SFS USB Mod
A Suncom SFS throttle and stick was shown
in one of the HomeFlite
configurations. In the last Newsletter I stated that is was an
old 90's style unit that uses a game port and a PS/2 keyboard
port. The joystick sends button presses as keystrokes and is
programmable. What made the unit unique was that it emulated the
F-15 fighter jet including the split throttle.
As stated before in the earlier article
split throttle units can cost from $200 to $500 today. In all
fairness they do offer more features than the converted unit
would. But for a basic split throttle HOTAS with a USB
connection and plenty of buttons and switches the conversion is
an attractive alternative. The units can occasionally be found
on Ebay or for sale in simulation associated forums for as cheap
as $30 to $60.
This unit will still work with a PC that
is running Windows XP and has a game port built in or a
soundcard with a game port, Sound Blasters were a prominent
example of these cards.
Many computers today are running Windows 8
or Windows 10 operating systems. These operating systems don't
support a game port, instead they are USB device oriented. The
solution is to convert the unit to be USB compatible.
emulation boards that can be used to convert the unit to USB,
this would require one board for the throttle and one for the
joystick. These will also require considerable wiring and
soldering skills as part of the conversion process. You also
will need an understanding of schematics.
Having converted a joystick to USB before
I wanted to find an easier way for this HOTAS. While looking for
USB conversion tips on the web I ran across something called
FUSBA from a company called
This seemed to be a ready made solution for the throttle and
Talon F-15 stick I had purchased for $30.00. The price of the
unit was about $109.00 USD. I purchased the item and it arrived
about 10 days later.
The following is a quick overview of how
the conversion went.
The kit arrived in a small box that
contained the replacement module, two new sliding
potentiometers, usb cable, extra wires for pot replacement and a
PS/2 conversion connector for the Talon F-15 joystick to connect
to the throttle. It was very high quality workmanship.
There are no written instructions packed
with the kit, you'll
need an internet connection to look at the series of
instructional videos on the site or YouTube. This can be a drawback if you
don't have a connection although that would be rare.
The video that shows potentiometer
replacement is located here
I followed the steps which were straight
forward and fairly easy.
The New Pots
Remove four STAR screws
Location of old pots
One potentiometer is located on each side,
one for each throttle lever. The only concern was being careful
not to break any of the plastic tabs holding them in place. I
did damage one pot trying to pry it out.
The other side
Replacement pots in
These new potentiometer wires are attached to the usb
assembly when using a kit. Apparently when just replacing the
pots without the conversion kit the old wires are cut and the
new pots are spliced in.
The next step is to replace the game port
module with the usb conversion module. Again the instruction
guide is on the site and YouTube. The video is located here.
The video was straight forward in showing
all the steps but I had to pause and rewind several times to
make sure I was getting the right connectors plugged in
correctly. Removing the module also required being careful as it
was a bit more difficult to remove than shown in the video.
The bottom plate removed
The module in the lower left is removed.
It will be replaced with the conversion module.
Module removed and connectors disconnected
The module on the right side is removed to
cut the old pot wires to remove the old pots. There is also a
white 5 wire connector that is unplugged and the ribbon
connector shown on the left is removed. These connectors will be
used on the new module.
The PCB is no longer used but is
reinstalled to hold the buttons and leds in place. I kept the
components in case I ever decided to revert back to the original
Before module install
The module has connections for a usb cable
and connections for the joystick which includes the game port
and a PS/2 adapter cable that plugs into a connector on the
right side if you have the Talon F-15 stick.
The module has connections for the new
pots that came with the kit.
There is also a download link on the site
for the calibration software tool which I downloaded and
installed on my PC. The link for the software installation and
After completing the setup the HOTAS
worked like a champ. All buttons on the stick and throttle were
functional through the usb plug. The unit will however did lose
it's built in programmability. Most modern sims allow buttons to
be assigned to what ever function needed including modifier keys
and switches to allow different modes so this is not a great
Some extra cabling from joystick to
Although this is a great solution there
are some issues that must be taken into account.
My F-15 Talon joystick has to be initially
programmed through a PS/2 port and PS/2 keyboard. One it is
programmed it not required again, this is to make sure that each
button sends a key press. Sticks that require only a game port
should work just fine.
I have a Z270 motherboard that luckily
incorporated a legacy PS/2 port which is great. I also had an
older PC with a PS/2 port as well. Instructions for programming
the Talon stick are available here. I couldn't locate it on the
site but found the link on the web.
One other issue was that I could not get
the software to install on Windows 10 64 Bit. It required .NET
Framework 3.5 which was incompatible for Windows 10 64 Bit as
far as I could tell.
It did install on a Windows 7 machine so I
copied the installed folders to the Windows 10 PC. The
software force installed required components to Windows 10 when
I ran the executable to run the calibration software. It worked fine
after that although there is no calibration screen in Windows 10,
the tab is grayed out. The calibration software however works
just fine so it's not an issue for me.
There is extra cabling between the
throttle and the joystick as there is game port and PS/2
connector. In summary, the product works as advertised
and I was able to update a HOTAS that I had bought 5 years ago
making it a useful unit for my current pc and sims. My total
cost was about $110.00, Great!
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