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 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).

What is VKB HQ?

We often refer to VKB – the manufacturer of VKB products – as VKB HQ as they are the decision makers of everything VKB. They determine the production roadmap, product design, product features, and product availability.

If you want to contact VKB HQ, please use their official forum, or visit their official website VKB-Sim.pro.

What is CNY? Why does VKB shut down during part of February?

CNY stands for Chinese New Year, and it impacts VKB HQ’s operation year after year.

The Chinese New Year ranges from January 21 to February 20, and typically all 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.

VKB North America

Can I get support here for a VKB product I purchased from another reseller?

No.

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.

 

Do you distribute VKB products to third-party resellers? Do you offer wholesale accounts?

No.

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, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

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.

Do you guys accept PayPal?

No.

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. 

Do you guys sell Gladiator Pro or Gunfighter bases by themselves?

No.

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.

Do you guys sell on Amazon?

No.

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.

How is shipping handled?

When you place an order at VKBcontrollers.com, all the information needed for VKB HQ’s shipping dept in China to fulfill the 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).

Once we receive tracking info from VKB after dispatch, we will update your still processing order with the tracking number, and change 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).

*VKB HQ ships via drop shipping direct from their warehouse in China. Deliveries for North America usually ship via Hong Kong or Taiwan; 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, 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, as well as Australia and New Zealand; we also offer after-sale support for VKBcontrollers.com customers via our support ticket system.

What about US-Customs Fees?

Please be aware that US Customs imposes tariffs on all imported goods from China valued at $800 or more. Values below $800 are tax-free; however, since June 30, 2018, the United States has increased the tariff on China’s 50 billion goods by 25%, which has increased the cost on American consumers (Source).

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.

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.

Why does it takes a week (or longer) for some items to ship?

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

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 WIZZO Config Software or VKBDevCfg Config 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:

  1. Plug your Gladiator into a USB port
  2. Within 5 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):

(Click here download VKBJoytester)

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 could always use either VKB WIZZO Config Software — or — VKBDevCfg Config Software for calibration, if you prefer.

How to Flash/Reset/Calibrate your Gladiator Pro

To get started, go to our Downloads page and follow these steps:

  1. Download VKBdevCfg and extract it to any folder you like.
  2. Optionally, download ZBootloader and extract it into the same folder as above (only needed when updating firmware).
  3. Optionally, download VKB Device Firmware and extract the firmware (*.vkb) for your Gladiator Pro with matching grip, e.g., _Gladiator_<grip>_<version>.vkb, where <grip> = KG (KG12), MCG, MCG PRO, or SCG (Kosmosima) respectively, and put it into the same folder as above (only needed when updating firmware).
  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
  5. When installing a new grip, ensure that your new grip is installed on the Gladiator Pro base, and that it’s seated correctly.
From here on out, there are three basic steps involved in the overall process:
  • Flash your Gladiator Pro with the new firmware (only needed when installing a new grip, or improved firmware was made available by VKB HQ).
  • Reset your Gladiator Pro to default (only needed after updating firmware).
  • Calibrate your Gladiator Pro (always needed with a brand new out-of-the box joystick, or after updating its firmware).
I. Flash your Gladiator Pro firmware (only needed when installing a new grip, or an improved firmware was made available by VKB HQ):
Q: Why do I have to flash when installing a new grip?
A: You will have to flash your your joystick base to make any new grip work with it. Simply removing your current grip and installing your new grip 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 installed!
  1. Launch VKBdevCfg (highly recommended to right-click on the VKBdevCfg app and select ‘Run as Administrator’).
  2. In the top panel, click on the “VKBsim Gladiator Pro…” name to select it.
  3. From the Tools tab, click on the “Bootloader” icon; this should close VKBdevCfg and automatically start ZBootloader (if you have it in the same folder).
  4. Point ZBootloader to the extracted *.vkb file and update the firmware Gladiator Pro by clicking “Flash It”.
  5. The device will restart with the new firmware installed.
II. After Flashing, you need to Reset your Gladiator Pro to default (only needed after updating firmware):
  1. Launch VKBdevCfg (highly recommended to right-click on the VKBdevCfg app and select ‘Run as Administrator’)..
  2. In the top panel, click on the “VKBsim Gladiator Pro…” 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 Pro :
The goal is to be able to capture all available axes in the calibration procedure: the Gladiator Pro pitch, roll and throttle axes, as well as the ministicks, trigger and brake axes for the MCG/MCG PRO; other grips, such as KG12 and Kosmosima, don’t require specific instructions for calibration. 
Don’t use the MS Windows calibration utility! If you already did, you will have to first reset your joystick using the same MS calibration tool; once done, continue with the steps below (using 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 (highly recommended to right-click on the VKBdevCfg app and select ‘Run as Administrator’)..
  3. In the top panel, click on the “VKBsim Gladiator Pro …” name to select it.
  4. From the Tools tab, click the ‘Start Calibr’ button (switch to the Test > Axes1 tab to observe your calibration action).
  5. Move the stick through its full range (pitch and roll axes), and move the Gladiator Pro’s throttle axis through its full range of motion.
  6. Move the MASTER MODE (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick through its full range (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 Gladiator Pro, move rudder axis through its full range as well.
  11. Click the ‘End Calibr’ button; the joystick will restart.
  12. Done; calibration information is stored within the Gladiator Pro’s MCU.
Reminder: Don’t forget to load your custom profile again via VKBdevCfg > Action > Load, and then Set.
How to Flash/Reset/Calibrate your Gunfighter

