I know that these have been out for some time, and I have had my eye on them for a while, but I thought it might interesting to have a brief talk about the Thrustmaster Cougar MFDs while using VR.
I’ve seen some great images of home cockpits over the years that have fully lit instuments, MFDs and screens all functioning as one. I have to say I was in awe of what some people had acheived. As I have said before, I always wanted to achieve something similar. Unfortunately my skills with tools are pretty useless and I’ve either not had the time, money or space…or even a combination of all three! That’s how I ended up going for the Ozone rather than making my own; though I have many attempted sketches of my ideas.
So, I have VR, I wanted a screen showing the MFDs from the A-10 or Harrier, the two don’t really stack up; why have a screen when you cannot see it? So, there is no backing screen to make it look that bit cooler. the MFDs come with a set of cards which slot into the device to make it look as though there is something exciting happening, but it’s not the same. The other issue with using such a controller in VR is finding it when you can’t actually see the physical device, but you can see the virtual one. This is a bit trickier as it means you need to try and not move the devices and you have to sit in the same position. If I was in an office chair this may be more awkward. Thankfully my chair is pretty restricted in movement and it is very likely to be exactly where I left it, as I left it. Next I have to get them as closely aligned as I can with the screen location in the Harrier. This way I do not have to hunt around for the buttons my hands should be able to fall on them naturally. I’ve tried and tried with this and not quite got them right, so I do have to the ocasional peak down my nose.
I’ve also found that it is hard to access my keyboard, for commands like bail out or eject, and reach over the MFDs, while still keeping the headset on…so I had to buy a stand for the keyboard. This still wasn’t quite high enough, but I found that if I put the stand on top of the MFD box then it was perfect! (It also means I have somewhere to keep the wireless keyboard for my Mac which runs on the same monitor).
Flying the DCS Harrier from Razbam can involve a lot of manipulation of the MFDs and they have been greeat for that. The TGP relies on the effective use of the OSB buttons around the right hand MFD. This is what caused me to cave in and buy a set.
I was concerned that I would have to set up the MFDs in DCS and that in some instances I would then have to access .lua files to be able to do this. This has not been the case. As with the Warthog and the A-10C the controls are already assigned and there is nothing that you need to do. They really are just plug and play; when it comes to DCS.
I’ve found them to be a big help for the Harrier, I do not have to find my mouse and click on a button, I can just press that button. It also makes it easier when I have been using Track IR, a rare occurrence but it does happen, and I have been unable to see the button on screen to be able to press it, or it is obstructbed by something else like the UFC. I no longer need to do this as I can just reach out and press the button.
The button presses feel really good, the build quality feels solid. I wasn’t quite sure how they stood up and how well they would resist being pressed, as in I don’t want them sliding around the desk when I press a button. The pads on the bottom help the units stay in place when pressed. They do everything very well. I’m just not convinced they’re as right as I would have hoped for my set up.
Are they worth the full price though? I don’t think so. They cost around £70 new, depending on where you buy them from. I have seen them cheaper in the sales once or twice, but there is, understandably, no indication of when this will happen again. I’d still like to put displays behind the controllers, but I think it will just add to the demand on my GPU and when I am running VR I just don’t need that. Would I recommend them? IF you fly the A-10C or Harrier a lot then yes. If you fly the Mirage 2000C they may come in handy for the switches around the Radar screen. Other than that, no I would not recommend them. I know people who use them in IL2 Cliffs of Dover, but I would have no use for them in there. I don’t have any use for them in IL2 Battle of XXXX series. This is definitely more for the DCS crowd who are flying in a realtively modern cockpit with full displays that require controls to be able to manipulate them better. If they were between £40 – £50 I think that it would be a more reasonable price point for them.