I initially wasn't going to document my negative experience with Sismo Soluciones as many simmers use SISMO products and are fiercely loyal to this company. This post has sat unpublished for close to 10 months until a friend convinced me otherwise, saying that bad reviews can be beneficial, especially to new simmers who are undecided on what and whom to purchase from.
This is the first negative review I have written and in doing so realize that I will no doubt annoy some people, especially loyal SISMO customers. My aim is not to annoy, intimidate or create malicious rumours. Rather, it is to share with others my experience with this company. Due to the negative nature of this review, it WILL NOT be posted to any forum.
I purchased the following units from SISMO:
- ADF radios (2)
- Transponder / ATC radio
- Audio Control Panel
- rudder trim module
At the time, I was using Sim Avionics as my avionics suite.
I had issues with: aesthetics, quality assurance and the SC Pascal script usage.
When you initially look at the modules offered by SISMO, they do look attractive; however, it's often the small things that count and SISMO, in many respects, lacks quality and attention to detail.
- This post is a little different. I've made a basic review of the modules, then discussed the issues I had with the panels/modules and the company.
Module Construction and Appearance
The modules are constructed from acrylic and painted in Boeing grey. CNC machining produces a crisp finish resulting in lettering cut-outs that are well defined allowing backlighting to illuminate the lettering. Buttons and switches are machine injection moulded and secured to rotary stems via two small grub screws. The electronics are not sealed within the unit (such as in CP Flight) but are visible. DZUS fasteners are not included although holes have been drilled in the appropiate position (although these holes are too small to fit genuine DZUS fasteners). The backing plate is made from plastic.
The paint work used by SISMO is not of a high quality. The paint wears thin on the panel beneath the knobs and switches after minimal use. The paint also chips very easily and is not evenly applied to include the side of the unit. Although I don’t know how many layers of paint have been used, I’d suggest it’s minimal. Minimal paint saves time and expense, but does not lend itself to high quality and longevity.
Integrated Back-Lighting (IBL)
LEFT: SISMO ADF unit & FDS NAV1 unit. Note the difference in backlighting and module colour between the two units. FDS use real aircraft bulbs.
There are several arguments for and against the use of bulbs and LEDs. The former provide a realistic throw of light at the correct colour temperature, while LED’s are usually more pin point, require less power to run and usually appear colder in colour temperature.
The Backlighting on the SISMO modules is reasonable; however there is not an even throw of light across the rear of the modules to allow complete illumination of all cut out lettering, nor does a light skirt inhibit stray light from illuminating the outer edge of the modules The backlighting is powered by 12 volts. The colour of the LEDS is amber yellow or warm orange.
I had an issue with two LED lights; The LED lights stopped working. SISMO informed me I would have to repair this myself. Shortly thereafter, a third LED light failed. This suggests that SISMO may have a quality issue in relation to LEDS (at least in the batch I received).
The upper panel of the module is attached to the electronic circuitry within the lower section by a backing plate. This backing plate is made from plastic. It should be constructed from metal to aid in strength. The electronics “appears” substantial and to be well built.
System and IO-Sim Cards
The modules are not stand-alone devices. Depending upon your requirements, the modules require connection to various system and sim cards for complete operation. As an example, to operate the ADF units and rudder trim module requires three GIC connection cards, an Ethernet motherboard card, and three servo-daughter cards – seven cards in total!
Although there is nothing wrong with this method of operation, it does pose a challenge to find a suitable location to mount the cards. The cards appear to be constructed to a high standard and are very solid; they do not feel or look like cheap Chinese cards.
The main Ethernet mother board requires a 5 volt power supply.
I’ve included, for interest, a schematic wiring and card diagram of the module set-up for the Captain-side ADF radio. (click the image to enlarge the picture).
