VPC WarBRD DELTA Flightstick. That's a very expensive computer joystick designed for space flight simulation enthusiasts.
- Purpose & Scope
- Background story
- Changing cams
- Desktop use
- WarBRD base axis
- DELTA grip twist axis
- DELTA grip analog mini-joystick
- DELTA grip notched scroll wheel
- DELTA grip 4-way hats
- DELTA grip 8-way hat
- DELTA two stage trigger
- DELTA trigger button
- Firmware update
- Import DELTA profile
- Dual stick considerations
- Axis calibration
- Buttons mapping
- Configuration options
- Test drive
That document can also be useful as a quick starting guide.
While somewhat satisfied with those they do have some obvious shortcomings. The main one being the very limited number of thumb buttons on the head of the stick. In fact T16K only has 3 buttons and a hat that gives you at most 7 buttons. Until recently there was no serious competitor for those T16K. After doing some research I decided the Saitek range, now Logitech, was not an option considering the pricing and poor reviews, moreover they still don't offer dual sticks solutions anyway.
Fast forward to November 2017 and a young, but already renowned company named VIRPIL announces the WarBRD base and Constellation Delta grip. They opened pre-order in April 2018 and delivered the first batch of product in August 2018.
- 8-way hat and push (5 bindings).
- 2 x 4-way hat and push (10 bindings).
- Analog mini-joystick and push (1 binding, 2 axis).
- Two stage trigger (2 bindings).
- Secondary trigger (1 binding).
- Notched scroll wheel and push (3 bindings).
- Twist axis.
- 2 x base axis.
Here is the box for one of them:
Packaging was perfect really:
Once open you get the WarBRD base on one side and the Constellation Delta stick on the other.
You will find the desk mounting plate laying at the bottom of the box.
The box also contains three small bags. Two of them containing extra set of cams, more on that later.
The third one contains two stronger black springs to adjust the resistance of your joystick, four screws for assembling the base plate and four rubber pads to stabilize it on your desk.
Here are some details of the WarBRD innards:
- Screw the base plate to the WarBRD.
- Paste the rubber pads to the base plate back side.
- Plug the stick to the WarBRD and tighten it in the desired position.
Et voilà, here is what it looks like next to our T16K:
It's worth mentioning that some of the parts are rather greasy, the spare black springs were quite dirty with some brown grease.
One of my stick seems to be leaking quite a bit of lubricant onto the plug. Possibly coming from the twist axis mechanism.
I wiped it clean with some tissue as I was concerned it would reach the plug contacts.
I'm assuming that's to be expected from a well oiled piece of hardware.
I also had a very different experience between my two joysticks when tightening the grip to the base.
The first one I tightened was tricky to control how it would position itself on the base. I had to orient the grip with a proper angle so that it would tighten in the desired position when locking it.
The second to my surprise would show no such problem and I could very accurately lock it on the base in the desired position.
Cams are mechanical parts in your WarBRD that defines the feel of your base axis. If you want to change them I recommend you take a good look at this The Noobifier video first.
Here are the the tools I used, you will need two size 8 spanners:
The Noobifier mentions you should take care not to damage the electronics. I would like you guys to make sure you don't damage your fingers. I find the pliers are needed to remove and put back the springs. I would advise against trying it with a screw driver. The cams are drenched in lubricant so things will get dirty.
I had an horrible time changing my cams to the softer, one notch, cosmo cams. I'm not sure why they are not installed by default since this is a space sim product anyway.
It took me more than 3 hours to operate on both my joysticks. Some of the cams don't come out so easily once you removed their nuts. The springs can be tricky to remove and even harder to put back in place. Once I was finished with the first base I thought the second one would go faster. It didn't as I struggled to remove some cams. One of the cosmo cam also had an issue with its mounting hole not having been cleared properly. At some point I thought I would have to give up and get it replaced. I eventually managed to screw it in place. You are supposed to be able to just slide them on the bolt.
However once it's done it makes a huge difference from the harder default two notches cams, well worth it.
Desk Mount. The key to desktop use is low profile, ideally the grip should be as close to the desk surface as possible for maximum comfort. If it's too high you will need to raise your shoulders to grab it and it will quickly become uncomfortable or even painful. I'm glad they aimed for that but I don't think they have quite achieved it. In fact the grip is about 5cm higher than the one from our venerable T16K and the top 8-way hat is like 10cm above it.
