FAQ

VKB

When was VKB founded? What does VKB stand for?

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 abbreviation VKB was chosen (VKB itself does not mean anything; it is simply a transliteration of the abbreviation ВКБ).

How can I get in touch with VKB, the manufacturer?

Since VKB North America (via VKBcontrollers.com) does not represent VKB the manufacturer – outside of being a sales partner – the best way to get in touch with VKB official representation is via:

VKB North America

Do you guys accept PayPal?

No.

VKB North America uses the Stripe payment gateway for Credit/Debit Cards payments.

Background: PayPal was only used for the first four months of VKBcontrollers.com existence, as it turned out that PayPal was an extremely poor service provider, difficult and unfair to deal with due to their outdated and destructive merchant policies, and thus didn’t suit our business model at all. We ended up having to drop them really quick.

How is shipping handled?

When you place an order at VKB North America, we handle it usually within minutes; that means we prepare (and email) all the information needed for VKB HQ’s shipping dept to send the order from their warehouse to you.

However, once we’ve done our part, we’re waiting for the shipping dept to do their part – that is, a) packaging the product, b) creating a shipping label, and c) handing the parcel off to the carrier for dispatch. Mostly they are quick about it, and sometimes they are not so quick (and that’s totally out of our control).

Once we receive tracking info from VKB HQ after dispatch, we will then update your still processing order by emailing you the tracking number, and changing the order status to complete. By then, you should have already received a VKB North America receipt with pertinent information.

After dispatch, parcels arrive usually within three to five (3-5) business days* (excluding any potential holdups in customs); due the requirements for international shipping, you will have to sign for the parcel upon delivery.

*Deliveries for North America usually ship direct via Hong Kong; orders from Australia and New Zealand are usually transshipped via Singapore or Malaysia (transshipping times may vary).
Is VKB North America the manufacturer of VKB products? Do you represent VKB the manufacturer?

No.

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, product features, or product availability – we don’t know what’s coming (and when it’s coming) until VKB HQ tells us so.

That said, we are merely a resale partner for VKB HQ, facilitating orders for customers from the US and Canada (as well as Australia and New Zealand). We also offer after-sales support for VKBcontrollers.com customers via our support ticket system.

If you want to contact VKB HQ, please use the official VKB forum or email them (sales_en@vkb-sim.pro). Their official website is VKB-Sim.pro.

What about VKB product ETAs and release announcements?

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.

What currency is used during checkout? What about taxes and customs fees?

All prices are in USD (United States Dollar) – regardless whether you order from Canada, Australia or New Zealand.

Furthermore, product prices do not include any shipping or customs fees, nor do they include taxes relevant to your country (or state in case of US orders).

Shipping fees and applicable tax is applied during checkout, and any custom 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.

Documentation and Howtos

Can I use my Gladiator stick in MacOS or Linux?

Yes, you should be able to calibrate a VKB Gladiator without the need for the Windows-based VKB software apps WIZZO and VKBdevCfg.

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:

  1. Plug your Gladiator into a USB port
  2. Within 10 seconds, press both EJECT+Flaps buttons simultaneously
  3. The stick goes into calibration mode (LED starts flashing)
  4. Calibrate by moving all axes (pitch, roll, yaw & throttle) through their full ranges
  5. 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).

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.

How does VKBJoytester work?

You might find this graphic useful (right-click to ‘open in a new tab’ or to ‘save as…’ for the full size version):

How to calibrate your Gladiator Mk.II (non-Pro)

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:

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:

  1. Plug your Gladiator into a USB port
  2. Within 10 seconds, press both EJECT+Flaps buttons simultaneously
  3. The stick goes into calibration mode (LED starts flashing)
  4. Calibrate by moving all axes (pitch, roll, yaw & throttle) through their full ranges
  5. 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).

As a side note, you can always use WIZZO or VKBdevCfg for calibration, if you prefer. Have a look here for the latest versions. 

How to Calibrate your Gunfighter w/ MCG grip

The goal is to be able to capture all available axes in the calibration procedure: the Gunfighter’s pitch and roll axes, as well as the ministicks, trigger and brake axes in the MCG/MCG PRO.

Note: Don’t use the MS Windows calibration utility!


