pics, u were warned ;) )

I would like to know what is the best damping grease for the TWCS throttle though!
As mentioned by dragoniv, Nyogel 767A is excellent for this application.

the Virpil base and its precision soft center
This is what I'm looking at eventually replacing my CH Figterstick Pros with. I like the Fightersticks a lot, and they've lasted longer than I expected them to, but I'm at the point where I can feel the hardware is limiting me. I'd like to try the VKB stuff before I commit to such a purchase though.

A somewhat more pressing issue is finding a throttle with an analog thumbstick that I like. I've also got CH thottles, but they are the best option only because there are only two real options. The new Virpil throttle is very impressive, but it's ministick is under the index finger...which I do not find ideal.

Need some throttles with much more precise thumb sticks under the thumb. I remember some ancient piece of Nikon equipment that I saw at my ophthalmologist about twenty years ago that had the most amazing thumb stick to control the optics...that's what I want.
 
I have the same joystick and a V2 Virpil throttle (the last one with detents, the current V3 model they're selling no longer has them).
If you're using Joystick Gremlin with VKB or Virpil gear you most likely haven't found out how powerful both the Virpil and especially the VKB software is. In contrast to other software you don't have to keep it running while using the joystick, as everything you change is written back to the firmware inside the joystick, so it even works if you plug it into another computer without any software installed.

Both Virpil and VKB software has got you covered if you want to change curves, axes, button maps, LED colours, shift modes, etc. Your comment about only one hat being a true hat? That's configurable. For all the hats. In fact, you can change between hat mode and button mode by pressing another button. Or only long-pressing it, while a short press still goes to your game. Or by a combination of other button presses. You wanted an 8-way hat? No problem, just configure the mini-stick as one. Out of the box if you press the mini-stick it switches between hat and 2-axes mini-stick mode, and lights up a LED to show you it's done so. Want the mini-stick mode as default if you fire it up? No problem, that's one toggle in the settings. The possibilities are insane and endless and I have only just started dipping my toes in what is possible.

The reverse of this is that the learning cliff of the software is basically vertical. The Virpil software is fairly intuitive once you watch a youtube vid or two but the VKB software (which seems to have FAR more options) is scary. It comes with a 112 page manual that basically only skims the surface and doesn't explain the good stuff. For that you need the knowledge of the people in the HOTAS/HOSAS/Simpit Discord at https://discord.gg/szqaJE7, no way you're figuring this out on your own.

I'm currently running the Kosmosima with the hard center cam on both axes and the lightest spring. This is super easy for exploration (out in the black currently) but probably not the best for combat. The biggest negative of the Gunfighter II base right now is that both cams are progressive in the force required the farther you get from the center. Virpil has linear (cosmosim) cams, but VKB doesn't (yet). Hopefully they'll get around to making those at some point as that's the only point where Virpil has them beat right now.
 
I have the same joystick and a V2 Virpil throttle (the last one with detents, the current V3 model they're selling no longer has them).
If you're using Joystick Gremlin with VKB or Virpil gear you most likely haven't found out how powerful both the Virpil and especially the VKB software is. In contrast to other software you don't have to keep it running while using the joystick, as everything you change is written back to the firmware inside the joystick, so it even works if you plug it into another computer without any software installed.

Both Virpil and VKB software has got you covered if you want to change curves, axes, button maps, LED colours, shift modes, etc. Your comment about only one hat being a true hat? That's configurable. For all the hats. In fact, you can change between hat mode and button mode by pressing another button. Or only long-pressing it, while a short press still goes to your game. Or by a combination of other button presses. You wanted an 8-way hat? No problem, just configure the mini-stick as one. Out of the box if you press the mini-stick it switches between hat and 2-axes mini-stick mode, and lights up a LED to show you it's done so. Want the mini-stick mode as default if you fire it up? No problem, that's one toggle in the settings. The possibilities are insane and endless and I have only just started dipping my toes in what is possible.

