Power Adapters For USB Hubs & Saitek Yokes

Saitek gear has had a very limited supply chain for more than a year now, and it’s making the aftermarket for some stuff a bit ridiculous. One of those things is the power adapter for the Saitek Pro and Cessna yokes, which are either on multiple-month backorder or being sold by some people on eBay for (the outrageous price) of $70 or more US.

No need to pay that, and I certainly wasn’t going to. Instead, I went to my local PC shop and bought a universal AC adapter that allowed me to match the ratings of the Saitek yoke. The Saitek Pro yoke needs voltages between 100 and 240 volts AC at 50-60 hertz, and the output is fixed at 5 volts and 2000 mA (2 amps). This is good as you need about 500 mA per USB device plugged into the yoke (or any USB hub you hope to use, for that matter). Given that, the Nippon America 2000mA Universal Adapter Multiple AC 3v 5v 6v 7.5 9v 12v should do the trick, and it’s available in the US at least at Amazon for $12.67.


This is similar, but not the same, as the one I have, and it’s nice because it allows you to set multiple voltages, has multiple tips, and the tips are switchable so you can have the polarity positive outside or inside. There are other units available – just be certain the voltages, mAmps, and polarity are right.

GoPro Audio Hook-In Test (And PilotEdge Pattern Work At KSNA)

One of the reasons I’ve put music on the videos is that the GoPro doesn’t pick up the sim’s audio very well, and it can’t get any of the radio sound. But yesterday I was able to pick up an interconnect audio cable that hooks the GoPro into the sim’s intercom system, and this is a first test of how it works.

This is three loops of the KSNA pattern flown on PilotEdge. It was shot fast and dirty with minor editing, and not the normal GoPro mount as I need a skeleton case to do that (one is on the way). The audio levels for the engine need to come down a bit so you can better hear the ATC, and the camera isn’t in it’s usual position so the horizons don’t line up quite right. And the title says “TEXT” not “TEST” (it was late!). But it’s a good first start, and it also gives a feel for what using PilotEdge can be like.

(Also, as an aside, the new realism shader pack does a remarkable job. The cloud shadows are really pretty remarkable, and with the Orbx scenery this all looks surprisingly real.)

Power To The Hub!

The USB hub, that is.

If you have Saitek panels that don’t seem to be working correctly, don’t download new drivers. Make sure there’s enough power to the hub. If you have Saitek FIPs that aren’t loading, don’t mess with SPAD or SPAD.neXt. Make sure they’re not all plugged into the same hub. If you have a Saitek yoke that’s not registering, make sure it’s in a USB 2.0 hub. If you have a Saitek radio panel that’s dropped out for some reason, run turn the power management off on the USB hub.

Photo Apr 19, 7 55 01 AM
Does this look complicated to you? Me, too.

Basically, if your Saitek stuff isn’t working right, the first stop should be checking the hub. I was reminded of this last weekend when, for no apparent reason, my Saitek gear stopped working reliably. This included, interestingly, repeated crashing of the Direct Output .dll file while running the sim. I turned off power management. I loaded SPAD. I unloaded SPAD. I reinstalled all the Saitek drivers. I plugged everything into different ports on the hubs. I pulled my hair out.

Then I remembered that I had unplugged all the USB devices and hubs from the PC when I had updated the BIOS the day before. One of those powered hubs I had plugged back into the one USB 3.1 port on the PC. They didn’t like each other. I plugged that powered hub back into a 3.0 port, and everything worked fine.

What could go wrong?
What could go wrong?

I currently have 17 USB devices running on the sim PC. These are finicky devices, and they require a lot of power. They also are a bit dated, and not all were designed with USB 3.0 (and definitely 3.1) in mind. So if you are using Saitek gear, here are my guidelines for them running as seamlessly as possible from a USB perspective. Each lesson was learned the hard way:

