Repairing Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel with Arduino

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Switch

The Saitek Pro Flight Panels were awesome. I bought all of them years ago and they worked great… with Windows 7 and USB 2. Unfortunately when I upgraded my computer everything stopped working due to Windows 10 and all USB3 ports. I have followed every guide, every driver, every bios setting I could find and I can’t get any of the panels to function. I’ve been able to get the radio panel and multi panel working with Spad.NEXT but the switch panel refuses to function. I can only assume something on the circuit board has gone bad.  Now that Logitech has bought Saitek this thing is basically a brick with no support. Really without Spad.NEXT all three would be bricks as the Logitech software does not work at all. I really want my simulator to work again so I set off to figure out how to fix switch panel.

TL:DNR – Check out my video of it in action and view the code on github

Read on to see how I did this.

I looked into how to use an Arduino as a HID device and I found that the Leonardo has built in HID capabilities. I picked up a couple of Pro Micro clones from Amazon and went to work. First step was to remove the old circuit board. I just cut all wires and removed circuitry. Very easy with this panel.

board_comp

Next step is to remove all wiring, cleanup the contacts, and add ground wires for the gear and magneto switches. The main and light switches are simple switches, the gear lever is a 2 position switch, and the magneto is a 5 position switch. The gear/magneto switches were grounded to the old circuit board so I connected them to the button ground wire already there.

All of these switches make for 20 I/O points which is two more than the pro micro has. Luckily the gear lever only needs 1 of the 2 positions connected to act like a standard switch. That left one missing input so I didn’t connect the cowl flap switch. Every other switch works. The LED’s on the landing gear also had to go. If I decide to go after the cowl switch and LED’s later I can upgrade to this board but it is more expensive. May not be worth it

test_wiring

I wired up a few of the switches to test everything out and everything was working as expected. Using the pro micro as a HID Keyboard was incredibly easy and the code was so simple it didn’t take long to get everything hooked up.

all_wired_up

Finishing it up required some modifications to the back cover to fit the wires. After modification (basically removing the screw standoffs and increasing the wire hole) it went together easily and is working great.

I’m really pleased with this evening hack that netted about 95% of the functionality of the switch panel back. I no longer have to worry about Saitek/Logitech screwing things up as now it’s up to me to do so :). All code and info can be found on my github here

https://github.com/CountDeMonet/SaitekSwitchPanelArduinoReplacement

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