We often refer to VKB – the manufacturer of VKB products – as VKB HQ, since they are the decision-makers of everything VKB; they determine the production roadmap, product design, product features, and product availability.
CNY stands for Chinese New Year, and it impacts VKB HQ’s operation year after year.
The Chinese New Year break ranges from mid/late January to early February, and typically all Chinese suppliers start to wind down operations one to two weeks in advance. As such, the CNY puts a halt to mass production, and even orders delivery, far earlier than many buyers expect.
Typically, Chinese offices and factories close for about three working weeks, allowing workers time to travel back home to spend the holiday with their families. This also affects the operations of VKB HQ, as their shipping department, shipping agency, and production facilities shut down as well.
VKB North America
This seems to only happen if Google Pay was chosen during checkout, yet the actual payment method is attached to (or fielded by) PayPal.
Since we do not offer PayPal processing during checkout, this will not work and you would have to check out using a normal Debit or Credit Card instead for processing via our payment gateway Stripe.com
VKB North America only supports VKBsim® products purchased at VKBcontrollers.com (as evidenced by the VKB North America sales record, invoice, and order number).
If you’ve purchased a VKBsim® product from a third-party reseller (e.g. Amazon, X-plane.org, Dix30 Simulations, Aliexpress, etc), please realize these resellers operate their own independent businesses and customer support channels. These resellers have distribution/wholesale agreements with VKB HQ in China, and such agreements are unrelated to the operations of VKB North America via VKBcontrollers.com.
Therefore, purchases from any third-party reseller are not supported by VKB North America via VKBcontrollers.com, and any support or warranty requests for VKBsim® products bought from a third-party reseller will have to be submitted to (and fielded by) the same third-party retailer you purchased from and who issued the sales invoice to you.
VKB North America (via VKBcontrollers.com) is not a distributor of VKB products to any third-party reseller, nor do we offer any form of wholesale accounts. Please contact VKB HQ directly for any distribution/wholesale questions you might have by email or via their official website VKB-Sim.pro.
We here at VKB North America are just a sales partner (independently owned and operated) for VKB HQ, facilitating orders from retail customers from the US and Canada.
Note: We do not offer support for purchases made from any third-party retailers who have a distribution/wholesale agreement with VKB (the manufacturer). Such agreement exists between VKB and the respective third-party vendor only and is unrelated to the operations of VKB North America via VKBcontrollers.com. Any support requests for VKB products purchased from a third-party reseller will have to be submitted to (and fielded by) the same retailer that sold the product and issued their sales invoice to you.
VKB North America uses the Stripe payment gateway for all Credit/Debit Card payments.
VKB North America sells VKB products on VKBcontrollers.com only, and VKB North America only offers customer support for VKB products purchased at VKBcontrollers.com.
VKB North America is unrelated to (and operates independent from) any third-party reseller; likewise, any third-party reseller who offers VKB products on Amazon (or on their own webshop) is unrelated to (and independent from) VKB North America.
Our payment gateway provider Stripe.com has added another layer of credit card validation checks, now including the zip code.
During checkout, if the zip check has failed, it’s because your bank is telling our payment gateway that the zip code does not match the one it has on file. If you have recently moved, it may take your bank a while to have the correct zip code on file.
As a workaround, you could try checking out with your previous billing address instead, as your card issuer may not have updated their records or notified the verifier of any changes.
At this time, we only offer drop shipping* directly from VKB HQ’s warehouse in China.
When you place an order at VKBcontrollers.com, all information needed for VKB HQ’s shipping dept in China to fulfill your order is automatically sent to them.
Next, we’re waiting for VKB’s shipping dept to a) package the product, b) create a shipping label, and c) hand the parcel off to the carrier for dispatch. Expect this processing time to be 3 business days – but the speediness of this process depends on the shipping dept’s current workload, any existing backlog, and the overall order volume received. Note: Your carrier choice during checkout does not affect the order processing time! Your carrier choice only affects the transit time from VKB’s warehouse to your door after dispatch, with DHL usually being a little quicker than FedEx.