The reverse of this is that the learning cliff of the software is basically vertical. The Virpil software is fairly intuitive once you watch a youtube vid or two but the VKB software (which seems to have FAR more options) is scary. It comes with a 112 page manual that basically only skims the surface and doesn't explain the good stuff. For that you need the knowledge of the people in the HOTAS/HOSAS/Simpit Discord at https://discord.gg/szqaJE7, no way you're figuring this out on your own.

I'm currently running the Kosmosima with the hard center cam on both axes and the lightest spring. This is super easy for exploration (out in the black currently) but probably not the best for combat. The biggest negative of the Gunfighter II base right now is that both cams are progressive in the force required the farther you get from the center. Virpil has linear (cosmosim) cams, but VKB doesn't (yet). Hopefully they'll get around to making those at some point as that's the only point where Virpil has them beat right now.
Wow, thanks so much for all the helpful advice, I knew it could do a lot more than what I'm doing with it, but I didn't realise how much! This was always intended to be a layman's review, but I'm embarrassed how much I missed. They really need to make these features obvious, there was nothing inside the box that indicated any of this. I would have gotten deeper into it eventually, but you gave me a huge headstart, I will join the discord. Thanks again!
 
Happy to help! If it wasn't for the Discord + Reddit I'd never figured it out on my own either, this poopoo is wayy too obscure.
 
One thing I can't help but wonder -- especially as I've seen how accurate Ash is with his rails! -- and that's whether there're folks who've tried both and can offer insight into the finesse and precision differences between a good pair of rudder pedals for yaw and the twist-for-yaw provided by a stick of this caliber?

I started flying Elite Dangerous with TM rudder pedals and found them lacking. A very "hard" center and the need to move your feet back and forth really made precision near the center difficult. Adding joystick curves helped a little, but not enough. Then I swapped the TM pedals out for VKB's excellent rudder pedals and that helped, and marrying them to Joystick Gremlin helped even more. But you're still making fairly gross motor movement to try to effect small, quick changes. (not to mention that, when you travel, you have to take a joystick, throttle, AND rudder pedals if you want to fly while away from home!).

So, Ash -- is the twist force for this stick configurable at all? Or not, but you've found it takes "just the right amount of force" to yaw with precision?

And has anyone out there tried both good pedals and the twist-yaw of a high-end stick?

Anytime there's a chance I might bolster my lackluster fixed-weapons-aiming precision with better hardware, I can't resist! :)
 
I haven't had the luxury to play with pedals yet, been eyeing the VKB pedals for a while as well, even though Virpil now makes very nice pedals as well. The twist on the Kosmosima is quite good and loads better than cheaper sticks, but it's not adjustable at all. There is a very slight "lifting up" motion it makes when you slide it out of it's center point, this is necessary to make sure it stays centered when you don't want to yaw (which works 100% perfect in my experience). But that does mean that it's harder to make very small twisting motions, since you have to overcome a little resistance. Putting a different curve on the axis might help with precision, haven't tried that yet (and yes you can do that in the VKB software, you don't need Joystick Gremlin, even though some people say that Joystick Gremlin does it slightly better). So I suspect pedals are still much better than using the twist, even though it's a really good twist.
 
Update : My Kosmosima grip has failed.

For a week or so, it was randomly disconnecting from the base, no amount of reseating the grip (hundreds of times, literally) made this any better, every time I used the twist to yaw the lights on the stick would flash an error then some minutes later the blackbox would just stop for 15 seconds, after which yaw would not work until the Joystick was restarted (replugging USB).

This carried on for a week, then one day in the middle of flight, the lights turned off on the grip and the base flashed red to indicate no grip attached. Since then, the grip has been utterly dead. The base works fine, the Joystick test utility detected all the functions of the base (pitch and roll), but the grip is obviously dead (no yaw, no buttons). I've disassembled the grip, all internal connectors and construction seem to be correct, I feel that the problem is probably inside the twist to yaw unit (it's where the main connection to the base from the grip side is, deep inside the twist unit, but I don't know how to get into that.

I've flashed the latest firmware, cleaned the contacts (waste of time, the Joystick had only been assembled once, a month ago), reseated the grip umpteen times, nothing.

I opened a ticket to vkb, but no response, so I just sent them an email. Their communication during purchase was awful, so I'm not holding my breath for a solution.

