Hey All, this is Spencer from FSElite. Back in late January, I posted a review of the Honeycomb Charlie Pedals – and, there is no way around it, I messed up. In my weeks of testing the pedals prior to putting out that video, it didn’t cross my or our team’s mind that I had been using the pedals incorrectly – and as a result of that, I took a really negative position on the pedals ergonomically. After posting the review, we got a number of comments pointing out the mistake I had made, and I spent the past couple of weeks using the pedals the proper way – and my opinion on the pedals has improved. I am deeply sorry for misleading all of you on these pedals and deeply sorry to Honeycomb for that. We at FSElite will learn from this and will aim to do better in the future. We are going to be removing the review that I had done to avoid confusion, but, for transparency, we are going to leave the video unlisted – you can find the link below. What follows is a re-do of the review, primarily with new footage and commentary in the ergonomics section.
This is the transcript from the video review above for those preferring to read the review instead.
Bottom line – these pedals are great if they meet your use case, but they won’t be for everyone. In the sim, they work great, with a tremendous amount of travel and responsiveness. The pedals are incredibly robust, they are comfortable in my use case, but I am not sure they would be comfortable for everyone – and I don’t think they are a winner from a practicality perspective. The pedals do command a 350 dollar price tag, which I do think is fair for what you are getting – but I don’t think they are going to be for everyone. Let’s talk about why.
Before jumping into the in-sim use or the ergonomics, let’s take a look at what we have. First off, lets take a look at the build quality. Honeycomb has gone with a black matte metal look – and a design that, I think, is aesthetically pleasing. I love the honeycomb design at the front with the iconic red glowing LEDs. This is a big item, I view it as almost a statement piece, something that when someone sees your set up, they will realize that you are REALLY into flight sim.
On that note, these pedals are absolutely massive. The whole apparatus weighs a whopping 26 pounds – which makes it the heaviest flight sim peripheral I’ve ever seen. I did find it funny that Honeycomb listed this as a “feature” on the side of the box – who are they kidding – no one wants to be lugging around a 26 pound weight when they are getting ready to fly. With that being said, these pedals are not going anywhere, regardless of how much force you put in – and without any requirement to lean the pedals up against a wall.
Besides being heavy, it’s also physically large. It takes up a roughly 18” by 18” of floor area, and is 8” tall. For reference, here it is next to my old CH pro pedals. From a practicality standpoint, this is a real drawback – when you aren’t using these pedals where do you store them? If you keep them under your desk, that’s a huge area where you can’t put your feet. If you were hoping to store the pedals somewhere else, good luck, as they are tall too. Something to consider if you use your flight sim area is multi-purpose.
Dimensionally going to the back of the pedals, we have one of the more annoying design choices on this build – the location of the tension knob and usb output. Most people probably are going to want to put their pedals up against the wall, which isn’t possible with this design. You are going to be stuck with the tension knob touching the wall. This hasn’t been too big of a deal for me though, as I have noticed that the rubber grip surface works great – and there is no shifting to the back, left, or right when using the pedals. This should work on carpet surface as well, as there are interchangable carpet grips, although I was not able to verify this as I don’t have a carpet in my apartment.
This tension knob adjusts the tension of the belt – the further to the right you turn the knob, the more resistance you get from the pedals. If you turn the tension knob to the left, you take that resistance out, or you can keep going and take the knob out all together. I’m very confused as to why a captive screw was not used here – as there is no practical reason that this knob should be easily releasable by the user.
You also have the option to change the angles of the pedals. It’s not a super quick process, you have to take a screw out, and use quite a bit of force to remove the pedal. Once it’s off, there is a very generous range of angles that you have to choose from – with set grooves for different angles. I played around with some different options but ultimately determined that I preferred the original angle option. I’m not sure if Honeycomb has further plans for addons to this set, but these pedals are interchangeable, and they could very easily sell pedal sets that represent alternative aircraft – similar to how they have sold the airbus throttle inputs. To be clear, this is just me thinking out loud, not sure if Honeycomb has any intentions on pursuing this.
Ergonomically, these pedals are going to be very user dependent.
Starting out, you will have your heels resting on the base. The balls of your feet should be resting on top of the pedal axle. From this position, your feet are able to rest, and you can slide them easily forward and back, and you can hold a rudder angle very easily with just the friction of your heels.
It feels incredibly natural to slide my feet forward and backward, putting in ruder. Further, braking is easy as well, you just have to rotate your feet forward over the pedal axle.
When you are in a phase of flight where pedal use is unnecessary, you can easily rest your feet below the pedals on the base. The pedals are placed high enough that I didn’t feel any concern about accidentally bumping them and disconnecting my autopilot – even when wearing slippers!
The pedals take up a large amount of floor area, which may lead to the pedals sitting where you usually rest your feet. As a result of this, your ankles may have to rotate to an unnaturally high angle – if you have a deep desk, this won’t be a problem for you.
The width of the pedals is fantastic. Honeycomb uses this center box to house the belt for tension – leading to the user’s feet being several inches apart. This aspect is great – it’s a very natural position when applying rudder inputs.
The height of the pedals is well suited for me, I find that I am able to very easily transition from applying rudder force, to applying braking force. However, people with smaller feet may struggle with that maneuver – I don’t think these pedals would work well for kids for that reason.
When utilizing the pedals, it requires a lot of force. With most products that include a tension knob, this isn’t a problem, as you can typically lower the tension to an acceptable level. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case here. Even when using these pedals at the minimum setting, it requires so much force to move the pedals, that I actually end up having my desk chair on wheels sliding back in response – doesn’t make flying easy – this won’t be an issue if you have a stationary chair. Ideally, I would’ve liked to see this design have a wider range of tension forces it supports. Having high tension is fine, as many people are going to be utilizing pedals in a stationary chair setup, but I think many people like me will have a chair that rolls and find this annoying.
I did find there to be significant variation in enjoyment of these pedals with my choice of footwear. The pedals work perfectly with shoes, and the friction and surface area that shoes provide, less so with socks and bare feet.
When wearing socks, I still find there to be some slippage – and at times found it challenging to apply the brake force I intended. When barefoot – I did find that the pedals worked exactly as I wanted, but I didn’t find them to be comfortable – as my toes got stuck in the holes. These issues might not bother everyone, but I found them relevant.
With all of this in mind, how do they work in the sim. First off, setting these up is super quick, you just plug them in and Microsoft Flight Simulator recognizes the pedals immediately. If you want, you can go in and adjust some settings. Personally, I wanted to add a bit of deadzone to the pedal travel, as I found that the very center of the pedal travel was very light, and I was putting in rudder and brake inputs without intending to. Like other axis based inputs, you can configure these settings however you like.
The pedals have a long range of travel, and have a high amount of precision along the whole range. The belt system inside the device provides smooth travel of the pedals. The response of the pedals to various force inputs feels very realistic.
I’ve done experimenting flying the pedals around using everything from a cessna to using both the PMDG 737 and the Fenix A320. In all circumstances, I feel like I am getting an authentic experience. On the ground taxiing I have very fine control over both the rudder and braking. When flying and dealing with a crosswind approach, I am able to be incredibly precise with my inputs, yielding a much smoother flying experience.
The toe braking on the pedals is phenomenal. There is a long range of braking inputs that you can put into either pedal – enabling fine control of the braking system. Other pedal systems I have used have had toe brake axes, but I have never noticed them to have this much range – really enhanced my taxiing experience. I especially loved it when taxiing to a gate for parking, I felt like I had very precise control on my taxiing speed.