View Full Version : Cougar HOTAS owners, I need your opinions.

12-17-2008, 05:14 AM
Hello Cougar owners,

My saitek aviator broke last weekend and I'm planning on buying a HOTAS thursday or friday. I don't know what to choose between the CH hotas (fighterstick + pro throttle) or the Cougar hotas. The cougar is now 1.67$ CAN cheaper than the CH. It is available right away, while the CH is out of stock. I don't mind having a stiff joystick, as long as it don't compromise the precision of it. And I want something that is reliable. I don't want to have to fix it all the time. I know that CH doesnt require that, but the fact that you can repair yourself your joystick is interesting. The most important thing is that I need a stick that will be decent out of the box. I won't have the money to buy a mod that cost twice the price of the cougar in a near future, since I'm also taking lessons to have my private pilot license and I got to do flight time, which is pretty expensive. The stiffness of the stick could replicate the feel of the real thing also, so it would be great for my training. As I said, I don't have a lot to invest on my hardware so I don't plan on buying a yoke for that.

In IL-2, I've been flying mostly turn fighters since I'm a newcomer to the dogfight scene, but I'm starting to fly energy fighters as well. I got a decent setup when we don't count the joystick. I got the CH Pro pedals and a saitek quadrant for the trim.

Do you think that the Cougar HOTAS could meet my expectations? The feel and the look seems very nice, and I've seen many contradictory posts/reviews about that joystick, so I really don't know if it's a good idea to buy it. I know that many of these posts comes from people that don't own the joystick or even never tried it, so your expertise would be important for me, I would base my choice upon it. And it would be nice to know what joystick you're using right now for WW2 sims, if you don't use the cougar anymore.

Thanks for helping me clearifying my choice, it is much appreciated.

RaphaŽl S. Leclerc

PS: Please excuse my english, I speak french and I'm not perfectly bilingual when it comes to the grammar/syntax.

12-17-2008, 06:30 AM
ok, cougar user for 4+ years, but have upgraded to a tarmac aces http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/10.gif

in 4 years i never modded it or felt it needed it.
had to clean a pot twice in that time

personally i found it great for energy fighters as the heaviness of springs stops you pulling that bit on the stick- you will learn to trim http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

the throttle is superb- probably the best out there- apart from tarmac aces. i would recomend doing the speedbrake switch alignment fix tho- no money just a bit of tinkering.


the 'feel' of the metal is a definite plus for me- feels like a military piece of equipment- for me it's all about immersion, and to my way of thinking ch falls down a little on this(imho)
-particularly throttle.

that said, as you already have ch gear, there are advantages in keeping to one manufacturer- only one profile to load, ability to combine into one controller and familiarity with software spring to mind.

i'm sure ch owners will be along shortly to tell you everything i've said is rubbish- both groups of owners can be very partisan, hence the conflicting OPINIONS.

personally, either sticks are good options and should give you many,many hours of simming pleasure, the ability to actually walk out of a store with product in hand is a bonus as i'd assume xmas deliveries aren't going to be too swift at the moment.

both sticks will probably give you a 'relearning' period of a week or two as you get used to them

have fun,particularly with the real life flying, and welcome to the forum

12-17-2008, 07:12 AM
Definitely go for CH if you want something that works 'out of the box'.

12-17-2008, 07:41 AM
hallooooo bolox00! Man, I just checked out the Tarmac Aces website, and that seems to be some fine equipment they have. I'm a Cougar user from way back, and have made repairs to the usual suspects, but never considered any other stick until I (just) read about the products Tarmac Aces offers. Please tell me about life with your TA setup, and how much it costs. It looks very expensive on the website, but sadly I could not convert that to $USD.
Flyby out

12-17-2008, 08:31 AM
I'm a CH use though and though. having your stick throttle, and peddles all on the same software is really nice I have a torn up setiak x-45 that I use as a button bay and half the time I forget to load it. :-( I load the stick hit fly and then "oh I forgot the buttons".. sigh restart. both CH and couger are high end sticks and will serve you well.

