The Saitek® Heavy Equipment Precision Control System for PC is more than just a mouth full, it’s gigantic.
Saitek is well known for making quality peripherals for both the PC and Console market, so it came as no surprise that when a new awesome peripheral like the heavy equipment controller is released you know it’s going to be incredible. When I saw the announcement that Satiek would be releasing a brand new piece of equipment like no other my interest was piqued. The three piece set up is specially set up for Farm Simulator 2015 and it’s really a doozie.
Though it is set up for Farm Simulator 2015, it can also play X-Plane 10, Flight Simulator, Microsoft Flight Simulator X Deluxe, Elite: Dangerous, Kerbal Space Program, Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Train Simulator 2014! The system itself is in three pieces which require two USB ports to plug in, a wheel, a side panel of controls with a stick, and a set of two pedals. When asked what made Saitek produce a control system on the sheer magnitude of this controller Alex Verrey Global PR & Communications Director responded,
“Our Saitek brand stands for quality and authenticity in the world of simulation. We cater to passionate gamers who demand the highest levels of immersion during gaming. Already successful in flight simulation, we began speaking to our friends at GIANTS software and it became immediately obvious that there was great scope to deliver hardware that would genuinely elevate the gaming experience for enthusiasts of the genre. We think we’ve delivered a range of hardware which does justice to this great title”.
That answers shows in the construction quality of the product. I was pretty floored with the sheer size of the box when it arrived, the controller comes packed in a massive box, and it’s heavy. My previous experience with racing wheels, and pedals was usually quite unfulfilling. They were too light, and easy to move around, Saitek has no issues with this wheel being that way.
The first component of this system is the wheel. The wheel is a specialized wheel with 900* of rotation and a quick turn knob, it also resets back to its original position when released. Turning it feels weighty and like you’re really moving a steering wheel. It even has a centrally located button for a horn that you can use for blowing you farm machinery’s horn. The wheel also includes two thumb sticks and a 4 hat switches. These are used in farm simulator for moving around your avatar and other functions when you are in the heavy machinery. They can also be used to navigate the menus and anything else requiring a directional input. The back of the wheel has two sort of psudo-triggers on it, which can be depressed and serve as what I would think of the triggers doing on most console controllers. All in all this gives us 10 buttons, and two control sticks on the wheel as well as the centrally located “horn” button. Each of these buttons are re-mapable from within the games settings. This is truly an unprecedented number of buttons for on a wheel, and the two joysticks mean that you can also control things like pitch and roll from the wheel when you are in a flying game. The whole controller is quite heavy, and it comes with a desk clamp so that you can secure the whole wheel to your desk and go right to work. The steering wheel Isn’t going anywhere no matter how many times you twist the wheel to its full rotation.
The next part of the system is the two pedals that go on the floor. They connect to the the wheel with a small cord (so they don’t use their own USB). The pedals have 20* of motion and I found that the pedal system is plenty heavy enough to hold up to even my large feet. It’s extremely nice to be able to press the gas and brake pedals and feel like they are actual pedals, honestly id like to have pedals of this high of a quality in my car! The pedals are springy and don’t feel too light, I can actually rest my foot on them. I didn’t have the chance to test the pedals on anything that might have needed fine throttle control, farm machinery is basically start and stop, but I imagine that the 20* would be enough actuation to make fine acceleration control work just fine.
The final and perhaps most interesting piece of this control set is the side panel. The site panel is where this controller goes from solid peripheral, to over the top awesome. The side panel contains 26 buttons including two on top of a stick which is fully articulate. One even has a dual mode LED in it! There is no limit to what can be done with the buttons, honestly each and every one can be mapped to whatever features you want to use. These buttons map to almost every single function of the tractor and the person in the machine. Even the stick can be used to manipulate arms and loaders. The stick is so loaded that it even comes with a 360* turn. For example, you can control your crane’s base with the stick, press a button to switch to moving the crane arm with the stick, and then press another button to open and close the crane claw. In addition to that quite nice control stick there is also a cruise control wheel. This feature was most useful when there was enough field in front of me to allow me to step away for a few moments while the tractor continued its nice slow harvest. This side panel also requires a USB to plug in, meaning you will need two total USB ports open for this whole control set up to work.
Overall the whole Heavy Equipment Precision Control System is three pieces, takes two USB ports, and weighs in just over 5lbs. It is if I may be so bold as to make a pun, heavy, and professional. The system itself may seem like over kill but I think it’s worth its 300$ price tag. The wheel feels great and doesn’t suffer from the flimsy feel that many racing wheels seem to have and instead has a robust solid feel. The controls all be re-mapable is a major reason alone to purchase the system. I can foresee using this side controller for almost any game out there, including flying games and space sims (a personal favorite). So the only remaining question is if the whole set of controller and side controller and pedals is worth the 300$ price tag. So far my answer is yes. I haven’t had the time to endurance test the springs that hold the pedals up, or see if the buttons wear out after thousands of presses, but as far as usability goes this controller is top notch, and if I was a huge fan of farm simulators, I know I would be on board for this controller to maximize my farming potential.