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GWS Flight Simulator USB Controller Review

Michael Heer tests out the new game style GWS flight simulator transmitter using the Clear View Flight Simulator system (reviewed separately and coming soon) to test the controller.

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Introduction

GWS has introduced their new game style transmitter as a flight simulator controller. This controller is the shape of things to come in their new parkflyer 2.4 GHz radio system that is in process and promoted as being very affordable. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to check out the feel of this new controller and review the ClearView Flight Simulator that I have seen discussed in RC Groups for some time. Although I started this as a joint review, I soon decided that ClearView warranted its own review. I hope to have that review finished soon.

I am a very strong proponent of the use of Flight Simulators and believe all R/C pilots should start and improve along with a flight simulator. Not all flight simulators are the same nor are all controllers for flight simulators the same, and they certainly don't all cost the same. I won't be evaluating this product from a strong technical aspect, but on how the controller feels and how the plane in the simulator is flying in response to the controller.

Kit Includes

Included items with Test Controller:

  • Controller with USB connector
  • Instruction manual

I Supplied:

  • Computer with USB connector and monitor
  • Simulator software: I used ClearView

GWS Flight Simulator Controller

The controller looks and feels more like a game controller than a traditional transmitter controller, but it does have the traditional two main control sticks that control a total of four functions, two per stick. The controller also has four trim tabs, one for each function. All four controls are proportional and springs center three of the four functions. The throttle stays put, but on mine there was no click nor any feel of a ratchet. For this review I have only used the controller with the ClearView simulator software that is being reviewed separately. It can be used with FMS flight simulator software.

Controller Set Up

I downloaded ClearView's simulator software from the Internet and activated it. I plugged the GWS controller into my computer with the USB connector that is part of the controller. Using my computer's mouse I went to the controller set up on the ClearView flight simulator and tested my controls. Initially, nothing worked as it should, but I changed the computer assignment for the directional control of the controller one function at a time using the ClearView software in the Setup section.

By reassigning the control functions I had Mode II control: elevator/aileron on the right stick in the correct directions and throttle/rudder on the left stick. It was a very simple matter to calibrate the controller using the ClearView software; I just activated calibration and moved the sticks in all directions for their full range, and the controller was then ready to use.

Controller Operation

I selected the Beaver aircraft from the selection of planes and up popped what looked to be a GWS RC Beaver. The GWS Beaver was/is a throttle, rudder and elevator controlled plane. As with most such planes that don't have ailerons it is normal to set up the rudder to be controlled by the right stick so that rudder and elevator are on the right stick and only throttle is on the left stick. That is what the ClearView software did and how I fly the real GWS Beaver as well.

I advanced the throttle, and the propeller started to spin. It rolled down the runway, building speed. I pulled back on the elevator, and the Beaver lifted off. After climbing, I went to turn and first moved the left stick for rudder control and nothing happened, so I moved the right stick for what is normally aileron control and moved the stick to the left. The plane banked to the left, and the lower/left wing started to fall. I applied some up elevator to compensate, and the plane leveled off. I flew back over the runway in the opposite direction from which I started, and it continued to climb. I lowered the throttle, and it dropped its nose so I added back a little throttle. The plane resumed a slight climb, and I decided to keep speed up but lower the nose with the elevator. I accidentally got into a porpoise (over climb/over dive repeatedly) for about three to four cycles until I got it back under control (it was accidental but it was what I did with my real GWS Beaver years ago on its first flight). I ultimately adjusted the trim tab for the elevator a few clicks of down and obtained level flight with hands off the transmitter.

Testing the Controller

I operated all of the planes and helicopters in the simulator which will be discussed in the ClearView review. I was able to control all of them with the GWS controller but had to adjust the controller with the trim tabs for several of them. There were no additional buttons or switches on the controller so I had no control other then the main controls. If the planes had retracts available I wouldn't know it or be able to activate them using this controller.

The trim tabs are located where they should be but the actual trim tab dials are recessed into the controller which prevents them from accidentally getting bumped and knocked out of adjustment. However, they were a little difficult to find and adjust initially with my thumb while watching my plane or helicopter in the air. The trim tabs move manually and are not digital. There is no raised feature or center marker on the trim tabs. There is a painted white line to show the trim tab center. I found the range of adjustment by the trim tabs was sufficient for me to control all aircraft on the software. The tabs worked properly, they were just a little difficult to adjust without looking at them which was not a problem with a flight simulator. I got better with them with practice.

The two main control sticks are a fixed height and are not adjustable. Some controllers have sticks of an adjustable height to individually fit a pilot’s hand. Since I never use that function, I didn't miss the lack of it here.

The controller was lightweight and ergonomic. I didn't tire of the fit or feel with flying sessions lasting up to several hours as I tested the software and the controller.

Videos

Downloads

Downloads

Is it for a Beginner?

YES! A beginner will be the one to most benefit from the use of a flight simulator, and this controller allows the control of all four basic flight controls on the simulator. Younger people will probably find the shape and appearance familiar with their computer game controllers.

Conclusion

GWS’s motto is, "With GWS, everyone can fly." And at under $20.00, most everyone can afford this simulator controller. I found it fit nicely in my hands. It controlled the planes and the helicopters very well. The tradeoffs for the affordable price were that there were no extra functions or switches beyond the main controllers and the feel was a bit toy-like but certainly not bad. As a great believer in the use of flight simulators by pilots, especially beginning pilots. I think this controller will be well received especially by younger pilots who are used to holding game controllers.