12-17-2008, 09:26 AM
the 'feel' of the metal is a definite plus for me- feels like a military piece of equipment-

Funny you should say that. I took a test for the USAF called the TBAS, which was a lot like a video game to test your coordination/short term memory skills. Guess what setup they used? Cougar HOTAS, with CH pedals. The F-16 sims I flew once at Cannon AFB also used a Cougar setup.

Anyways, take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt because I'm a MS user. The Cougar's resistance simply seemed ridiculous to me. I suppose if you get used to it it's fine, but to me I lost all sense of being able to do precise movements given the amount of force necessary to get full stick deflection. I've never used a CH, but I can't imagine any other joystick being "stiffer" (so to speak). It also had a huge dead center -- this was probably just from a lot of use though and a lot of cadets slamming the stick around to try to get a high score. The build quality was, however, outstanding. The metal looked and felt great.

If you're dead set on getting either CH or Cougar, and aren't trying to impress a hot date with how awesome your 'stick' looks (http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/winky.gif), then it sounds like CH is the way to go. Good luck!

12-17-2008, 10:17 AM
Funny you should say the metal makes it feel more real...a military pilot will be wearing flying gloves so it wouldn't make any difference if it was plastic or metal, plus real sticks tend to have rubber hand grips.

I use CH products stuff, Throttle, Pedals Fighter Stick (for IL2) and a Combat Stick for Lock-on. I have some flying gloves from when I was doing my flying with the RAF...use them when I'm doing some proper competitive flying online. Feels great. It all works straight out of the box, no modding or tweaking needed, you can fix it yourself if you know what you're doing. but I've had my kit for a good few years now and nothing has gone wrong once.

12-17-2008, 11:03 AM
I have been using the Cougar since it was released. I had the pots give up on me after a little bit more than two years. At first I was quite satisfied with it but after a while a started to dislike the distinct axes more and more (no plane with a stick I have flown have those distinct axes) and upgraded to Łber II nxt standard. Happy with it since then.
So if you are not in to modding and perhaps do a little soldering or changing pots I wouldn't recommend the Cougar but I'm quite happy with it now and wouldn't change it for a Saitek or CH.
However, those tarmac aces sticks looks nice but I think the wife would mind if a spent 2000$ on a new computer for SoW:BoB and then 4000$ on "game controllers" http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

12-17-2008, 12:28 PM
Bonjour Savard,

I have both a full CH HOTAS (Fighterstick/Pro Throttle (with the Franken Potato mod)/Pro Pedals) and the Cougar HOTAS. They sit on my desk side by side and the Cougar was actually a gift sent to me, so that I could finish writing this guide:

http://files.filefront.com/Newbies+Joystick+Revisedpdf/...73755;/fileinfo.html (http://files.filefront.com/Newbies+Joystick+Revisedpdf/;11873755;/fileinfo.html)

I have many many hours on both setups and here are there high and low points:

Cougar - Positives include metal construction, stiff springs, heavy bases that dont slide, realistic arcing motion for the throttle

Negatives include lower quality pots that can become dirty, deadzone at the middle of the stick has developed, stiff springs make dogfighting uncomfortable for home users after a few hours, one malfunctioning contact for a hat switch has developed, the resistance of the throttle can not be set linearly, to do anything detailed with the Foxy software requires some real time and prior knowledge of other C type languages, their manufacturer's website and tech support is not good or efficient, to fully bring the stick up to competitive standards will require around $300 to $750 in modifications depending upon how precise you want it to be (Hall sensors, etc....)(although if you really lay out the cash then I suppose you will have a truly expert piece of equipment)

CH HOTAS - Postives include everything is damn tough and can take a round the clock beating (made of high strength plastics), no extra mods are needed to keep the extreme precision of the stick, very high quality pots and electronics, Fighterstick has hardware trim sliders in the base, entire HOTAS can easily be tied together with the Control Manager software and can function as one 'virtual' device in older games, Control manager allows easy calibration and yet is extremely advanced (if you need for it to be), lighter resistant springs in the Fighterstick allow hours long combat without hand or arm cramps, tech support is manned by real humans and you will get answers quickly, warranty period is two years