SISMO provides you the opportunity to either use their prefabricated flat wiring or to wire everything yourself. I choose the former and this saved a lot of time and frustration wiring and soldering. The flat wiring packs are each fitted with heavy duty plastic clips for attachment to the cards. Connection is straightforward and SISMO provide large A3 colour wiring sheets so you know exactly what wire plugs into what card.
When you do utilise the flat wiring, it’s necessary to include in your system a number of additional cards that act as joiners between the different system cards and modules. These cards are called Generic Interface Cards (GIC), and are little larger than a credit card in size.
Too Many Cards
The amount of wiring and number of cards needed to use SISMO products is ridiculous! With four modules connected, the interior of the center pedestal is a mass of wires leading to and from various interface cards. There are far better and easier alternatives available from other manufactures.
LEFT: SISMO modules, power and flat cabling. There is a lot of cabling and several required interface cards that are required.
The Power of Ethernet
SISMO’s product range utilises Ethernet technology rather than USB. According to SISMO literature, USB was not designed to carry the volume of information necessary for flight simulation. Although USB is practicable and does work very well, it can on occasion malfunction (drop out) or slow the operation of the intended device by creating a bottleneck for information flow. Ethernet, on the other hand, has been designed at the onset to allow for high information flows ensuring fast and consistent transfer of information.
Another benefit of Ethernet is that it doesn’t matter if the computer that your modules are connected to is not a high-end machine, as the speed of Ethernet flow far outweighs the need for a high-end machine as a client PC.
An Ethernet cable is required to link the main Ethernet mother board, either directly to the computer or to a switch if using two or more networked computers.
Although the theory is sound, speed wise I don’t believe there is a great difference between using Ethernet or USB for the transmitted information loads (at least for the center pedestal).
An important point to note is that the ADF and ATC radios will not drop directly onto the DZUS rails fitted within a real B737 center pedestal.
SISMO modules have been designed so that the electronic boards, mounted directly beneath the panel, are flush to the edge of the module. What this means is that the unit cannot be placed directly onto a rail, as the electronics board abuts the edge of the rails.
LEFT: The two tabs overlap the DZUS rails. You must cut the DZUS rails to allow the module to fit the pedestal.
To allow correct placement in a genuine center pedestal requires that the DZUS rails be cut in the appropriate position.
All the other SISMO modules, other than the ATC and ADF modules drop onto the rails without an issue.
Misleading and Incorrect Information
During my initial research, I asked SISMO if their modules fitted a genuine center pedestal. Juan Ma stated they were compliant and did fir genuine DZUS fasteners; however, when they didn't fit the rails, Juan Ma claimed he had misunderstood my question due to his poor understanding of the English language!
To utilise genuine DZUS fasteners, you will need to enlarge the attachment holes in each of the modules to allow the fastener to fit the hole. A word of caution here – SISMO use plastic backing boards which will crack easily if you are overzealous with a power drill.
This is why I mentioned earlier that modules that incorporate metal plates in their construction are a better investment.
Support and Communication
Support for SISMO is either directly via e-mail or by their dedicated forum. All e-mails are answered quickly (in English or Spanish).
All my e-mail communication with JuanMa and Cristina has been on a very professional level (although they seem to say what you want to hear). They are courteous, exceptionally patient and very helpful; both strive to help you as much as they can.
SISMO Modules – a closer look
ADF Radio Modules
Initially you’re impressed when you look at the ADF modules. The seven segment displays, illuminated in either amber yellow or warm orange are easy to read, well lit and look similar to the displays you would see on a real aircraft. As you turn the rotary knobs to change the frequencies there is no catching as the knobs are turned and the push-to-activate buttons do not stick in the down position when depressed.
One small issue I immediately noticed was that the tinted window plate which sits over the frequency display is not secured; as opposed to other manufacturer’s modules that incorporate the plate into the actual construction of the module. If you invert the modules the cover plate will fall out of the recess. I decided this wasn’t a problem as how often are simulators inverted, and securing the plate is an easy exercise; a small piece of double-side tape is all that is needed.
