When it comes to throttle sets, there are a range of choices out there for flight simulation enthusiasts. However, I have always found that none of them really satisfy my needs for a realistic feeling or ability to customise the controls in any way. I then spoke to the guys at Virtual-Fly who understood my comments, and then were kind enough to send me a review build of their Flight Sim Throttle Quadrant: TQ6 PLUS.
Before I go into the real detail, let me tell you what I was looking for in a product like this:
- Accurate lever placement
- Ability to customise the amount of force you need to pull/push the levers
- Easy to attach / detach from any surface
If I had to summarise the review up right now, it would read something like: it satisfies all of my complaints about all other throttle hardware out there. For those that need a bit more detail as to why, feel free to read on below.
Inside the box you will find the TQ-6 packaged up nicely, a small installation manual (it doesn’t need more detail than what it includes) and a few clamps to get it attached to your desk. What I did notice was that the USB cable was pre-attached inside of the casing, meaning the cable attached is the cable you get. Other products I’ve used from Virtual-Fly included a separate wire so you could extend it, or replace it without it impacting the unit at all. Would have been nice to see a consistency in this regard as the 2m (or so) cable may not be suitable for everyone.
Setting up the TQ-6 is really easy, regardless of the home setup that you may have. With the included clamp you can either attach it to the base or the side of the throttle quadrant. If you place the clamp on the base, you can fix it to the top of your desk, but if you’d prefer it to be sat on the edge, you can do that as well. Regardless of where you fix it to, you simply need to just screw in the plate, and tighten the clamp until it’s fixed to your desk. You get quite a lot of variation on the clamp itself, so even if your desktop is thick, you’ll have no trouble attaching it.
The 6-axis controller measure at a length of 125.4mm, a width of 226mm and a final height of 172.5mm. If you’re curious about the weight, the total package is 3 kilograms. It’s a great size with no wasted or unused space. Each element of the product has a purpose. Its overall build quality is super strong, with nice metallic plates throughout, and a good use of high-quality plastic on the throttle levers themselves.
In terms of the finish, it has a beautiful shine, with good looking stencils printed on the casing so you know exactly what each axis is. Even the branding of the TQ-6 looks very classy on the black exterior. I could see between the cracks of each axis, which surprisingly, was quite a neat little feature in itself. It was quite cool to see the different parts of the product working and added a nice visual aesthetic to the product.
The most unique feature about the Virtual-Fly TQ-6 is the detent sections below each of the 6 axis available. For the power axis, you are able to go into beta range, for the prop RPM, you can feather it, and finally, you can also cut off the mixture flow completely. I haven’t seen anything like this in any other product. What is really intuitive about the TQ-6 is how you have to physically apply a bit more pressure to put it into the detent mode. You won’t accidentally go into reverse-thrust mode or anything like that, as it’s a real purposeful action you have to take to make the throttles do it. It’s both satisfying and incredibly realistic.
Something else that makes the TQ-6 an excellent product is how the users has the ability to customize the amount of force you need to input for the levers. On either side of the product is a small adjustment wheel, which, when tuned, will change the friction of the corresponding axis-set. On the left, you will find the power axis adjustment wheel, and on the right, is the mixture setting. Sadly, there isn’t one for the Prop axis, which is a little disappointing, but the default levels are set to a comfortable amount of force required. Furthermore, whilst you can adjust the throttle and the mixture settings, you can only adjust them in their “pairs”, so you won’t be able to adjust throttle axis 1 differently to throttle axis 2. You may also want to know that there’s no way to synchronize the individual axis per set, so you may find yourself sometimes applying more power to one than the other and they fall out of harmonization.
In terms of how much customization you have, you can set the tension to desk-flinging solid or to the point where a slight breeze will knock them out of position. It’s super easy to change and find the sweet spot for either your strength or the type of aircraft you’re flying.
Your experience with the throttles in the sim will vary depending on the aircraft you’re flying and which simulator. I’ve used the TQ-6 in both Prepar3D and X-Plane 11, with a variety of aircraft. On the whole, set-up is relatively straight forward. You can use the in-sim calibration tools to match the axis to the right one on the hardware, or you can configure it via an additional plug-in. For Prepar3D (and by the same effect, FSX users), FSUIPC was my preferred way to manage the settings. This was for a few reasons:
- Profiling per aircraft
- Really defining the null and detent zones
The last point in particular is important to many as this is where the value of the product comes to life. FSUIPC’s advance controller set-up means you can define to the smallest detail which axis needs to be and where to perform the action required. You can also make sure that the detent zones on the hardware match up to exactly where you need them to be in the simulator as well. The default control page doesn’t really handle these types of things too well. On the other hand, aircraft such as the Majestic Dash-8 Q400 comes with software that enables you to calibrate without additional software. In particular, I found the Majestic aircraft to be super simple since each ‘zone’ is labelled accordingly and you can easily match up the two.
Once set-up, controlling everything was smooth and precise. Seeing the throttles move in sync with my action on the hardware was very gratifying and a testament to the overall build quality of the product. It really does add that next level of immersion you don’t realize you need until you try it. I find it hard to go back to not using them when flying now, as it feels like something is missing.
The inevitable question of whether you should buy them is always challenging. They’re expensive at 610 euros ($700 USD), but you are buying a top-class throttle simulation. Yes, they just help to provide extra immersion in your home cockpit, but they are the best in their class. We’d all love for them to be cheaper, but you are paying for a product that feels right, looks amazing and has some incredible features not found on any other throttle set.
Virtual-Fly are no strangers to creating high-quality flight simulation hardware. I have been lucky enough to have had sent to me various components from their selection, including the Yoko the Yoke and the Ruddo Rudder Pedals. The TQ-6 is no exception to this rule. The vastly superior build quality, amazing features and overall look and feel of the product simply prove that these guys are at the top of their game for developing these types of products.