View Full Version : Thrustmaster Cougar or CH Pro Fighterstick?

02-16-2006, 01:52 PM
Which would you recommend? If anyone has had both please say the strengths and weaknesses of both please.

02-16-2006, 01:52 PM
Which would you recommend? If anyone has had both please say the strengths and weaknesses of both please.

02-16-2006, 04:17 PM
I have both and use them both at the same time actually.

Incredibly stiff tension that makes aiming extremely difficult. (Your arm will get tired from using it) It's ok to fly around with, but difficult to make precise transitional moves because of the heavy tension...barrel rolls for example.
Has a bad habit of the potentiameters to start spiking, which will cause your plane to roll or pitch without warning. Sometimes cleaning them helps, but usually in the long run you need to get the hall sensor mod which replaces them entirely.
Even though the cougar is all metal its not particularly reliable...buttons break and parts fall off more than you'd have thought they would.
After just 1 year of use my throttle arm no longer works (bound throttle to the rotary instead) and the joystick is completely useless.
Keep in mind that the cougar itself has no rudder, so you will have to get some form of rudder pedals to accompany it.
Pro's: Awesome programming software to customize your buttons.
Looks cool.

Some people think the tension is too light and that the springs give too much play right around center. I think you may not even notice it after using it for a few days...I certainly don't.
No rudder axis either...in fact to get the equivalent setup as the cougar you will have to buy 3 pieces of equipment. Stick, pedals and throttle which can cost as much or more as the cougar.

Very smooth and controllable.
Almost as programmable as the cougar, though I'm not the expert on either set of software.
Much more reliable...I've had my CH stick for 18 months and have had no sort of trouble out of it at all.

My recommendation is to steer away from the cougar. I bought one 4 years ago because I loved the concept. Even today I still love my cougar, but after a long and thorough cost analysis I have decided it is a complete waste of money.

Just my .02 rupee's

02-16-2006, 04:46 PM
I agree with Zen on the lightness of the CH Fighterstick. Got mine about a year ago. Had a load of different joysticks before, Thrustmaster and Saitek X45 included and it took me about a month to get used to it as felt seriously light. The Joystick is big as well, so if you've got stubby fingers it may not be the best for you. Saying that, it feels like it will last forever. You are getting what you paid for, maybe not in tactile terms but in longevity and support and in absolute control of you fave plane. To use a comparison, the Cougar is like a Ferrari, fast, gorgeous and sexy and fragile. The CH Fighterstick is a Porsche 911, not as sexy, just as fast and engineered to last...

02-16-2006, 05:00 PM
Bought the Cougar and pedals after reading all the hype/ bullpoo....... used them about 3 times and pushed them to the side, they now serve as dust magnets and I went back to my trusty well worn Saitek X45..people say the x45 is big is the hand, well compared to that you feel like John Homes having a pee when you use the Cougar...... for those that do not know who he is, well he was a seventies porn star I believe with a rather large joystick of his own.......

I think it is a waste of money, one of the advantages it did have was the top of the stick is replacable with ones for other Aircraft as opposed to the F16 one......... well it would of been if they ever bothered to release any....... save your money and buy Beer, drink that smelt down the empties and cast your own stick, the quality of the metal u use will be better than Thrustmasters and at least you will have a damn good hangover to show for all that money you blew.........

As Zen says


can be used to attract dust and as a decent decorative paperweight......... you will impress people saying you have one.....


Price... The fact It was ever built in the first place....poor metal..... poor switches...poor functionality.... Software they swear blind to for programming is for want of a better word cr+p, you would be better trying to write it in C than figuring it out..... If I had the choice again I would go for the beer....... as it is it stands as a testiment to a period of total stupidity on my part being swayed by the supposed "ultimate" Joystick. next time I will machine my own base up and fit a Genuine Fighter stick top, then probably drop the innards off my X45 into it.....

02-16-2006, 05:31 PM
I also bought a Cougar a few years ago (only use throttle now) and it's quite possibly the worst $300 I've ever spent. After 6 months or so you get the undeniable sense that you've been swindled.
If you do want to get the Cougar to work properly over the long term you have to spend several more hundreds of $'s to get there.
Futhermore If you never plan to play some of the more sophisticated jet sims the progrability of the Cougar is way overkill for Il2 anyway.

02-16-2006, 07:12 PM
After 30+ months my CH Fighterstick is still as good as ever. Even better perhaps or I am just used to it now.
One of the key features for me is one of the cons in the list http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif The lightness of the springs is deceptive - not to be mistaken for the slop encountered in cheaper sticks - and is [for me] an asset. It means the stick can be held at an offset without tiring the hand and forearm; it can also be rotated around the outer circumference of its range without tiring. It's lazy and still really precise - no danger of repetitive strain injury with this beauty.

That last is really important to me as I only have one arm. I get on fine having converted the stick to LH and installed a small throttle pot under where my left thumb goes. Pedals and TrackIR top it off. I get by pretty well, as my m8's in HL will attest [if i pay them enough http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif ] but I'd be struggling without CH.

My point is the ruggedness. I've been able to saw and drill this unit, reroute cables, move switches - I even reversed the handle in the base, in order to see the mode led's using my left hand (think about it) - but nothing I've done has weakened it. The only part that's been replaced in two-and-a-half years is the throttle pot - which isn't a CH part.

The support is good, and spare pots, switches and springs cost peanuts. As and when they may be required.

One of the criticisms that come up is about the size. I have a small hand and I thought I'd made an expensive mistake when I found it quite large at first. I soon learnt that it is easily managed - as soon as your mind and hand have mapped it.

