Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

  1. #1
    Supporting Member Karaya's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    1,510
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    116.47 MB

    VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review


    Images: Standard (left) vs Premium model (right)

    I've been using my new VKB Gladiator NXT for >2 months and thought I'd post a review on it and share my observations.
    This is not a paid review, I’ve not received any kind of compensation from VKB. I paid for the NXT out of my own pockets. In my review I will be comparing the NXT mainly to the Thrustmaster T.16000M because that’s the stick I have been using the past 6-7 years.
    But first off, a rundown of the NXT basic specs:

    The Basics
    I ordered the Standard NXT which features a dual-stage trigger, 3 hat switches and 4 buttons on the stick. The Premium model adds a rapid-fire trigger as well as swaps one button for a hat switch and one hat switch for an analog mini stick. The base itself features 2 rotary encoders, a throttle wheel as well as 3 buttons. There are left- and right-handed grips of both the Standard and Premium model which can be interchanged. The palm rest on the stick can be adjusted to 3 different heights using addon palm rests that come with the joystick. All hat switches and the mini stick (which I did not have on my Standard model) have a center push function as well so can be used like buttons but more on that later.

    The entire joystick, except for the metal base plate, is made of plastic but non the less feels very durable and high quality. According to VKB the base & grip are made of industrial grade ABS. The gimbal has been fiber reinforced compared to the older Mk.II model. Regarding the base plate, it features 4 rubber pads that hold the joystick firmly in place whatever you do with it. Besides the X/Y axis of movement the NXT also features a twist rudder for those without a set of rudder pedals. All three axes feature contactless MaRS sensors.

    The NXT is customizable and can be fitted with different strength springs with one spring fitted per gimbal axis. VKB offers a spring kit which comes with a pair of light, medium and heavy springs as well as a tool for easy installation/removal. This kit is included with the Premium model but not the Standard one. I ordered the kit together with my Standard NXT because I wanted to test the different strengths to see which set of springs I am most comfortable with.
    Overall size of the NXT is comparable to the T16M and is thus perfectly suited for desktop usage. The joystick can also potentially be used in combination with chair or desk mounts. To my knowledge there are no plans to offer extensions for the NXT. If you want a joystick for a floor mount setup you’ll have to take a look at the VKB Gunfighter or similar joystick.

    Handling Feel and Precision
    One thing immediately apparent when transitioning from the T16M to the NXT is the difference in handling feel and precision. These two topics however have to be looked at separately from each other.

    The T16M has a smooth motion and even resistance all around due to its ball and socket setup making it feel very homogenous. The NXT on the other hand uses a gimbal system. This can be felt clearly by moving the stick to one corner and then moving it to a neighboring corner. There is a noticeable bump when hitting the center of the axis travel, something one has to get used to when having spent years flying with a Warthog or T16M.

    In terms of precision the NXT is without a doubt better than the T16M and the travel of the stick along its axes is very smooth with no stickiness whatsoever. VKB has applied a generous amount of damping grease to the NXT which means that whenever the stick snaps back to center there is not much in the sense of oscillation as you get with some other joysticks. The T16M in my experience starts showing stickiness after just a few weeks of use which is why I’ve always kept a bottle of silicone grease spray at the ready in order to grease it up whenever I felt it getting sticky again. So far, I have not had to do any maintenance on my NXT.

    Spring Strength
    Regarding spring strength, I have settled for the medium ones. At first, they felt too stiff for my taste but after testing the medium and light ones back and forth, I have come to appreciate the stiffness as it keeps me from oversteering the aircraft. The NXT has a much smaller range of motion than the T16M (+/- 20° per axis vs +/-30° on the T16M) so the same amount of deflection will give more of an effect with the NXT. With the light springs I found myself constantly oversteering and stalling the aircraft in test dogfights. The medium springs on the other hand require significantly more force. So far, I haven’t even tried the heavy springs. Not sure I ever will.

