VKB was founded in 2004 in Russia, and is now headquartered in China.
The name VKB stems from the abbreviation ВКБ for the Russian phrase“Виртуальное Конструкторское Бюро” and may be literally translated as “Virtual Design Bureau”. Virtual Design Bureau stuck as a name because VKB’s engineers are working from different locations all across the globe.
For the international market, the VKB acronym was chosen to represent the company and its products (VKB itself does not mean anything; it is simply a transliteration of the abbreviation ВКБ).
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 order 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.
Every year, CNY thus proves to be a rather major bump in the road for VKB HQ’s inventory production, and there’s nothing we can do but wait for them (and their suppliers) to ramp-up manufacturing again after the break, provide us with updated availability estimates, and finally ship out products again.
During CNY, VKBcontrollers.com’s webshop is disabled for ordering as well.
VKB North America
VKB North America only supports VKB products purchased at VKBcontrollers.com (as evidenced by the VKB North America sales record, invoice, and order number).
If you’ve purchased a VKB 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 have nothing to do with 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 VKB 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.
VKB North America is merely 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 has nothing to do with 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.
In the four months we’ve used PayPal (we didn’t know any better when we launched VKBcontrollers.com), it turned out that PayPal is the worst payment system from a merchant’s perspective, and all the horror stories we read about came true. We had to dump them pretty quick to keep this business alive, and go with something more ethical, sustainable, and modern.
Stand-alone bases by themselves are not complete products and don’t offer any functionality unless combined with a grip (base + grip = joystick), so you should just aim to buy a complete joystick to begin with. Since VKB is in the market to sell complete joysticks first and foremost, buying a complete joystick allows you to receive a fully usable product with a single purchase.
In contrast, Stand-alone grips are really only meant for those users who already own a compatible VKB joystick and wish to replace the original grip with another one.
NB: If you want a complete joystick, don’t piece it together by buying a stand-alone grip as soon as it’s available, and then end up waiting on some form of stand-alone base that might or might be offered by VKB.
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 (the speediness of this process is out of our control and depends on their current workload, any existing backlog, and overall order volume received).
After VKB HQ’s shipping dept has finished processing your order, they’ll dispatch it. After dispatch, parcels typically arrive within three to five (3-5) business days – excluding any potential holdups in customs.
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 in 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 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.
VKB North America (via VKBcontrollers.com), as instructed by VKB HQ, will no longer announce estimated release dates of products currently in development.
The reason is that any PLANNED estimate given by VKB HQ – which is also relayed on various forums and VKB partner sites, will be taken out of context by those who perceive them as a PROMISE given by VKB to release on a guaranteed date. As we all know, a plan is not a promise, and an estimate is not a guarantee – especially when it comes to designing and manufacturing complex hardware, and then developing the software that drives it.
That said, if estimates slip and delays are announced, some forum trolls come out of the woodwork and find joy in spreading damaging drivel about VKB online.
Therefore, VKB HQ decided to remain silent about release dates for products in development; instead, an official announcement will be made once the respective product is available and ready to ship.
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 is 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 to 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. YOU are the importer, and YOU are responsible to pay these custom fees if they apply to your order.
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 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. YOU are the importer, and YOU are responsible to pay these custom fees if they apply to your order.
VKB North America reserves the right to reject any future orders from domestic or international customers that previously refused a delivery due to high fees, duties or taxes levied by the government (this includes Canada).
VKB North America (via VKBcontrollers.com) serves customers in the US* and Canada.
Listed below are official VKB shops that serve other regions to purchase VKB gear from:
- Europe (external link)
- Russia (external link)
- Asia-Pacific (external link)
- Rest of the World (please email VKB HQ directly: email@example.com )
*CONUS = the 48 contiguous states of the continental US, excluding all other off-shore insular areas, such as American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico.
VKB HQ doesn’t keep variable products (e.g., a Gunfighter with swappable, custom grip) on the shelves, as they prefer to “assemble to order (ATO)” them, based on the level of variations possible. Mind you, bases and grips have already been manufactured separately before we got the green light to open up ordering; they just haven’t been picked and bundled until you order.
That said, bespoke products, such as the Gunfighter series, can be equipped with different grips, and each grip has its own unique firmware requirement and comes with a list of extra parts that need to be properly gathered per order before they ship out.
VKB HQ usually allow themselves 5-7 business days (not counting weekends and holidays) for bespoke controllers to be fully tested, readily flashed, and finally boxed up for shipping, and VKB HQ’s shipping dept prefers to ship out everything in bulk, which might add a day or two to the overall process – per their own internal logistics.
In contrast, Gladiator Mk.IIs and T-Rudder Mk.IVs are “off-the-shelf” items that only exist in one variation – and, as such, are “made to stock (MTS)”, and thus can be simply grabbed and shipped, usually within a day after ordering.
Hope this helps a little to shine a light on the process.
VKB Documentation and Howtos
Yes, have a look at the video guide below:
For more video guides, visit VKB’s Official YouTube Channel.
Sure, have a look at these two videos to get going:
How to flash & calibrate a Gunfighter:
How to change cams and springs on a Gunfighter:
Here’s a video that shows the needed steps to remove the grip without damaging the wires:
Yes. Have a look here:
Have a look at this video guide – at the 5:20 mark:
Yes. Have a look here:
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)
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 (or GNX), please 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.
Note: Don’t use the MS Windows calibration utility! If you did, you will have to first reset your joystick using the same MS calibration tool; once done, continue with the steps below:
All Gladiator joysticks come with a “non-software” calibration function; here’s how to use it:
- Plug your Gladiator into a USB port
- Within 10 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)
Done; your joystick is calibrated. Calibration is required only one time (calibration data is saved in joystick memory).