After VKB HQ’s shipping dept has finished processing your order, they’ll dispatch it to the respective carrier. After dispatch, parcel transit time is usually 3-7 business days, carrier dependent – and any potential holdups in customs notwithstanding.
We usually receive tracking info from VKB’s shipping dept 24-48hrs after your order was completed and dispatched to the carrier; once received, we will update your order status to ‘Complete’, and you will receive an automated email that includes the carrier’s tracking number.
*VKB HQ drop ships directly from their warehouse in China, via Hong Kong or Taiwan by air. The shipping cost is based on the carrier fees VKB HQ is charged for each parcel, calculated based on weight and volume for deliveries to the US or Canada respectively. Besides the initial ‘New Order Conformation’ you’ve received by email after purchasing, a VKB North America invoice is available upon request.
VKB North America (via VKBcontrollers.com) is not the manufacturer of VKB products, nor are we representatives of VKB the manufacturer (aka VKB HQ). We don’t have any insight (or input) into VKB HQ’s production roadmap, product design, features, or availability – we don’t know what’s coming (and when it’s coming) until VKB HQ tells us so.
With that in mind, we are merely a sales partner (independently owned and operated) for VKB HQ, facilitating orders from retail customers from the US and Canada; we also offer after-sale support for VKBcontrollers.com customers via our support ticket system.
Your order remains Processing until we enter the tracking number received from VKB’s shipping dept. However, the time between those events (receiving tracking info and entering it into your order page) may vary, and that doesn’t mean that orders can still be changed (or canceled) while they appear as processing.
Your order may show Processing here on your customer dashboard at VKBcontrollers.com, but VKB’s shipping dept in China could have already packaged the order, printed a shipping label, and generated a tracking number for you – which we just haven’t received yet.
Not having received a tracking number yet is not indicative of the actual order status over at VKB’s shipping dept – please keep that in mind.
In fact, your order will still say Processing until we manually enter your tracking number and mark your order as Complete – which will then trigger an automatic email to you with the tracking number inside.
Long story short, within 8 hrs after ordering, we usually can make changes to orders or cancel orders on behalf of customers’ requests; after that, it’s usually too late as VKB’s shipping dept is doing their best to get the order dispatched as soon as possible.
We here at VKB North America are sales partners (independently owned and operated) for VKB HQ, facilitating orders from retail customers, fulfilled by VKB HQ in China.
If products appear as “Sold Out”, we’re usually just waiting for quantities updates from VKB HQ on items that currently appear out of stock. If a brand-new product that hasn’t been released yet shows “Sold Out”, it only means that we’re waiting for the first batch quantities to be made available to us before we can sell the product.
In case anyone is curious about the process: Our webshop’s software automatically sends emails to VKB HQ when product quantities run low, and once again when quantities run out. We then have to wait until VKB HQ provides new product quantities based on their warehouse inventory allotment for VKBcontrollers.com, so we can plug these numbers into the respective product page for products to appear “In Stock” again for customers to be able to place orders.
VKB HQ providing product quantities allotted to VKBcontrollers.com is not automated, so it sometimes takes a while before we get updated numbers from them.
The reason why VKBcontrollers.com relies on accurate numbers of available products from VKB HQ is to prevent overselling items, which would lead to frustration if we showed an item “In Stock”, while the warehouse doesn’t have it on hand for delivery.
All prices are in USD (United States Dollar).
Furthermore, product prices do not include any shipping or customs fees, nor do they include taxes relevant to your country or state.
Shipping fees and applicable tax are applied during checkout, and any import fees that apply to you are usually paid at your local post office (or carrier location) where your package is forwarded after customs releases it.
VKB HQ ships all products from China.
Please read the following on importing from China when placing an order:
USA: VKB HQ ships all products from China. Customers must be aware that US Customs imposes tariffs on goods imported from China that are valued at $800 or more. If you place an order over $800, you will be liable to pay the import tax and tariffs upon delivery, which is 29% of the order total.