Instead, use either the WIZZO GF Edition — or — VKBDevCfg w/ MCG support for calibration!

Note: Before continuing, ensure that the foldable trigger is in the middle position – not flipped up, not squeezed (MCG PRO only).

  1. Flip the foldable trigger to the “up” position (MCG PRO only).
  2. Squeeze the trigger fully, and let go of it to return it to the middle position (MCG PRO only).
  3. Click ‘Start’ (calibration button) in WIZZO — or — click the ‘Start Calibr’ button in VKBdevCfg; the SYS LED on the Blackbox starts blinking (WIZZO displays CALIBRATING label).
    • Hint: If using VKBdevCfg, switch to the Test > Axes1 tab to observe your calibration action!
  4. Move the stick through its full range (pitch and roll axes).
  5. Move the MASTER MODE (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick on the MCG’s head through its full range.
  6. Move the GATE CONT (УПРАВ СТРОБ) ministick on the MCG’s head through its full range.
  7. Squeeze the BRAKE lever fully and let go of it.
  8. Move the foldable trigger to the “up” position, squeeze it, and then let go of it – this moves it through its full range (MCG PRO only).
    • If VKB T-Rudders are connected to the Gunfighter’s BlackBox – move the T-Rudder axis through its full range as well.
  9. Click the ‘STOP’ button (WIZZO) — or — click the ‘End Calibr’ button (VKBdevCfg); the joystick will restart. WIZZO closes automatically (VKBdevCfg may be closed manually if desired).

You’re done; Calibration information is stored within the Gunfighter’s BlackBox.

How to Flash/Reset/Calibrate your Gladiator w/ MCG grip
To get started, follow these initial steps:
  1. Download the latest (by date) VKBdevCfg-C app – (http://ftp.vkb-sim.pro/Programms/) and extract it to any folder you like.
  2. Download the latest (by date) ZBootloader-C app – (http://ftp.vkb-sim.pro/Programms/) and extract it into the same folder as above.
  3. Download the latest (by date) firmware for Gladiator (http://ftp.vkb-sim.pro/Firmware/Gladiator) and extract the firmware (*.vkb) for your MCG or MCG PRO respectively, and put it into the same folder where your VKBdevCfg app already is.
  4. If you have created a custom profile (i.e., different, or custom button assignment) be sure to save it first via VKBdevCfg > Action > Save; after flashing/resetting/calibrating, you can load your custom profile again via VKBdevCfg > Action > Load.
  5. Ensure that your new MCG grip is installed on the Gunfighter base, and that it’s seated correctly.
From here on out, there are three basic steps involved in the overall process:
  • Flash your Gladiator with the new firmware.
  • Reset your Gladiator to default.
  • Calibrate your Gladiator.
I. Flash your Gladiator with the new firmware:
  1. Launch VKBdevCfg-C (Note: It is highly recommended to right-click on the VKBdevCfg app and select ‘Run as Administrator’).
  2. In the top panel, click on the “VKBsim Gladiator…” name to select it.
  3. From the Tools tab, click on the “Bootloader” icon; this should close VKBdevCfg and automatically start ZBootloader-C (if you have it in the same folder).
  4. Point ZBootloader-C to the extracted *.vkb file and update the firmware of your Gladiator by clicking “Flash It”.
  5. The device will restart with the new firmware installed.
Q: Why do I have to flash?
A: You will have to flash your your joystick base to make your new MCG work with it. Simply removing your current grip and installing your new MCG will not magically make the base understand what just happened; you need to tell the base (via firmware update) that there’s a new grip in town!
II. After Flashing, you need to Reset your Gladiator to default:
  1. Launch VKBdevCfg-C (Remember: It is highly recommended to right-click on the VKBdevCfg app and select ‘Run as Administrator’).
  2. In the top panel, click on the “VKBsim Gladiator…” name to select it.
  3. From the Tools tab, click on the “Default” button in the top-left corner.
  4. The device will restart with factory default settings.
III. After resetting, you need to Calibrate your Gladiator:
  • The goal is to be able to capture all available axes in the calibration procedure: the Gladiator’s throttle, pitch and roll axes, as well as the ministicks, trigger and brake axes in the MCG/MCG PRO.
  • Don’t use the MS Windows calibration utility! Use VKBdevCfg instead.

