If you play FPS games or strategy games and you have an equipment malfunction where your mouse or keyboard stops working, it’s not a big deal to go grab a spare one that you might have on hand and get back to playing in a pretty short period of time. If you don’t have one, your local computer shop probably does for a few dollars. When you’re a flight simmer and something as important as your joystick has an issue… it might mean that you’re out of commission until you can get it repaired or replaced. This is where I find myself.
A small spring can ruin your day
was flying along in a LaGG-3 on a Career mission, the first flight of the weekend, and suddenly there was a noise and the tension in the X axis let out immediately. Surprisingly, I was able to complete the mission and even put the LaGG-3 on the ground but flying was not very easy this way.
Opening up my VKB Gladiator Mark I joystick I quickly found the culprit. A broken spring. Though I love the stick, this is the second instance of hardware related trouble I’ve had with it. I don’t think I’m overly hard on it but it does get used quite a bit so maybe it was just time.
The nice thing about this stick is just how easy it is to open it up. A standard screwdriver gets you into the bottom where you can easily replace the springs. That part is a nice touch and one of the reasons why I like the DIY-light side of the custom joystick market that VKB and Virpil seem to inhabit. I don’t know if I could have easily accessed my old Saitek stick or not.
It also turns out you can order springs from VKB with all different kinds of tension. This is a nice touch. Interestingly, they made them interchangeable so you can use the same springs on a Gladiator as you can on a Gunfighter. Also a bonus!
With no stick for a backup, it looks like I’ll be waiting on my new springs before I can get back into the air. In the meantime there’s plenty of opportunities to write up some reactions to flying the other new aircraft that are available in IL-2: Battle of Bodenplatte. Look for those soon!