Canada: VKB HQ ships all products from China. Customers must be aware that goods imported into Canada are subject to the federal GST, which is calculated at the rate of 5% of the duty-paid value of the shipment. Certain provinces will collect the HST at a rate of 13%. This tax must be paid at the time of entry and is collected at the border. Import Fees rates vary according to the type of goods you are importing and the country from which they came or were made in. Depending on the goods or their value, some other taxes may apply, such as excise duty or excise tax on luxury items.
VKB North America reserves the right to reject any future orders from domestic or international customers that previously refused delivery due to high fees, duties, or taxes levied by the government (this includes Canada).
VKB Documentation and Howtos
Yes, have a look at the video guide below:
For more video guides, visit VKB’s Official YouTube Channel.
Here’s a video that shows the needed steps to remove the grip without damaging the grip wires:
Yes. Have a look here:
Have a look at this video guide – at the 5:20 mark:
Here’s a video for that:
You might find this graphic useful (right-click to ‘open in a new tab’ or to ‘save as…’ for the full size version):
(Click here download VKBJoytester)
Yes, you should be able to calibrate a VKB Gladiator without the need for Windows-based configuration software.
The Gladiator Mk. I/II and Gladiator Pro Mk. I/II joysticks come with a “non-software” calibration function; here’s how to use it:
- Plug your Gladiator into a USB port
- Within 5 seconds, press both EJECT+Flaps buttons simultaneously
- The stick goes into calibration mode (LED starts flashing)
- Calibrate by moving all axes (pitch, roll, yaw & throttle) through their full ranges
- Press the trigger (the joystick will restart)
For the Gladiator NXT/EVO refer to this video on how to calibrate:
Now, you should be able to go to your respective MacOS- or Linux-based flightsim and assign axes and buttons from within.
PS: This function is not available on other VKB controllers besides the Gladiator series at this time.
In case you’re looking for how to do things using VKBdevCfg, there’s a howto section on the official VKB Forum – click here to get there.
We also do offer in-depth video guides for pretty much every aspect of how to configure your VKB joysticks and rudders – have a look at our Official YouTube Channel. Highly recommended!
Have a look at the Official VKB YouTube Channel.
Yes, there is!
You can find a PDF copy on our downloads page here.
Have a look at our various support channels:
Support & Discussion Forum (external link)
YouTube Channel (external link)
Twitter (external link)
Facebook (external link)
Instagram (external link)
HOTAS Discord Server, #VKB Channel (external link)
Reddit r/hotas (external link)
It may look alarming if the blue System LED on your Blackbox suddenly turned red after such an update. Does this mean the update went wrong – or even worse, the VKB device is malfunctioning?
That’s usually not what it means – everything should still be fine with your Blackbox; the only thing you need to do is re-configure the LED colors from within VKBdevCfg. Yes, it is a bit of a hassle, and we understand and apologize for it. Please refer to the official VKB VKBdevCfg Manual for details, and VKB’s Technical Support Forum for help.
That said, what you should do before updating your firmware is to save your profile – first and foremost:
- VKBdevCfg > Action > Save
Once the firmware update is done, all you’ll need to do is load the profile again:
- VKBdevCfg > Action > Load, and then finalize with
- VKBdevCfg > Action > Set
However, sometimes a firmware update is more than just a minor tweak, and it might have a deeper impact and introduces more sophisticated functionality. In this case, a manual re-configuration is the only way to go as your profile might no longer be compatible with the new firmware.
Why’s that? Because we are trying to make our products as customizable and as universally compatible as possible. On one hand, it allows us to offer unparalleled functionality and flexibility of user settings; on the other hand, it comes with the price of having to master our not-always-very-intuitive software utilities.
The VKB BlackBox has been in production long enough and lived through a few generations of internal upgrades. We’re still maintaining its compatibility by the means of firmware upgrades so that owners of older black boxes could benefit from the full functionality of the latest ones.
We do acknowledge that some of you might have to tidy up after a firmware upgrade; at least now you know why.
Part of mid-/long-term maintenance is to re-grease parts that rely on damping grease – which, over time – can wear out.
Check these video guides on how to do re-grease twist adapters and gimbals:
Twist adapters (recommended Nyogel 767A):
Gimbals (recommended Nyogel 774VH):
Use some fine-grit sandpaper and polish the cams a little, as that usually does the trick.
