I’ve had my CH Products Flight Yoke for about 6 years, and it is a great affordable controller. Given the warranty has long since expired, this weekend I decided to try one of the mods for it I saw on YouTube, and went ahead and did a couple more things. Here are the
four three mods I did:
1. Clipboard Mod
This one is trivial, and requires no dismantling or risk to the device. I used dense 3mm cardboard, cut to the right size, and stuck it to the center of the handle using double sided tape. Add a butterfly clip and you’re done. Important here is to find cardboard which does not bend or dent if you write onto it. Also, test your double-sided tape, as the smooth plastic surface does resist a lot of tapes.
2. Resistance reduction mod
This mod (which I randomly found on YouTube) is intended to remove the yoke’s one weakness – the stiff resistance springs which make it hard to make small control inputs. My experience in doing this mod was fairly good – it went about as well as in the video – taking it apart is fairly easy, and the design of the yoke is actually quite impressive, and looks like it will last a good long while. Be careful though not to overly stress any of the parts connecting the yoke rod with the potentiometers – if these break or get warped, you will be in trouble.
Removing the springs is easy (there is not too much tension), and after drilling a hole in the left side of the control horns (again, easy as the plastic is soft), I found the first caveat: Even if you add the same number of rubber bands on each side, you might get more pull on one side than the other, leading to a yoke which turns to one side without any input. This is obviously because stationery rubber bands are not precision instruments :-), but fortunately there is a simple workaround. I used two doubled-over rubber bands for each side, but the right side was pulling more than the left. So I simply unhitched one of the four loops and that evened it out quite nicely:
Now, the video claims that the mod is completely reversible (which is true). However, if you lose the springs, it suddenly becomes non-reversible. So to prevent that happening I decided to store the springs inside the yoke itself. In order to prevent the springs from moving inside the case and jamming the mechanism, I added a blob of blue tack (that sticky putty used to stick posters up) in the front corners of the case:
Also note I used a little bit of blue tack to hold the table screw nut to its post – this is to prevent the nut falling out while turning the yoke around when putting the case back together again. This is not essential, but it does make your life a little easier as you hold everything in place.
3. USB Cable Protection Mod
One last mod I did was to protect the USB cable – I found that while screwing the yoke onto the table, sometimes I would pinch the cable between the yoke and the table, which was slowly stripping that part of the insulator. That worried me because you cannot easily solder these types of cables. Also, I found that the cable would often get in the way of the yoke rod. I keep my computer on the left side of my table, and on the yoke, the cable exits the yoke to the right of the yoke rod. So when the cable loops round, it would get in the way of the mechanism. So this mod is intended to solve these two problems. I simply drilled two holes through the top half of the case, and looped the cable through a cable tie:
This is how it looks with the case closed. As you can see, the cable is now nicely out of the way of the mechanism:
(The tape you see on the cable at the tie is not necessary – it is there to cover up where the yoke had previously pinched off the insulation). When doing this mod, beware not to tighten the cable tie too much – you must allow the cable enough freedom to move through the cable tie a bit, otherwise opening the case again after the mod will be difficult.
4. Switching the POV hat onto the left horn of the yoke
I wanted to switch the POV hat to the left horn of the yoke because I like having my throttle quadrant on the right side. As the yoke is now, this is awkward because your right hand is needed for working the throttles and moving the point of view. So if we could move the POV switch to the left horn… I started by opening the handle, and it was easy enough to remove the switch modules, but alas, the two modules are not symmetrical, so it was not possible to swap them around. Mod fail.
I loaded up the default Cessna Caravan and flew Victoria to Renton as a test. At first I found that the plane would kick downwards every now and then, which confused me. I fiddled with control sensitivity, held the yoke rod firmly in place, cleared the weather (in case it was turbulence), but I would still get a kick down every few seconds – a little too periodic in fact. Then I realized that my Combat Stick was also plugged in, and FSX will try to take all controller inputs and apply them, even if they conflict (i.e. if the stick and yoke are both mapped to the elevators, both will interfere with each other). So after removing the Combat Stick, everything worked great. These mods cost me $0, and took about two hours to do, so well worth it.