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VINE VOICEon January 19, 2009
This is a interesting little piece of plastic. And I recommend and enjoy it with some unfortunate reservations. Be aware of a few little things that make you go, "Huh, what were they thinking?"

It ships with a hex tool to unscrew the screws on the companion pro flight throttle for mounting. Problem is, it's the wrong size....way too small...so you will need a #3 hex tool handy if you want to mount to the companion yoke. Also, the instructions suggest using the 2 inner screw mount points. I suggest you use 2 mount points wider apart, other wise the panel will sway from side to side.

The mounting bracket is quite flimsy. So much so that when you flip switches the panel console moves, front to back. Disappointingly poor engineering design especially when you see they have plans to hang more stuff off this in time to come.

The mag switch is mixed up (L/R should be R/L)

You can't assign or change functions to switches on this unit as you can with the yoke or throttle.

The Saitek website doesn't tell you what driver version is the latest much less what issues it addresses.

OK, that's the annoying stupid stuff.

The good stuff:

There is a new driver available on the Saitek web site!

The inoperative cowl flap switch has been fixed with driver rev 6.5.8.4 (But it's either open or closed, nothing incremental.)

The inoperative deice switch has been fixed with driver rev 6.5.8.4 (Still, if it's not implemented in FSX, why designate a switch for it?)

The incorrect landing gear light sequence has been fixed with driver rev 6.5.8.4 (Green is down, Red is in transit, Amber is gone)

Everything else is really nice and I do enjoy not having to look for all these switches on keyboards or screens. Simply plug it into the back of the companion yoke and run a quick program which installs as an FSX (simconnect?) plugin and thats it.

My test flights were on a system running Vista 64 with an FSX default C172, a default Mooney Bravo and everything worked except the cowl flaps and as noted above. Also worked with an add on Eaglesoft Cirrus SR22. So, pretty successful for out of the box. And it looks cool.

But for silly oversights, Saitek could have had a brilliant unit here instead of just a good one. They need to pay attention to detail. Makes you wonder who is in charge of things there...and why?

So, it's 4 out of 5 now with the new driver.
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on November 12, 2009
I won't re-hash all of the previous comments but merely add my experiences that I haven't seen posted yet.

First, the good points (from a real-world pilot):

Unit functions as described. I used the included screws to mount it solidly on top of my Saitek radio panel.

I am building a center console for my simpit and the option to de-mount the unit from it's plastic enclosure is a big plus. This will allow me to mount it in the center console with no problems.

The landing gear lights sequence CORRECTLY when the gear is coming down. For instance, if the right main gear goes down and locks before the others, then that gear light will correctly turn green while the others are still in-transit. Very nice touch since Saitek could have simply went with "all up" or "all down". I had a left main gear failure on an EMB-120 and this unit correctly showed that gear to be stuck in-transit so it really added to the experience.

Although there is only one "start" position on the knob to the far left, I can still start my jet (B757) correctly by sequencing the air valves, using the START knob and starting that engine, return the knob to run once started, then do the same with the other engine. Not quite as realistic as the Real Thing but this should work great in a single-engine aircraft (for which it was intended).

As far as general-aviation aircraft go (such as the C-172), you can properly perform a runup by starting the engine, setting the parking brake, running up to 1800 RPM and sequence the left and right magnetos. I checked the accuracy of the unit by "failing" the left magneto in the C-172 and during the engine runup, selecting the Left mag. The engine (correctly) wanted to die at that point so the knob functions as in the real aircraft.

Now the bad (or not so good):

The leftmost knob is not spring-loaded to return from the start position to RUN when released (like in a real aircraft). Not a big deal but, depending on the fidelity of your sim, could overheat a starter if left in the Run position by accident.

The on/off rocker switches are very loud. Flip one and you are rewarded with a resounding CLACK! It will definitely let you know that you activated that switch but might not be good for the late-night flier with sleeping kin close by. I put a piece of 1" thick foam in the ample space in the back of the unit and it helps quite it somewhat. The switches DO take some effort to flip which will make the unit wobble unless securely mounted.

