Those people who love flight games are always looking for something new to enhance their experience. Saitek has been making game controllers for a long time. Let’s see if the Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals live up to the high quality Saitek puts into their other products.
- Solidly constructed 3-axis pedals maximize flight sim realism by enabling foot control of the rudder function.
- Silent, smooth action for optimum control and precision.
- Self-centering pedals with adjustable damping
- Foot rests adjust to fit all sizes and include non-slip materials
- Tension adjustment – choose resistance to suit the way you fly
Everyone knows that in real airplanes you don’t control the rudder by twisting a joystick. Therefore, rudder pedals are a natural addition to a joystick and throttle. This addition allows you to play flight sim games with a greater sense of realism and accuracy.
Built almost completely out of plastic, with a little metal thrown in for looks and wear, the Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals looks like it is built to last. The rudder pedals don’t have a lot of fancy buttons or lights, but there is only so much that your feet can do.
Like I mentioned above, the pedals are very basic when it comes to design. They look good, but they don’t do a lot. This is actually a good thing. You really don’t want to have to focus on what your feet are doing while also deciding which of the 100’s of buttons you need to press on your joystick.
The top of the rudder pedals is simple, you have the two pedals themselves and a tension adjustment knob. The pedals are locked together when you try to move them in a forward and backward, rudder movement. This means that when you move one pedal forward the other goes backward. I have never flown a real plane, but I assume they hooked the pedal movement together because real planes are like this. You can also press on the toe of the pedal to apply a break-like function. Each pedal moves independently during these movements, so you can have each pedal do something different. Each pedal has several soft rubber non-slip strips attached to the toe and heal area. This prevents your foot from slipping out during use.
Each pedal can also be adjusted for bigger feet. There is a small metal button in the center of each pedal that you can press in and then slide the top portion of the pedal up to make it bigger.
The tension knob is very straight forward. Turn it to the right for more tension and turn it to the left for less. This only adjusts the tension of the rudder movement and not the breaking movement. The knob is very easy to move so it is easy to make small adjustments.
The bottom of the rudder assembly is very basic also. It is almost a solid sheet of black plastic except for eighteen small rubber no-slip pads. There are also two extenders that you can attach to the top of the rudder assembly under the pedals. These extenders add two more rubber pads each and add more surface area to help prevent slippage. These pads alone do a good job of preventing the rudder from slipping, but in case you still have problems there are also two long areas where you can attach the included Velcro strips. The point of the Velcro is to prevent the pedals from moving around on the floor when you are using them. Honestly though, who would want to attach Velcro to their tile, wood, or vinyl floor just for pedals? Every time you need to remove the pedals you are left with strips of Velcro on your floor. Because I did not want to attach Velcro to my floor I did not attach these strips, so I don’t know how well they work.
Saitek also includes their SST programming software. This allows you to add a lot more functionality to the rudder pedals. For example, you could program the pedals for use in other games like, first person shooters, so that when you press down on the pedals you run. This makes it so you don’t have to press another key on your keyboard.
When you first open up the software you will see the screen split in two main sections. On the left of the programming screen is a 3D representation of the rudder assembly. If you want you can move the picture of the rudder around by clicking on it and dragging the mouse around. When you want to program a motion, you can either click one of the pedals on the screen, or to make it even easier, just push the pedals on the rudder. Either way, the software then jumps you to the appropriate slot in the table on the right. All you do then is click in the empty space and enter the key press you want that button to correspond to.
Setting up the rudder is really easy. With Saitek’s easy to install drivers the process it quick. If you have a previous version of the drivers installed, the software will first uninstall them which will require a reboot. The install of the SST programming takes a bit longer because it has to install several new devices.
Using the pedals is easy, but it requires a bit of time for you to get used to them if you have never used a rudder before. I had not used a rudder before, so the experience was enlightening. Because I never had rudder pedals before I would usually ignore the rudder functionality. This really left out a lot of functionality. Now that I use the rudder, things go a lot smoother. The joystick I use, Saitek X52, also has twist rudder functionality. I had to disable the rudder functionality on my joystick so they did not conflict.
I installed the demo of Flight Simulator X and was off and flying in no time. The pedals themselves performed exactly like I expected. The movement was smooth and responsive. The pedals automatically centered every time I released them. I mapped the break motion to the wheel breaks and they worked great also. The rubber pads on the bottom kept the rudder on the floor and un-moving. If I got too aggressive they would move a bit, but I hardly ever needed to get aggressive with rudder pedals. If you find yourself getting aggressive more often than you like, you may want to look into attaching the Velcro straps.
Warranty and Support
As with all of Saitek’s products there is a two year warranty on the X52. This is decent, but I keep hoping that more companies will offer lifetime warranties.
Now that I have used rudder pedals, I cannot imagine not having them. With the programming software these pedals become so versatile that the can be used for non-flight sims. The retail price of $149.95 is a bit high, so you really need to be a serious flight sim player. The Saitek rudder pedals can be purchased from either Newegg or Amazon.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|