Problems.....Problems!!! Nothing is easy, it seems.
Once I had downloaded the current "VPC Configurator Software", and the manual that goes with it (16 pages), I was pleasantly optimistic, once I read it, that things would go OK. But it was not to be, for both hardware and software reasons.
First off, once you extract the zip file and place the folders on your drive, then create a shortcut to the executable (set to run as administrator), once you run it, the first thing it is likely to say is that you need to update the firmware. The firmware update file is part of the package of software that you download, and makes the device and the software compatible. Before that, you connect your devices, and let Windows install them. That part seemed to complete OK. But when I started the software, only one device seemed to show up in the list (the throttle). So I updated the firmware according to the instructions, and that seemed to work OK. But what the software calls the device is based on what configuration file you load. Then when you start the firmware update process, it disconnects the device from Windows, and then you see "Bootloader" instead. Then you browse to the file, and load it; then you end the process.
However, if you theoretically have 2 devices installed in Windows, and only one shows up in the software, are you really sure which one it is? Not really, if you're new to the software and hardware. In any case, after updating the firmware and installing the configuration file for the MT-50 Throttle, I rebooted the computer and ran the software again; again, only one device (Bootloader always shows up but doesn't count). At this point, the software said that the firmware needed to be updated (again) Really? So I did the process again....but then wondered am I updating it for the joystick now? In that case, I should load the WarBRD + MT-50 Grip file, right? NO! What happened then is that the wrong config file got installed to the current device (apparently, the throttle) and nothing worked. How to fix that?
First, I had to "reset configuration file", and then SAVE that file to the device (if you just reset it and then restart the software, nothing is changed). Then in the software, the device shows up as "VPC reset device" or something like that (again, you're not really sure what it is exactly).
At that point, even the Windows devices called both devices *almost* the same name, so you didn't know which was which (VPC MT-50 Joystick vs. VPC Joysyick + MT-50 grip) .
So then I decided I have to be absolutely sure which device is which, so I disconnected both devices, rebooted, and then removed both devices in the "Devices and Printers" section of the Control Panel. You can't tell what they are in the Device Manager; they probably show up under "HID" (Human Interface Devices) and they aren't specified clearly there.
Then I rebooted again, and after that, plugged in JUST THE JOYSTICK. Window reinstalled it, then I ran the software. Voila! A device actually showed up that I knew to be the joystick. So I updated firmware again, then installed the (this time correct) configuration file for "VPC WarBRD + MT50 Grip". After that, I went to calibrate the stick (the next step). The software senses stick movements and all you do is move each axis fully in each direction, and while doing this, the min and max values are registered; then after that, you let the stick center and then save all that data to your current config file; then you have to save the file.
Or so it should work. However, another problem! The X and Y axis of the stick would register movement just fine. However, the "Z" axis (analog brake axis) would not move. Huh? Whatever, no choice but to save what I have. More on this problem later....
Now, reboot, and then plug in the throttle. Windows installed, then started software....guess what? A new device showed up! Yay! Install firmware, config file, calibrate....all seemed to work for all axis there.
Now it was about 1:30 in the morning, so I figured I could at least get RoF running for Saturday's session.... I started RoF and began to push buttons. Throttle things worked, stick X and Y axis worked, but NONE of the buttons on the joystick would register in the game! What the hell?
At this point I gave up for the night and went to bed.
5:25 AM, I woke up with a flash of insight. Axis on the grip doesn't work, buttons on the grip don't work....axis on the base DO work....the grip isn't connected! Why? It did seem to me that the male part of the plug really didn't go into the female half (on the base side) very far at all. But what can you do about that? You carefully align the two connectors, and then you mate them together, and tighten the hand nut. What else can you do? Perhaps....seriously....that male connector can be pulled out? Have to try it right now! Up out of bed and down to the workshop. Remove handle....needle nose pliers....holy crap, it does come out! It's all clear now! Here is what you see when you receive the stick, and then what it's like when you realize later that the connector comes out! It comes with NO instructions, folks!
Base of grip, as it comes in the box:
Looks just like it's made to go together that way, right? WRONG!
Here's what REALLY needs to be done:
So THAT was just THAT problem. Ran configurator software, ran calibration....everything works! Buttons too....
Start RoF....getting late in the morning....session in 4 hours! I can do it !....?
Shower, eat something....hangover
Must make functional RoF controls map first! Assign main axis, test in game....throttle axis is reversed. Have to change every plane's response settings to reverse that axis. Do that on a number of planes, but realize there just isn't enough time. Concentrate on one plane and see how it works. Uncheck "invert" on the Engine 1 throttle axis, apply, export, save, etc. Check in game. Question marks over each slider indicator in game? Altitude Throttle axis seems to work OK ("W" axis). Regular Throttle axis ("O" axis) working in corrected direction, except....when I reach about 95%, it sometimes stays, but most of the time reverts back to zero, all by itself! What the hell? Appears to be associated with the end of the axis....maybe detent buttons? Recheck cal and look at all kinds of confusing field data concerning centering, etc.,....nothing in manual even begins to touch this....release physical detent allen screws....makes no difference.
All testing with DIView and inside of the config software indicates everything working normally. I change axis within the game to another axis....same result; then another axis....one that is known to work without problems elsewhere in the game. Same issue! What's wrong here....?
Conflict within the game! After reversing (uncheck "invert") the "Engine 1 throttle" axis, the problem began. However, "Engines throttle axis" was NOT changed, so one was inverted, the other, NOT. Conflict! When one part was saying that is was at 100%, the other was saying that it was at ZERO!
Now only about an hour before FiF session start....
Can't fix everything. Only fix the planes that are in FiF Phase B. No, too much time; only fix the Entente planes, as that is what we are flying. No! too much time....only fix the Entente scouts we'll be flying. Sopwith Dolphin....fixed. S.E.5a....fixed. Sopwith Camel....fixed. Oops! forgot Nieuport 28....fixed. Now finish mapping controls! Old controls vs. new, what's logical, what's going to work best....engine, plane, pilot head, camera....updated to new buttons.
30 minutes to pre-session Teamspeak brief.
Finally, practice in "Fly Now"! 30 minutes to practice new stick hardware, flying Sopwith Dolphin, Sopwith Camel. Others will have to wait!
Gratified to see that response curves work just as well with this hardware, as with old; as expected. Very nice response now, accurate, somehow different....flyable, ease of control, nice, but different! Will have to practice, but things should be stable now!
Flew the session, and LIVED. Didn't get any kills, but mainly had to protect my plane and life to complete the "wreath drop" mission, which was accomplished. Did some damage to enemies, while remaining alive. Very happy!