The plastic on the provided enclosure is quite a bit thinner than the panel itself. Not a big deal but makes it feel "cheap" when compared to the panel of the unit, which is a heavy plastic (good).

Since I fly at night a lot, the switch positions can be very hard to see unless you have a light nearby. I wish there were LED indicators (off/green) above the switches themselves which would certainly help in seeing them. In addition, backlighting the lettering would be a definite plus since it would then be easy to make out the switch functions. To my knowledge, none of the Saitek panels are backlit.

Probably the biggest downside (in my opinion) is the proprietary nature of the unit and the inability to reassign/relabel switch functions to something other than what they are assigned at the factory. For instance, I never use the Cowl Flaps switch and it would be nice to use it for something else. It would have been easy for Saitek to make this unit be seen as a standard Windows HID device with all the re-assignment (and compatibility) benefits that that would offer but alas, it was not to be. You cannot use the unit with anything other than Flight Simulator unless someone offers a software go-between to read it's state and re-assign it to something else (Falcon 4.0 for instance).

In conclusion:

This unit will not "add" any functionality beyond what you can do with simple keystrokes but WILL immerse you deeper into the flying experience since you'll have switch clicks and lights when your on that scary, low-visibility night approach. As a plus, if you fly many aircraft, a quick glance will tell you whether the gear is down or not as opposed to hunting for the gear indication on an unfamiliar aircraft.

Shutting down the anti-ice, lights, etc at the end of a flight is satisfying since your rapidly clicking everything to the OFF position and shutting the engines down. If on a group flight, this unit will give you finer (and quicker) control of your strobes, nav lights, etc so as not to blind your fellow pilots.

Speaking of group flights, others like it when you taxi into position and hold all the while sequencing your taxi and landing lights to the correct positions.

I've flown with this unit for over 3 months and, while a bit expensive for what it does, would certainly buy it again as it adds a little something extra to the flight sim experience. It's a good thing any time I can get away from the keyboard to perform a function.
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on February 22, 2009
This is a very nice addition to my simulator.
My computer has Windows Vista 64 bit. I use yoke, pedals and Quadrant from CH Products. I have FS "X".
I plugged it in, installed the software from the CD. All switches worked except the "cowl open/close". I followed the advice from another reviewer and downloaded the driver from Seitek (site very easy to navigate), installed it and everything works great. It is a great addition to my simulator and as someone else said it frees quadrant switches for other things.
I have a wooden desk and I used bolts and nuts to secure it to the desk (the holes are already provided from Seitek), all it takes is $2 of hardware from HomeDepot.
Note: Amazon will not give you free shipping on this item.
"Volo Sim Ergo Sum"
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on April 12, 2013
I don't usually write reviews but everyone should be warned about this product.

I'm now returning the second switch panel straight out of the brand new box. The first unit had a bad (N) LED landing light. The second one had a broken landing gear knob switch. I have read a few reviews online and it looks like this is just a poorly designed product. If you got a working one it might be just a matter of time before it fails on you too.

The drivers are proprietary to FSX and X-Plane. The X-plane install is harder because you'll need to download and copy files to a directory on your computer.

I should mention that my Saitek Pro Flight Cessna Yoke System,Saitek PRO Flight TPM System and Saitek PRO Flight Combat Rudder Pedals have been working great.

Come on Saitek, you're better than this...Steer clear of this switch panel!
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
Hi! We definitely apologize about any troubles that you are experiencing and would be more than happy to assist you as it is our goal to make sure our customers are satisfied. We definitely back up our products and support 100 percent. Please give a call to our customer support/tech call center Toll Free: 1 (800) 659-2287 Phone Hours: 7AM - 3PM PST - Monday - Friday If you are unable to reach us feel free to reach us via email by submitting a ticket at support.madcatz.com
on July 11, 2013
Please refer to my extended [read: wordy, but some practical set-up tips for those who think you just plug the module(s) in with the USB cord and you're good to go! Bizzzz! There is more to be done [like the required but not included Saitek 25.7 MB driver to bring these modules to life] and I'll add at once that not one of these boxed modules has word one of any user instructions or user guidance whatsoever! Saitek merely assumes you know what to do at the get-go or, as they say, you can go fish for it! Anyway, see that review of the Saitek other module with the Auto Pilot, Auto Throttle, Flaps , Pitch/Trim and user activated LED lights for all standard AP 'real McCoy' auto pilot boxes. That other module is a real eye-grabber although this one with all those rocker switches and landing gear lever and the radio module as well are no slouches either and when stacked they look rather neat! I have all 3 of the modules and the usual 'serious' flight sim gear like the CH Eclipse yoke, Saitek pedals, throttles [two sets but in that case I used the "assignment" buttons heavily!]. Noto too that these Saitek modules are pre-wired and that was/is a relief.