  1. Flip the foldable trigger to the “up” position, and then squeeze the trigger fully, and then let go of it to determine its middle position (MCG PRO only).
  2. Launch VKBdevCfg-C (Rember: It is highly recommended to right-click on the VKBdevCfg app and select ‘Run as Administrator’).
  3. In the top panel, click on the “VKBsim Gladiator…” name to select it.
  4. From the Tools tab, click the ‘Start Calibr’ button (Hint: switch to the Test > Axes1 tab to observe your calibration action).
  5. Move the grip through its full range (pitch and roll axes), move the throttle fully back and forth.
  6. On the grip, move the MASTER MODE (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick through its full range (Hint: you might have to do a long-press on the ministick push button in order to enable relative axis mode first; otherwise, the ministick defaults to button mode and thus won’t calibrate).
  7. Move the GATE CONT (УПРАВ СТРОБ) ministick through its full range.
  8. Squeeze the MCG BRAKE lever fully and let go of it.
  9. Move the foldable trigger to the “up” position, squeeze it, and then let go of it – this moves it through its full range (MCG PRO only).
  10. If you have VKB T-Rudders connected to the Gladiator’s base: move the T-Rudder axis through its full range as well.
  11. Click the ‘End Calibr’ button; the Gladiator will restart.
  12. Done; calibration information is stored within the Gladiator’s MCU.
Reminder: Don’t forget to load your custom profile again via VKBdevCfg > Action > Load.
How to Flash/Reset/Calibrate your Gunfighter w/ MCG grip

To get started, follow these initial steps:

  1. Download the latest (by date) VKBdevCfg-C app – (http://ftp.vkb-sim.pro/Programms/) and extract it to any folder you like.
  2. Download the latest (by date) ZBootloader-C app – (http://ftp.vkb-sim.pro/Programms/) and extract it into the same folder as above.
  3. Download the latest (by date) BlackBox firmware for Gunfighter (http://ftp.vkb-sim.pro/Firmware/BlackBox/) (usually identified by BB_GF_version) and extract the firmware (*.vkb) from the MCG or MCG PRO archive respectively, and put it into the same folder where your VKBdevCfg app already is.
  4. If you have created a custom profile (i.e., different, or custom button assignment) be sure to save it first via VKBdevCfg > Action > Save; after flashing/resetting/calibrating you can load your custom profile again via VKBdevCfg > Action > Load.
  5. Ensure that your new MCG grip is installed on the Gunfighter base, and that it’s seated correctly.
From here on out, there are three basic steps involved in the overall process:
  • Flash your Gunfighter’s BlackBox with the new firmware.
  • Reset your Gunfighter to default.
  • Calibrate your Gunfighter.
I. Flash your Gunfighter’s BlackBox firmware:
  1. Launch VKBdevCfg-C (Note: It is highly recommended to right-click on the VKBdevCfg app and select ‘Run as Administrator’).
  2. In the top panel, click on the “VKBsim Gunfighter…” name to select it.
  3. From the Tools tab, click on the “Bootloader” icon; this should close VKBdevCfg and automatically start ZBootloader-C (if you have it in the same folder).
  4. Point ZBootloader-C to the extracted *.vkb file and update the firmware of your BlackBox by clicking “Flash It”.
  5. The device will restart with the new firmware installed.
Q: Why do I have to flash?
A: You will have to flash your your joystick base to make your new MCG work with it. Simply removing your current grip and installing your new MCG will not magically make the base understand what just happened; you need to tell the base (via firmware update) that there’s a new grip in town!
II. After Flashing, you need to Reset your Gunfighter’s BlackBox to default:
  1. Launch VKBdevCfg-C (Remember: It is highly recommended to right-click on the VKBdevCfg app and select ‘Run as Administrator’).
  2. In the top panel, click on the “VKBsim Gunfighter…” name to select it.
  3. From the Tools tab, click on the “Default” button in the top-left corner.
  4. The device will restart with factory default settings; any previously red blinking ‘Stick LED’ on the the BlackBox should turn solid green.
III. After resetting, you need to Calibrate your Gunfighter:
  • The goal is to be able to capture all available axes in the calibration procedure: the Gladiator’s throttle, pitch and roll axes, as well as the ministicks, trigger and brake axes in the MCG/MCG PRO.
  • Don’t use the MS Windows calibration utility! Use VKBdevCfg instead.

