Joysticks

They must be called joysticks because of all the fun you can have trying to get them to work...

Many things can go wrong, and unfortunately in most cases the symptoms just boil down to "my joystick doesn't work". So the symptom descriptions here aren't all that informative. There are multiple causes of problems with multiple solutions, and you're just going to have to try stuff until it works.

I'm flying along and suddenly my controls stop working without warning.

You're flying in demo mode and just ran out your 6 minutes. (There should have been a warning message.)

No,  I have the CD/DVD and I'm not in demo mode!

You may have temporarily lost power on your USB stick/pedals. Depending on how your USB ports are wired, they may not have enough power for your keyboard, mouse, stick, pedals, or whatever else you have plugged in. Try hooking them up through a powered USB hub instead.

My joystick doesn't work under Mac OS 10.3!
Only Logitech sticks worked in the initial versions of 10.3. Apple screwed up USB HID support in a serious way in 10.3. The problems are fixed in 10.3.2 and later.
I can't get my joystick to work (Windows) See the X-Plane Tech Support FAQ joystick setup description.

I can't get my joystick to work (Macintosh) 

See the X-Plane Tech Support FAQ joystick setup description.

I don't see all my joystick axes in the setup menu (Mac OS8/9)

This can happen on the Macintosh sprocket setup. Press the Option key while you click a function and you should see all axes.

How do I set up my joystick buttons?

[The following description is based on a writeup from Cormac Shaw. It has been updated for recent versions of X-Plane. The names and format of menus have changed over time; if you're running an older version of X-Plane look for similar names and behavior.]

Open 'Joysticks and Equipment' in the 'Settings' menu. Make sure you have the "Buttons" tab selected. (Prior to 8.40 select the "Axis" tab.)

If you're on Mac OS8/9, click the Calibrate Joystick Hardware button (X-Plane versions 7.x and earlier only). This will open the normal InputSprockets calibration screen. Ensure that the first ten buttons are set to 'Button 1', 'Button 2', etc. on the right most panel and that the hatswitch directions are set to 'hatswitch 1' and close the screen.
On the right, you'll see lists of all the functions that you can assign to the buttons on your joystick. To their left are indicators corresponding to the joystick buttons. (Note that each hatswitch position just shows up as a button.) For each button on your joystick do the following:
    1. Press the button on the joystick. You should see one of the button indicators highlighted.
    2. You will note that the button beside the function 'nothing' will be highlighted on the screen. Now, use the mouse to click on the button beside the function that you want the joystick button to perform, e.g., 'brakes, full effect'. The function is now assigned.
    3. Repeat 1 and 2 for each button on the joystick, including the four hatswitch directions.
To see what you're doing is really working, set up one button as above, press another on the joystick and then press the first one again. You should see the highlighted function changing with whatever button is pressed.
Close the 'Set Equipment Options' screen and exit out of X-Plane. (Why exit? Because X-Plane only saves the prefs on exit. If you just went flying straight away and had a system crash, you'd have to repeat the process when you started up Xplane again.)

How can I tell if my joystick is working correctly (Windows)?

Select Start->Settings->Control Panel->Game Controllers. Select your joystick in the list and click Properties. Then look for Test and Calibrate buttons. (Details may vary depending on your make and model of joystick.)

How can I tell if my joystick is working correctly (MacOS)?

There's a neat piece of software available from Alpha-Omega Software called Joystick and Gamepad Tester. It reads all joystick inputs and lets you work out joystick issues independently of your X-Plane setup.

How can I switch between multiple joystick setups?

I'd like to assign the buttons differently, depending on whether I'm flying GA airplanes or fighter jets or helicopters or...

Set up the buttons and axes for one type of aircraft, then exit X-Plane and make a suitably named copy of the main X-Plane preferences file. Go back into X-Plane, make your next stick setup... lather, rinse, repeat... To use a particular stick setup, copy the appropriate prefs file back to the main one before starting X-Plane. Sorry, there's no way to switch setups inside X-Plane.

See the Preferences page for where the prefs are stored.