Negatives include everything is damn ugly and flat black, throttle slides but does not arc realistically, throttle does not contain any rotaries for trim/prop pitch (although this can be added thru the Franken Potato mod), bases are stable but extreme maneuvers will cause them to slide

After 9 months with CH gear and 3 months with Cougar, I still prefer my CH HOTAS. It is not as pretty but boy is it tough and precise. The springs are slightly lighter and the pots are just damn accurate. I dont fire up my real FA-18 SuperHornet every afternoon, so I cant tell you what a real military pilot would prefer, but I prefer not to develop arthritis in my wrist. If you really want something that just 'works out of the box' and that you dont have to spend money on later to mod in order for it to keep working, my nod would go towards the CH Products.

As a more detailed example of the two, I recently came upon a situation where I had tried the Track IR (loaned to me by a friend) and liked it, but did not want to spend $150 on it at the time. So I thought I would just write some custom scripts to get one of my 8 way hat switches to do the same thing as the Track IR. With my Fighterstick and the Control Manager software this took about 30 minutes of fooling around and the end result is very nice when I fly on closed cockpit servers in Hyperlobby. With the Cougar and Foxy software, I am still working on it to this day. I have invested about six hours in the project and it still does not work to my satisfaction, and I am a professional engineer in real life who does a great deal of programming.

To further help you out, I would also consider reading all the reviews at sites like Amazon.com and Newegg.com so that you can get many, many extra views before your purchase.

Good luck,


12-17-2008, 02:09 PM
Got it, hated it, sold it a week later....Limp as a noodle in the 'dead' centre and stiff but in a hard plasticky/rubbery way not like a spring around the outside of the 'gate' at extreme deflection ...

12-17-2008, 02:20 PM
Well as a long time Kitty owner I'd have to ask you first, "how much you go to spend?"

If you want, out of the box usability and durability stick with CH. BUT if you've the time AND the money a modded Cougar is simply one of the best flight controllers in the world.

I installed:

1. Halls sensors from Cubby on the throttle as well as IJ's speedbrake and housing mods.

2. IJ's "UberII Nxt" mod on the stick. Halls sensors, improved gimbles and the whole nine. Takes a good stick, makes it a great stick.

3. Simped Pedals. Even though Dieter has passed (god rest his soul) Simped carries on and they make a great, precise pedal that, when purchased with a game port end, plugs right in the back of the stick and is available for programming without taking up a USB slot.

Expensive? Yes!!! Worth it, every friggin nickel, every blasted penny.

Da Worfster

12-17-2008, 02:59 PM
I would recommend CH Fighterstick and Pro Throttle. But if your dead set on the Cougar you probably wont be satisfied until you at least try it.

12-17-2008, 03:09 PM
Well thanks for all these inputs. It made a world of difference for me. I wanted the cougar owner's opinions since there's so much misleading reviews about that stick, but after reading it all, I'll go for the CH hotas. I guess it's worth paying the 1.67$ extra if you get a stick ready to b used out of the box. Of course it won't be as pretty or as ergonomic as the cougar, but I don't have that much money to put on a stick. Every penny that goes on it doesnt go on my formation, so I prefer to stick with the almost unbreakable CH.

Thanks a lot once again everybody,

12-17-2008, 05:09 PM
Originally posted by Prefontaine:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">the 'feel' of the metal is a definite plus for me- feels like a military piece of equipment-

The F-16 ... I flew once at Cannon AFB also used a Cougar setup.

Negative, Ghostrider, pattern is full.

12-18-2008, 12:39 AM
Well I'm not sure anymore that I'll go for the CH.. I just contacted the maker of the Uber II NXS mod, and it only cost 100$. I heard that it was the only "needed" mod to make it decent. The others are as an extra. And I heard that with it, the stick should last for many years, 25 is the number I heard. Is it true? If so, the cougar is cheaper than the CH on the long-term, so I'm thinking about going that way. As long as the mods doesnt cost twice as much as the stick itself, I don't have too much trouble investing in it. I just dont want it to be a "money hole". So forget about the out of the box requirement. Should I go for the cougar then?

