Commercial Hardware Review



Saitek Cessna Pro Flight Set




Publisher / Developer: Saitek
Description: Saitek Cessna Pro Flight Set Impression
Software Source / Size: N.A.
Flight Simulator: FS2004 / FSX / X-Plane
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen
Published: February 12th, 2013


Computer / Software Specifications
Computer System: - iMac 27" 3.4Ghz Mid 2011
- Intel i7 3.4/3.8Ghz / 3.8Ghz during Boost Mode
- ATI/AMD Radeon HD6970 2GB
- 16GB DDR3 RAM
- Internal 256GB Intel SSD and 2Tb 7200RPM HDD
- External 500GB Samsung 540 Thunderbolt SSD
- Saitek Pro Flight System
Software: - Windows 7 x64 Ultimate (BootCamp) / Mac OS X 10.8.2
- Flight Simulator X Acceleration
- X-Plane 10.11 (32) and 10.20RC1 (32/64)
























Introduction

I started my previous Saitek X52 Pro hardware with the same sentence …. “Reviewing hardware is always fun!” On the other hand, when the hardware has already been in the market for a while, many issues could influence the hardware quality or, over the course of time, Saitek may have modified the product. Whichever is true, it’s always worth it to check the Saitek forum for any problems and/or solutions. This time, I’m going to review the Saitek Cessna Pro Flight equipment. What that is, you’ll see in a minute.


The Saitek Cessna Pro Flight System

Belonging to the Pro Flight hardware group, the Cessna Pro Flight kit is very close to reality. At least, that’s’ what Saitek thinks. Let’s have a look and see what Saitek has to say about this Cessna kit.

The Pro Flight Cessna Yoke System is highly engineered to meet the exacting needs of the true flight simulation enthusiast, providing a smooth, accurate and totally realistic flying experience. The yoke has a full 90-degree's of turning from center, giving greater accuracy when flying. Use the integrated USB hub to easily connect other parts of the Saitek Pro Flight range of products.

The yoke offers the following features:
- Accurate 1:1 scaled yoke handle found in Cessna light aircraft
- Durable Stainless Steel shaft with precision bearings
- Used with the supplied ST Programming software
- Separate throttle quadrant with additional switches to configure
- 2-position desk clamp that keeps your yoke and quadrant in position
- POV Hat Switch
- 3-position Mode Switch
- 3 axis levers on the throttle quadrant
- 16 buttons, 3 lever detent buttons

Then we come to the officially licensed Cessna Trim Wheel, sold separately, which brings you closer to reality than ever before. Fly using the actual trim wheel found in Cessna 172 / 182 aircraft. The trim wheel covers 9 full rotations making it extremely accurate. Unique, 2 - position desk clamp keeps your trim wheel securely fixed no matter how extreme the flying conditions.

And finally, the Cessna Rudder pedals.
Inspired by pedal designs found in Cessna aircraft, the rudder pedals are solid and robust, providing durability and authenticity for the most demanding of aspiring pilots. Foot plate included that will allow for greater control when using the rudder axis.

Some of the features are:
- Authentic Cessna Pedals with independent toe brakes
- Rudder Axis - With self-centering mechanism
- Independent brake axis - Allows for precise control when braking
- Self-centering with adjustable damping
- Extended foot rest included for added comfort over long flights
- Saitek Smart Technology (ST) programming software


Applicable to all of these components, they are compatible with all major flying games including FSX, FS2004, X-Plane and IL2.

OK, that’s it, more or less, according to Saitek. Now it’s up to me to find out if this Cessna Pro Flight System is fun to work with and if it’s accurate and most importantly, in combination with which Flight Simulators can you use it.


Lets first start with … what’s in the Box?

Unpacking
My Cessna Pro Flight equipment comes as a complete set. This means a box for the Cessna yoke and throttle quadrant, a box for the trim unit, and finally one box for the Cessna rudder pedals. I can tell you, that's a lot of stuff and excitement to review! As you can see on the photos below, each of the components is well packed. No doubt about that! So far, all OK.

