Customer Reviews: Saitek Pro Flight Multi Panel
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on December 21, 2009
The item is well built and easily configures FlightSim X to utilize it via an included utility. Another utility that does full functional test of LED, displays and switch position is useful for testing panel separately from FlightSim X. This eliminates the complication of trusting flight simulator to be communicating properly with the panel.
Pros - adds nice realism to flight simulator x and easy to setup

Cons - a little pricey, and cannot utilize the built-in powered USB hub in the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke. Causes hub exceeded power message. Finally had to connect the multipanel directly to computer USB port. This is also true for the Saitek Radio panel. Only the Saitek switch panel can be connected directly to the yoke without exceeding hub power. Seems Saitek should have engineered a better solution, providing more hub power or bundling a powered hub of sufficient capacity.
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on December 28, 2009
For the price, you can't beat this auto pilot panel.
The display is large and easy to read and the controls are easy to use.

The buttons are backlit so when you activate any of the functions, you know it because they light up.
The trim wheel is very precise so it makes flying when not using the altitude hold easier.
It looks great on the desk and is so much more intuitive and much easier to use than trying to scan the cockpit and click all around the screen to set the auto pilot.

The only complaints are that the knob to switch between CRS, HDG, IAS, VS and ALT requires a lot of effort. But it is a sturdy metal knob. The other thing I would have liked is a button to switch between IAS and Mach for the airliners. Other than that, it works great and is a wonderful addition to your flight simming experience.
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on December 11, 2011
There really aren't many 'universal' autopilot gauges, which is essentially what this is.

It says multi-panel , etc. Yes, it does have some other important functions, but truthfully this is your Autopilot panel.

Note: I used this with FSX.

I found that if you want to get a little more in depth with planes, especially passenger jets -- that have FMC's, and so on. The add-on planes, this is very hard to work with.

It typically is only going to work the 'heading' adjustment for these add-on jets and nothing else. Though you can go and download what are known as SPAD drivers, look it up, and with ALOT of toil and trouble you can have a working version for most things. Not for the non tech savvy, or light of heart.

For default, FSX planes (and if it works for XPLANE) -- It is great.

Essentially you have a dial on the left hand side that has "ALT, VS, IAS, HDG, and CRS". You turn this dial to select any one of these settings. This corresponds with the one adjustment knob on the panel.

People complain about how tight/stiff this knob to move from ALT to CRS is, but frankly, while it is stiff, it is something you get used to and isn't a big deal. Further it does loosen up a bit with use.

Essentially, these are ALT = Altitude, VS = Vertical Speed, IAS = Indicated Air Speed, HDG = Heading, and CRS = Course.

The knob adjusts them all fine, I did find the only adjustment that I wish was a bit faster was the IAS, or speed adjustment. I'd find myself taxing in a 747, turning the dial like mad trying to get my IAS to 250 or so for the TOGO or Autopilot for takeoff.

Then you have the display. Which is just Red on black. Fine , not fancy, but look what you are buying.

It isn't dynamic or realtime, it shows you what you've adjusted each setting to -- but isn't a 'flight panel' nor would I want it to be.

It has 8 buttons on it.

The large white one to left = AP = Autopilot. This is the Autopilot master switch.

The other buttons, same size, and orange = HDG = Heading Mode, NAV = Navigation Mode, IAS = Speed hold, ALT = Altitude, go to assigned altitude, VS = Verticle speed, ascend or descend (if you are ascending or descending) at this rate. APR = Approach (This is for landing primarily -- If you know how to dial in an ILS approach this will be a good button for you.) -- and REV = Your Reverse Approach/ILS -- to track the 180 degree of your current ILS. You don't need to know what either of those mean when you buy this.

It has an AutoThrottle Toggle lever/switch. This is stiff as well, but a generic off and on. Which is what it is in the jets/planes.

It has a tap button/lever that you tap on top for down and tap from the button to go up. This is your Flaps. So for say 10degree's of flaps in some jets, two taps, and so on. After you've taken off you can tap it 3-4 times up and it will raise flaps to zero. Lastly, it has a Pitch Trim DIAL or Wheel. I frankly didn't use this much. But, it is exactly for that, and is the largest dial on the entire panel. On the right hand side. Obviously adjusts the trim to keep the plane level.

Solid panel, good construction for the money -- is NOT customizable for extra planes by default and so on.

So just be aware of that fact.