    The Twist Rudder
    I haven’t used the twist function much at all but what I did notice is that when twisting the joystick to either side the stick does not stay level but moves up and down a bit which I found unusual. On the other hand, the NXT uses a contactless MaRS sensor (same as for the X/Y axis) for the twist rudder which provides much greater precision and longevity than the potentiometer used on the T16M which usually starts to spike and go mental after a few weeks to months.

    Another positive trait of the NXT is that the twist rudder of the stick can be locked via a small screw, whereas on the T16M there is no way to do so. As I own a set of rudder pedals I don’t need the twist rudder and always found myself involuntarily twisting the T16Ms stick when controlling the aircraft, especially in a hectic dogfight.

    Why not the Premium Model?
    Some might ask why I went for the Standard and not the Premium model. No, it was not a budget related decision. My main incentive to get the Standard model was having 4 instead of 3 real buttons. As I’m not a DCS jet pilot I don’t need a ton of hat switches to map things to. And after >1 month of use I am positive that for me personally that was the right choice because, while the hat switches all have a center push function, they are much harder to press down so act rather poorly as button replacements.

    As for the buttons and hat switches on the NXT in general, they sit firmly, do not wiggle or feel loose and give off an audible clicking noise. There’s an immediate impression of much higher quality than with the buttons on the T16M which are either mushy or sticky depending on your particular model, and I’ve had a handful of T16Ms over the course of these years.

    Afterthought (why I sold my NXT)
    I used my NXT for >2 months after which I decided to sell it, order a Virpil WarBRD (base and grip) and use my old T16M as an interim solution. I will stand by what I said earlier and say that the NXT is more precise and has a smoother motion than the T16M overall. However, there are two caveats to that:

    1) The much smaller deflection angle on the NXT (remember what I wrote above, +/- 20° per axis vs +/-30°) does seriously limit the amount of precision you can extract out of the joystick. Dimensions of the NXT and T16M are about the same, both for the base as well as the grip. This means you are ending up with 1/3rd less travel on the NXT which is a whole lot.
    The +/-20° deflection angle is a standard value found among the top tier joystick bases like the Virpil T50, VKB Gunfighter and comparable systems. On those bases however this small deflection angle is compensated because their sticks tend to be larger to begin with, which increases the overall throw, and most people add an extension on them on top of that. VKB does not offer different grips or extensions for the NXT. In my opinion the NXT would be a much better joystick if it had 5-10° more deflection to either side to really make use of the high-resolution sensors.

    2) The X/Y axis center detent is very noticeable on the NXT and not much can be done about it as the plastic gimbal itself cannot be adjusted, only the springs. Installing the soft springs decreases the amount by which the detents can be felt but they also make the joystick sloppy and most of the time result in oversteering.
    You can imagine the center detents as vertical lines, one going from center top to center bottom, the other going from center left to center right. Whenever crossing one of these two lines you feel a strong bump in the joysticks motion. This gets more and more pronounced the closer you are around the X/Y center as you keep bumping into the axis detents. Doing small corrections around the center is frustrating as it feels like you are constantly fighting against the detents.

    Conclusion
    All in all, I think the NXT overall is an upgrade over the T16M in every sense of the word and worth the money that VKB is charging for it. In my personal opinion however, the joystick is impaired by 2 serious design flaws: the small deflection angle coupled with a short stick, as well as the X/Y axis detents which make small corrections around the center frustrating. Some people may be able to cope with that and not mind it at all. For me however, this was reason enough to resell the joystick.
    Last edited by Karaya; Apr-06-2021 at 05:47.

  2. #2
    Supporting Member Kayo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    West Coast, Sweden
    Posts
    194
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    1,008.57 MB

    Re: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

    Hi Karaya,
    thanks for the review.
    I do not own the NXT but the MkII.
    I also came from the TM16000 and had a hard time to get used to it. Maybe it is better with the NXT and the possibly slightly stiffer springs.
    What I have a hard time with is that when I use 0 dead-zones (in the VKB-SW) I get no stable straight and level flight and it gets very sensitive around the centre. Better with a bit of dead zone. But the dead-zones can lead to worse precission around 0.
    Are you using any dead-zones or curves with the NXT and where do you apply them in the VKB-SW or in CloD?