My problems began after roughly four hours of use. The frequency push-to-activate button was temperamental and would not allow the stand-by and active frequency to be changed with one push; several pushes were required. The problem is intermittent, but it suggests an issue with clicking mechanism or the button itself.
The next issue to develop was with the rotary knob; turning the knob caused the frequencies to jump digits. As with the push-to-activate button, the problem was intermittent but, was rectified when you closed and reopened the SC Pascal script. Perhaps the script needed tweaking.
Poor Quality Knobs and Switches
I was disappointed with the switch knobs used by SISMO. The two ADF-ANT switches are hand injected low quality “plastic” (?) and have several small injection holes within each of the knobs. For the minor cost involved, it would have been nice to use high quality machine-injected knobs.
Each of the ADF-ANT switches slides onto and over the plastic circular shaft of the switch mechanism. The knob is then secured to the shaft by two grub screws each side of the knob. It doesn’t take too long for the grub screws to become loose resulting in the knob slipping.
Other companies have solved this potential problem by using D-shaped shafts or higher quality rotary switches incorporating metal shafts instead of plastic.
My rating 4/10
Audio Control Panel (ACP)
The Audio Control Panel (ACP) replicates the audio system of the B737 (navigation radios, etc). The ACP occupies a large piece of real estate in the center pedestal and the ability to turn on and off navigation audio sounds should not be dismissed.
LEFT: SISMO ACP unit does not look realistic with inexpensive poorly moulded buttons and very stark backlighting. Note that some of the rectangular buttons are not in alignment. This unit has been constructed with very poor attention to detail.
The main ACP switch is of similar construction to the ADF-ANT switches on the ADF module; it is poor quality with injection holes readily observed. The clear push buttons used to turn on and off the various audio sounds are of low quality. The buttons are fashioned from clear acrylic and lack detail and definition.
I was disappointed that when the ACP unit was fitted onto the pedestal, light from the rear LEDS seeped through along the edge of the module. I have also noted that some of the buttons are not accurately aligned with one another.
Often it’s the small things that count and push a product to the next level.
I was not impressed with the quality and attention to detail on the SISMO ACP unit; therefore, have decided to convert two real B737-500 ACPS to simulator use.
My rating 2-10
Rudder Trim Module
The rudder module incorporates a large knob that is center-spring loaded. The knob allows the rudder to be deflected in either direction and be recorded in degrees of offset on the scale. The movement of the defection needle is made possible with the use of small servo motor fitted beneath the module and powered by 12 volts.
The rudder trim knob is poorly moulded and shows hollow holes left over from the injection process. For those searching for aesthetics, replacement using a real B737 knob is very easy (if you can find a real knob).
LEFT: SISMO rudder trim module. Note the very poor moulding on the knob and colour shift with lighting.
The trim needle, at least on my module, is a little lop-sided. As with the ACP module, stray light from the LED back lighting is readily seen around the edge of the module. The module does not have a light skirt to stop straying light.
The remainder of the module is aesthetically pleasing.
The rudder trim is one of the modules that is necessary to complete a center pedestal, but unless one is regularly flying with one engine, the module is seldom used. Therefore; this module from SISMO, even with the irregularities, is a reasonably priced alterative to some of the more expensive counterparts available.
My rating 4/5-10
ATC (Transponder) Module
This is one of the better produced modules from SISMO. The switches and knobs are well presented, there are no injection holes in the knobs, and the operation is very smooth when altering frequencies. The digital read out is crisp, yellow amber in colour, and the tinted window, which falls out easily on the ADF modules seems to be more secure (although it is the same drop in type). As with the ADF modules, this module will require you to cut the DZUS rails if you are using a genuine 737 center pedestal.
As a script was never supplied with this module (SISMO did not send it), I cannot provide information to how well it operated.
My rating based solely on appearance is 8-10
Reliability and Performance – Software and Modules
Software – SC-Pascal Scripts
The modules require SC-Pascal scripts to be installed on the computer of your choice.
