Review: VIRPIL VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit

This “friendliness” can come in 2 ways: either by developing a product that, from its base, can fulfill its role for both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, or by releasing accessories that allow their products to do just that.

Four years ago (4 years, I kid you not – I’m shocked at how time just passed by so quickly) I reviewed VIRPIL’s VPC Warbrd Rudder Pedals. At the time, I found out these pedals work great on both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, of course. I liked everything about those pedals and, even if they weren’t built specifically for helicopters, they were good enough for me to give it a stellar rating.

Meanwhile, VIRPIL released an accessory to further improve the use of the pedals for helicopters: a hydraulic damper. The VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit.

Review: VIRPIL VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit

The damper is installed on the left side of the pedals, and it allows you to remove the cam and the spring while maintaining friction and allowing the pedals to stay in place if you let them go.

Review: VIRPIL VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit

The friction allows for better control of the pedals. This may sound counter-intuitive, but if the pedals are too loose, over-controlling will start to happen, and you will start having a hard time keeping the nose of the helicopter under control.

Review: VIRPIL VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit

Yes, you can get used to loosen pedals and, yes, you can eventually master helicopters that way. But you will be making yourself go through some very hard conditions to gain that muscle memory.

With the VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit you will need to add a little more force to the pedals, which will allow you to make minor adjustments to it. And, if you let the pedals go, there’s no risk for the pedals to move by themselves. Physics is our enemy sometimes.

Installation

Review: VIRPIL VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit

Installing the damper is actually quite easy. I followed VIRPIL’s instructions and, in under 20 minutes I was ready to use the pedals. I want to risk it and say it was under 10 but I honestly didn’t time it. It’s not a long process and it only requires you to handle a few screws. Less than half a dozen.

Review: VIRPIL VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit

It’s not rocket science and even I, the guy that breaks a sweat just by looking at a screw (according to my wife), can do it.

Adjusting

Considering we are adding friction to the set, it’s important to be able to control said friction so that the pedals are not too hard to control by having to apply too much force. I didn’t find a setting in which too little force was applied. The pedals are never actually loose with the damper on.

But it can get a bit hard to move if you tighten it too much.

The damper has a small adjustment knob on the side which we can use to loosen or tighten the hydraulics/friction. You will have to do some trial and error to find out what’s more comfortable for you, but this should also only take you a few minutes.

Review: VIRPIL VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit

Changing the strength of the hydraulics has no other result other than making it easier or harder to move. The pedal will still have the same travel length.

First test

Review: VIRPIL VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit

Once I set up the strength the way I thought it was comfortable, I got into a sim. I booted up MSFS (the sim is irrelevant, of course) and gave it a try.

I had it a bit too strong, so I reduced it a notch or two (the knob has a “click” system when you use it) and gave it another try. It seemed perfect so I stuck with that and flew for about an hour, doing all kinds of slow, pedal-heavy maneuvers.

The pedal worked great, and I felt I was a lot more in control than without it or with the spring on.

I didn’t have to fight a spring, didn’t over-control the pedals and it felt very comfortable.

I have tried a hydraulic damper on a collective, but this was the first time I tried it on some pedals. I liked it a lot.

Is it necessary?

Well. Yes and no. It depends. Do I recommend it? Yes.

Back when I reviewed the pedals, I found something that wasn’t enough for me to reduce the rating I gave to those pedals because the goal was not to be used for helicopters.

But this is what I said:

“Here’s a catch, though, and, so far, my only complaint with these pedals: if you remove the spring, the motion is so smooth that it feels too loose and you actually get less precise.

VIRPIL did such a good job at making the pedal operation soft and smooth that, if you don’t have a spring, you almost don’t feel the pedal and you may push it too much in if you don’t control it with your other foot.

My complaint is not about the smoothness of the operation, though. I just wish there was a way to control/add friction to the pedals. This would allow you to feel some pressure from the pedals and you wouldn’t be risking sneezing and losing control. Yes, I am exaggerating.”

The VIRPIL damper modification gives you a solution built specifically for the VIRPIL pedals, with all the parts necessary to make it work and what seems to be a great quality adjustable damper.

Conclusion

As I said above, this damper is not “necessary” if you are OK with having a spring or a loose pedal, but I highly recommend it if you are looking for better control of your pedals and, consequently, of your helicopter.

VIRPIL offers you a complete kit, very easy to assemble, and its use makes a drastic difference, improving your VIRPIL pedals quite a bit.

Highly recommended.

You can purchase the VPC Rudder Pedals - Damper Upgrade Kit at the European, North American, and UK stores.