    /Kayo

  3. Likes ITA_WVoss, ATAG_Pattle liked this post
  4. #3
    Supporting Member Karaya's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    1,510
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    116.47 MB

    Re: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

    I havent used the VKB software other than for calibration of the joystick. The lack of documentation on it makes it rather hard to use.
    I use a small bit of deadzone around the center, 0.005 to be exact (which equals 0.5%), which can only be set by editing the confUser.ini as the game will only let you go down to 0.01 (=1%).
    I do not use any kind of curves with the NXT either, fully linear response it is for me.

    These are my current axis settings. First value is sensitivity (0 = linear), second value is 0% deadzone, third value is 100% deadzone.

    Code:
    aileron=0 0.005 0
    elevator=0 0.005 0
    rudder=0 0.04 0

  5. Likes Kayo liked this post
  6. #4
    Supporting Member Kayo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    West Coast, Sweden
    Posts
    194
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    1,008.57 MB

    Re: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

    Haha, yes the SW is a bit hard to use.
    Maybe I should try to use your trick with the dead zone in the confuser.ini
    For Helicopters in X-plane I need zero dead zone anyway.

  7. #5
    ATAG Member ATAG_JackMaxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dublin
    Posts
    385
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    1.03 GB

    Re: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

    Yes, exactly what everyone needed. Karaya with better kit

    I think I will play some Silent Hunter 3 for a while
    Don't let Grudges fester and poison your future happiness......get your revenge as quickly as possible.

  8. #6
    Ace 1lokos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    5,212
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    988.37 MB

    Re: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

    Good review.

    I am too prefer grip with more press button, specially in the left side of grip instead HAT - I am not too fan of "jets".

    Quote Originally Posted by Kayo View Post
    ... the MkII.
    What I have a hard time with is that when I use 0 dead-zones (in the VKB-SW) I get no stable straight and level flight and it gets very sensitive around the centre. Better with a bit of dead zone. But the dead-zones can lead to worse precission around 0.
    Are you using any dead-zones or curves with the NXT and where do you apply them in the VKB-SW or in CloD?
    /Kayo
    I too use Mk.II, whose light springs in gimbal prevents to grip return to absolute 0 most time - other entry level joysticks has a fix deadzone in firmware for mask this issue, so if you want fly hands off need apply a small deadzone - what is advised by VKB UIV (enginner).

    Set an deadzone in firmware using VKB WIZZO software is very simple, as this software is just for calibration, set deadzone, invert axes, test axes, buttons and update firmware, so have a simple GUI. VKB DevCfg do this too, but is more "complicate".

    This shortcoming in Mk.II gimbal lead to NXT gimbal, more reinforced for accept strong springs. Unfortunately VKB don't offer NXT gimbal as upgrade for Mk.II.

    An workaround (I don't try) is put some rubber bands over Mk. II gimbal springs, like was usede back in time for CH Combat/FighterStick gimbals, who present the same issue of Mk.II, in fact the Gladiator (and their predecessor Cobra M5) gimbal was "inspired" in CH Gimbal.

    In il2sturmovik.ru are files for 3d Print Olukelo and Object 77-B CAM gimbal for replace in Gladiator Mk.I/II, but this is recommended only for out of warranty sticks, since require permanent modification in the base.

  9. Likes Kayo liked this post
  10. #7
    Combat pilot Little Bill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    West Coast, USA
    Posts
    102
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    425.06 MB

    Re: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

    Kayo I would be glad to help show you or anyone how to set up response curves in the VKB Config Software. I agree with you Kayo, the stick is much to responsive in the center for me too. My stick is a Gunfighter MkIII, but the software is the same, although different versions are needed for the different stick/bases that VKB produces.