Put the yoke and throttle quadrant box on the long side, and when you open the yoke box, then everything in the box stays put and won’t fall out. The yoke unit has one 2 meter (approximately 6.6 feet) USB 2.0 cable that has to be attached directly to a USB port on your PC. Saitek is very clear in this, that you don’t connect it to a USB hub. On the other side of the yoke unit you will find a USB hub for other Saitek components and a PS/2 connector. This is the one that goes to the throttle quadrant. On the front side, you fill see two holes for the table fixation tool. A simple, straightforward table fixing system that never fails.



The box also contains a CD-ROM and a small booklet. The CD-ROM offers drivers and the Saitek Smart Technology (SST) software. The drivers are only for the windows platform and covers Windows 7, Vista and Windows XP 32 and 64 bits. It seems Windows 8 is missing, but don’t worry. With all of these CD-ROMs, my experience is that it is better to check the Saitek website for the latest Windows drivers and SST software. Whatever, more about the “how” and “what” of the dedicated device drivers and SST software.

Unfortunately, Saitek still doesn’t support Mac OS X or Linux. OK, I don’t have Linux, so I can’t bring up any of it's limitations, but I do own a Mac and when it comes to X-Plane support, then there’s no reason to be troubled. The Saitek yoke and the other Cessna components can be configured within X-Plane. The small booklet comes in different languages and offers some background about the yoke and throttle unit as well as how to connect them to the table. That said, on to the next box.

This is the Cessna trim wheel unit. Basically the same size and format as the throttle unit, however, instead of the switches and three handles, it comes with a trim wheel. The connecting cable comes with a USB connector and should be, preferably, plugged into the yokes of the USB hub. The box also contains the same type of fixing bracket with screws for table fixture. That’s all that’s in the box.



Oops, I almost forgot that it comes with the same CD-ROM and booklet as previously discussed.

The third box contains the Cessna style rudder pedals. Actually, I should write rudder and brake pedals. Although far from realistic, you already could fly without these rudder pedals. Just set your FlightSim to AUTO RUDDER and you’re done. But honestly, when you can offer your self the Cessna yoke, throttle quadrant and trim unit, then please, buy this Cessna rudder pedal set too. This box comes, as expected, with the CD-ROM and booklet. The rudder pedal assembly is one unit, so it's ready for use. The unit comes with a long USB cable of approximately 2 meter (approximately 6.6 feet). Normally this should be long enough from the floor mounting to one of your PC or Mac USB outlets. Also in the box, you’ll find pedal extensions and Velcro tape for floor mounting.



Overall, the boxes and the hardware are well packed and ready for use. Even with the supplied CD-ROM with drivers and the SST software, it's always a good idea to check to see if they contain the latest drivers and/or SST version. Therefore, surf to the download section of Saitek for up-to-date driver and SST information. The small booklet is what we call “informative”. It comes with different languages (English, French, German, Italian and Spanish). Overall, a useful add-on!


Dedicated Saitek driver and SST Software

Saitek Drivers
As I said before, it's best to visit the Saitek website for the latest software and drivers for Windows support including Windows 8. Just follow this URL (http://www.saitek.com/uk/down/drivers.php). When you're at this web page the correct selections to make are: - From the menu take “Downloads - Software”,
- “Pro Flight Range”,
- “Pro Flight Cessna Yoke (Cessna Trim Wheel, Cessna Rudder Pedals)”,
- “Windows 7/8, Vista 32 (64) bits or Windows XP 32 (64) bits”.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll see two green buttons. One is for downloading the dedicated Saitek hardware drivers and the other is for downloading the SST software.

In my case, for downloading, I chose the following executable files:
- ProFlight_Cessna_Yoke_7_0_7_9_64bit_Driver.exe
- ProFlight_Cessna_Trim_Wheel_7_0_9_15_64bit_Driver.exe
- ProFlight_Cessna_Rudder_7_0_7_0_64bit_Driver.exe

Just in case you think “I missed the throttle unit file”, there’s no separate throttle unit driver since this is integrated the yoke software.