  1. Flip the foldable trigger to the “up” position, and then squeeze the trigger fully, and then let go of it to determine its middle position (MCG PRO only).
  2. Launch VKBdevCfg-C (Note: It is highly recommended to right-click on the VKBdevCfg app and select ‘Run as Administrator’).
  3. In the top panel, click on the “VKBsim Gunfighter Modern Combat” name to select it.
  4. From the Tools tab, click the ‘Start Calibr’ button; the SYS LED on the Blackbox starts blinking (Hint: switch to the Test > Axes1 tab to observe your calibration action).
  5. Move the stick through its full range (pitch and roll axes).
  6. Move the MASTER MODE (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick through its full range (Hint: you might have to do a long-press on the ministick push button in order to enable relative axis mode first; otherwise the ministick defaults to button mode and thus won’t calibrate).
  7. Move the GATE CONT (УПРАВ СТРОБ) ministick through its full range.
  8. Squeeze the BRAKE lever fully and let go of it.
  9. Move the foldable trigger to the “up” position, squeeze it, and then let go of it – this moves it through its full range (MCG PRO only).
  10. If you have VKB T-Rudders connected to the Gunfighter’s BlackBox – move the T-Rudder axis through its full range as well.
  11. Click the ‘End Calibr’ button; the BlackBox will restart.
  12. Done; calibration information is stored within the Gunfighter’s BlackBox.
Reminder: Don’t forget to load your custom profile again via VKBdevCfg > Action > Load.
Is there a ‘Howto’ Section on the official VKB Forum?

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.

Highly recommended!

Is there an official VKB Manual for the VKBdevCfg app?

Yes, there is! Click here to download the PDF file (updated May 10, 2018).

Where can I get help with VKB software, firmware, and device configurations?

Have a look at the official VKB-Sim Technical Support forum. VKB engineers and developers are able to help you out!

VKB Hardware

How can I open a Support Ticket?

To open a support ticket for hardware* related issues for a VKB product purchased at VKBcontrollers.com, go to your “My Account” dashboard, click “Orders”, and then click “Get Help” next to the respective product.

  • Here’s a direct link to your Orders page.
  • View current ticket(s) from your Dashboard here.

*For software and/or button-assignment related issues and questions, please use the official VKB Support forums instead (the VKB developers and knowledgeable community are able to help).

Important: For VKB products purchased at other retailers (e.g., Amazon, X-plane, or Dix30 Simulations, etc), please contact their respective after-sale support team instead!

How do I replace cams and springs (Gunfighter series and Gladiator Pro)?

Here’s a great little video that shows how it’s done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_x6RdEJJ_PM

Note: Even though the video pertains to the Gladiator Pro, the gimbal design (including cams and springs), is pretty much the same for the Gunfighter.

This video is thus highly recommended to help visualize how to replace cams and springs for your VKB controller that ships with swappable cams and springs.

Replacing the springs (refer to the video above to access the gimbal)

Useful tools: needle-nose pliers, small zip ties, x-acto knife (or cable cutters)

Installing a spring (do this for each axis):

  1. Thread a small zip tie down to a small loop.
  2.  Attach it to the hook of one side of the spring you want to install.
  3. Slide the opposite end of the spring’s hook over the cam shaft pin.
  4. With needle nose pliers, pull the zip tie to attach the other end of the spring hook over opposite cam shaft pin.
  5. 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):

  1. Thread the end of a small zip tie through the spring hook you want to remove, and pull the zip tie tight.
  2. With needle nose pliers, pull the zip tie to remove the spring from the cam shaft pin.

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.

