- 1 Head Trackers
- 2 Joysticks and throttles
- 3 Rudder Pedals
Headtrackers are optional however after using them many players would rather fly with a crap stick than give theirs up. There are multiple options when it comes to head tracking ranging from commercial solution to open source software that uses only a webcam and a view of your face.
TrackHat is a middle ground option between DIY solutions such as FreeTrack, and the premium head tracking such as TrackIR. TrackHat utilises a bespoke version of OpenTrack and 3D printed clips along with pre-configured PS3 Eye cameras to provide exceptional tracking for the price (around £35 GBP). While not as good as TrackIR (TrackHat suffers a bit when you have a bright background) it certainly has more bang for buck and is a perfect starter head tracking solution.
Delanclip is a similar solution to TrackHat, but instead uses a metal connector plate to hold the Infrared LEDs. Although compatible with a variety of different head tracking software, the preferred software to use is FaceTrackNoIR with the PointTrack plugin, for which there is an excellent manual online. With the PointTrack plugin it seems to provide a performance just shy of TrackIR itself, with no discernable performance drawback in bright light environments. For the price (costs around 40 EUR) vs. performance it offers it beats out TrackIR, and as such offers a good head tracking beginner set. There will also be a wireless clip that removes the need to be anchored to the PC via an USB wire providing power, supposedly delivering up to 8 hours of head tracking on a battery charge.
TrackIR by Natural Point
FreeTrack is an open source head tracking application using off the shelf hardware. It performs equally as well as TrackIR when properly configured for a fraction of the cost. However, assembly of the LED model requires soldering/electronics skills and the initial configuration can be time consuming. Additionally, a webcam must be permanently modified by removing its internal IR filter, and should be factored into cost. Overall FreeTrack is a cheaper "Do It Yourself" alternative to TrackIR.
See our guide for Building a Freetrack Rig.
FaceTrackNOIR is an open source software solution using off the shelf hardware. But instead of tracking a cap with 3 known points it uses facial recognition to follow the players face. This method has the lowest cost of entry however it is the least accurate and some users have issues getting it to work. Your mileage may vary.
FTNoIR PointTracker is an open source addition to the FaceTrackNOIR system. Instead of using facial recognition, this plugin uses 3 point tracking similar to FreeTrack. FTNoIR PointTracker was developed as a stable alternative to FreeTrack which has stability issues on some newer systems and is no longer actively developed.
Joysticks and throttles
Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog
The Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog is the premiere HOTAS joystick and throttle for DCS: A10. It was modeled from the real stick and throttle from the A10C and is constructed from metal weighing in at 14 pounds. You can expect to pay between $450 to $500 USD for one new making it one of the most expensive peripherals out however it is a quality piece of hardware. Used Warthogs can be found for around $350 to $400 however they sell quickly.
Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS Hotas
The Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS Hotas is arguably one of the best bang for buck HOTAS systems one can buy, as the internals of joystick are the exact same as those used in the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog. There is a vast amount of bindable buttons (very useful for complex aircraft) and the powerful T.A.R.G.E.T script editor which can be used to achieve all manor of advanced setups.
Saitek X52 and X52 Pro
The middle of the road joysticks and the most recommended by players. The non Pro variant can be obtained for about $100 new with the Pro version clocking in at around $130. The Pro is constructed from better materials and is the currently manufactured model. For players on a budget it is recommended to find one of these used either locally, on eBay, or through the Amazon Used listings. Profiles are widely available that closely reproduce the control scheme of the real joystick.
Depending on who you talk to rudder pedals are completely optional. However if you buy a joystick that does not have a twist axis for rudder control you will need a pair for control.
Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals
These are generally well reviewed and come in at around $100 USD from many online retailers. They are an all plastic construction and connect via USB.
Saitek PRO Flight Combat Rudder Pedals
These are similar to the above but better constructed with metal instead of plastic. They do however run a fair bit more at around $170 USD.
CH PRODUCTS Pro Pedals
These pedals are also well reviewed and may be better constructed than the Saitek Pro Flight pedals. They also run around $100 USD.