12-18-2008, 01:25 AM
Sadly the U2 NXT is quite a bit more than $100 - I just checked the exchange rate, it's 490 AUD which right now is $348 USD, and the two hall effect sensors are $100 USD. . .so you will end up spending at least 448 USD for the U2 NXT and the Hall sensors.

I'm thinking you looked at the HS+ price, and not the U2 NXT price.

My Cougar is in a box - waiting for the day I find a good enough deal on an NXT.

12-18-2008, 01:46 AM
my saitek st290 works great http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif 20 bucks at walmart

12-18-2008, 02:03 AM
that sucks, but you're right EcoDragon. I made a mistake there.. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/51.gif

12-19-2008, 07:00 PM
Ive had my cougar for 1 1/2yr. Love it!! I think either one will work well for you tho.

12-21-2008, 08:57 AM
I have cougar, CH and X52pro with an old pair of simpeds. I think Cougar could be the best but right out of the box it has several big issues. The first and worst is that the mechanics wear out in a short time and so the stick will outcome with an evident center play. Mine has become unplayable in an year (usually the wearing is slower but some Cougars arrive without grease on the gimbals and mine was one of them ..). Second issue is that the pots tend to wear out in a short time and the outcome is that your stick will drift on one side sooner or later. Huber nxt addresses both the problems but at a price ......
Third the Cougar is stiffer than other sticks and many pilots find it positive for modern jets but a negative for propeller fighters where manuevers are less gentle.
A part from that the throttle is noisy because for design it has clutches between idle and afterburner (and this is a problem if you play as me in a child room).
Away from those issues the stick is wonderful ..software programmability is superior; it has trim wheels (very useful for propellers) wich only saitek has and Ch not. Anyway I can suggest it only if you program to purchase the mods.

12-21-2008, 10:24 AM
Originally posted by TX-EcoDragon:
Sadly the U2 NXT is quite a bit more than $100 - I just checked the exchange rate, it's 490 AUD which right now is $348 USD, and the two hall effect sensors are $100 USD. . .so you will end up spending at least 448 USD for the U2 NXT and the Hall sensors.

I'm thinking you looked at the HS+ price, and not the U2 NXT price.

My Cougar is in a box - waiting for the day I find a good enough deal on an NXT.
Now if you search the site there are instructions for replacing the existing pots with Halls Sensor's alone. This will NOT give you improved gimbals BUT you'll not have the pesky pot problem anymore.


12-21-2008, 04:11 PM
Nice Worf, I might mod that pretty soon. After all I chose to go with Cougar since it got a better longevity when modded. This is the final answer this time hehe. And I'm planning to change the.. gimbals?.. I mean I'll buy the Uber NXT a lil bit later. Btw, what kind of grease do you use on the pots? I saw some online documentation about it but every company they propose arent available here (Montreal, Canada).

12-21-2008, 11:14 PM
dont use grease to clean pots!- i use a spray switch cleaner which is specifically designed to not leave residue. i use servisol, but i'm in uk so not sure of brands available in canada. any brand should be fine as long as it is a switch cleaner- you should be able to find something similar in a hobby electronics shop.if you know any sound engineers they should know of a suitable brand- used to clean faders on sound desks. costs~ £5 a can and will last you a very long time

to clean pots aim the spray down the shaft and keep rotating pot, to 'work it in'- no need to remove pot from stick http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/10.gif

good luck and happy flying

12-22-2008, 04:06 AM
I went from the oldendays FLCS and wCSmk2 over 13 years continual use to a Cougar, I was tempted towards the CH stuff, never towards the X52 stuff haveing tryed them, but I thought if a product can last 13+ years of exceptionally hard use then it is worth looking at there next generation of hardware.

So glad I did, I havent even programed it but it is working flawlessly for me (programed the sim around the stick). I like a tough resistance long through stick and Ive dumbed down the Cougar soo much its silly, but it works great for me because I like to use the feel in the full deflection, its a full on work out but I have a pretty physical job so its a doddle. Most would NOT prefer my settings.