After a while, the chrome plating wears off and could cause the cams to feel a little less smooth. Note – the chrome plating is really only cosmetic, as the underlying steel provides the support, but could use some sandpaper action in the transition as the plating wears thinner.
To open a support ticket for hardware-related issues* or to request an order cancellation/refund for products purchased at VKBcontrollers.com, log into your “My Account” dashboard, click “Orders”, and then click “Get Help”.
*For software, firmware, or button-assignment issues and questions, please use the official VKB Support forums instead (VKB developers and engineers are able to help).
Important: For VKB products purchased at third-party retailers (e.g., Amazon, X-plane, Dix30 Simulations, etc), you will have to contact their respective after-sale support instead!
Here’s a video that shows the needed steps to remove the grip without damaging the grip wires:
Here’s a proven technique to install springs—including the stiffer ones:
Replacing springs on a Gunfighter
Useful tools: needle-nose pliers, small zip ties, x-acto knife (or cable cutters)
Hint: You might want to use your opposite hand’s thumb to press down on the spring coil while installing or removing the spring to prevent it from jumping off when released.
Installing a spring (do this for each axis):
- Thread a small zip tie down to a small loop.
- Attach it to the hook of one side of the spring you want to install.
- Slide the opposite end of the spring’s hook over the cam shaft pin.
- With needle nose pliers, pull the zip tie to attach the other end of the spring hook over opposite cam shaft pin.
- Once hooked on, use an x-acto knife (or cable cutters) to cut the zip tie loop and remove it.
Removing a spring (do this for each axis):
- Thread the end of a small zip tie through the spring hook you want to remove, and pull the zip tie tight.
- With needle nose pliers, pull the zip tie to remove the spring from the cam shaft pin.
Adjustable dampers allow the user to change the friction of the stick’s movement along its way of travel independently for each axis (roll and pitch).
- With this feature, the stick movement feels “heavier”, and the added friction prevents oscillations when letting go of the stick.
- By adjusting these dampers, a user could overcome a spring-loaded stick’s tendency to return back to the center – which might be especially useful during helicopter or space flight (or wherever else desired).
- With the right amount of friction dialed in, the stick will stay put where the user wants it to stay – even off-center! At the same time, it might be necessary to increase the spring tension by using a heavier spring per axis to overcome some of the friction these dampers provide or remove the springs altogether if desired.
A user’s goal should be to find the right balance between damper friction and spring tension to suit his or her needs.
Here’s a quick video that shows the effect of the clutch damper on the pitch axis shown on a Gunfighter joystick:
VKB uses ball-bearing-based steel gimbals as centering mechanisms for their high-end joysticks (e.g., the Gunfighter series). Each joystick axis (pitch and roll) is embedded within a steel gimbal that provides structural support; the axes themselves use ball bearings for longevity and smooth operations.
As part of the gimbal, VKB uses spring-loaded metal cams to define the feeling of the movement of the stick itself, as well as the feeling of the center of the stick.
- Cams are curved metal “arms” – one per axis, along which the gimbal’s steel roller runs as the stick is moved along an axis.
- The stronger the spring per cam, the more resistance the user feels when moving the stick through its range of movement.
- The cam’s curvature towards the end of each cam provides increasing resistance the further the stick is moved toward its extremes.
There are usually two types of cams – soft center and hard center detents for VKB products.
- The soft center cam provides very smooth joystick (or rudder pedals) travel; even when crossing from the pitch into the roll axis, and vice versa, the user usually does not feel much of the transition between axes (this is even smoother when using a Gunfighter with stick extension). The soft center cam might be the most realistic way to enjoy helicopter and fixed-wing simulations.
- The hard center cam provides a definite center detent to which the axes return, based on the centering springs. The user would feel a hard center position when transitioning between axes. Using such a hard center cam might be beneficial when the user desires precise cutoffs when transitioning between axes, avoiding axes bleeding into each other while maneuvering.
VKB includes swappable cams for their high-end joysticks and rudder pedal sets; the user can thus customize their VKB product with the cam-type they prefer – either soft or hard center cams all around, or a combination of both, with – for example – a hard center detent on the roll axis, and a soft center one for the pitch axis.
