Building on the success of their 2013 model, the Yoko the Yoke, the new PLUS edition is the next version of the popular yoke. Virtual-Fly has been manufacturing flight simulation hardware for years, gathering feedback from commercial and entertainment customers alike. With years of refinement up their sleeves, they are back with the Yoko the Yoke PLUS. Let’s dive in to see whether the new features make it a worthwhile purchase.
The Yoko the Yoke PLUS is actually a little different in size compared to the original. Measuring in at the same width of 303mm, the yoke actually stands a little taller at 214mm. Furthermore, the PLUS edition has a depth of 542mm in comparison to the original, which has a depth of 515mm. When fully extended, the yoke reaches a maximum depth of 591mm. The unit weighs in at 9KG, with the majority of that weight in the box housing in order to give it stability when on your desk or inside your cockpit.
Impressively, the Yoko the Yoke PLUS is made from 90% metal. From the main casing with all the electrical wiring, to the yoke itself, it’s made from quality material that can withstand just about anything you might throw at it. The other 10% is made of high-quality plastics in areas such as the buttons and switches.
Installing the yoke was a breeze. You simply attach the clamp to the Yoko the Yoke PLUS and then slide it onto your desk. You can then use the clamp knob under the desk to tighten or loosen to your preferred tension. Once it’s sat snugly on your desk, you attach the USB cable to the PC. As soon as it is plugged in, Windows will recognise the device and configure it automatically. There is no need for any driver installation or updates.
Configuring the yoke to work with your simulator is just as simple. The Yoko the Yoke PLUS is compatible with all major simulators. Regardless of which you use, the process is straightforward. Your sim will recognise the yoke as a control option and you will be able to reassign your controls with relative ease if desired.
As soon as your hands are on the grip, you instantly feel the quality. It’s comfortable with great attention to detail when it comes to the grip and button positioning. The grooves on the back of the yoke are the perfect size for the average hand and the thumb rest on the front of the unit adds to the comfort. You are able to get a nice firm grip on the yoke and you can easily twist, pull, and push depending on the flying conditions.
The plastic buttons are within reach of your thumb and your muscle memory will quickly learn the placement. On the front, you are able to control the rudder and elevator trim as well as make use of the eight-way hat switch. You can assign views to the hat switch, as well as press the button for an additional click-spot. On the back are two additional buttons on either side – one red button for the autopilot disconnect and the black one for your push to talk function. The buttons and switches feel good, but the plastic can sometimes catch on your finger causing some discomfort. It’s also worth noting that whilst the buttons are designed for the aforementioned purposes, they can be configured to whatever control you’d prefer from within the simulator.
What about Controlling It
When it comes to controls, moving the yoke in any direction was incredibly smooth. When banking, the 60-degree turn radius was fluid all the way around with no resistance. Pulling and pushing the yoke out from the base had equally the same feeling, but gave a bit more tension when the yoke is pulled back – and this is all thanks to linear ball technology found inside of the yoke. This basically means that it has been designed with complete free movement in mind.
The lack of a null zone also gives users a huge amount of flexibility. As soon as you make any movement on the control, the simulator will pick that up and translate that to a movement within the simulator. This is unlike other hardware controllers, where there is often a small null zone, which isn’t ideal for some users.
Whilst you’re not technically restricted by the aircraft you fly, it’s obviously been designed for virtual aircraft with a yoke setup. Whether I was flying in a light headwind, or battling a heavy crosswind, the yoke responded to every input I gave it. This then translated with accuracy within the sim with almost zero input lag. Regardless of how much I yanked or twisted at the controls, the yoke would always head back to the center position with ease. In my many hours of testing, not once did the yoke struggle with my actions and it is as strong and stable as it was when I first unboxed it.
One of the reasons for the premium price tag is the inclusion of 12-bit resolution Hall effect contactless sensors. This is relatively impressive technology for flight simulation hardware. In simple terms, these are magnetic sensors which ensure that your product will never fall victim to any spiking issues. On other hardware, once the hardware has been used for a period of time, the internal mechanisms will sometimes wear thin, start to grind or even fail. With Hall effect sensors, movement is transmitted through a series of wires to ensure that the product will never see any miscalibration through mechanical fault. Virtual-Fly is so confident in their manufacturing that they offer a lifetime guarantee on all Virtual-Fly Yoko the Yoke PLUS products.
It’s hard to really describe just how great flying feels when using such a quality yoke and it will take some use to fully appreciate the sensation. Controlling your aircraft feels effortless when using the Yoko the Yoke PLUS.
For the Serious Simmer
All of these things obviously come at a cost and the Yoko the Yoke PLUS is not a purchase which should be taken lightly. At just shy of 1000 Euro, it’s a very pricy piece of kit. If you’re in the market for a professional grade yoke to take your experience to the next level, it’s a must. You are getting a product which provides accuracy in every movement, feels comfortable, and is compatible with a range of products should you expand your at-home cockpit.
When it comes to making a purchase, you might be in one of two camps: either you own the original Yoko the Yoke or you do not own a Virtual-Fly yoke. If you’re in the former group, upgrading to the PLUS model at full price is hard to justify for the hat switch and slightly more refined precision. If you’re looking to make your first Virtual-Fly yoke purchase, and you’re weighing whether to get the older model or the new PLUS version, I can say that the extra money is worth it for the additional and improved features.
- High quality and brilliantly designed
- Super easy installation process with no fuss
- Great material and solid feeling
- Life time guarantee
- Eight-Way hat switch is a huge plus
- Price is extremely high for casual simmers
- I'd still like some more buttons for more control