Replacing the cams (refer to the video to access the gimbal)

  1. Remove the springs (use above technique).
  2. Unscrew the M4 nut and detach the cam from the gimbal.
    Caution: Do not use the hex key to loosen these screws! Only the nut can withstand the force needed to loosen the screw. Use the hex key to only counter the rotation.
  3.  Pay close attention to the position of the washers between the cam and the bearing!
  4. Replace the cam, tighten the M4 nut.
    Caution: Do not use the hex key to tighten these screws! Only the nut can withstand the force needed to tighten the screw. Use the hex key to only counter the rotation.
  5. Install the springs (use above technique).
  6. When done, assemble in reverse order (pay attention to the washers between the cam and the bearing, as these washers need to be installed in the same location as identified in #3. above!)
My MCG grip’s base connector is getting loose; what can I do?

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.
What are ‘Dry Clutches’ available in the VKB Gunfighter?

Force-adjustable dry clutches 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 dry clutches, 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 dry clutches 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 pitch axis dry clutch dialed in all the way, and only some dry clutch for the roll axis:

What are Cams and Gimbals?

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 steel 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 steel “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 the transition between axes. This 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. Such hard center detents might be desirable – for example, for space simulation games.

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.
What are Swappable Grips?

VKB offers different grips for their high-end joysticks, such as the Gunfighter series.

  • This allows a user to purchase different grips and swap them with one another. Some grips, such as the Modern Combat Grip (MCG) 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 swappable grips for existing joystick bases also allows for future proofing: As new grips become available, the user could continue to use an existing VKB base, while upgrading to a newer, more feature-rich grip down the line.

What is cam loading?

You might have noticed a small amount of lean to either side when your VKB Gunfighter, Gladiator Pro, or 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 the stick doesn’t return to center by itself when looking at VKBdevCfg or VKBJoytester, you might have to loosen the dry-clutches fully. Refer to pg.5 of the Gunfighter Quick Guide.
What is the difference between 3-Pin and 3-Pin Rev.B?

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).
 (Rev.A)
  • 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).
(Rev.B)

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.

What is the resolution of VKB controller axes? Can I change axis resolution?

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 store the new values
What is the VKB MaRS sensor technology? How is it different from Hall Effect?

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.

sensor
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.

Source

As a side note, VKB controllers with MaRS sensors can be adjusted for resolutions up to 15-bit via the VKBdevCfg configuration software.

VKB Software

What about the MCG’s Relative Axis Mode?

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 hat switch – even though the hat switch itself returns to center. Compare that to you standard analog axes that will return to center along with the physical hat switch 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) hat switch can toggle between POV (digital) mode and Analog mode by pressing on it (0.3 sec).

To assign these relative analog axes to your simulation of choice, do the following using the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) hat:

  1. Enter “axes” mode by long press on the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) hat switch
  2. Center the axes by short press on the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) hat switch
  3. Within your simulation of choice, get ready to assign your analog axes
  4. To assign the horizontal axis, move the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) hat left/right for a few seconds until detected in the sim (relative mode takes longer compared to normal axes to reach the far end)
  5. To assign the vertical axis, move the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) hat up/down for a few seconds until detected in the sim (relative mode takes longer compared to normal axes to reach the far end)

You’re done.

What are VKB Profiles?

Profiles, in a nutshell, allow buttons and axes configurations within their VKB device to work correctly. Without a profile, grips don’t “talk” to bases, and buttons don’t work. Some form of profile is needed for VKB devices to function as expected.

  • Usually, VKB devices come preloaded 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
  • download custom and default profiles from VKB’s FTP site for their respective device
What is VKB Firmware?

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.
What VKB Software is available?

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:

  1. WIZZO (please be aware that there’s a version of WIZZO for Gunfighter, and one for Gladiator – they are not interchangeable)
    • WIZZO is more basic, and more simplistic than VKBdevCfg. It allows a user to calibrate their device, adjust dead zones if desired, turn on/off axes, save & load configurations, and flash a device’s firmware. WIZZO covers what 90% of the end user needs to get their VKB device ready for their favorite sim.
  2. 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 complex features. It’s highly recommended for advanced users who seek to really get into the nitty gritty of their VKB device.

That said, most users find that they are happy with WIZZO’s basic functionality.

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.
  • ‘VKB_BtnTester’ allows a user to test device buttons.
  • ‘ZBootloader’ allows a user to flash their VKB device with new firmware (ZBootloader is usually launched from within WIZZO or VKBdevCfg).

PS: You can find stable, up-to-date versions of each on VKB’s FTP Site.