Flight Simulator Joystick and Throttle Damping-Case Study

Our Nyogel 767A damping grease is a firm favourite of flight simulator computer game enthusiasts, it seems that a high viscosity damping grease is the ideal product to improve the simulator experience by improving the movement and tactile feel of flight simulator joysticks and throttle controllers; sometimes theses systems are called ‘Hands On Throttle and Stick’ or the acronym HOTAS. A HOTAS layout is configured so that pilots can control an aircraft without lifting their hands off the throttle and controls stick, hence the two controllers.

The performance of the flight simulator joystick and throttle controller were negatively affecting the gaming experience.

There are two aspects to this case study, the joystick and the separate throttle controller. Both the joystick and throttle/thrust devices featured are considered entry level models and both have their own particular damping requirements. It seems the manufacturer had used a lubricant of some type during production but the lubricant/grease did not seem of a suitable type. We recommend you watch the associated YouTube video (above) for this application/case study.

Part One: The Throttle/Thrust Controller

The customer reported that the throttle had a jerky or grabby feel when performing small movements/inputs. Large or forceful movements were relatively ok but far from ideal and there was a scraping noise when the controller was moved. The overall tactile feel of the throttle was poor. See the video (above) for a demonstration of the problem.

Challenges

The grease is required to improve the sliding action of the throttle controller, the movement needs to be dampened to allow for accurate small adjustments of the throttle and the chosen grease needs improve the tactile feel of the device. The chosen grease should not have compatibility issues with the plastics involved.*

Proposed Solution

  • A heavy viscosity synthetic grease with damping characteristics to improve the tactile feel and performance of the throttle/thrust controller.
  • A Polyalphaolefin (PAO) based grease with a silica thickener.
  • The damping grease should be very durable and last the functional life of the device.
  • The chosen damping grease will be odourless and not exhibit oil separation.

Product Selection

Nyogel 767A

We will detail how the damping grease was applied to the throttle/thrust controller. Firstly, access is required to the internal workings of the throttle controller by unscrewing the cover on the underside of the throttle controller.

The design relies on a hall sensors and two slider rails with an adjustable tensioner (see below).

Applying The Grease

Before applying the Nyogel 767A, the lubricant that was applied during production by the manufacturer should be removed or at least wiped away as much as possible.

The Nyogel 767A can now be applied. This customer bought a tube of the 767A and initially applied the grease along the slider rail, then spread/smeared the grease around the  circumference of the slider rail/bar to achieve a reasonably even distribution of grease. This particular customer was very thorough, not only did he apply our 767A grease to the slider rails but also unscrewed the manufacturers crude damping/friction bar and placed a small blob of grease under the contact points; he also removed the arm that connects the centre moving part to the potentiometer so that he could apply some grease along the black plastic area that interacts with the metal washer.

Results

There was a vast improvement to the movement and tactile feel of the throttle controller. Small movements were more precise and controllable so gaming performance was improved. The 767A gave the controller a more high end/luxury feel and also corrected the scraping noise that occurred when the throttle controller was moved.

Seen enough? The Nyogel 767A is available to buy in 100gram tubes at our online shop.

 


Part Two: The Flight Simulator Joystick

The customer reported that the flight simulator joystick had a very dramatic return to zero/return to centre spring effect which gave the joystick a cheap feel and could be problematic during the game. Additionally the tactile feel of the joystick was not good.

Challenges

The grease needs to stop the joystick ‘violently’ snapping back to the centre when released from a wide position – see video (above) for demo/explanation of this problem. There should be no wobble when the joystick returns to centre (a.k.a. return to zero) but also the damping effect cannot be too high so that the joystick takes too long to return to centre. The chosen grease should not have compatibility issues with the plastics involved.*

Proposed Solution

  • A heavy viscosity synthetic grease with damping characteristics to better control the return to centre action of the joystick and improve the tactile feel of the device.
  • A Polyalphaolefin (PAO) based grease with a silica thickener.
  • The damping grease should be very durable and last the functional life of the device.
  • The chosen damping grease will be odourless and not exhibit oil separation.

Product Selection

Nyogel 767A (same grease as used on the throttle/thrust controller)

We will detail how the damping grease was applied to the flight simulator joystick. Firstly, access is required to the internal workings of the joystick by unscrewing the cover on the underside.

Applying The Grease

Before applying the Nyogel 767A to the joystick moving parts, the grease that was applied during production by the manufacturer should be removed or at least as wiped away as much as possible.

Nyogel 767A should be applied to the same areas/moving parts that the manufacturers grease was applied to.

The Nyogel 767A application to the spring housing may not be strictly necessary but the customer wanted to replace the manufacturers grease in all the application areas.

The Nyogel 767A can now be applied. This customer bought a tube of the 767A and initially applied the grease along the slider rail, then spread/smeared the grease around the  circumference of the slider rail/bar to achieve a reasonably even distribution of grease. This particular customer was very thorough, not only did he apply our 767A grease to the slider rails but also unscrewed the manufacturers crude damping/friction bar and placed a small blob of grease under the contact points; he also removed the arm that connects the centre moving part to the potentiometer so that he could apply some grease along the black plastic area that interacts with the metal washer.

Now the joystick just has to be put back together!

Results

The joystick was much improved. The return to centre movement was dampened so the movement was smooth and under control. The tactile feel of the joystick was improved to give the joystick a higher spec user experience.

The Nyogel 767A is available to buy in 100gram tubes at our online shop.

Nyogel 767A greatly improved the performance and user experience of the flight simulation joystick and throttle controller.

Related: Take a look at our damping grease articles other case studies.

In an attempt to avoid confusion, it should be noted that Nyogel 767A is an older formulation of grease. The 767A will not be discontinued as it is used widely in the automotive industry. The chemistry is the same as the Nyogel 774 range, just that the 767A is a different viscosity. The 774 ranges were created after the 767A as a way to help simplify the product selection process with subjective terms such as Light, Very Light and Heavy. The highest viscosity in the Nyogel 774 range is Nyogel 774VH (Very Heavy) but 774VH is actually less viscous/sticky than 767A, so 774VH is actually an option for those customers that feel the 767A level of damping is too high.

*All oils and grease have a potential to cause compatibility problems with plastics and rubbers. The chemistry used in the Nyogel 767A is generally considered plastic friendly and we have had no reports of problems from the gaming enthusiasts that have used the Nyogel 767A on their controllers. However, we cannot give a guarantee there will be no problems and accept no liability for damaged joysticks and controllers if a compatibility issue occurs (typically plastic discolouration and/or plastic swelling or cracking). For more information, we recommend you read our article about Lubricant & Plastic/Rubber Compatibility.

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