I've read about many experiences with this stick now, and it seems a lot of people are having issues with the way the grip connects to the base, the standard response to almost any problem on their support forum is to reseat the grip, and honestly if it's just going to get dodgy and need reseating every month, then I will be seeking a refund for the whole thing.

I'm very disappointed and feel I owe an apology to anyone who bought this stick on my recommendation, I hope you don't have any issues with it.

While we're on the subject of disappointment, I was shocked by vkbs response to those asking for linear cams. Their response was 'we see that a huge number of customers are not happy with the progressive cams and it is on the list of future production runs, but very low,as we have two new products coming out soon'...

Wait, WHAT? You prioritize getting more products out over servicing your existing customers? With this policy, you can be sure not many will buy vkb twice.

Let's see how they handle this.
 
That's really disappointing. FWIW, I found VKB's competitor, Virpil, to have a pretty decent response rate and policy (the one time I needed support for a failed component on my Virpil WarBRD base).YMMV. :-/

I bought one of these Kosmosima sticks, too; we'll see how it works for me! <fingers crossed>
 
Well I've narrowed down the issue to the connector or cable in the bottom of the grip. One pin is not getting continuity between itself and the first internal connector. Either a wire has worked loose, broken or the spring pin is faulty, but these things are deep inside the twist to yaw unit which is obviously not designed to be user disassembled and according to a post on vkb forum (by vkb), we are welcome to try to disassemble it (no instructions can be provided) but if we damage it, no warranty. They do not recommend user disassembly of the twist unit. So frustrating cos it's probably an easy fix, the spring pin seems fine.
 
Well, thanks to help from the discord Overspark pointed me to above, ddrake and friends and particularly to user rp200010 for the final little titbit I needed on how to disassemble the twist to yaw unit, having stripped the thing down all the way to screws and circuit boards, I fixed the problem myself.

As soon as I had the yaw unit apart, the problem immediately revealed itself to be exactly as I expected, a wire had obviously been hanging on by a thread since manufacture and every time I yawed, I strained it a little bit more. Eventually it was hanging on by a hair and broke, picture of it below. Generally the soldering of this three pin unit wasn't very good, a bit more careful a wire stripping job and a bit more liberal a tinning job and this wouldn't have happened. Anyway it's fixed now and I even managed to change the grease. I used some super low friction hobby stuff which is for frictionless meshing of composite gears, it's copper based, outrageously expensive and so far seems to be ok but I haven't tested much yet and I can't attest to its longevity either, it's for RC cars which undergo regular maintenance, so we'll see.

I just wanted to pass on the good news.



I have resoldered all of those wires now. So far so good and I've no reason to believe it won't last forever now. o7 Happy person here :D
 
Well that's not what one would expect from such premium hardware.

...btw fancy a duel?:p
....

Wait, WHAT? You prioritize getting more products out over servicing your existing customers?
Now why does that sound so familiar? Hmmmm?!

EDIT: 'Glad you found a solution!

Btw about that duel...<ahem>...unfortunately, I won't be available for the foreseeable future as I intend to spend more time with my family.
 
What a great review, thanks for posting this Commander o7.
I was looking at their products but decided to go with Virpil Warbird base and Russian style Moongoose grip recently. Very good first impressions with it so far as well.
They using exact the same modular philosophy (you can buy base and few different grips, plus they compatible with Warthog base as well).
 
What a great review, thanks for posting this Commander o7.
I was looking at their products but decided to go with Virpil Warbird base and Russian style Moongoose grip recently. Very good first impressions with it so far as well.
They using exact the same modular philosophy (you can buy base and few different grips, plus they compatible with Warthog base as well).
Thanks! I think you made the fractionally better choice, knowing what I know now, but still, now that mine's fixed, I'm sure I will enjoy years of good use. Poor communication from the manufacturer/distributor, and a single shoddily attached wire, does not detract from the actual product when its working, just annoyances. :)
 
Good to see yours is working again! Virpil does have a better reputation when it comes to communication with customers, but then again their products seem to have more issues than VKB. In the end both are small manufacturers doing a lot by hand and issues do crop up.