To get started, go to our Downloads page and follow these steps:

  1. Download VKBdevCfg and extract it to any folder you like.
  2. Optionally, download ZBootloader and extract it into the same folder as above (only needed when updating firmware).
  3. Optionally, download VKB Device Firmware and extract the firmware (*.vkb) for your Gunfighter with matching grip, e.g., _BlackBox_GF_<grip>_<version>.vkb, where <grip> = KG (KG12), MCG, MCG PRO, or SCG (Kosmosima) respectively, and put it into the same folder as above (only needed when updating firmware).
  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
  5. When installing a new grip, ensure that your new 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 (only needed when installing a new grip, or improved firmware was made available by VKB HQ).
  • Reset your Gunfighter to default (only needed after updating firmware).
  • Calibrate your Gunfighter (always needed with a brand new out-of-the box joystick, or after updating its firmware).
I. Flash your Gunfighter’s BlackBox firmware (only needed when installing a new grip, or an improved firmware was made available by VKB HQ):
Q: Why do I have to flash when installing a new grip?
A: You will have to flash your your joystick base to make any new grip work with it. Simply removing your current grip and installing your new grip 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 installed!
  1. Launch VKBdevCfg (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 (if you have it in the same folder).
  4. Point ZBootloader 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.
II. After Flashing, you need to Reset your Gunfighter’s BlackBox to default (only needed after updating firmware):
  1. Launch VKBdevCfg-C (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 Gunfighter’s pitch and roll axes, as well as the ministicks, trigger and brake axes for the MCG/MCG PRO; other grips, such as KG12 and Kosmosima, don’t require specific instructions for calibration. 

Don’t use the MS Windows calibration utility! If you already did, you will have to first reset your joystick using the same MS calibration tool; once done, continue with the steps below (using 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 (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 (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 (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 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 and then Set.
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 Feb 2019).

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

Blackbox LEDs – why they might change color after a firmware update
We have had a number of inquiries recently about Blackbox LEDs changing their color after a firmware update.

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.

How can I open a Support Ticket?

To open a support ticket for hardware related issues* for products purchased at VKBcontrollers.com, log into to 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!

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!)
How do the MCG grip buttons correlate to the button numbers in VKBdevCfg?

In case you were wondering how the MCG’s physical buttons correlate to the VKBdevCfg button numbering in the various config panels, have a look at this image:

(click thumbnail for full-size)

Is there a hard reset for VKB devices?

Yes.

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. 

  1. Close VKBdevCfg if it is currently running
  2. Disconnect your device from the USB port
  3. 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
  4. Launch ZBootloader; you should see this message: “Boot device: turn out”
  5. Short the “Boot” pins (you can use the tip of a flat hat screwdriver), keeping them shorted until after the next step
  6. With the Boot pins still shorted, plug the device back into the USB port (Boot pins MUST remain shorted during this process)
  7. The ZBbootloader app will automatically recognize the device being connected to the PC again; you should see the following message: “Boot device: detected – OK”
  8. Clear the Boot pins to ensure they are no longer shorted
  9. From within ZBootloader, select the appropriate firmware for your device and click “Flash It!”
  10. 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)
  11. From within VKBdevCfg, continue to calibrate all device axes
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 ‘Clutch Dampers’ available in the VKB Gunfighter?

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 dry clutch damper on the pitch 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 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. 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 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.

What is cam loading?

You might have noticed a small amount of lean to either side when your VKB Gunfighter, 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 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 save 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.


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

Do I have to update the firmware of a newly purchased VKB Joystick?

No.

VKB typically installs the very latest 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:

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.

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 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:

  1. Enter “axes” mode by long press on the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick
  2. Center the axes by short press on the Master Mode (РЕЖИМ КБО) ministick
  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) 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)
  5. 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)
  6. Save the settings in-game

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, 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
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 (for all VKB joysticks, excluding Rudders)
    • 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.

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 (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 access VKB software for your device)

Why does ZBootloader say “Device Not Ready” when trying to flash?

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.