Personally I can't recommend using the DELTA sitting at a desk, I know I would break my back doing that. However if you have an adjustable sit and stand desk and a descent monitor mount you should be able to find a comfortable position.
Yes you can use the DELTA without desk mount but not on your regular sitting desk. Then again that's just my opinion and I'm known for often standing at my desk anyway.
The provided rubber pads are doing a good job stabilising the joystick on your desk, they are quite large and thus provide more resistance. However much like the rubber pads from the T16K they loose their resistance overtime as they get dusty. To fix this, and for best stability, clean them with a wet cloth before your gaming session, you will be amazed how well that works.
Unlike on XBox and Play Stations gamepads the travel area is square rather than round, it feels also shorter. I find the push even less convenient to use than on XBox controllers, it's too resistant. That makes it the least convenient button to use on this hardware. Even with training it's hard to hit without generating noise on the analog mini-joystick and the WarBRD base axis. Still it's nice to have though.
I assume there is no update mechanism so you should probably check online from time to time to see if there is a new version out.
Using VPC Configurator Light at first can be a little bit overwhelming but I find it very powerful and surprisingly stable, especially when compared to Thrustmaster abandonware.
You have a choice between 7 different colours, 3 levels of brightness and you can turn it off too.
I hoping the limitation to seven colours could be removed with a software update. I would be nice to be able to input any RGB colour.
Also if it would be great if there was an API that would let game developers and moders make use of that LED.
Those are amazing toys and a perfect fit for a game like Elite Dangerous where the game is basically all about enjoying the flying experience.
That was however not without a few bumps. One of my grips was not tightly enough secured to the base and came loose during a tricky landing. Thankfully I still made it to port safely for repairs.
Sadly after a couple of hours of flying one of my grips twist axis developed a nasty squeak. That and the trigger awful click noise was just too much for me. I had to take a look inside that DELTA grip.
It's fairly easy to disassemble that Constellation DELTA grip.
First remove all height screws making sure you remember which one goes where.
Then pull out the thumb keys panel from the top.
Using a flat screw driver separate the two halves. Be careful cause they are glued together for some reason. You will need to carefully apply some force and use a flat screen driver to open it.
I used some lubricant to fix that squeaky twist axis mechanism. Mounting it on the base is handy to test it.
The trigger spring is responsible for that loud noise which echos in that empty chamber.
To fix it, I used some rubber pad held in place using bits from discarded packaging.
I also stuffed the chamber with cosmetic cotton pads, one in each half.
The result is surprisingly pleasant. Our trigger first stage now makes a gratifying muffled noise much like any other buttons on that grip.
Now you can put everything back together. I find you don't need to glue anything the screws are doing a good job keeping all parts in place.
I did take a quick look to see if I could somehow fix the issue with the secondary trigger button being too deep. I think it has to do with the button assembly itself so you can't adjust its positioning really.
Instead I just pasted on the button a piece of the rubber pad left over from the original assembly. It does the job just fine effectively raising that button by two millimetres.
- Awesome build quality.
- Serviceability, easy to take apart for repairs and customisation.
- Twist axis.
- High button count.
- High axis count.
- Notched scroll wheel.
- Analog mini-joystick.
- Top quality rubber pads for desktop use.
- Great for dual stick setup.
- Usability, ergonomics.
- Most flexible software configuration.
- Annoyingly loud trigger first stage.
- Squeaky twist axis after two hours use.
- LED stays on when PC goes to sleep.
- Recessed trigger button inconsistent across models.
- Grip locking mechanism inconsistent across models.
- Grip is glued together, it makes it tricky to open the first time you need to service it.
- Pre-installed cams too resistant.
- Changing cams is a pain.
- Sit and stand height adjustable desk needed for dekstop use.
Moreover I got units from one of the very first production batches, mines are numbered 63 and 81. Hopefully VIRPIL will take that feedback and improve upon it. To me they really need to do something about that trigger noise. When you buy a €300 joystick you want every push of a button to feel great out of the box. The depth of the recessed trigger button should also be looked at and fixed.
All in all I'm very thankful this world was blessed with a company like VIRPIL capable of delivering such dream hardware to gamers worldwide.