Collective pneumatic mod manual updated

A few good things happened in the last few days.

  • I have added a very detailed step-by-step manual for the collective pneumatic mod. Some minor improvements were made.
  • I’ve been able to test the twin collective with it, works flawlessly
  • MAL-16-100 cylinder has been tested, and it works as good as the MAL-16-150 one, but is shorter (this is the shortest one that will work, MAL-16-50 is incompatible!)
  • some minor tweaks has been made to the software configuration to fit new manuals.
  • the helicopter controls set is now completely documented (and very polished)!

We now have quite a detailed documentation with photos for:

single and twin collective levers;
collective heads (switch panels);
reinforced cyclic gimbal with its stick frame;
B8 stick grip;


Reinforced gimbal manual updated

I have updated the reinforced gimbal assembly manual page to reflect the latest changes in it. I decided to make adjustable spring holders a default option (these are really good) and put older ones to Mods directory for the gimbal. Don’t use them unless you have some problems with drilling (like not having a drill, but I would still recommend buying / borrowing one). The provided drill guide tool, used carefully, allowed me to drill as much as 8 holes, still remaining usable after that. I noticed that rinsing the tool with water helps a lot!

I have made a 2-hour flight in a 407 on VATSIM yesterday and absolutely loved how the gimbal worked. It was flawless!

Happy holidays!

Today’s a happy and highly anticipated day for a lot of us fellow sim pilots!

Merry Christmas to you guys and happy holidays to everyone!

HML-167 “Ho Ho Hope bird” over Vietnam. Source:

Important reinforced gimbal update!

I have tested redesigned parts of the gimbal and stick frame, and a few annoying issues I’ve been talking about in the previous post are now solved. Here’s the list of changes:

  1. Tolerances of stick connector parts 3 and 4 were adjusted. If your gimbal is mounted under the chair, please print and replace them. This is important as old parts allowed for the stick to wobble.
  2. Removed an unneeded connector nut from the stick connector bolt. This “decorative” nut was interfering with tightening things.
  3. Thread locker is now recommended for use when assembling the gimbal. Manual has been updated accordingly.
  4. Adjustable stick tensioners are now the default option. Old simpler tensioner model is moved to the mods section. I see no point in using them, new ones are way better.
  5. Ergonomic IKEA GUNDE compatible stick frame was redesigned to be stronger, tolerances have been corrected to prevent possible wobble between parts. A second M8x200mm bolt was added to prevent turning of parts under load.
  6. Software: fixed an error with stick center position being set incorrectly in extreme precision mode. Please update master controller firmware if you use springs with this gimbal.
  7. Fixed some errors in file names.
  8. Stick assembly process description with photos was added to the gimbal assembly manual.

All changes have been pushed to GitHub repos, please update. I will be updating the manual with photos, reflecting changes to the assembly process, shortly.

“Star Destroyer” reinforced gimbal mod test =)

I have been testing the new gimbal for a while now, and while it worked very well, 2 things were not perfect:

1)bolts were getting loose over time, resulting in parts turning along them relatively to each other, requiring constant adjustments.
2) there was no mechanical spring tension adjustment, so no mechanical way to center the gimbal with a long and heavy stick

I have fixed the first issue by adjusting some tolerances (that were too big in some parts), adding thread locker in certain places (the manual is updated accordingly) and redesigning the stick frame.

I have tried a few different designs of adjustable spring holders, and finally came up with this one, which I called the “Star Destroyer” because of its look =)

I liked how smooth it is in flight, I’ve been able to center the stick perfectly, adjusting spring holders, parts won’t turn sideways so far.

I decided to make a test flight at fully linear controls setting in XPlane, with 100% firmware sensitivity mode, in the wind to test the precision of the gimbal, and liked the result!

Typically I would use 80% firmware sensitivity (extreme precision mode) along with 10% curve in XPlane, so cruising would require less concentration, to be able to enjoy the surroundings in VR, so that’s why there’ve been kinda weird attitude change when i tried to show force trim in cruise flight. Muscle memory, you know =)

New spring holders require drilling holes in bolts, so I have designed a printable drill guide tool for that.

I will be updating repositories tomorrow after additional testing.

