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Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Kobra Mark III

I've run into a problem preventing me from continuing Galactic Survey Expedition 2. My throttle has failed. I've placed the details below. So I've gone a week without being able to fly my Cobra Mark III. It's been hard. The withdrawal symptoms were really getting to me. Fortunately there is an alternative.

Here is the pictorial record of the history making maiden flight of the Kobra Mark III flown by Jebediah and Bill Kerman. Click on the first picture to follow the mission step by step using the Kerbal's advanced album technology. ;)

[gallery columns="2" size="medium" ids="5178,5180,5177,5176,5175,5174,5173,5172,5171,5170,5169,5168,5167,5166,5165,5164,5163,5162,5161,5160,5159,5158,5157,5156,5155,5154"]

Now, about the throttle, remember when I mentioned a few weeks past I'd had an encounter with a dark object and it'd knocked me out of super cruise? Well, the fact of the matter was I'd had my super cruise mapped to the slider on my throttle assembly and when I'd engage the throttle the slider also engaged. As I sped up and slowed down while surveying the throttle managed to actuate the slider twice for an emergency drop from super cruise. This behavior only got worse as the weeks progressed. Here's a short video I made on what it was doing.


Needless to say that was quite annoying. For a week I flew with nothing mapped to the throttle except acceleration and attempted to remedy the problem by driver update, reinstall and reconfiguration. You know the shtick: all those things technical support is going to have you do anyway? As I do IT for a living, I did it several times and went so far as to open up the registry and manually delete any key associated with the Saitek X52 Pro software. As I have a Mad Catz V.7 keyboard this was a bit harrowing. At one point I had to pull out an old Dell keyboard I keep around as a spare in order to continue. In other words, I was thorough. My 20+ years experience told me it was not a software problem. So I contacted Saitek support.

It took them two days to respond. That did not make me happy. The response I received was to uninstall and reinstall the drivers. That made me even less happy as I'd supplied the above video to them and quite clearly explained how I'd already uninstalled and reinstalled the software several times. But I did as asked anyway (not the registry purge - gah!) and responded I had done as requested and the throttle was still malfunctioning. Two more days later I get a response and he says my driver and software versions were not the latest and to use the latest drivers, versions provided. The thing is, the versions provided were older than the versions I'd downloaded from Saitek the day I opened the ticket. And no one had yet even looked at the video I provided. It was obvious to me the drone was responding from a checklist that would string this out for quite some time. I'd already went weeks with a bad throttle and I'd had enough.

I sort of went nuclear on him. I got my RMA the very next email, but of course it was to only send the throttle in and "they'd repair it as soon as possible." I don't expect it back any time this month. Damn it! I'm not buying another one of their HOTAS so long as they have a two-year warranty. They need to do right by this and I am deeply dissatisfied with their response so far. I suppose I'm cutting my nose off to spite my face. I thought Saitek was better than this. They've dug a deep, deep hole with me by not looking at the evidence I presented and by not sending a replacement outright. Saitek as a company really has slipped. It makes me wish someone made a HOTAS as good who also puts the customer first. Anyone else have stories to share concerning Saitek technical and warranty support?

Edit 6/8/15: Vindication

Ticket Details
Ticket ID: 180377
Department: US Warranty 
Type: Issue
Status: RMA Un-Repairable and Replaced
Priority: Normal


  1. I have a Saitek HOTAS system and almost did not buy it because of all the support issues I found when looking at user reviews. Problem is that it was the most stick for the $ so I took a gamble. I notice that the throttle is very stiff when it has been stationary for a few minutes then loosens up when I move it

  2. I think the build quality overall is good for a piece of plastic. The joystick worked perfectly though all of this. That's what creates the price point you speak of that is so alluring. Saitek claims on both their in box documentation and on their web site the vast majority of issues with the HOTAS is improper driver and software installation. I won't necessarily disagree with that, though I think they could provide better instructions on what is proper installation. Still, I see user caused failure all the time in my own job. That's why I made certain it wasn't the problem before I contacted them. They just need to believe the customer when told "been there, done that." :/

  3. Once upon a time, I rather liked Saitek, but I've had a bunch of failures with their stuff recently, just about all of which looks like hardware issues, in many cases most likely bad wiring of some sort. The kicker for me was after my X52 Pro started to go bad; I found an X55 (the new HOTAS set) in a local store, and the thing flaked out completely after less than two days (something in the stick twist mechanism went bad, and it was stuck on either full yaw left or full yaw right).

    RMA wasn't so bad with me; I described the problem, and they immediately categorized it as a hardware failure and sent out a replacement unit ... but between that, the failed X52, and the Pro Pedals that had both toe-brake mechanisms break on me within a week, I decided enough was enough and went hunting for an alternative.

    I got a CH Pro Throttle. It felt a little lightweight, maybe a bit flimsy, out of the box, but that's deceptive. Once I put it to work on my computer, Velcroed to the bracket I put on the arm of my desk chair, I was asking myself why I hadn't gotten one years ago. You can pair it with any USB stick you like, pretty much - Logitech, Thrustmaster, or CH's own sticks.


Be civil, be responsible and most of all be kind. I will not tolerate poor form. There will be no James Hooks here. We are all better than that.

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