Anyway, one thing is applicable for all of the above software installers. It will ask you to insert the respective USB cable connector in your PC or yoke USB hub. In other words, when you install the Cessna yoke software, you should have connected the yoke and throttle unit. When you start the trim wheel software, you should have connected the USB cable to the yoke. And finally, when you start the rudder software, the rudder pedals USB cable should be connected to your PC. When you’ve done that, then follow the steps as indicated by the installer. This will install all the dedicated Saitek drivers for the yoke, rudder pedals and related components.

But what will happen if you don’t download these dedicated Saitek drivers in advance and you just insert the USB cable in your PC/Mac, and fire up FSX or X-Plane? Then FSX and/or X-Plane will still recognize the controllers and using the FSX calibration menu or, for X-Plane, the Joystick & Equipment, you’re always able to program each button and/or switch, but with some limitations. Therefore, it’s always better to use the Saitek drivers and the SST software.

But what happens if you run X-plane on a Mac? In that case, you can’t use the Saitek dedicated drivers nor the SST programmable software. Is that a problem? Not at all! You’re able to program many things within X-Plane and as a result, you won’t miss too much.

Saitek Smart Technology Software
The software button allows you to download the SST programming software (ST_SD7_0_24_8_64(32)Bit_Software). It allows you to program every button, selector or whatever's there on your joystick and throttle unit. If you don’t want to do this yourself, then on this Saitek web page there are pre-programmed buttons, switches etc. profile files for FSX and the Windows version of X-Plane. When you’ve downloaded the profiles package, you’ll find a ZIP file that contains a group of profile files for many game types. Unzip it, and pick out “FSX_v2.pr0” and/or “Xplane_v2.pr0”.

Then, just follow the following steps as suggested by Saitek:

Deposit the profiles into your Saitek profile folder. In XP, this is located in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents. In Vista, it's in C:\Users\Public\Public Documents, and in Windows 7 the folder is located in your Documents Library. To be exact and only related to Windows 7 users, you need to place the profile files in the folder “Smart Technology Profiles”.

Open your profile editor, and then use the 'open' function to view a profile.

To assign a function to a button, right click a button cell in the editor. The menu will show all the commands saved to the profile document. Left click the command name and it will be assigned to that button.

Repeat this process for any other commands you want to add.

Once you are happy with your setup, click the Save As button and give your new profile a name. You can save over the existing one if you want, but it may be best to keep this one unchanged as a template for new profiles.


You can then activate the profile by clicking the profile button (blue target reticule) in the editor window. Alternatively, once saved, the profile will appear in your Saitek icon menu located in the system tray. Left click on the profile name to activate, and click clear profile to deactivate the profile.

What else? …. an interesting SST (Saitek Smart Technology) programming software manual at this Saitek link (http://www.saitek.com/uk/supp/sstmanual.zip). When unzipped, you get a wealth of useful information about the SST programming software and how to program this dedicated Saitek software and to get the most out of your Cessna Pro Flight hardware.


Hardware Inspection

Yoke Assembly
It basically consist of two main parts - the housing, with the USB hub, P/S connector and the 2 meter/6.6 foot USB cable. The other part is the stainless steel shaft with the Cessna look-alike control wheel. On top of the housing you’ll find six screws. The design of the housing is made in this way so that Pro Flight Panels can be mounted on top of this. For example; you can mount the following Pro Flight panels:
- BIP (Backlit Information Panel)
- Multi Panel
- Radio Panel
- Switch Panel
- Instrument Panel

The built in USB hub comes with three USB 2.0 receptacles, a P/S connector for the throttle quadrant and a 6V power connector. The Cessna control wheel or horn, feels much better than the standard horn as fitted on the normal yoke assembly (http://www.saitek.com/uk/prod/yoke.html). But that’s a personal opinion and feeling. It comes with some two-way switches, some buttons, three MODE LEDs, a HAT switch or actually, a POV switch (Point Of View) and finally a red button. On the front face you’ll see some big holes. They are used for the U shape bracket to mount the unit to a table. And that’s all.