A better XTrident 412 support

It’s been a long time since I added the XTrident 412 startup and shutdown support (for some weird reason it doesn’t have key assignments for starter and idle stop buttons) by request of my friends and I’ve been pretty much concentrating on polishing the hardware lately. I never liked that script, as it was pretty glitchy and written in an anal way, and it may have possibly been eating up some hard – earned FPS. But finally, I’ve gotten some time to read the docs and came up with a much cleaner script, that just adds a few entries to XPlane’s controls menu. It works perfectly and does not disable starter and idle stop switches from sending joystick button presses, unlike the old one, so you can use them when flying something else, and that’s cool =)

An old compatibility mode is now deprecated and will probably be removed (for being anal!) from the firmware. Please let me know if you guys need an option of sending keyboard presses with head switches (you can always do it with software like Joystick Gremlin btw).

To the new script, install FlyWithLua┬áplugin, and put the script under XPlane11\Resources\plugins\FlyWithLua\Scripts folder. Start the sim, and you will find new key assignments for XTrident 412 under Simchair MKIII/412 tab. However, you will notice that there are 3 keys for each switch: left, right, and middle positions. That’s where 412 head’s special switch modes come in handy!

You can either get the latest master controller firmware from GitHub, or make the following changes in switches configuration for the 412 head:

  1. Remove button numbers from ab412_coll_head_idle_stop_buttons[] and ab412_coll_head_starter_buttons[] arrays:

    byte ab412_coll_head_idle_stop_buttons[] = {};
    byte ab412_coll_head_starter_buttons[] = {};

  2. Remove these buttons from ab412_sw_mode_button_switches[] array as well:

    byte ab412_sw_mode_button_switches[] = {1,2,17};

  3. Add these buttons to ab412_sw_mode_selector_button_switches[] array:

    byte ab412_sw_mode_selector_button_switches[] = {9,11,13};
  4. Reflash the firmware.


Some really sad news out there:

Goodbye, HoverControl, you had a heck of a run

It was long ago when I have still been a child.

This was the site from where I’ve downloaded first decent helicopter models for FS9 I tried, the forum where I’ve learned a lot about helicopters, and the multiplayer server, where I first tried flying online with people who loved rotary wing machines as much as I did. I’ve never received an HC certified pilot status because my skills in English were far from being sufficient for that in those days, yet the whole experience had influenced me to the point I am still using my callsign as a nickname pretty much everywhere. I’ve never been anywhere near the town of Hood River in real life, yet its fictional representation from FSX brings memories and feels so familiar. The whole area around Ken Jenstedt airfield (used as a base for a fictional Hood River airfield – former HoverControl base) still feels like a virtual hometown to me =)

It’s really sad to see the resource going down…

Below, there’s a slightly edited cross-post of my comment under Sergio’s article.

I’ve been noticing that the forum wasn’t looking good lately… It is a huge loss for the community. I don’t think the reason lies solely in social networks replacing forums, but rather in an end of MSFS era.

How about reviving the whole thing in XP11 and Vatsim? As far as I know, there are no barriers for helicopter operations in VATSIM, live ATC is often online, xsquawbox is working pretty good, Dreamfoil helis are not perfect, but good enough, so… why not? Nothing’s wrong with flying in DCS as well.

I can offer my technical knowledge as an IT engineer and Simchair MKIII open-source 3d-printable heli sim hardware design, that you can find on this site. We could have used some similar domain name (e.g. and make a fresh start, if anyone’s interested. Of course, there wouldn’t be much to do without people actually flying together, so the question is, whether we really need it and want it to happen. If so, we’ll need guys, willing to participate as instructor pilots, forum moderators, etc.

With all these quality helicopter sims out there, like DCS helis, or DF helis for XPlane, it doesn’t look like the whole simulation thing is dying at all, especially with the rise of VR. Yet, should we will become too scattered as a community, sooner or later people will stop making quality products, and that’s where things will start going downhill and it won’t be long before we will have nothing, but FSX-default-206-alikes (flight model wise) with super-duper-HD-textures and mega-realistic sounds, with their main features being VR-ready animated cupholders and an Ipad in the cockpit.

I, for instance, would hate seeing that happen, so I would love to do what I can to support the revival of the resource that had been helping to introduce newcomers to our friendly fellowship in some new, up-to-date shape.

Anyway, thank you, Jordan, for everything you did for the community and for popularisation of helicopter simulation. It’s been a great time. Thank you, Sergio, for letting us know.

Please let me know what you guys think in comments.