|TM F22 Pro
by Leonard Hjalmarson
Having been a long time TM user, I eagerly awaited the F22 Pro. I'm not really sure why, however, since my F16 FLCS was a great stick and never game me any trouble in the 18 months or so of heavy use.
Still, I had heard good things about the F22 Pro. Chief among these fast and thick rumors were the talk that the F22 would have heavier springs and a steel base. The F-16 FLCS never did feel greatly durable, even tho it put some other sticks to shame...and it wasn't hard to rock it off the desk top.
At a glance, the F-22 Pro looks just like an FLCS. It has the same buttons, hats, and switches with the single exception of the old download/run switch. Well, I said "at a glance," because there a number of things that a quick look wont' reveal. First among these are the different innards, but there are small and subtle changes on the outside as well.
First of all, the stick stands taller than the old FLCS. This is primarily due to the extra room needed for larger springs and heavier construction to handle the torque of the same. But another minor change is that buttons S1 and S3 are now shielded by the construction of the handle itself. This makes it less likely that you will catch one on something and pop it off. Nice!
And the real differences are internal. The stick itself feels like someone ripped it our of an F22.... come to think of it, they probably did! The F-22 offers more programmability than the FLCS did, meaning TM has again upped the ante in this area.
How much so? You may now program ANY of the buttons, hats, or switches to be one of the four analog gameport buttons. Intriguing difference reflecting the ongoing development goals of TM to make this stick COMPLETELY user configurable. You wanna have HAT 1 Up act as the trigger of a four button stick? No sweat! Or program a TQS button to be the second or B button of the joystick.. got it! This flexibility is almost obsessive, and does steepen the learning curve, but only if you really want to do it this way.
Other minor programming changes involve the way a button is changed to an analogy function to emulate a four button stick, doing away with the /A commands. TM also changed programming for the arrow keys, going from UAROW to AUXARROW to accomplish the same thing. The files themselves are named differently, having become .F22 & .M22 files instead of .B50 & .M50 files. Modifying your old FLCS & TQS files is simply a matter of renaming them and making the few changes listed above.
TM has done away with the old download/run switch. The software and hardware have matured, and the stick no longer needs this signal to tell it what is up. The software itself is much like the old Command & Control center , but now you can store more than one file into the sticks memory simultaneously.
The software does not remember which files you have loaded, but when you try to dl the same file, the stick will bypass your attempt, simply selecting the file for use by the stick. With the end of the old download switch, the process itself is much simpler. Now if TM could streamline the process, more along the lines of the CH programming software, they would really have the world by the tail. (Check out Fox 2, James Hallows new programming utility if CH Commander has you confused. This is a text based editor of about 3.25 meg).
I use the F-22 Pro with a TQS, and have had no difficulty configuring for any sim I've tried. My only difficulties, common to the mass of humanity out there, had to do with a strange drift in the stick, and the occasional bump and thump (called "spiking.") I resolved my trouble for a few weeks, then it returned. Now it seems trustworthy except when I subject it to rigorous use for more than 90 minutes or so. For more info on this problem see the HOTAS page.
I really need to stress that there is a learning curve in programming using the TM software. Installation is not always painless either. For example, a friend of mine purchased the F22 and TQS and couldn't figure out which files he needed to download, why there was both a QUSNF.F22 and a USNF.F22, and how to change an FLCS configuration to an F22 file.
He was moving from an FLCS, so he was not totally new to Thrustmaster gear. His other large adjustment, as mine, was moving from a stick which always seemed to respond to the slightest touch to a very "anchored" movement. He complained to me that doing a look and then trying to flare out at one point to turn the loop into a yo-yo manouver was very difficult because of the pull of the stick back to center. The F22 sometimes seems about 30% too strong for all but the toughest wrists. I have used the F22 with these simulations:
TM have again proven their ability to make quality equipment and to take it beyond the expectations of serious simmers. Once they finally have the drifting issue sorted out (perhaps by finding a new pot supplier), this stick will take its rightful place at the top of the heap. So long as your desk has adequate support, and so long as you have strong wrists, this stick will endure. IN fact, you might be forced to leave it to your children in your will...it will probably outlive you!
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Last Updated fall, 1996