Just wanted to add my opinion as going for all the mods in the world will not make you a better pilot, a good understanding of the equipment you have, its limitations and your limitations will.

heres my uber Cougar mod...
Had to screaw the sucker to the desk due to the full deflection nature of my flying http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

Enjoy your Cougar.

12-22-2008, 03:01 PM
Cool, I'll know what to use then. I'm a sound tech myself, and a DJ also. I need to lubricate some parts in my mixer and console from time to time.

And don't worry Woody, I know that a modded joystick won't make me a better pilot. I just want to mod it for the reliability mostly. Once you done it it should last for an eternity. From what I've heard from some modded cougar owners, it should last until the USB plugs disapper. And I think I'll like the fact that it got a tough resistance. Anyway I'm a martial artist (sambo) so I got a pretty strong grip. I don't have the GGS anymore aka girly grip syndrome lol

Thanks for all the help everyone, it made a world of difference. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Pvt_savard aka CAF_Corbo on HL

12-22-2008, 07:51 PM
Originally posted by Pvt_Savard:
Well I'm not sure anymore that I'll go for the CH.. I just contacted the maker of the Uber II NXS mod, and it only cost 100$. I heard that it was the only "needed" mod to make it decent. The others are as an extra. And I heard that with it, the stick should last for many years, 25 is the number I heard. Is it true? If so, the cougar is cheaper than the CH on the long-term, so I'm thinking about going that way. As long as the mods doesnt cost twice as much as the stick itself, I don't have too much trouble investing in it. I just dont want it to be a "money hole". So forget about the out of the box requirement. Should I go for the cougar then?

My first Cougar had a U2Nxt. It was pretty good, but the springs failed in fatigue after a couple of hundred hours. It's quite "interesting" when that happens; you take off, there's a bang and suddenly you've got a whole load of stick force to contend with.

I wasn't best pleased with the short life of the unit, and emailed the manufacturer. I got a new set of springs, but he had the nerve to quote my email on a web forum, and anyway I had another spring failure after about another 200 hours, so that settled the matter for me and I resolved to move on.

The U2Nxt is extremely good when it's working, but the fatigue life of the springs was a major problem for me, especially because the gimball is made from Aluminium, which is rather soft, even after heat treatment. Because of the nature of the installation, the force required to install the springs is more than double the force required for full stick deflection. This means that changing springs is a difficult job requiring tools, and after just 2 spring changes (say 400 hours of use) my U2Nxt is rather scratched as a result.

IMO it's a great idea let down by the details. These days my U2Nxt sits in its box as a spare. I wouldn't really want to use it because I'm certain that I'd suffer another spring failure after about 200 hours and be faced with a bill for buying and shipping yet more springs half way across the world. Then I'd have the nightmare of installing them, and would inevitably do more damage to the Nxt itself.

The best thing about the U2 Nxt was that it forced me to get hall sensors for the stick, so I bought some for my throttle as well. My Hall sensor modded throttle is still working flawlessly almost half a decade later.

The stock throttle which came with my 2nd Cougar is still sat in its box.


My 2nd Cougar is modded to Real Simulator FSSB R2 standard.


Several thousand flying hours later it works perfectly; indeed I've logged sufficient hours that I now need to repaint the stick (especially the trigger http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/icon_twisted.gif). As a result, the U2Nxt hasn't been out of its box in several years. Probably about 3 now I come to think of it.

The FSSB is a wonderful bit of kit. I thought it would be difficult to get used to a force transducer, but actually I picked it up very quickly. The mod was a really simple drop-in job, which was like night and day compared with the challenge of installing and calibrating the U2Nxt (basically a whole day's work). The best feature is that you can set the stick force with dip-switches inside the stick. A subtle, but especially impressive, point is that the stick forces in pitch and roll may be set independently of one another. This means that you can really optimise the stick for your setup.

I saw a very rapid improvement in my gunnery after moving to the FSSB.

No, I don't work for them or anything. In fact it's been such a long time since I bought the thing that they'll almost certainly have forgotten all about me.