One of the reasons I was interested in reviewing this controller is that I understand that they will have a transmitter using this controllers shape for the new ParkFlyer 2.4 GHz system. They are hoping to come out with them sometime "soon." I look forward to seeing that system when it is available and if the prices remain near their announced target prices. For park flyers on the 2.4 system with this controller I will just need to practice my trim tab adjustment with my thumbs while looking at my plane.

Pluses:

  • Affordable at under $20.00
  • Fit nicely in my hands and felt fine using it for hours
  • Main control sticks functioned fine
  • Trim tabs had adequate adjustment for all aircraft on the simulator program

Minuses:

  • Recessed trim tab a bit hard to adjust initially
  • No additional buttons or switches to control anything other then four main flight controls
Last edited by Angela H; Nov 02, 2009 at 05:26 PM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 05, 2009, 03:43 PM
Why yes, I am an R/C addict!
flyrcehelis's Avatar
About 15 miles from Bristow, OK
Joined May 2009
650 Posts
Finally, an ergonomic sim transmitter!!!
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Old Nov 05, 2009, 03:44 PM
Why yes, I am an R/C addict!
flyrcehelis's Avatar
About 15 miles from Bristow, OK
Joined May 2009
650 Posts
Finally, a ergonomic sim transmitter!!!
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Old Nov 05, 2009, 05:39 PM
Crash=change of flying medium
bluesky123's Avatar
Boulder, CO
Joined May 2002
1,356 Posts
Two-stick joysticks, which could be used as a sim controller, have been around for years! I've used Logitech RumblePad long time ago--it even had force feedback. But as a tool for learning RC, all these toys are of lesser value than real transmitter.
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Old Nov 09, 2009, 11:34 AM
Der Flieger kommt schnell
WWIFlyin'Ace's Avatar
Staten Island
Joined Jun 2005
383 Posts
what aircraft does this sim come with?
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Old Nov 09, 2009, 01:41 PM
Registered User
Rota's Avatar
Mesa, AZ
Joined Jul 2008
275 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWIFlyin'Ace View Post
what aircraft does this sim come with?
Here's a list, although there are a couple more in the program than what's listed on the website. There are also websites listed on their models page where you can get literally hundreds of other models for free.

http://rcflightsim.com/models.html
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Old Nov 09, 2009, 11:09 PM
Registered User
Santoneski's Avatar
Canada, ON, Hamilton
Joined Feb 2009
721 Posts
can some post a link where i can buy this i cant seem to find it.
thanks.
alex
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Old Nov 12, 2009, 06:52 PM
Paddle faster - I hear banjos!
huckleberg's Avatar
USA, VA, Fairfax
Joined Mar 2008
398 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyrcehelis View Post
Finally, a ergonomic sim transmitter!!!
you can say that again!!!
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Old Nov 12, 2009, 07:32 PM
Registered User
Canton, Michigan, United States
Joined Nov 2000
334 Posts
Can This Be Used with RealFlight?

I have RealFlight Deluxe. Yes, I know . . . it's old! My controller is great, but it has a serial port. So, I cannot use it on my laptop or most other more modern computers. I would love to purchase something like this to use my old flight sim utilizing a more modern USB port.

I can currently use my RealFlight controller on FMS. It would seem reasonable to be able to use this controller on other sims. Does anyone know if this would work with RealFlight?
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Old Nov 13, 2009, 02:22 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,432 Posts
Dear Frankenator:
I suggest you write directly to Real Flight. As I recall the controller was detected by the computer and that recognition was part of the copy protection for using the software. However, it was so long ago I can't be certain if I am remembering correctly or not. Mike H
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Old Nov 16, 2009, 01:26 PM
Registered User
Joined Nov 2009
10 Posts
GWS USB controller vs flight transmitter w/cord

I'm confused. As I read this the USB controller is ONLY used for connecting to a computer to use (any) flight simulator. If I have, say a Spektrum DX6 xmtr wouldn't I be smarter to use it with a cord to my 'puter than spend money on a simulator only device?
Thanks for the help ( I need it!!)
W
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Old Nov 16, 2009, 02:50 PM
bth
Bjørn Terje Hansebråten
bth's Avatar
Oslo , NORWAY
Joined Nov 2004
205 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by FLYWHAT2 View Post
I'm confused. As I read this the USB controller is ONLY used for connecting to a computer to use (any) flight simulator. If I have, say a Spektrum DX6 xmtr wouldn't I be smarter to use it with a cord to my 'puter than spend money on a simulator only device?
Thanks for the help ( I need it!!)
W
In the begining I think so too. But after years with my Realfligth G2 connected to Sanwa FM 6 Module, I buy FS1 with its own controller.

The reason:
1. The radio use the battery, so after hours with fligth sim flying, you forget to charge batteries, and they are emty when you go out flying.
When you have to charge often, the batteries does not last long, and you have to purchase new batteries
2. Wering and tearing. Not fun to find out that potmeter are not more working.
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Old Nov 19, 2009, 05:44 AM
Dragons, Windmills. All Same.
jcstalls's Avatar
United States, IN, Indianapolis
Joined May 2002
3,955 Posts
Nice review, as always.

Are these easily available yet as it looks like a better system than the nice, yet rarely used, RF G4.5 unit I have?

Jared
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Old Nov 29, 2009, 12:22 PM
Registered User
jims123's Avatar
USA, CA, San Diego 92120
Joined Oct 2007
3,088 Posts
Will it run under Windows 7 ?
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Old Dec 05, 2009, 08:04 PM
__Jackass Savant__
theBOZman's Avatar
United States, CA, Oxnard
Joined Feb 2005
2,505 Posts
anybody know where this controller is available?
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