I find I out grew the panels of this type quickly, when I got into flying Airbus A320's and newer jets that were a bit more accurate, or the exact replica simulator add-on jets that literally have 2 inch manuals with them. But if you enjoy getting on Vatsim, or a server on multiplayer (or even alone) and flying any of the default planes.. you will be fine with this.

I have the Pro Flight Yoke, Light Panel (with gear), multi-panel, and 1 comm stack (with a throttle to the right.

I don't need a keyboard at all, obviously.

You DO need room for this stuff.

After I got these three panels and yoke. I figured out that I really needed to build a small enclosure for them, so I could have something that didn't look so 'odd' on the desk and I could pick up and move etc.

Every device , including this one, has a USB attachment, as would be expected.

The software for this panel, is the SAME software for any of the Saitek panels. Works fine.

Hope that helps,
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on March 12, 2010
I knew I'd like this. It's all I expected. I don't much fly airliners and only a business jet here and there, so the only thing I don't use on this is the auto throttle. Everything else is very handy to have. I fly the virtual cockpit, so it's very difficult to sort the OBS knobs, buttons and switches while bumping around in turbulence. No more problems!

The unit came VERY well packed in foam. It is very light. All three units are very light. Well built, just light. If they are all attached to each other in a stack, they will not stand up by themselves. I didn't want to mount them on my Saitek yoke, so I built a small box to mount all three Saitek units in. This way, they don't slip around on my wooden desk, and I didn't want to use velcro.

My only complaint is that the most important functions a panel would have are split up between the Saitek units, and to get them all, ya gotta buy all three. Radios, flaps, trim, gear, and switches. Radios are their own unit, trim and flaps on this unit, and gear on the switch panel.
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on September 3, 2012
I've only been "flying" for a year, so having complete hands on control of the airplane is still a lot of fun for me. Then too, I don't fly a lot of large commercial planes cross country, so I almost never have the need for an autopilot. But, this is a lot of fun to use even on small planes that have an autopilot of one kind or another.

Using it is fairly simple; set the switch on the left to ALT (Altimeter) and turn the knob on the right to set the altitude that you want to fly at. Next set the switch to VS for the Vertical Speed that the plane is capable of (or less). IAS is the "Indicated Air Speed" that you want to fly at. The HDG (Heading) and CRS (Course) settings are better left for you to read about elsewhere. When you have everything set up the way you want it press the appropriate orange buttons followed by the white AP button (if it hasn't already come on). Don't forget the Auto Throttle switch

Turning real knobs and pressing real buttons beats the heck out of trying to make the same settings on-screen. So even if you don't do it often, it's a real pleasure to use when you do.

Although there is a lot to like, it does have a few cons:

* The left hand switch is narrow and therefore a little hard/stiff to turn. No problem. Go to Radio Shack and pick out any knob, 1" or less. I used one that was ¾", but may get one that's 1". Want a MUCH bigger choice? Look up knobs (1/4" shaft) at Digi-Key online. The flat side of the post WILL NOT match the screw in the new knob. NOT A PROBLEM! Just use a small screwdriver with as much force as you can WITH YOUR HAND. No pliers wanted or needed. Just use your hand! The screw will be tight enough against the round side not to slip.

* The display is far dimmer on this than on the Radio Panel. But looking in Google Images you'll see this quite often. Even the MadCatz/Saitek website has an out of focus video where you can see the same thing. A problem? Don't know. But I know that it IS NOT a USB problem. I swapped both USB plugs and the Multi Panel didn't get brighter, the Radio Panel didn't get dimmer. And it's not the 800-Watt power supply that I'm using either. My guess is that they are making them at different plants with different LED panels.

* The Pitch Trim Wheel. The one on the CH yoke is just a lot faster and more responsive. I may reassign the Multi Panel trim wheel using SPAD and FSUIPC. Real simple to do, no programming needed. Just a click here and a click there.

NOT A PROBLEM - I read a complaint about the toggle switch being too stiff. First, it's a commercial grade toggle that'll outlast the unit. Second, if you were flying a real plane would you REALY want a toggle switch that could accidentally shut something off without you feeling or hearing it? Don't think so.

SIDE NOTE 1 - If you have this and the Radio Panel too you CAN switch between Course 1 and Course 2 even though the left hand switch only has the single CRS on it. This is done thru SPAD.


Also, according to the SPAD manual;
"Most liners add-ons like PMDG, LevelD, Wilco-Feelthere, LeonardoSH etc. DON'T WORK WITH SPAD OUT OF THE BOX ! "

"For add-on aircrafts like PMDG, LevelD, Wilco-Feelthere, LeonardoSH etc. please read the "Special Modes" and "Customizing Spad" sections."