My CH joystick and/or pedals don't always work (Windows)

Mario Pozzetti got the following statement from CH Products, USA:

There are numerous problems with Windows and the VIA chipset according to Microsoft. As of yet they have not admitted to XP but VIA has. We recommend downloading and installing the latest VIA USB Filter Patch from the via site (http://www.via.com.tw/) or trying to get a fix from Microsoft (look on their Knowledge base under Article IDs: Q232889,  Q240075, Q297184, Q277464, Q253152, Q246755, Q216096, Q233163). Other users have reported that if they went to the bios and switched off - PCI master read caching - in the advanced options the problem with USB devices stopped. However if you go back into the BIOS it will be switched back on. Your best bet and sure fix is to use a different chipset for your USB host controller. This can be done with a PCI to USB expansion card, preferably with a Intel, Opti, NEC, or Lucent chipset on it.

My CH joystick and/or pedals stop working after a while (20 minutes or so) (USB units - Windows)

You may find the following note from Frank Scorpio useful:

I was having problems with the CH Products USB Rudder Pedals and USB Flight Sim Yoke. After about 20 minutes the controls would stop working, requiring plugging back in the USB and checking the calibration. The problems occurred with version 5.52 of X-plane and version 8.00 after I updated to the new version. I have found a permanent fix for this problem which follows below.

This problem with the USB controls was completely solved by going to the CH Products web site and downloading their CH Control Manager Version 3.6. I was then able to calibrate the Yoke and Rudder Pedals quite accurately with that program (rather than the Windows XP game control program). When I want to run X-plane, then I just start the CH Control Manager running in its Direct Mode (no need to recalibrate the Yoke or Rudder Pedals once set with the CH Control Manager) and then I start X-plane running.

Once I had installed the CH Control Manager as well as calibrated the USB controls with the CH Control Manger, then and only then did I have no further failures of the USB Yoke or Rudder Pedals while running X-Plane version 8.00 and 8.06 despite the length of the flight (20 minutes or two hours, or pausing for several hours and returning to the flight -- all with no control problems).

My CH joystick and/or pedals stop working after a while (20 minutes or so) (USB units - Macintosh, possibly Windows)

This problem has been seen by a number of CH Products users. The stick and pedals are working fine, and then suddenly go dead. A complete shutdown, followed by complete setup and recalibration normally brings them back.

Indications are this is a hardware problem with the control logic in the stick or pedals. Remember CH Products has a 5 year warranty. Take this up with CH Products' tech support. Some users have done so, had the equipment replaced, and the replacements have worked fine. (This data is about a year old, so YMMV.)

My CH yoke / joystick / pedals have stopped working with recent versions of X-Plane (7.30+) and Mac OSX (10.3.2+)

Upgrade USB Overdrive if you have it installed. Older versions stopped working with MacOS 10.3.2. Current versions work with current MacOS versions.

How can I get joystick buttons to work when X-Plane doesn't recognize them (Mac OS-X)?

USB Overdrive is a product that allows you to tie other functions like keyboard emulation to joystick buttons.

How can I get all the buttons and dials to work on my Saitek X-45 stick (Mac OS-X)?

Caveat: The following material is a bit old. Other folks have reported that GamePad Companion no longer works in Mac OSX Tiger (10.4) because of HID support interface changes.

Read the following glowing testimonial from Wayne Tolliver:

I recommend GamePad Companion to EVERYONE! This software ROCKS! Please pay the $15 registration fee as I did for this fantastic piece of software. This piece of software bridges the gap, esp. as far as Austin's short  comings with X36/X45 implementation. It implements as an applet on  the control panel and runs in the background once you setup your key mappings and start them.

I have left the x, y, z and slider [thrust] modeled on XP for control and realism. Everything else is controlled by GamePad Companion (GPC). [Exception- I could not get Auto pilot features to engage and disengage properly with GPC w/o the throttle quadrant on the UA 747 locking up?! So, I programmed the AP heading and AP disengage buttons in the XP interface rather than assigned using GPC functions. All else working as normal. All X45 controls are working and are programmed to my preferences in XP. One dial set up for aileron trim, the other for elevator trim. GPC also lets you save different prefs files for example one for the 747 and another the SU-47! A big difference!

You can download GamePad Companion from: http://www.carvware.com/

Go Get It! Have Fun! Go Purchase the X45! If you've been waiting, it's working and is awesome.

Does X-Plane support force feedback?

In a word, no.
A force feedback plugin is available for Windows and Macintosh. No promises - this is a third-party plugin. Its presence on web sites tends to come and go as well.
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