The basic script is downloaded from the SISMO website. A further “customised” script is needed to configure the modules to the avionics software package you are using (Sim Avionics, Project magenta, ProSim737, Orion, etc) and FSX. SISMO generate this script for you and all you need to do is run the executable file when you open a flight session.
SC-Pascal scripts are completely new to me, but a little research indicates that the script is used as a software interface between the actual functionality of the avionics modules and FSUPIC / FSX.
Once the scripts are installed and configured correctly, a folder is created in which is stored the config.ini file and the executable script. The folder and files can be named and stored anywhere on your computer system. Activation of the modules is achieved by activating the executable script.
Optionally, direct access to the script can be made by adding the executable command to the auto start folder of your computer. This option automatically starts the modules when the computer is turned on. The script then runs in stand-by mode until FSX is activated. This saves time and repetition having to turn on the SISMO modules separately.
As SISMO utilises Ethernet technology, the various IP addresses of the computer (s) you are using need to be correctly configured to allow communication between the computer and the modules. This is basic networking knowledge and is relatively easy to learn.
Once the software is configured, the software and modules should operate flawlessly.
I did have some issues with the SC Pascal script freezing when it was initiated. The script also caused some issues which appeared to cause the ADF radios to incorrectly display frequencies. To Juan Ma's credit, he did tweak the script somewhat, however, the problems still occurred.
As I know nothing about SC Pascal scripts, I do not know with certainty whether the problems experienced were caused by a script issue, hardware issue, or something particular to my system. I believe the issue may have been the SC Pascal script.
For those who know me, I try to keep things simple, and running multiple scripts for this and that does not exactly fit into this "ethos". There already is the proven and tested FSUPIC, WIDEFS and configuring functionality through ProSim737. Why complicate matters..... (I have learnt this lesson from experience...)
It would be inaccurate to state that SC Pascal scripts don't work, because there are many simmers who have them operating perfectly. But, I am not one of these individuals.
Quick List – Pros & Cons
- Fairly accurate 1:1 ratio (or close to)
- Easy to install and use software (knowledge of SC Pascal required if altering software)
- Laser cut and stencilled lettering
- Ethernet technology
- Plastic shafts on ADF-ANT knobs (should be metal/stainless)
- Poor quality knobs and switches on ADF, ACP and Rudder Trim module
- Average light coverage for LED back lighting
- ADF and ATC modules do not drop directly onto DZUS rails
- Large number of cards needed for operation
- Not DZUS complaint (requires existing holes to be enlarged)
- Plastic backing plate (easily damaged when enlarging holes for DZUS fasteners)
- Light seepage around edge of some modules from back-lighting (no light skirt)
- SC Pascal script troublesome and works intermittently.
- Poor quality paint work
- Considering the above, expensive
The modules are ideal for the budget-conscious flight simmer.
The lack of quality knobs, switches and poor attention to detail detract aesthetically, while the large number of cards that need to be installed can make installation challenging. Three failing LEDS and problems with the frequency selector switch on the ADF radio unit may point to quality assurance issues. The use of Ethernet over USB is highly commended and may reduce information bottlenecks.
My rating for the software is 4/10 (The supplied scripts did not work with my system, which at that time was Sim Avionics and not ProSim737).
My rating for the modules is 3/4-10 (based on fitting issues, quality of knobs, poor attention to detail, poor painting, no light skirts and temperamental frequency selection switches on ADF).
Please note that this review is my opinion only and is not endorsed.
POST SCRIPT: - July 15 2012 – RETURNED MODULES TO SISMO FOR REFUND!
I have returned all the modules, cards and wiring to SISMO for refund
Initially, SISMO offered me 10% of the value of the products purchased (this included I/O cards that had never been used).
SISMO stated that the return period had been exceeded, and any products returned would be treated as second hand units. It didn’t matter that SISMO had not, at that time, sent all the appropriate SC Pascal scripts to ensure correct operation of the modules.