It's all done thru drop down lists. You click on the item that you want your PMDG Boeing 737 (or whatever) switch to perform.


SIDE NOTE 2 - In the SPAD manual it tells how to make SPAD start with FSX. Ignore it; just write a short and VERY SIMPLE batch (.bat) file.

END NOTE - The Multi Panel is well worth getting and fun to use. Five Stars for sure.
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on October 31, 2011
I have a 64 bit Vista computer. Third party airplane models don't work correctly with FSX, so I was concerned that this might not work, or that I would have problems setting it up.

I plugged it in, loaded the drivers from the included CD, and fired up the test software. It worked fine. I got one of the last $109.99 units.

Then, I started up FSX and tested the controls. The Flap Switch, trim wheel, and autopilot worked correctly without having to go into FSX's control panel. Spinning the trim wheel feels a lot more realistic than pressing a switch up or down to get trim. Also, I like the feel of the flap lever a lot better than that of a switch.

I've heard people complaining about the Autopilot switch being stiff. Its maybe a little stiff, but I'd rather have it a little stiff instead of sloppy. Maybe Saitek has improved the feel of the switch. None of the planes I fly have auto-throttle so I have nothing to say about it. The Autopilot has a couple more functions than my C-172 has, but that's not a problem.

They sent a couple of strips of Velcro, which would probably have been sufficient to secure it to the top of my desk, but I wanted to put it underneath, which is closer to where it would be on a real plane. I tried the included Velcro, but it just barely held it in place. My wife got me 4 feet of 2 inch wide Velcro, which I used to secure the unit under my desk. It holds there very securely. If I get a radio panel, its going under my monitor, so the included Velcro will be sufficient.

The trim wheel and flap switch freed up a couple of switches on my yoke, so I plan on using them to affect my view.

I'm glad I got this instead of the VRInsight M-Panel for almost twice the price!
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on March 16, 2014
1 year later and this unit fell apart. The multi function switch has seized and it does not hold up well to any type of modifications, i.e. removing from case to place into a custom cockpit panel. I had to resolder the led panel twice. Also the drivers are inefficient. You have to look to open source to get unit to run smoothly.

Bottom line: Saitek Pro Flight Multi Panel is just a toy.
If you are looking for a cheaply built, poorly designed unit, then by all means buy this, but if you are looking for a quality product look elsewhere. Quality this is not!

I would not recommend this product.
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on October 3, 2011
First of all, I want to say that I love this panel. It is so much easier to use autopilot on some of my aircraft with this panel. I still have not learned all the functionality of it yet, but will as I use it more and more. The pitch trim is so much more realistic and easier to use, as well as, the flaps, than using a switch on my Proflight Yoke in the past for these functions. I have been using my Microsoft Flight Simulator X as a pilot training tool and this multipanel has made it more realistic. I also liked getting this panel at a great price from Amazon. It came to me on time and in great condition. Amazon is a great place for great products at great prices.
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on July 11, 2013
If you're looking to add some, how to put it, serious long-term flight sim hobbyist pa-zazz to the flight sim experience, this is an excellent addition to your flight sim set-up. I term them "external modules" and I now have 3 different job Saitek modules. This one with the auto-pilot, auto-throttle, flaps and trim wheel with a user set LED reading display and the usual AP buttons, then the other module with the various a/c switches and landing gear lever with 3 LED lights for the front and rear wheels and finally the radio module with its comm LED read-outs and user set frequencies.

I have one major gripe tho' and that is the total lack of information to the user on how to properly set the modules up! Go over to Saitek and take a gander at their hawking of the various modules [as they plug the "Combat Sim" add-on in the process] and the erroneous impression is all too easily given to the reader that all the flight simmer has to do is pop in the USB cord and voila, you're in business and ready to fly. BIZZZZZ! Wrong! To make matters worse, absolutely nothing is in the boxes these modules come in in terms of even a simple one page info sheet on how to get going! Nothing! Saitek apparently 'assumes' you know what to do and so the result is you go fishing on the internet when you perhaps plug the modules in and absolutely nothing happens! Nothing happens because the first thing you need and require is the 25.7 MB Saitek DRIVER which is not included and which you have to download on the Saitek website. Then you find out that you have to do the set-up, as we used to say in the Army many moons ago, "by the numbers", or hassles can develop quickly! Before you do anything else or plug anything in, load the Saitek driver! Without that driver [BTW, since Saitek has no idea how many of these devices or modules you may have, they list the driver for each module but that 25.7 MB driver I mentioned will do all 3 modules!], anyway, FSX will ask if you trust the Saitek set-up driver and the usual "are you sure?" thing and when the driver goes in, FSX will respond and when you go to a plane, the module(s) will come to life. Neat! And fully responsive! Mercifully, the modules are pre-wired so you don't have to start the old button or knob "assignment game" within the sim!