In case you’re looking for how to do things using VKBdevCfg, WIZZO, or your VKB controller hardware, there’s a howto section on the official VKB Forum – click here to get there.
Have a look at the Official VKB YouTube Channel.
Yes, there is! Click here to download the PDF file (updated Feb 2019).
Have a look at the official VKB-Sim Technical Support forum. VKB engineers and developers are able to help you out!
It may look alarming if blue System LED on your Blackbox suddenly turned red after such 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 blackboxes 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.
Have a look at this detailed video on YouTube:
*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 wires:
Follow these steps for all VKB devices. Please note that the PCB with the “Boot” pins for Gunfighter and T-Rudder devices can be found in the Blackbox, so you will have to open it up; for Gladiator devices you will need to remove the base plate to access the PCB.
- Close VKBdevCfg if it is currently running
- Disconnect your device from the USB port
- Gain access to the PCB (printed circuit board) by either opening your Gunfighter or T-Rudder Blackbox, or removing the base plate from your Gladiator
- Launch ZBootloader; you should see this message: “Boot device: turn out”
- Short the “Boot” pins (you can use the tip of a flat hat screwdriver), keeping them shorted until after the next step
- With the Boot pins still shorted, plug the device back into the USB port (Boot pins MUST remain shorted during this process)
- The ZBbootloader app will automatically recognize the device being connected to the PC again; you should see the following message: “Boot device: detected – OK”
- Clear the Boot pins to ensure they are no longer shorted
- From within ZBootloader, select the appropriate firmware for your device and click “Flash It!”
- After successfully flashing, ZBootloader will automatically close and – if VKBdevCfg is stored in the same folder – it will be launched automatically (if not, launch VKBdevCfg as Admin manually)
- From within VKBdevCfg, continue to calibrate all device axes
This was an issue with the first batches of MCG/MCG PRO grips, where spring lock washers weren’t included during assembly. This has been addressed in all subsequent batches by including spring lock washers.
That said, if you feel that your MCG grip’s base connector is getting looser over time, the best way to fix this yourself is by installing two spring lock washers (DIN127B M3)* and tighten the screws again.
As you can see below, I’ve opted to go with hex screws instead of the ones with Phillips-head, as that’s my personal preference. You can see the spring lock washers peeking out from under those hex screw heads.
If you want to mimic what I’ve done, these are the replacement parts I’ve used:
- Screw: DIN912 M3*14mm
- Spring lock washer: DIN127B M3
- Washer: DIN125A M3 (for good measure)
Follow this guide on how to open the MCG/MCG PRO grip to access the base connector.
*Do not use Loctite on the screws! With Loctite applied, you are likely to break the threaded metal sockets out of their ABS plastic housing if you were to remove the base connector for some reason at a later point in time.
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 Gunfighter series of controllers will enhance the overall feeling of VKB sticks even further – the Gunfighter’s stick movement feels “heavier”, and the added friction prevents oscillations when letting go of the stick.
- By adjusting these dampers, a user could thus overcome a spring-loaded stick’s tendency to return back to center – which might be especially useful during helicopter 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.
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:
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 cams’ 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 to, based on the centering springs. The user would feel a hard center position when transition between axes. Using such 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 high-end joysticks, such as the Gunfighter or Gladiator Pro series.
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 Kosmosima (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, Gladiator, 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 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: 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 controller’s 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 controller’s 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 purchases 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 Pro 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 these useful references:
- How to calibrate your Gladiator (non-Pro) correctly
- How to flash and calibrate your Gunfighter correctly
Note: In case of the Gunfighter, you’d also need to loosen the factory-tightened dampers to have the stick return to center freely. Refer to the Gunfighter Quick Guide for details.
VKB introduced relative axes to the MCG’s Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) hat. Relative axes are analog axes whose position stays where they are when you let go of the ministick – even though the ministick itself returns to center. Compare that to you standard analog axes that will return to center along with the physical ministick when you let go of it (you can observe the behavior of these analog axes within the VKB JoyTester or the VKBdevCfg app).
- The Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick can toggle between POV (digital) mode and Analog mode by pressing on it for 0.3 sec (only works with the default MCG profile)
To assign these relative analog axes to your simulation of choice, do the following using the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) hat:
- Enter “axes” mode by long press on the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick
- Center the axes by short press on the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick
- Within your simulation of choice, get ready to assign your analog axes
- To assign the horizontal axis, move the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick left/right for a few seconds until detected in the sim (relative mode takes longer compared to normal axes to reach the far end)
- To assign the vertical axis, move the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick up/down for a few seconds until detected in the sim (relative mode takes longer compared to normal axes to reach the far end)
- Save the settings in-game
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 some default profile that provides the basic device functionality, including buttons, switches, axes, etc.
Users may use VKBdevCfg to:
- create their own profiles to suite 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 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:
There are two types of VKB device configuration software:
WIZZO (for all VKB joysticks, excluding Rudders)
WIZZO is more basic than VKBdevCfg. It allows a user to calibrate a single VKB device, adjust dead zones if desired, turn on/off axes, save & load configurations, and flash a device’s firmware. WIZZO typically covers what 90% of the end user needs to get their VKB device ready for their favorite sim.
VKBdevCfg (for all VKB devices, including Rudders)
VKBdevCfg is more advanced than WIZZO; even though it covers the basics – just like WIZZO does – it also allows the user to access more complex features. It also allows for multiple VKB devices, individually selectable from its interface. VKBdevCfg highly recommended for advanced users who wish to really get into the nitty-gritty of their VKB device.
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 WIZZO or 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” indicates that you should check whether some non-VKB device app/driver/configurator is active in the background that might generate these kind 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)
- Razor 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.