Due to the solid and durable construction, turning and pulling/pushing the control wheel feels as if you have a solid and realistic yoke in your hands. Knowing the real Cessna 150 and 172 series, this feels more or less the same except that you don’t feel the linkage and stainless steel cables. The centering spring mechanism built into the housing, brings the yoke back to the neutral position. The stainless steel shaft is dry, feels not greasy, but please, keep it like this. A built in rubber ring should prevent any dust from coming into the housing. Although you may expect this, I couldn’t find any slack in the yoke shaft system. This means that when you move the yoke for ROLL or PITCH, it reacts directly.

Throttle Quadrant
The Cessna throttle quadrant looks to me the same as the quadrant that's included with the other general Saitek yoke systems. This throttle quadrant has no Cessna placard or whatever to make it unique. The P/S cable is approximately 1.5 meters or 4.9 feet. The plastic housing offers three handles, each with a colored cap; black for power, blue for propeller pitch and red for mixture. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use them for other throttle functions.



Along the handle range, you’ll find a scale from 0 to 100 with a dead point at 0. From this 0 position, you can move the handle slightly further. Below the handles you’ll find three two-way momentary switches. Ideal for landing gear extension / retraction, flaps extension / retraction etc.

The throttle quadrant is mounted in much the same way to the table as the yoke assembly, with one big difference. You first need to mount a plate to the bottom of the housing. How you do this, you can find in the back of the booklet. One small detail; on the sides of the plastic housing you’ll find facilities to link this unit to other similar products. These facilities allow you to align them as one unit. Another similar unit is the trim wheel assembly. When you position these units against each other, they will perfectly align as being one unit.

Trim Wheel Unit
The trim wheel unit housing is basically the same as the throttle quadrant, but that’s it. Since the trim wheel unit comes with a USB cable, the overall length is more than that of the throttle quadrant. In fact, the USB cable is approximately 2 meters (approximately 6.6 feet). Furthermore, to indicate that this is a Cessna look-alike component, there’s a huge Cessna placard mounted on it. Together with the trim wheel, there’s a scale from NOSE DOWN to NOSE UP. Because the trim wheel covers 9 full rotations, it gives an extremely accurate trim, which makes this unit very realistic. And again, when you turn the trim wheel, and I did this with my eyes closed, I felt the same as during my Cessna 150/172 PPL lessons.



Last but not least, the trim unit is mounted in the same way as the throttle unit.

Rudder Pedals
Although it isn’t a light unit, the overall housing is made of plastic. Not just ordinary plastic, but of a high quality. In the middle of the housing and you can’t miss it, you’ll find a tensioning knob. By rotating the knob, you can increase or decrease the amount of force needed to move the rudder pedals. When using a pedal as brake, then this tensioning knob has no influence on it. Although the pedals are also made of plastic, they're quite thick and feel as a solid unit. The centering mechanism for the individual pedals or when using as rudder, is quite strong, which is good. Then, you’re always sure that when you release your pressure on “a” or “the” pedals, they return to their neutral position. I've almost forgotten that every unit comes with a small green LED to indicate that electrical power is applied. For the yoke assembly this is one of the LEDs on the right hand horn, the so-called MODE LED’s.

The design of the pedals is definitely different then the other normal Saitek rudder pedal units. I personally like this design more. It gives me a better grip on the pedal than with the default Saitek rudder pedal unit. Again, that’s a personal taste, but I thought it’s worth bringing it up.



And last but not least, the rudder pedal is supplied with a standard 2 meter (approximately 6.6 feet) cable with USB connector. Under normal conditions this cable is long enough to be connected to your PC or Mac.