- When combining different cams with different spring strengths per axis, VKB users can truly tweak their experience in many different ways and make their joystick or rudder pedal set a very unique and personal experience for their flight simulation enjoyment.
VKB offers different stand-alone grips for their Gunfighter and Gladiator NXT series of joysticks.
This allows a user to purchase different stand-alone grips and swap them with one another. Some grips, such as the Modern Combat Grip (MCG) or Space Combat Grip (SCG) series offer more programmable buttons and axes configurations for combat jet (or space) simulations, while other grips (e.g., the KG12) allow users to experience a more WWII-inspired setup.
The idea of offering stand-alone, swappable grips for existing joystick bases also allows for future-proofing: As new grips become available, the user could continue to use their existing – still supported VKB joystick base – while upgrading to a newer, more feature-rich grip.
You might have noticed a small amount of lean to either side when your VKB Gunfighter (or Gladiator Pro or legacy Mamba) is centered.
- That slight lean is normal with any gimbal design that uses one cam per axis. This ‘cam loading’ (or the slight angle off) is compensated for by the VKB joystick’s MCU (microcontroller unit), and does not affect the returning of the axis to the center within 0.01 degrees (observable in VKBdevCfg and VKBJoyTester).
- The VKB MaRS (Magneto-Resistive) sensor finds the center of the stick after calibrating at the cam level, not at the grip level, and is thus always precise – there is no need to ‘fix’ anything. It’s meant to operate like that.
Note: This usually does not affect Gladiator NXT/EVO joysticks due to their different gimbal design.
Note: If your Gunfighter doesn’t return to center by itself when looking at VKBdevCfg or VKBJoytester, you might have to loosen the Gunfighter’s clutch dampers fully.
It’s the way how the electrical connection is made between a swappable grip and its base:
- 3-pin (or 3-pin original, or 3-pin Rev.A) has the 3 pins on top of the base (e.g., the Gunfighter Mk.I, or the Gladiator Pro Mk.II) – see below:
(Rev.A Base Connector)
- 3-pin Rev.B has moved the 3 pins inside the grip, away from the base (the Gunfighter Mk.II being the first product with such pin layout) – see below:
(Rev.B Base Connector)
The reason why this is mentioned across the different VKB products now is to allow customers who already own a VKB base – whether it’s a Gunfighter or a Gladiator Pro – to know exactly what swappable grip to purchase for their existing base. Nothing more frustrating than receiving a shiny new grip in the mail, only to find out that its pin layout doesn’t match the base it was intended for.
As a side note, over the years VKB has developed different pin layouts (from 5-pin to 3-pin designs) for their controllers with swappable grips, and keeps constantly improving things – the 3-pin Rev.B is just the latest development in this regard.
VKB controllers with MaRS (Magneto-Resistive) sensor tech can be adjusted for resolutions up to 15-bit via the VKBdevCfg configuration app (the default is usually 11- or 12-bit out-of-the-box, depending on the product).
To change the default, do the following:
- From within VKBdevCfg, go to Profile > Axes, and find the resolution values in the “Precis” column for each of the respective controller axes
- Adjust the precision as needed; selectable values range from 8-bit (256 steps) to 15-bit (32767 steps) per axis
- From the Action tab, click “Set” to save the new values
VKB products use the effect of magnetic resistance instead of the Hall Effect. VKB calls their contactless sensor solution MaRS (Magneto-Resistive Sensor).
Here’s a nice little article on the difference between the two:
Magnetoresistive Sensors and Hall Effect Sensors are both commonly used to detect magnetic field strength. Both technologies are compatible with integrated circuit processing. So is there any difference between them when designing a sensor application?
In general, Magnetoresistive sensors have much higher sensitivity than Hall Effect sensors. A magnetoresistive device’s sensitivity is adjustable through the selection of film thickness and line width, allowing you to tune the part to your needs.
In sensor application, magnetoresistive sensors are omni-polar (operates with North and South pole), while Hall Effect is beneficial for highly linear measurements with no saturation effects out to extremely high field strength.