I must correct the previous reviewer about the modules [all 3 of them which are of course separately sold] in that they all WILL work in FS9 [2004] but the process is different to get them going in FS-9 versus FSX! I cover that process for FS9 in my review of the other Saitek auto pilot/flaps/pitch-trim wheel, auto throttle module.

Alas, the first one I received of this particular module I had to return because the left wheel LED green light and right out of the box was dim, began to flicker, got normal again but then the flickering began, very dim and a few times went out completely. I got the box it came in and sent it back for a replacement. The reason I even mention this [getting a replacement for a defective item itself being a no brainer] is because I find many flight simmers that I know [my own FS roots date back to FS4!] are electronic 'tinkerers' by nature ==but== when you observe a problem at the very get-go, grab the box and return it! If you tinker with it in any way, you will immediately void the warranty if they see the 'innards' of some device has been tinkered with! Amazon is excellent on making good on defective items and will pay the return UPS postage while they send out a replacement immediately. If you are an Amazon Prime member, as I am, the replacement item will also be sent to you via Prime 2 day delivery and you have a very liberal 30 days to return the defective item or your on file credit card will be charged. But that's certainly fair enough.

Anyway, the module works in BOTH FS9 and FSX but in FS9, you ==MUST== have Pete Dowson's FSUIPC [version 3.90 and specifically for FS9!] installed [this, BTW, comes directly from Saitek's website! You MUST have FSUIPC installed along with the Saitek driver for the module(s) to work in FS9! Then you follow the process I outline in my review of the other Saitek module. All 3 modules use the same Saitek driver. It will also work on 3rd party or sim community created aircraft in addition to the stock Microsoft sim aircraft. The module [actually all 3 of the Saitek separately sold modules] are pre-wired and this saves you umpteen time in avoiding any button or knob "assignment"hassles which can at times can be a frustrating procedure. The module(s) add some real sparkle to a home sim set-up and serve, IMO anyway, to further increase the "reality concept" of the simulator. I recently added a 27" Asus HDMI [the 32" monitors, or so I read anyway, having DPI issues so I stopped at 27"] monitor. Very nice! Go to YouTube and check out some of those 1080-HD clips of real planes taking off and landing, especially night take-offs and landings, [or real McCoy HD tutorials on the giant A380 and various others] with the plane doing its thing and you'll swear that you're in the a/c jump seat because the clarity of the 1080 HDMI clip is really amazing! Check out some flight simmers "home brew" cockpits too. Some of them are fantastic! Be advised! NONE of these modules have word-one of instruction or guidance to the user so you have to do the leg work and get the driver and "how to make it work" procedure down in a specific order [especially for FS9] for the module to come alive and do what it's supposed to do.

Enjoy!

Doc Tony
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on November 27, 2011
UPDATE 4/6/14
My first one stopped working, it was no longer recognized by the computer. But I've become so used to "switching on" my aircraft that I just had to have another to replace it.

So after heavy testing of the old one to be sure it was dead, I ordered another one.

.
After attaching the new one, I decided to see if the old one was totally shot, or if some part of it could still be salvaged.

When I plugged the old one back in, it worked! BOTH old & new were recognized immediately.

I spent less than 5 seconds thinking about returning it, but decided to keep it for the extra switches.

.
SAITEK PROVIDES NO WAY TO REPOURPOSE (essentially - re-program) THEIR PANELS!

However, it can be done with SPAD and FSUIPC.
.

I'm still in the process of re-assigning the switches. Once I've decided what I want them to do, I'll print an overlay with the new names.