  1. Plug your Saitek yoke and pedals into USB 2.0 ports if possible. They are most reliable this way.
  2. Use ONLY powered hubs if you plan to use external expansion hubs.
  3. MAKE CERTAIN there is enough power on the powered hub to provide at least 500 milliamps to each device plugged into it. If you plan to have four devices plugged into the hub, get a hub that’s a least a 2 amp hub. The more power the better. If it’s a 1.5 amp hub, plug no more than three devices into it. THIS RULE IS VERY IMPORTANT.
  4. It’s OK to use the Cessna  or Pro Yokes as hubs, but make sure that they, too, are powered. Plug no more than two (or maybe three) devices into each, as the yoke itself also needs power.
  5. Avoid 3.1 USB ports of possible. They don’t play nice with Saitek gear in my experience. Plug your Bluetooth USB keyboard dongle (or some such thing) into that instead.
  6. Spread your Saitek Flight Information Panels across different hubs. They definitely draw their full allotment of 500 milliamps. Putting more than one on any hub is pushing your luck.
  7. Go into the PC’s device settings, right click on each USB hub listed, select properties, and if there is a “Power Management” tab, click it and turn power management OFF.
  8. Just to be sure, download and occasionally run this free power management utility as well.

When I troubleshoot Saitek gear, I now go in this order:

  1. Make sure the power packs for the hubs are actually plugged in tight on both ends. Those plugs can get loose.
  2. Make sure you have no more than three or four devices on each hub.
  3. Make sure you haven’t switched a hub to a 3.1 port somewhere along the way.
  4. Run the power management utility and check the power management settings.
  5. Then start thinking drivers and other stuff …

But first, check those USB hubs. That’s where the problem probably sits.

A New Saitek FIP

For the past several months I’ve had some weird behavior on one of my Saitek Flight Information Panels: it would display an instrument gauge, but the gauge would be off-center, either shifted to the left (or right), or even up or down, from center. This would create weird scenarios where half the gauge would be on the right side of the display, with the other half “wrapped” over on the left side. The colors would also be off, with greens being red, reds being blue, etc. And if I pressed the button to switch gauges, the off-centering and coloring would change. This happened regardless of which USB hub into which I plugged it the FIP.

For a while I thought it was about the hub, or how much power the FIP was getting from the hub, because the symptoms could go away for a time after I would change these things around. But lately it’s been persistent, and I finally said “screw it” and found a new FIP on Ebay for a great price. I plugged it in today, and everything was great. So it wasn’t the hub, it was the panel. A lesson learned in case you’re having a similar symptom.

How I Nearly Blew Up The Universe … But Didn’t

This afternoon I decided it would be a good time to update the BIOS on the sim PC’s Asus Hero VIII motherboard. It’s running v. 603, which is the one it came with an which is about a year and several generations old now. The download and flashing process were easy enough, and the PC booted to the new BIOS setup screen without any problems. Well, one problem: the PC now no longer saw the internal solid state drive, which happens to be where Windows 10 is installed. As a result, the PC could not boot to Windows (and certainly not to Prepar3d, which is also on that drive).

Much digging and probing ensued, followed shortly by panic, as I was worried that I may have turned the entire basement sim into an interesting piece of installation art. I reverted a version on the BIOS. I reverted all the way back to 603 on the BIOS. I tweaked and prodded and nudged about every setting in the BIOS setup I could find. No dice – the PC still only showed the optical and hard drives. I googled 37 variations of “I updated my BIOS and now the PC can’t see my SSD.” I even went so for as to take off the PC side panels and pull out the NVIDIA 980ti graphics card and the Intel 750 SSD so I could get a better look at what was going on (and thinking that maybe I could plug the SSD into another SATA port). While doing this I noticed that the SSD SATA connection was non-traditional. It connected to sort of an add-on mini PC board on top of the motherboard. It said “hyper” something on it.

“Hmmmm …,” I thought. “That’s curious.”

It turns out that the curiosity was an Asus Hyper Kit, which converts the M.2 SATA connection to the U.2 cable attached to the Intel 750 SDD.

Oh, so YOU’RE the problem …

I knew from checking the Asus manual that the motherboard had an M.2 connection on it about where this thing was attached. I’d also read in a thread during my research that M.2 connections can disable other SATA ports on the board depending on their settings. Thinking this might be the problem, I did some Googling and found this thread, which ultimately led me to understanding that the advanced storage settings on the BIOS have an “Enable Hyper Kit Mode” setting. That was set to “DISABLED” in the default, post-flash BIOS settings. Flip that little switch, and things fire right up.

So there you go. Another thing learned.