The writing of the SC Pascal scripts was delayed close on 2 months after I received the modules, and when received, the scripts did not operate as intended. Excuses were; staff holidays, workloads, Easter break, and awaiting confirmation from another company to facilitate operation.
Upon receipt of the returned items, SISMO claimed that many of my issues were incorrect or not relevant.
- They claimed that the modules had been damaged.
- They stated that I had broken the LEDS (I told them the LEDS were not working when I received the parcel).
- They claimed I had disassembled the units and damaged the paint and screws.
- They claimed I had re-painted portions of the units.
- They claimed sticky plaster was attached to one of the units. (this maybe true as I used tape to secure the wiring together when I returned the units)
- They charged me import duty and inspection fees when I returned the goods to Spain.
- They claimed I did not include paperwork (which I did).
- They stated that as the ATC RADIO module was discontinued, a refund was not possible.
I am not going to go into a long account to what has transgressed. But, I will say that this company cannot be trusted…..They promise the world to you, but if you are not happy with the products, they provide every excuse possible to NOT provide an adequate and reasonable refund.
For example, when I reported the failure of the LEDS to SISMO, their response was “they worked when they left here”. They did offer to replace the LEDS but, at my shipping expense. They did offer a discount on further purchases due to the inconvenience.
It should also be noted, that in my initial correspondence with SISMO, I asked whether there modules would drop directly into a real B737 center pedestal. Juan Ma stated “YES”. However, on receipt it was discovered that the modules were too large to fit directly onto the pedestal DZUS rails. I queried Juan Ma from SISMO on this; he stated that it was a language misunderstanding.
Juan Ma understood perfect English when it came to avoiding refunding my purchase money.
Spanish legislation states that every purchase has a 7 day cooling off period, in which a return and refund can be made. PayPal policy states you have 45 days in which to make a claim. Without a script (which took two months to receive), how can testing of modules occur! Further EU legislation states that refunds are possible if items do not function correctly - within set time frame. Because of the two month delay on sending operating scripts to me, all these options had expired.
I cannot help but think that SISMO delayed the sending of the scripts so as to provide a reason for NOT refunding 100% of the purchase price.
SISMO Solicones appears to be a company that will ONLY support and stand by their products if you want to purchase something or want to use it. If you ask for a refund on faulty components, components that do not work with your choosen avionics software suite, or scripts that do not function correctly, then expect NOTHING, or at the very least, a minimal refund (and you will have to fight to get this refund).
What you can expect from SISMO, is e-mail after e-mail informing you that you have no right to refund, that you have damaged the items, that you did not follow SISMO policies, etc, etc.
After many e-mails I succeeded in gaining a E400 Euro refund for an initial E1400 Euro outlay.
I am sure there are many happy customers using SISMO product; however, I am not one and I do not recommend SISMO Solicones. The quality of their products is poorly executed, attention to detail low, and attempt to maintain good customer relations non-existent (I was returning items)...
In my opinion, it is VITAL that a company standby and support their product-line, and this includes refunds if the product (for whatever reason) does not operate with your simulator set-up.
If you search the Internet, you will find very few comments regarding SISMO, other than company endorsed reviews.
If you are searching for quality avionics modules, look no further than Flight Deck Solutions or CP Flight. Both these companies are reliable, produce good products and provide exceptional after sales service. They also offer a refund if your not 100% satisified with their product. Whatever you do, don’t spend your money on inferior products from SISMO! (my opinion only).
- This review is rather negative towards SISMO Soluciones; however, I have "toned down” my anger to this company to produce a balanced and accurate review. Please understand that this is my experience with this company. Your experience may well be positive.
The avionics panels/modues I am currently using are genuine Boeing items converted to FS use and modules made by Flight Deck Solutions and CP Flight.
Feel welcome to make comments, either good or bad in the comments section.