As with all the other Saitek Cessna hardware, this rudder pedal unit is not just an ordinary rudder pedal component. Down to the smallest details, it looks well designed, manufactured, well packed in the box and ready for us. As mentioned before, it you don’t want to install the Saitek dedicated device drivers, it's not mandatory, but I suggest you do.

It's time to move on to the next section, checking out the hardware.


Checking Out

X-Plane 10.20 on Mac OS X Platform
Let me connect my complete Cessna Pro Flight hardware – yoke, throttle quadrant, trim unit and rudder pedals - to my Mac, which is using Mac OS X 10.8.2. Next, connect the yoke USB cable in a free USB fitting on your Mac. It's important to insert the USB cable before you start X-Plane, otherwise X-Plane won’t recognize the connected hardware! By the way, I inserted the rudder pedal USB cable also in the yoke USB hub and can confirm that this works.

The first time you connect the Cessna Pro Flight hardware to X-Plane, X-Plane will ask you to calibrate the units. The XP(I assume that means X Plane not XP software) screen tells you to pull and turn the yoke, move the throttle quadrant handles forward and back several times. It's the same for the trim unit and the rudder pedals. For the rudder pedals you should operate them as brake pedals and as rudder pedals. All these actions are only done so that X-plane recognizes movements.

Once you’ve done this, continue with X-Plane. If X-Plane is up and running, move your mouse to the top of the X-Plane window, select from menu Settings “Joystick & Equipment”. In the window that appears you see six tabs. Those that are important right now are the tabs “Axis”, “Buttons: Basic” and “Buttons: Adv”. There’s not really a need for me to go into each possible step as to how you assign a button or switch to the joystick or throttle unit since the X-Plane manual covers this in much detail.

One thing I would like to highlight is that during the initial movements of the throttle quadrant handles, yoke, trim wheel and pedals, only basic movements – roll and pitch - are detected by X-Plane. As you can see on the screenshot below, XP had no problem to detect pitch, roll, yaw (rudder pedals), brakes, pitch trim and throttle quadrant handles. The only thing that XP couldn’t figure, which input belongs to what XP output. So that’s the only thing that is left for you. For clarity, see the screen shots below.



As I've said before, how you assign X-Plane functions to your yoke, throttle quadrant and rudder pedals are described in the X-Plane manual. Once you've assigned one, two, three or more X-Plane functions to switches, buttons etc., they are kept in the X-Plane memory. This means, when you shut down X-Plane, disconnect the yoke from your Mac and start X-Plane, nothing happens with these settings. Logically you think since there’s nothing connected, which is true. However, when you reconnect the yoke with attached equipment, and fire up X-Plane again, previous assigned functions are active again and there's no need to reprogram them.

What have I learned so far about the Cessna Pro Flight set versus Mac OS X X-Plane?
That there are no problems at all and therefore the units are fully compatible. You do know, however, that Saitek doesn’t offer any dedicated Pro Flight drivers or SST programming software for the Mac OS X environment.

Intro … Saitek Cessna Pro Flight hardware versus Windows 7
When you start the downloaded Saitek yoke software, it will ask you to plug in the yoke USB cable. Once you’ve done this, the driver is installed, and after a while, the Saitek window will continue. At the end of the installation process, the Saitek Cessna Pro Yoke configuration window pops up. It allows you to test every switch including the HAT switch and buttons on the yoke or horn. Furthermore, you can move all handles and check all switches mounted below the handles.



Remember, with this pop-up window you don’t assign functions, but you check the output of the hardware and see if it’s detected by the system. The same steps should be followed for the trim wheel unit and rudder pedals. First start the downloaded Saitek dedicated device driver software, then connect the unit to the yoke USB hub, and finally, the software does the rest with, at the end, the calibration window.

