TrackHat Clip Plus is a 3D printed, low cost alternative to TrackIR. And what a wonderful product it is!
In the box, there is a PS3 Eye Camera, TrackHat Clip Plus, a camera clip (monitor mount), some instructions and a USB type A to Micro USB cable. The clip and monitor mount feels well built and sturdy. The instructions are very thorough, although typing in the links included in the booklet is a little bit annoying but the online content is very informative so it’s worth the effort!
So let’s get into the meat of it. The Clip that you attach to your headphones looks a little like this:
It is attached to your headphones with the velcro provided in the box. This feels somewhat precarious, but be assured, the clip isn’t going anywhere! The clip comes pre charged so you can plug in and play (after installing the software).
To get working, you need to install the CLEye driver, this, in turn, installs a program called CL-Eye Test and there you need to adjust the gain and exposure of the camera. Also in that program, you can see how the clip works. It uses 3 UV LEDs. Ultraviolet light is not able to be seen by the human eye, but most cameras are able to pick it up(Like the included PS3 Eye camera).
The camera clip confused me at the start. I must confess, I didn’t read the instructions properly so that is completely my fault. But at 2AM one morning I realised how it worked. So I slid the camera in and mounted it on top of my monitor.
TrackHat’s OpenTrack software is possibly the easiest piece of software I have used, after adding a few hotkeys to center the view and turn on and off tracking, I was able to start P3D and fly around with ease, being able to move my head to change the camera angle. As I said before, you can now see it working, it tracks the 3 LEDs and relays that information to the sim so when you move your head it moves the camera. At the start, it is a little weird, as I personally have never used anything other than the middle mouse click to change my camera angle, but after a few hours, I was comfortably flying around looking all over the place.
While in the sim you can pan up, down, left and right, you can also tilt up to 6°, this makes all types of flying more immersive and enjoyable!
Charging the clip is quick and easy, just plug it into a USB port and away you go.
In the sim, using it at first feels odd. Getting used to how sensitive it is is still something that I am working on, and I’ve had this product for a couple of weeks now. Although when flying VFR it is very useful, you’re able to look out of all of the windows with ease and not even take your hands off the controls to reach over for your mouse. Clicking switches is sometimes of difficult, you have to keep your head perfectly still otherwise your mouse is no longer on the click spot. All in all, the panning experience is very smooth, placing the camera in line with your head can be problematic as your head gets in the way sometimes while looking in the direction of where the clip is placed, this can easily be solved by moving the camera slightly, but it doesn’t impair the overall feel of the product.
Mapping keys is, well, key to being able to use this product to its full capacity, as you may re-adjust your chair and your camera might not be in the right place. Being able to turn on and off the tracking as and when you need it is also a nice thing to have mapped as it allows you to click certain things and then turn tracking back on.
Using the TrackHat Clip Plus adds a lot to the sim experience, it’s very responsive to head movements and, in P3D, it feels like there is no lag between you moving your head and the camera moving, in other games it may feel like there is. The occasional jump if the camera picks up a different light source but once you have fine-tuned the settings, it should work amazingly.
Using it in other software is easy, all you have to do is change the protocol to FreeTrack. This will allow you to use it in most games that support TrackIR. You can also use this across two PC’s, if that sort of thing floats your boat. Change the protocol to UDP Receiver and then enter the IP and Port of the remote pc and you should be good. Although I didn’t use this, so there may be other things you need to do to get it working fluidly. It is also compatible with Flight Gear (an open source flight simulator) and mouse emulation.
So… The big question is, would I recommend TrackHat?
Yes. I would. This is by far the best option for anyone who wants to be able to fluidly look around their flight deck on a budget. In my opinion, I would buy this over TrackIR as from what my contacts are saying it has a higher build quality, and it doesn’t feel as flimsy as TrackIR. The software is easy to use and even if you don’t feel like flight simming, you can use it in ETS/ATS and OMSI, as well as a variety of other games and sims. The fact the clip attached with velcro makes it easy to remove, which is good if you dont need the clip on while you’re working with headphones on. I would recommend this to anyone who needs a cheaper alternative to TrackIR, I would definitely buy this product over Track IR.
All in all, it is a well-rounded product. The only issue would be that if the camera picks up some light reflecting things, but that can be easily solved by either moving them or moving the camera placement.
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All in all, it is a well-rounded product. It features excellent build quality and is an incredibly solid product. The software is easy to use and the user experience is excellent although there is the odd blip as it picks up other light sources. The price is unbeatable and at £49.99 you simply can't go wrong!