While we're on the subject of disappointment, I was shocked by vkbs response to those asking for linear cams. Their response was 'we see that a huge number of customers are not happy with the progressive cams and it is on the list of future production runs, but very low,as we have two new products coming out soon'...

Wait, WHAT? You prioritize getting more products out over servicing your existing customers? With this policy, you can be sure not many will buy vkb twice.
While I don't agree with their priority list the reason they stick to new products is because that's what they've already publicly committed to and that's what they think their customers want. Personally I think not having linear cams for the Kosmosima is a huge oversight that should be fixed ASAP, but we'll see how it goes.
 
2 questions to those who are familiar with this base/grip combo:

I don't have a special gaming rig, I rather play on my 3D workstation, and after a playing session I stow away my controllers to make way for my tablet and other work-related stuff. Thus a fixed controller is not an option.
I've been using a X52 pro so far and as long as my desk is clean the suction cups keep the stick more or less in place. In the heat of combat however the cups occasionally fail and the base tilts around together with the stick...
I wonder how this works with the Gunfighter base? It's labelled as a tabletop device, the base actually looks heavy and the base plate fairly wide. But does it really stay stationary even in combat situations or would you say it needs some form of fixture?

I've become really accustomed to twist into yaw with the X52, plus my legs need free movement, so don't try to sell me on rudder pedals ;-)
However, because of the twist, I couldn't use the C-/thumb-button as secondary fire button. I need my thumb to firmly clasp the stick in order to use twist properly, or more precisely to yaw right. Of course I use my thumb to reach the various hats occasionally but I want a finger on the secondary fire ALL THE TIME in combat. Thus I use the pinky switch as secondary fire button which works pretty well for me. Now, I see that the Kosmosima has a pinky button as well so no issues here.
What I wonder, though, is if I can properly clasp the grip with my thumb at all as there's a hat switch where my X52 has a thumb rest...
This may sound a little nitpicky but, as I said, I have a hard time yawing right without my thumb being able to "push-twist" the stick instead of "pull-twisting" with the other fingers, if that makes any sense to you ;-)
Any opinions on that matter?
 
I wonder how this works with the Gunfighter base? It's labelled as a tabletop device, the base actually looks heavy and the base plate fairly wide. But does it really stay stationary even in combat situations or would you say it needs some form of fixture?
The base is pretty heavy and the bottom plate has rubber feet as well. Unintended movement hasn't been an issue for me.

What I wonder, though, is if I can properly clasp the grip with my thumb at all as there's a hat switch where my X52 has a thumb rest...
This may sound a little nitpicky but, as I said, I have a hard time yawing right without my thumb being able to "push-twist" the stick instead of "pull-twisting" with the other fingers, if that makes any sense to you ;-)
I can twist the stick with my thumb sticking straight up and not touching the joystick. If you do want to touch the joystick with your thumb there's plenty of space just above the hat switch. Also, you can remove the thumb hat switch and replace it with a button if you have the premium version. So for me this isn't an issue at all.

Hope this helps!
 
BTW, the Gunfighter Mk 3 gimbal is now out, there are upgrade kits available for Mk 2 owners, AND IT INCLUDES LINEAR CAMS (which you can also order separately). Haven't ordered them yet as they aren't available from the EU reseller yet, but will definitely do so when they are.
 
BTW, the Gunfighter Mk 3 gimbal is now out, there are upgrade kits available for Mk 2 owners, AND IT INCLUDES LINEAR CAMS (which you can also order separately). Haven't ordered them yet as they aren't available from the EU reseller yet, but will definitely do so when they are.
I got the Mk III when it came out. Very tempted to swap out for the soft space (linear) cams, as I suspect it would make it quite a bit smoother. A touch daunted by the prospect of taking the whole base apart... :unsure: Don't want to ruin it, it's a great stick as is with the preinstalled cams, and hardware is very definitely not my forte... :)
 
Now that the arrival of Microsoft Flight Simulator is imminent I'm looking at HOTAS's again. This particular model seems a bit overkill for a civilian flight sim, any recommendations?
 
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