The further good news is that these modules [if you go for the other separately sold other two modules] also work in FS9 [2004] ==but== for FS9, there is a bit of a rig-a-ma-role in that you MUST have [in addition to the Saitek driver] AND AS IS THE CASE FOR FSX AS WELL, Pete Dowson's FSUIPC installed [version 3.90 FOR 2004 and Pete also has a newer version of FSUIPC for FSX -- don't get the two versions confused! One is for FS9 and the other is for FSX! FSUIPC works hand in hand with the Saitek driver and Saitek modules and the modules will NOT run properly [if at all] without it! There is also an alternative to the Saitek driver called "SPAD" and you can check the literature as to the benefits of either driver. But FSUIPC is a MUST for BOTH sims! You then follow the procedure somewhat akin to Helge Schroeder's great FlightNav 4.7 but a little different because there is no F-9 KB key activation. FLASH! Check out Helge's "FSTramp" as the continuation of the older but great FlightNav 4.7 where FSTramp works in FSX while FlightNav 4.7 will =no=t work in FSX! Here is what you do to get the Saitek module(s) "going and glowing" in FS9 [2004] -- Start FS-9, then minimize it, then go to your Windows START key and look for SAITEK [which should be in there after you loaded the Saitek 25.7MB [at this writing] module driver] and if you loaded the Saitek driver correctly, you'll see a line [after you click the Saitek folder in the START area of Windows] that says, "Launch the Flight Sim 2004 plug in" which you then click and then you bring the minimized FS9 screen back to the maximized screen and the module(s) should light up. NOTE! In many cases with FS9, the program will default to the Cessna 172 but you may only see that Cessna in a small square and nothing else! Don't panic! Press the SPACE BAR one time and the full page should appear. From there, you can use the ALT key to bring up the FS9 MENU and you can then pick the plane and the airport you wish. That's how it works in FS9 and in FS9 [UNLIKE FSX], you have to go through that procedure every time you start the simulator [much like Flight Nav 4.7 which itself is a module and has to be "called up" although once up, it stays up providing you change planes or airports without shutting down the sim. And just for the record, the modules DO respond to 3rd party sim community produced aircraft besides the default planes within FS9 or FSX.

Finally this, with some common Velcro [a couple of sticks of Velcro are actually included in the box], you can mount these modules on top of one another [or whatever suits you] without spending some heavy bucks on a rather over-priced [IMO, anyway] mounting boxes for Saitek mounting. Be creative and get a roll of Velcro and do your own thing! Go to YouTube and check out what really creative simmers have done with so termed "home brew cockpits" -- some of these efforts are absolutely amazing! So too, once you start adding these modules and all the other USB stuff you might have, you might wish to think about getting a self-powered [AC] USB hub as the ==accumulated wattage== for all those USB devices can start to take its toll on your system and can slow it down considerably not to mention the various other USB gizmos you have which can then begin to starve for power and strain your "on-board" USB system resources! Yeah, sure, I think the number is 128 [!] of mixed-bag USB devices you can connect to a given machine but you should seriously consider the power these devices draw and require ==cumulatively==! Non externally powered hubs place a strain on machine resources as the number of USB gizmos begins to increase and some of these USB gizmos can be real wattage eaters so that an externally powered [via AC] hub is a good relief for your system! Your call! Enjoy!
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on February 25, 2015
The Saitek Autopilot gave me a lot of fun, but only for a limited time. The design has a basic flaw. Everything depends on a selector switch to go from heading, to speed, to vertical speed, to altitude. If you do as much flights in your simulator, as I do, the selector switch fails, and becomes IMPOSSIBLE to turn. Since I have my electronics gear at home, I decided to change the switch, but it proved impossible, because the unit is sealed not only by screws but soldered in place. Finally I got frustrated and abandoned this poorly designed toy. For it is only a fragile toy. Saiytek should do a better design and use better components.
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