The first two changes was to re-assign the OFF/R/L/BOTH-All rotary switch to control to the fuel selection.

The old "GEAR UP" lever is now "Locked Breaks" (down), and "Unlocked Breaks" (up).

That gives me a visual indicator of the parking break status, as well as a satisfying audio/tactile sensation when locking or releasing them. It beats the heck out of using a mouse to do the job.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a better solution than buying a X-keys USB 16 Key Stick for Windows or Mac for $105.

===================================================================================================

UPDATE 1/28/12
Using the free program SPAD and FSUIPC (paywear) I was able to make the Switch panel behave much more realistically. No one else makes such, relatively, low cost sim aviation hardware. But Saitek just seems to call it a day and go home after ***barely*** getting the drivers written.

Specifically;
- Before, when you turn the left hand knob to "OFF" nothing would happen. It now shuts down the engines.
- The same goes for the fuel pump. NOW.
- In fact, my engines can't start if the settings aren't correct.
- The "Gear Down/UP" lever just sent the key "G" to FSX, and FSX didn't ALWAYS remember what position the gears were in. So the lever could, physically, be in the down position upon FSX startup but FSX, internally, listed it in "gear up" position. Now it ALWAYS start in whatever position the physical gear lever is in.

What I once thought of as an interesting, but largely unneeded device, I now use on every flight.

PS - Don't tell Saitek but I think that it's worth a lot more, when set up properly, than what they sell it for.

===================================================================================================

At the regular price I have my doubts about it's worth. ESPECIALLY using the Saitek drivers/software.

So the first thing that you have to know is DON'T use the Saitek drivers/software! DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!

DON'T

The program you want is called SPAD (free software). SPAD stands for Saitek Panels Advanced Driver. It's so much better that if it didn't exist I would strongly recommend that no one buys the Switch Panel. If you did install even the newest Saitek drivers you'll have to remove them.

About the Saitek PRO Flight Switch Panel (using the Saitek driver/software);
1) Turning the knob on the left does nothing. Out of the box it wouldn't start up any of the planes that I tried (I only tried a couple).
2) The switches have little effect on the aircraft that I tried it on. Only the light switches did anything noticeable. Turn off the fuel pump, avionics, & master switches while flying. No problem, everything keeps on flying. The same goes for the rotary switch on the left. Set it to OFF while flying and the plane keeps right on flying (on a couple of multi-engine planes one out of 2, or one out of 4 would shut down). (With SPAD & FSUIP *ALL* engines die when I switch it off.)
3) The landing gear, with accompanying status lights, IS GREAT! But that alone doesn't make the Switch Panel worth buying if you use the Saitek drivers/software.

So why buy it?
The Saitek PRO Flight Switch Panel *** with the right software *** can do a lot to make flying on a sim much more enjoyable.

1) SPAD can join the 3 main Saitek panel into a cohesive whole. If you have the Pro Flight Radio Panel and this one you can make the "START" setting start 4 engines ENDIVIDUALY, and in whatever order you want. You use the top left hand Com/Nav switches to select the engine to start and then turn the switch from "BOTH/ALL" to START (and then back, of course). I have the CH Products Eclipse Yoke. On the right side (front) are 2 switches. Left switch up to select engine #1. Down to select engine #2. Right Switch up to select engine #3. Down to select engine #4.

2) Using SPAD and FSUIP (payware) you CAN program the switches. Basically you open FSUIP (in the Add-ons tab) and SPAD. You then select the switch you want to modify (from within SPAD) on the Switch Panel and send a virtual joystick key to FSUIP. You can choose up to 32 virtual joystick keys thru SPAD.

Starting up a plane from a cold cockpit is a lot more fun than just taking off and landing, it's a blast! And THAT is why I recommend the Switch Panel.

The only caveat to the whole thing is in the way that the flight sims are set up. There is no logic tree to flight sims regarding how you can, and have to, use them. A keyboard is the basic starting place and everything else after that is just an add-on to the keyboard. So even with the plane powered down you can still hit a key on the keyboard and start all the motors at once. Or you can do it right and flip those switches.