Please note that a Hall Effect sensor responds to magnetic fields perpendicular to the sensor, while a magnetoresistive sensor responds to parallel fields.
Therefore, a Magnetoresistive sensor is good at unipolar sensing for precision, non-contact of displacement applications such as medical analyzers and magnetic field encoders, while a Hall Effect sensor is commonly used to determine the proximity of gear teeth such as CNC machine tools and measuring transmission speed.
As a side note, VKB controllers with MaRS sensors can be adjusted for resolutions up to 15-bit via the VKBdevCfg configuration software.
VKB typically installs the very latest stable firmware available at the factory before shipping their products to customers; there is no need to mess with firmware updates out-of-the-box.
Firmware updates are usually only required when, for example, you install a new grip for your Gunfighter or Gladiator NXT that you’ve bought at a later date, or when there is a new and improved firmware version available for your current Joystick.
That said, the only thing you need to do after unboxing your new VKB Joystick is to calibrate it.
Refer to the respective calibration video guides on our Official YouTube Channel to get you started
Profiles, in a nutshell, allow buttons and axes configurations within their VKB device to work correctly. Without a profile, buttons and axes don’t do anything; some form of profile is needed for VKB devices to function as expected.
- Usually, VKB devices come pre-loaded with a default profile that provides the basic device functionality, including buttons, switches, axes, etc.
Users may use VKBdevCfg to:
- Create their own profiles to suit a specific need (or a specific simulation)
- Save/load profiles to/from disk
Firmware is a “specific class of computer software that provides the low-level control for the device’s specific hardware” (thanks, Wikipedia).
In the case of VKB’s hardware:
The main firmware (*.vkb) is stored in the respective device’s master controller (e.g., VKB BlackBox (Gunfighter or T-Rudders) or in the Microcontroller Unit (Gladiator)).
- This type of firmware provides the raw data for axes, buttons, and encoders within a slave device (e.g., MCG or KG12 grips)
- These functions are controlled and processed by the master controller (BlackBox or MCU)
- Usually, firmware updates provide bug fixes and/or feature enhancements, and can be installed by the user via ZBootloader.
In contrast, VKB bases and grips themselves have proprietary firmware that cannot be changed by the user.
- This specific type of firmware provides communication protocols between the master (e.g., VKB BlackBox) and the slave (e.g., MCG or KG12 grips) via BUS interface.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most useful VKB programs available for the end-user:
- VKBdevCfg (for all VKB devices, including Rudders)
While VKBdevCfg is used for the initial calibration and configuration of all VKB devices, it is highly recommended for advanced users who wish to really get into the nitty-gritty of their VKB device with a multitude of complex and advanced options to tinker with.
There are some other useful tools as well:
- ‘T-Link‘ allows a user to enable differential brakes (aka ‘virtual toe brakes’ ) for their VKB T-Rudders.
- ‘VKB_JoyTester‘ allows a user to visualize (and test) device axes (useful during troubleshooting and support).
- ‘VKB_BtnTester‘ allows a user to test device buttons (useful during troubleshooting and support).
- ‘ZBootloader‘ allows a user to flash their VKB device with new firmware (ZBootloader is usually launched from within VKBdevCfg after downloading and extracting it).
(Click here to download VKB software for your device)
When ZBootloader is launched (either manually or from within VKBdevCfg) with the purpose of flashing firmware, any device requests from any software currently active that does not comply with the VKB firmware protocol prevents ZBootloader from having exclusive access to the device for flashing, and thus prevents the device from being flashed.
The resulting message “Device Not Ready” or “Boot device: Turn Out” [sic] indicates that you should check whether some non-VKB device app/driver/configurator is active in the background that might generate these kinds of requests and thus hog your VKB device.
Please check if any of these are running in the background:
- Software/drivers for mice and keyboards (e.g., Logitech, etc.)
- AORUS Graphics Engine (Gigabyte)
- Razer Synapse
If that’s the case, they will have to be temporarily disabled for ZBootloader to be able to flash your VKB device. Once your VKB device is flashed successfully, you can re-enable them.