X-Plane on Windows 7
This paragraph will be very similar to the way we did with Mac OS X. Before you do anything, connect all your Cessna Pro Flight hardware to your PC or Mac (preferable via Bootcamp). Now then, the first time you start X-Plane 10, it will tell you that “Uncalibrated joystick devices have been found. Do you want to calibrate them now?” The answer is of course YES.
The next window will tell you to move all axis including the throttle quadrant handles and the rudder pedals as rudder movement and brake application. Move each axis a few times and when you’re done, click the Continue button. It will tell you that all axis are now calibrated and you could fly with basic flight controls, but you want to assign more X-Plane functions to the joystick and/or throttle unit buttons, switches, sliders etc.

This procedure was already earlier explained, and if needed, check for correct assignment in the X-Plane user manual.

Microsoft FSX on Windows 7
Since the Saitek drivers are already loaded, you can directly start FSX, and once FSX is up and running, you select from the Options-Settings-Controls menu in the right hand upper corner the “Calibrate” button.

In the pop-up menu you’ll see the Saitek Cessna Pro Flight Controllers being OK and that they are all detected. That's not so strange since the Saitek calibration windows have already done that. Select one of the Pro Flight components and click the Properties button.

In the screen shots below you see these steps with the last screen shot showing you the Yoke properties window. Although it looks different then the Saitek pop-up window, the idea and functionality is the same, but this time under FSX. You’re now able to move the control wheel, the throttle quadrant handles, press switches, move the HAT switch etc. On the Properties screens you can see if each is detected by FSX. I found several button lights not illuminating on the FSX yoke properties window. Suppose you decide to go for the SST software, then these items/functions will probably be recognized. In other words, what I’ve done right now is without any Saitek official drivers. I’m still able to use almost every switch, knob, slider etc. on my Cessna Pro Flight Yoke Unit with FSX. Sounds good to me, however, this was all done with the MODE selector on the control wheel in MODE 1. MODE 2 and MODE 3 are not working or I should say that the same switches are detected. That’s because I didn't use the SST programming software.

After this test, you can now assign the functions to the yoke, throttle quadrant etc. with the FSX tabs “BUTTONS/KEYS” and “CONTROL AXES”. When you’re finished with this, it’s time to fly. The control wheel, yoke or horn … whatever you prefer, responds directly without any slack. Although a spring would like to keep the control wheel in the neutral position, it’s not annoying when you move the control wheel from its neutral middle position. This is by the way the same for the rudder pedals. The HAT switch works fine too and gives you a complete 360 degree look around your aircraft while flying. Ideal for making screen shots!

I felt it's easy to fly any aircraft that comes standard with a control wheel installed. Of course, you can also use it for fighters or the modern Airbuses with their side stick. A great help is the trim unit. Because of the nine full rotations, it’s very accurate and makes flying by hand even easier and then there’s not always a need to connect the AP (Auto Pilot). Of course, this is only applicable if the aircraft is fitted with an AP.



My overall impression when using FSX is that it's perfect Flight Simulator hardware, but that’s not news to you! Before ending this paragraph I need to say that I haven’t tested the Cessna Pro Flight set on FS2004 or Prepar3D. As far as my experience goes, it shouldn’t give any problems when it comes to FS2004. Since the Windows drivers are installed, all functions work in combination with the Saitek calibration window, assigning functions to switches and buttons and should work in FS2004 too. This is the same story for Prepar3D. As you might know, Prepar3D is basically the professional Microsoft FSX version. That said, it shouldn’t have any problems with this flight simulator.

Saitek Cessna Pro Flight SST Software
It’s always worth installing dedicated Saitek drivers to get the most out of your Saitek hardware and, using the SST Software allows you to assign much more functionality to the Cessna Pro Flight hardware. That said, let’s have a look how this SST process works and what it looks like. Grab the downloaded ST_SD7_0_24_8_64Bit_Software.exe file, start it and follow the screen instructions. It’s a straightforward installation and before you know it, you’re done. But at the end, unless you un-tick “Run Profiler Editor”, the Saitek SST Profiler program will start. I suggest that you prevent the Profiler Editor from starting and finish the SST installation.