    The manual for the VKB Config Software is very helpful, it is only 110+ pages long LOL. And it is translated from Russian to English, and I am sure to other languages. The translation is not bad, but many of the concepts they are trying to explain are technical which go over my head anyway. You can literally program a single button 24 different ways, maybe more.

    But if you want to just set up response curves it is really pretty easy, all you need to be able to do is
    Have the right VKB Config Software for your Stick
    Know had to Calibrate your Stick (you only have to do this for major changes), and I assume you have done this already
    Know how to adjust the response Curve
    And know how to implement what you just changed which is the SET command.

    Below are two photo's. The first shows where you want to be in the config software
    The second shows what you want to change.

    First Photo, get there by selecting Action/Logical axes/Profile/Response Curve
    On that page you see a table with rows 1 through 8.
    1. is Aileron
    2. is Elevator
    3. mini stick X Axis
    4. mini stick Y Axis
    5. Twist Axis on stick
    6. Don' Know
    7. Rudder Pedals (VKB Rudder Pedals)
    8. Don't Know

    In the picture you see row 1 is highlighted, its response curve is shown to the right. To see the other response curves just click on the row you want. Your rows should all show 128 to start.

    To adjust the curve click on it.

    Now look at picture 2. After clicking on the curve this is what you see. The curve can be adjusted by grabbing each dot and pulling up/down with your mouse. I suggest you Uncheck the Linked box before starting as this will move all dots.

    When you have the curve looking like you think it should click OK and then click on the "Set" Icon on the top of the page (shown in the first Picture). You are done.

    I have been using this software for almost 2 years and it has been bulletproof, no problems, except learning it.

    VKB 1.jpg

    VKB 2.jpg

  11. Likes 1lokos, Kayo liked this post
  12. #8
    Ace 1lokos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    5,212
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    988.37 MB

    Re: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

    6. Don' Know
    7. Rudder Pedals (VKB Rudder Pedals)
    8. Don't Know
    Those extra axis can be used for create virtual brakes for right and left virtual brakes for differential brakes emulation, using a button in joy or throttle, as well as an axis* or even a keyboard key.
    By pressing this button or key or moving the axis and moving T-Rudder for left or right brake only the respective wheel.

    * Since I don't use Gladiator twist axis - use T-Rudder for rudder control; I set in VKB DevCfg for this axis from 50% to 100% (or from middle to left) for move a new virtual axis from 0 to 100% an set this virtul axis for "wheel brakes" command, having a "twist brake".

  13. Likes ATAG_Oskar, Kayo liked this post
  14. #9
    Supporting Member Kayo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    West Coast, Sweden
    Posts
    194
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    1,008.57 MB

    Re: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

    Thanks 1lokos and Little Bill.
    I indeed used the VKB manual for assigning button functionality (wanted to use the lower button on the stick as normal button iso modifier) and trying out some different dead zones. Did not try to set curves but will give it a try.
    Good to hear that VKB adressed the issue. I tried with some rubber bands but to be honest the plastic parts keeping the springs in place seem a bit weak so I did not want to stress it to much.
    For helicopter-flying on the other hand the possibility to have no dead-zone and very soft springs is an advantage.

    I am otherwise quite happy with the solid feel and precision of the stick. Even the relative small base allows it for me to use it as centre mounted stick and still having some buttons usable for bomber-flying on the base.
    Another big plus are the easy connetion to the VKB-pedals, they are really nice to use and in my opinion perfect for helicopter-flying. Plus easy to store as they are quite compact.

  15. Likes Little Bill liked this post
  16. #10
    Supporting Member Karaya's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    1,510
    Post Thanks / Like
    Total Downloaded
    116.47 MB

    Re: VKB Gladiator NXT - A Review

    I have edited my review and added a section discussing my reason for selling the NXT. See the OP for details

  17. Likes Bonditaria, DUI liked this post

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •