First of all, the usual disclaimer: all these items were sent to me by VIRPIL. Just like with any other reviews you will find here, though, I will be completely unbiased and totally honest with both you and the manufacturer. Expect me to call them out if something is not right. But also, to praise them if they did a great job.
Just like with anything related to helicopters (and simming in general, but helicopters to take the prize), hardware quality is of extreme importance.
We need good, steady framerate, a computer that can do all the calculations in real time (and there are a lot to do in helicopter flight) and, obviously, a good, solid way of controlling our aircraft. Especially, yes, of course, helicopters.
The dang things…
Other than the collective itself (which, at this time we are still waiting for VIRPIL to release – or, at least, to let me spill the beans about it), pedals are usually one of those pieces of hardware that simmers look for the most. And very often one of the last ones they manage to buy. I know it was in my case.
I have spent years using a twist grip before getting my first rudder pedals and I know others have as well. Such as my brother-in-arms, fellow grumpy simmer, Mr. Bel Geode , which only recently got himself his first set of pedals.
And, guess what? He got this exact model as well! I wonder why he went with a VIRPIL set. Mmm…
Of course, getting a good rudder pedal kit is important but, again, let me reinforce this, it takes a whole new dimension when you are talking about helicopters as the control has to be really fine and precise. And you must have a way for you not to fight the pedals the whole time. Just like with the joystick , you will have to dominate the hardware, not the opposite, as a lot happens with just a tad of pressure, not actual full-fledge movement of the control.
It’s a weird concept but one you know way too well if you have been flying helicopters for a long time.
Could they impress me as well?
The VPC WarBRD Rudder Pedals
These pedals are the cheapest one of the line VIRPIL has to offer and I specifically asked VIRPIL to send me this model instead of one of the more expensive, because I wanted a more “helicopter-like” model.
One could argue and say that you can adapt the other models, that I lost toe brakes because of it, etc. and you would be right. I know I lost that ability of having toe brakes, but I made that choice conscientiously.
I wanted to test the pedals that resembled helicopter models of pedals the most and the VPC WarBRD Rudder Pedals seemed like it to me. They actually (kinda) resemble the pedals in the Mi-8!
And they are also the cheapest ones, which makes them the most affordable in their line.
The first contact
Holy… This thing is HEAVY!
That was my first contact.
And it’s kind of a trend if you use VIRPIL material. It’s the first thing you notice on pretty much all their gear. That and the amazing, well-machined, beautiful metal.
And that is true with the VPC WarBRD Rudder Pedals as well. They are absolutely gorgeous, and the construction quality shows immediately as you pick them up. It’s very satisfying to feel the beautiful metal in your hands.
You will almost want to wear gloves as not to smudge the beautiful black/dark grey overlay and you will probably start thinking twice about putting your feet on it! I know I did!
But this had to be done! For science! Well, for the sake of this review, anyway.
Yay! More assembly required!
“More” because I already assembled the aforementioned products. The pedals come with the actual base, 2 footplates, 2 soft and 2 (preinstalled) hard center cams and an extra spring.
On the pedals, you will find there’s a spring assembled already (which VIRPIL calls a “Standard Spring”). The extra spring they send, they call it a “Strong Spring”. So you can use one or the other. Or BOTH if you are crazy enough.
As with the other products from VIRPIL, the pedals can be customized to your needs. You can do any combination of the springs + the 2 cams.
The footplates need to be attached to the pedals and that was pretty much it. 4 screws out, 4 screws in.
There’s a cool thing that I would like to point out. The footplates come with 5 screw holes, but we only need to use 2. This allows us to place the plates at 3 different distances, so you can select the distance that is more comfortable to you.
Time to refer you again to the VIRPIL VPC MongoosT-50CM2 Base review (sorry). I could repeat myself with every review (and I kinda am) but the process is pretty linear and fully described on the link above. But here it is in a nutshell:
- Connect 1 control at a time (and proceed to #2 when you have only 1 controller plugged in)
- Indicate which model you have
- Update the firmware
- Head out to the next controller if you have more to set up
Once you’re done, you can then connect all controllers. DO NOT CONNECT THEM ALL AT ONCE.
Setup each new control independently and only connect them all at the very end of the process when all of them are setup.
I really can’t stress this enough, folks. Better safe than sorry. You have been warned!
Just a side note: contrary to the joystick base and the throttle , you don’t have an XS9 plug to connect the unit to your computer. Instead, the pedals come with a default USB type-B (the same one you can find in printers, for example). It’s really just a curiosity but I thought it was worth mentioning.
The first flight
No surprises here. The pedals were recognized on X-Plane and they worked nicely from the get-go. It felt precise and sturdy.
I could place my heel on the floor and control the pedals with the ball of my feet which, honestly, felt a bit awkward. But I was expecting that already since the way regular rudder pedals work is based on a seesaw kind of motion.
These pedals are made so that your feet move along and not just stay quiet on the floor with your top part moving. Also, they move quite a bit, so the travel length is higher than it should to be comfortable to use. But you will have this same issue with all pedals.
Not that this works against the pedals. The VIRPIL VPC WarBRD are actually one of the most comfortable, non-helicopter pedals I have used.
You probably already guessed it.
Those springs? Out!
The cams? Out! Well, not out, but as you soon as you remove the springs, the cams no longer have an effect on the pedals.
We want a fluid, no center, no spring, no force to fight against action. We want to be in control. We want to provide pressure to the pedals, not move them, unless we really need to.
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 lose and you actually get less precise.
VIRPIL did such a good job at making the pedal operation to be soft and smooth that, if you don’t have a spring, you almost don’t feel the pedal and you may actually push it all the way 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.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my one and only complaint about the pedals.
I put back the default spring, changed the cams with the ones with a weaker center point and off I went, back to my testing.
Precision and control are everything here. But the physical part of it is just one of the variables in the equation. We need electronics to respond as well. It’s great to have the pedals working smoothly but the whole purpose gets defeated if your electronics jumps around and screws your precise, surgical movements.
That’s something that I wanted to try on my…
It was time to put this baby to some real testing.
Again, I put the pedals through the test in DCS , Aerofly FS2 , ARMA 3 and Microsoft Flight Simulator . It worked flawlessly in all sims. No issues, no problems. It all went smoothly and I was under control the whole time.
I was still feeling issues with the “not a helicopter anti-torque pedal” syndrome, but I worked it out and the pedals started to feel more and more comfortable. Not that I was 100% comfortable, though. The fact that it’s a rudder pedal and that I had to have the spring on is not the same as having an anti-torque replica pedals.
This is not the product’s fault, though. These are, after all, rudder pedals. And of great quality. While they do a great job and we can customize it to be more helicopter-friendly, it’s not the same. But they are pretty darn good.
These pedals are sticky! But not in a bad way!
Its weight and 6 rubber feet do their job and this thing stayed in position on the floor the whole time. My sim gear is placed in a part of the house that has ceramic tiles on the floor – which is obviously slippery – and this thing stayed in place.
I actually tried to push it with both my feet to force it to move and I was thrown back on my office chair. It didn’t move at all! I think this is the actual first set of rudder pedals that I don’t have to get some wood or something to make some pressure against the wall for it to stay in place.
I wonder how it works on a carpet, though (sorry, we have no carpets in the house, so I couldn’t try it). I imagine it will probably work better on wood or ceramic surfaces.
The more I try the VIRPIL products , the more I get convinced that this manufacturer knows what they are doing and that their products are of great quality.
At this stage, after having reviewed a few of their products, the VIRPIL VPC WarBRD Rudder Pedals is no longer a surprise to me. In fact, I would be surprised if I hadn’t liked the pedals.
The VIRPIL VPC WarBRD Rudder Pedals suffer from the same issues as any regular fixed-wing aircraft pedal, especially because of the seesaw-like effect and long travel the pedals have, which force you to move your feet.
Nonetheless, there’s a big plus: I was able to place my heels on the floor and add pressure to the pedals, more than actually move them. If you are experienced with helicopters, you know what I mean by that. Very often we are more like adding pressure to the controls, not actually making them move, to keep everything under control. I was able to do so with these pedals which is a huge advantage.
I believe the VIRPIL VPC WarBRD Rudder Pedals are an amazing set and a good investment. VIRPIL does have other models , with different characteristics that you should take a look at as well as some of them offer toe-brakes, for example.
Like I said earlier, I really wanted to try some more barebones, simple pedal, a bit more similar to helicopter ones.
If you are on the market for some nice pedals that you may want to double up as anti-torque pedals for helicopters as well, look no further. The VIRPIL VPC WarBRD Rudder Pedals (and I imagine its bigger brothers as well) are an excellent choice.