Question: what is the very best joystick, yoke, and rudder pedal 
hardware available for FlightGear?  Preferably USB based.

I've been talking to an ultra-high end PC manufacturer about having them 
offer a couple PC/laptop choices out of their product line that are 
specifically designed, setup, and optimized to run FlightGear as fast as 
possible.  Essentially they would build and sell *the* ultimate 
FlightGear computer and bundle it with a complete install of 
FlightGear.  They would select components that are tuned and matched for 
the best performance, stability, and longevity.  They go in and do a 
variety of OS (windows) performance optimizations, they tweak the bios 
settings to squeeze every bit of performance possible out of the 
systems, and they would also tune the FlightGear settings for best 
possible performance, and best possible graphics display.  Then they 
test, test, test.  If anything glitches even once on the test bed, they 
toss it and replace it with a new part.

As part of this, they would like to be able to offer a choice of the 
best joysticks, yokes, and rudder pedals if people would want to buy 
those at the same time.  So here's your chance, if you were designing 
the ultimate FlightGear computer, what flight control input devices 
would you pick?

I don't want to sound too much like a sales person here, but let me say 
a bit more about what this company offers.

- First of all, they aren't a low end, el-cheapo pc seller.  They are 
here to build the Ultimate FlightGear/gaming computer with the best 
hardware, the best tuning, the best testing, the best service and 
support ... the best of everything.  So that is going to be more 
expensive than a commodity PC seller, but you are getting the best of 
the best, and the ultimate performance possible from a PC.  That's not 
the best route for everyone, but if you can afford a nicer system, this 
will blow your socks off.

- They offer a custom air cooling design that's quieter than a water 
cooled solution and works better.

- They can have the FG logo etched on the side of the case for any of 
these "special edition" flightgear machines.

- They go so far as to use all stainless steel screws with rubber 
washers rather than the el-cheapo typical computer screws.  And they'll 
even make sure all the screw heads are lined up north/south/east/west 
rather than at a variety of odd angles.

- They have zero tolerance for failures or even shady performance.  Each 
system goes through a minimum of 53-58 hours of bench testing and if any 
component glitches even once, it gets replaced.

- The very last thing they do after all the OS and software is installed 
and any license keys and all the OS patches and upgrades are installed 
is to make a recovery DVD.  This makes it pretty simple to recover a 
failed HD (or upgrade to something bigger) later on.  Much simpler than 
with other PC's where you have a stack of 20 Cd's to go through and a 
pile of individual installs to recover a system.

- They will ship a spec sheet detailing all the performance tweaks and 
optimizations made to the machine.  So for instance, if you upgrade your 
video card drivers, it's easy to go back in and redo all your optimal 
settings for your hardware and software.

- If the standard system isn't quite what you want, you can get on the 
phone with one of their systems engineers who can walk you through the 
tradeoffs or benefits of different upgrades or changes.

- Oh memory ... I'm not a big RAM expert, but when you read or write any 
value to/from RAM, you have to wait a small amount of time for the 
operation to complete before you can continue.  In your bios you can 
setup different wait states ... sort of analogous to counting 
one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand, after each 
memory operation before you can continue.  These guys specifically 
select high performance RAM with the minimum possible wait.  So if a 
typical system requires two wait states after each RAM operation, their 
RAM is designed to only require ONE.  Multiplied out over the huge 
number of RAM operations required in the course of executing a program, 
that gives a *huge* boost in performance.  But most PC sellers don't 
offer RAM that is fast enough and high enough quality to run with these 
reduced wait states.  Oh, and they individually test each ram stick so 
they can do best-matching on pairs of ram sticks to go into each machine.

So yeah, these guys are a bunch of pretty crazy hardware geeks.  
Basically, we are talking about the biggest, baddest ass system you can 
buy, and it will come with FlightGear preloaded and optimized for best 
possible graphics and performance.

I'm excited about the whole idea.  I'm not sure I'll be able to afford 
one myself, but I'm excited. :-)

So anyway, I'm looking for suggestions on the best flight controllers 
available so these can be offered optionally with the computer package.

More details to come, hopefully sooner rather than later ...



Curtis Olson
HumanFIRST Program
FlightGear Project
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