I wouldn't switch for a Cougar or a brand new MS FFB - this is in another class!

02-16-2006, 07:57 PM
The cougar is good if:

1. You like heavy sticks
2. You're prepared to spend the cost of the stick over again to make it as smooth and reliable as it should have been out of the box. See Frugal's Cougar World forums (http://forums.frugalsworld.com/vbb/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=49) for a full list of gripes and available 3rd party mods.

The CH gear strikes some people as flimsy because of the light springs and plastic contructions, but apart from one very small niggly wiring weakness in the pedals I've never persistent complaints about any particular recurring problems with CH gear that couldn't be attributed to user error. They are undeniably the most reliable stick barring user mods and very well regarded for smoothness and precision of control.

The programming features of these sticks are not identical but are very similar. Just about anything you can program on one you can also proram on the other, you just might need to use a slightly different approach to achieve the same end result.

02-16-2006, 09:33 PM
It's funny I asked somewhat the same question a few days ago. I was surprised to see the Cougar at Comp USA.

After being directed to Frugals... and just generally looking around the web, I probably won't be buying one.

Having the testimony of others who fly IL2 cements the deal for me.

I'd still like to try one..... but I'll probably take a good hard look at CH. (I've got their rudder peddles)

Birthday comes up in May.... that's when I'll buy.

02-16-2006, 10:57 PM
Here's one very happy Cougar owner.

The stick throw can be significantly loosened by getting rid of the rubber boot at the base of the stick. It's a five minute operation involving 5 screws and that's about it. Now, it has a very honest, deliberate feel. Not like those whippy toy sticks that are de rigeur around gaming circles.

The early Cougars had all kinds of teething problems with switches that stuck, or would break, and there was a update bug that would fry the pot in the throttle. Thankfully, though, there is a community site where you can find all the answers to all the problems, discover ways you can get your Cougar modified (including the Hall Sensors). I freely admit that all this expensive modification shouldn't be necessary for a stick that comes out of the box costing close to $300.

That being said.... it is a great stick for setup and use. I have had NO spiking problems and one or two throttle throw problems that were direct problems of the update pot-frying problem. Got a new pot from Guillermot, and even with my non-handyman status, fixed it in 10 minutes.

I've had more hassles than I should have had for the money, BUT, it is still the best stick I've owned. I used to really like Eagle-Talon sticks, but the company went out of business... and those sticks tended to go through pots in just a couple of months.

If you're OK doing a little maintenance...I'd say go for the Cougar. It's worth the money and worth the hassle.

CH products, however ARE very good. Problem with their sticks is, the buttons are somewhat hard to reach while you fly.

02-16-2006, 11:39 PM
I have a Cougar and I like it just fine €œBUT€ I have a workshop and the skills to mod it myself so the heavy springs and free play most people complain about are not a problem for me, neither do the pots spike once free play is removed.

If I were to buy a new stick it would not be a Cougar as I have better things to do with my time.

02-17-2006, 01:40 AM
I have both.

In short - buy Fighterstick, steer away from Cougar. And I mean it.

02-17-2006, 11:33 AM
Thanks all

I think I'll combine a Fighterstick with my X45 throttle.

02-17-2006, 12:02 PM
Excellent decision you will not regret ithttp://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

02-17-2006, 12:46 PM
Good choice. I went through 4 Cougar's in an 18 month period. None of the mods would have fixed the problems I had which resulted in all but the last being returned to the shop (sold the fourth one before it had chance to fail)

Contrast that to the Fighterstick I bought 2+ years ago which still works and feels as well today as it did the day I took it out of the box. With Thrustmaster apparently having problems with their chip supplier not wantign to develop 64 bit drivers this may not bode well for future OS support as MS will drop the XP line quite quickly. Hopefully TM can sort something out for the sake of it's users.

CH already have 64 bit drivers in open BETA and Bob Church is working hard to keep updating the Control Manager software with new features. I now own a Fighterstick, Pro Throttle, Flight Sim Yoke, Throttle Quadrant and Pro Pedals which I use in a single profile for IL-2. I can switch the X and Y axis between the Fighterstick and Yoke mid flight without having to reload any profiles or make changes to any of the IL-2 options menu's. I keep the stick for fighters, yoke for bombers and the P38, the throttle quad makes a good engine management system while the Pro Throttle acts as my bombardier station controls. Handy if like me you like to fly a mix of fighters and bombers online. I've found the programming easier to use with the CH gear, partly for the GUI but also the scripting seems more straightforward to me. I'm by no means an expert at programming but with a little reading I've got handy scripts in my profile so that at the press of a button I can open the map and have the mouse cursor move to that map window and also simultaneoulsy hold the mouse button down to allow me to move the map around, then pressing the smae button releases the mouse button, closes the map window and hides the mouse pointer. Simple stuff but handy when you're playing.

If you do decide to go ahead with buying the Fighterstick then please do drop by the CH Hangar (http://www.ch-hangar.com/) which is a site I run for CH users. You'll find ready made profiles and plenty of help if you need itto set up your controls.

02-17-2006, 01:49 PM
The Cougar isn't that good out of the box*, but if you put the effort and money into it (roughly 8 hours of work to mod it, and about the same money you payed for the stock stick to buy the hall sensors and a new gimball) then you end up with a stick and throttle which can only be described with superlatives.

Once I got it working properly my gunstat doubled almost overnight when compared with my performance using the X-45.

It's especially useful to have a dual detent trigger for machine guns and cannon.

*In fact I'd say that it's inferior to the X-45.