Now, go to your downloaded profilesv2.zip file, unzip it and install the FSX_v2.pr0 and if applicable, Xplane_v2.pr0 into the correct folder as described on the Saitek website or, as I explained earlier, in the section Lets first start with … what’s in the Box? Doing this makes your life easier since it offers pre-programed examples for FSX and X-Plane.

I’m done. You too?

When you click OK, it will start the SST software, but before that, you can select what Cessna component you want to program; yoke, trim wheel or rudder pedals. I went for the yoke and the result can be seen on one of the screen shots below.

Another option is starting the Saitek Profiler program from the Windows Start Menu “Smart Technology-Profiler Editor”. Unfortunately, the installer makes a Saitek Profiler editor shortcut on your desktop, but this one isn’t correctly configured by the Saitek installer, so here's a tip. It’s easier and faster to make a shortcut to your desktop. While you’re at the Windows Start Menu “Smart Technology-Profiler Editor”, you’ll also see an icon “Profiler”. When you click this one, it seems nothing happens. Actually, when you go to “Notification Area Icons”, you’ll see three additional icons from Saitek. One for the yoke, one for the rudder pedal and finally, one for the trim wheel unit.

When you right click on one of them you can, for example activate the controller for use with a flight simulator or you can start the Profiler Editor from here too.

Within this review, it’s not my intention to give you a complete tutorial on how to program a profile file for FSX and/or X-Plane. Remember that I mentioned that there’s a nice and informative manual available on how to deal with the SST program. Just follow these steps to create your own profile file. Let’s highlight a few steps before referring to this dedicated SST manual. When you click the Profiler Editor shortcut, the SST program starts and offers you a “Did You Know?” window. It explains essential elements about how this Profiler program works and how easy it is. You can click the OK button to continue.

After you’ve chosen either the yoke, rudder pedals or yoke, the Saitek Pro Flight screen offers three options to select from; Product, Programming and Support. The most interesting one is the Programming option, so click that one. As you can see in the screen shots below, this is the Product View mode and on the right hand side it shows which Mode is the active mode, and below, all the switches, buttons, knobs etc. which are assigned to something. Below the three options (Product-Programming-Support) you’ll see the text, “Loaded Profile: Untitled”. We've just loaded some pre-programmed profile files, so let’s pick them up.

Select the Open icon on the top. It will go directly to the Profiles folder. Then select the FSX_v2.pr0 file, followed by clicking the “open” button. Now, in the right hand upper corner you’ll see the text “Loaded Profile: FSX_v2” and together with that, the Mode 1 section on the right hand side shows all assignments as programmed in this profile file.
By the way, if you don’t like this Product View mode, you can also go for the Grid View mode. No difference, only a different look!



The steps that show how to program or re-program this Saitek FSX profile file are contained in that well written and explained SST manual.

Finally, I would like to highlight how to activate a created or pre-programmed profiler file. It’s very simple. In the right hand bottom side of the Windows bar, you’ll see an icon that represents the Cessna yoke, trim wheel unit or rudder pedal in black. When you right click on it, a window pops-up with some options. Click from the list “FSX_v2” or any other by your own programmed profiler file. Once you’ve done this, the area around the particular Cessna Pro Flight hardware icon becomes green. This indicates that the profile file and the selected Cessna Pro Flight hardware is ready to work with FSX. The above story is also applicable for Windows X-Plane.

You could ask yourself … what’s the difference without this SST software? As I said before, without this SST software and no profile file for FSX (or X-Plane) you're not using the Cessna Pro Flight set in its optimal mode. The SST software makes it possible to use every switch, knob, etc. three times due to the MODE 1,2 and 3. Does FSX and/or X-Plane fly better with the SST profiles being active?

No, but it does give you more control over your flight simulator compared to no SST software.