So far my flight sim gear is;
1) CH PRODUCTS Eclipse Yoke Discover Bundle (200616DIS) The trim wheels on the yoke makes life so much better. The rudder "paddles" aren't used that much, but when you need them, there they are. The 3 levers on the top right are now set to Cowling (cowling aren't just opened OR closed), Flaps, and Spoilers.
2) TrackIr 5 Professional Premium Head Tracking for Gaming Once you get used to this, you can't live without it. Just start out on a slow setting. The hat clip is MUCH better than the LED Pro clip.
3) Saitek PRO Flight Radio Panel Flying isn't just about getting in the air and landing. This panel actually helps you to learn navigation.
4) Saitek Three Lever Pro Throttle Quadrant (PZ45) I just like this a lot better than the CH Products yoke.
5) This panel, the Pro Flight Switch Panel. I wasn't intending to get it, but now I'm very glad that I did.
6) XFX ATI Radeon HD 5670 1 GB DDR5 DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort PCI-Express Video Card HD567XZNF3 Frame rates in the upper 70's (with high FSX settings) while running THREE large monitors!
7) Logitech G13 Programmable Gameboard with LCD Display See my review there. With a flight sim you need a lot of switches, and this is the best of the add-on switches.
8) Plugable 7 Port High Speed USB 2.0 Hub with 3A Power Adapter You WILL need one sooner or later, and it will have to be a powered hub.
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on January 16, 2009
I've now had a good amount of time to put the Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel. I use it in conjunction with my CH Products yoke, pedals and throttle quadrant Clearly, Saitek saw this as an addon for its yoke, sine you can screw this item into the to off the yoke. While that may save desk space, I don't recall having ever seen an aircraft with these controls in that position.

I mounted mine on my desktop to the right of my yoke and to the left of my throttle quadrant. That seems to be a convenient location for ease of use. I used the supplied Velcro strips. I agree with the other reviewer that this is not the best way to mount the product on the desk as it does, indeed allow the unit to wobble. The wobble can be minimized by placing your fingers on the top of the unit and working the panel's switches with your thumb. There are numerous other ways the average person could mount this product more securely. A little ingenuity is all it takes.

For the default aircraft or the less complex addon aircraft, the switches on this panel will take you from cold and dark to ready to taxi. For the more complex aircraft from PMDG or Level D, it will still require using some additional mouse clicks to do the job.

Starting anywhere from one to four engines is simple with this unit...perhaps overly simple, but remember, this product is under a hundred bucks.

The master "bat", "alt" and master avionics switches are only useful if you like to start up in a cold and dark cockpit. The cowl flaps switch is useful only for propeller driven aircraft. The lighting switches are good for almost any aircraft, as are the pitot heat, de-ice switches and landing gear lever.

All in all, I am quite satisfied with this product. In addition to adding to the realism of the simulation,it has allowed me to re program several switches on my yoke and throttle quadrant for other purposes.

The only reason I gave it 4 stars and not five, is that it would have been so simple for Saitek to provide removable clamps for desktop mounting.
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on March 17, 2013
Don't make the same mistake I made and buy it for any other game. It is very proprietary and will NOT work for any other simulator. They refuse to release drivers that are capable of it.
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on November 4, 2009
The Saitek panels are a great addon to help with the immersion into the simulator. I would rank the relative "need" factor of the three current panels as 1) Multi-panel 2) Radio panel 3) This panel, the Switch panel. This doesn't really detract from owning the panel because I look at these are all or nothing...you gotta have all three :) This one is just the least critical. You really 'set and forget' for 95% of the flight.

The only con I have really for all three Saitek panels is that they don't always work 100% with 3rd party add-on craft. I wouldn't expect them to, I just wish they did.

I don't think I can post a link here but if you want to see the panels in action - look up my channel on YouTube "FlyBman2007". There is a video I made of my simulator components.

Benjamin.
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on December 29, 2008
The item offers a inexpensive opportunity to add additional realism to a training environment. Nicely mounts on top of the Saitek yoke assembly. Note, I say 'on top' which makes things a little different then the real world environment. But, still okay.
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