After a year of humiliating PC players with its ridiculous recommended specs, Microsoft Flight Simulator is now available on the Xbox Series X/S. The game is optimized to run on the consoles’ specs, and it’s been climbing the charts recently, making it one of the most popular games on Xbox Game Pass. But to authentically unleash your inner Maverick, you need to play this with a joystick.
There are only two problems with that: flight sticks are either too expensive at the moment or hard to find. The popularity of Microsoft Flight Simulator has caused a shortage of flight sticks, with the popular Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas One for PC and Xbox consoles currently out of stock on Amazon.
Look, if you want to wait until it’s in stock, go ahead, but a clever YouTuber has taken matters into his own hands. Akaki Kuumeri designed a fully 3D-printed joystick and throttle that attach to an Xbox controller. Granted, it looks like a toy, but based on the video, it appears to be solid and can be used to pull off precise airborne maneuvers. Just take a look at this thing!
Take flight — Kuumeri’s ingenious 3D-printed flight stick is unorthodox in the way it’s designed, going for a stick that doesn’t rely on ball joints. Instead, he opted to go for a flexure design using compliant mechanisms that work as a structure, hinge, and spring. He did this to have an open area where he could run the button mechanisms through, which press the face buttons on the controller when pressing the corresponding button on the joystick. That means you can adjust throttle and trim with a push of a button without needing to touch the actual controller. The flight stick also has a trigger, but it’s a feature best used to shoot projectiles when playing flight combat sims like Ace Combat 7.
The lack of a ball joint limits the movement of the joystick so you can’t twist it or push it down, but it still offers the right amount of movement to do rolls and loops. Maybe don’t do that on commercial flights, but you’re the captain.
Full throttle — Apart from the joystick, Kuumeri also designed a throttle attachment that fits on the left side of the controller. Using both attachments makes the entire setup look huge, with the Xbox controller largely hidden underneath layers of plastic.
The throttle is not necessary to use with the game, but it provides more control when flying, and it gets you one step closer to living out your pilot fantasy. You can push the throttle forward or backward to adjust speed, and you can use your index and middle fingers to move the rudder pedals. A smaller lever to the right of the throttle can be used to brake or configured for another function. It even has a tightening screw for adjusting the throttle tension.
DIY flight stick — Both components are made with PLA filament on the 3D printer, which Kuumeri says is the common filament for 3D printers, although he says ABS is a promising material as well. It’s well-built from the looks of it, but you don’t have to wonder too much, as you can try it yourself. The design files are available to purchase on Etsy for $30, which is not bad considering that you get both the flight stick and throttle designs. Kuumeri was nice enough to include a test file based on a more limited design, sans buttons and trigger, to see if your printer can handle it.
When you add up the cost of an Xbox Series X/S controller ($60), the files ($30), and the printer and filament, it’s more expensive than a budget joystick. But the bright side is that the joystick and throttle use no electronics and simply attach to your controller when you want to use them. It beats using a wired flight stick if you ask me. Plus, imagine the look on people’s faces when they see you using this extra-large hamburger of a controller.