Summary

The Cessna Pro Flight set is worth every penny, Euro, Dollar or any other currency.
I’m pleased with the way it’s made and with the materials that are used. Whenever plastic is used, which is the majority, it’s still made of a higher quality plastic than you would normally expect. It looks good, it's solid and in particular the yoke assembly with stainless steel shaft gives me a good feeling for a long-term flight sim experience. The amount of switches, including the HAT (or POV) switch and buttons on the yoke assembly, are well balanced for the average flight simmer. This is partly because of the MODE 1,2 and 3 switch on the right hand side of the horn since that function allows you to triple all the switch, buttons etc. functions.

All the individual cables are of a good length and shouldn’t give you any problems. The only thing I don’t understand is why the throttle quadrant still comes with a PS connector and not with a USB connector. Weird, because when you buy a separate throttle quadrant, it has a USB connector. Anyway, besides this PS connector, all others come with a USB 2.0 connector.

Talking to many flight simmers, I learned that most of them don’t use the SST programming software and thus don't use the profiles. I must admit that it’s some work to program your own FSX or Windows X-Plane profile, but the advantage is that you will be able to use every button, switch, etc. and get the most out of the Saitek equipment.

Since I’m no longer using FS2004, I haven’t tested this Saitek hardware with this flight simulator, but I can guarantee you that it will work with FS2004. Only problem is that there are no profiles for it. But perhaps, a search on the Saitek forum will solve this issue.

I'm sure the following question will pop-up …. Cessna Pro Flight Yoke versus Pro Flight Yoke and the same for Cessna Rudder Pedals versus the Rudder Pedals. One thing is for sure. You pay more for the Cessna yoke or rudder pedals. How much more depends on where you buy it. We’re talking here about a difference of 30.00 Euros (approximately $39.00 USD) to 50.00 Euros (approximately $65.00 USD) per unit (only applicable for the yoke and rudder pedals). I didn’t mention anything about the trim wheel unit since this is only available for the Cessna and no other model exists. One thing is for sure, I like the horn of the Cessna yoke more than that of the previous model, but that’s my taste. I think that the yoke assembly is much the same, although I can’t remember if the standard yoke assembly also has a 6V power outlet. Regarding the pedals, they look different but I'm not sure if other materials are used, but they have a Cessna placard too. When you want to go for Cessna look-alike hardware, then I suggest you go for this.

Overall, it’s a nice piece of Saitek equipment that works flawlessly under every condition. Last but not least, I would like to thank Martin Crompton from Mad Catz, Mad Catz own the Saitek Brand, who offered me this hardware and allowed me to test it. I’m not 100% sure if I covered every detail, and I might have missed something. On the other hand, I think the contents of this review should help potential flight simmers in making their choice.

More information about the Saitek Cessna Pro Flight set can be found at the dedicated Saitek web pages for:
- Cessna Yoke
- Cessna Trim Wheel Unit
- Cessna Rudder Pedals

I mentioned this before, but let's highlight it once more. When you're a Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, 32 or 64 bit user, then follow these links for the manuals, drivers, software and profiles:
- Saitek manuals
- Saitek drivers and SST Programming Software
- Saitek Profile package (only for FSX and Windows X-Plane)
- Saitek SST Programming Manual
- Saitek Video Tutorials for SST Software (you need to be a registered user to see this forum thread.)

You can buy the Cessna Pro Flight hardware at many places, but let's stick for now with the Aerosoft eShop web pages for: - Cessna Yoke - Cessna Rudder Pedals

The prices at Aerosoft for the yoke assembly is 199,99 Euro’s or approximately $262.00USD. The Cessna Rudder Pedals will cost 189,99 Euro’s or roughly $249.00USD. The rate conversions are as this review was written and change regularly.

Thanks you for reading this review. I hope it will help you in making the correct decision. Comments and/or remarks are always welcome.
You can reach me at Aerosoft.Sim.News@gmail.com.

With Greetings,
Angelique van Campen


This review is written for Aerosoft Sim News and published via the Aerosoft website. While the reviewer has complete journalistic freedom, we ask the reader to keep in mind where the review is posted.