To USB or not to USB? =)

Guys, a quick question, do you want a standalone USB version of the collective that will work without the master controller?

I see it as a lever for those of us who just want to add a collective to their existing system and the master box with one wire plugged in simply does seem really needed in that case.

This lever might have a USB-B socket on it instead of one of the RJ-45 sockets, this way you will still be able to connect extensions, but if the collective and, say, VRMax pedestal is all you really need, you won’t have extra wires and stuff hanging around.

What do you think? I’d like to hear some feedback in comments. Thanks! =)

Also, please fill the poll, that will help me to understand what devices are needed more than others =)

P.S. please leave a comment if you do so I could understand you’re not a robot.

Which peripherals do you have?

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MKIV master controller v2a is released!

The new controller features 5 I2C sockets for your peripherals, a stronger USB-B socket for durability, and peripheral flashing mode – no need for FTDI232 USB-UART board any more!

Just plug your device into 1st socket of the master, flip the mode switch to “P”, press the reset button (“R”), and flash it! Flip back to “F” to fly or update the master software.

The device is still stackable if you want some insane number of peripherals, the v2b version will be the regular one without flashing capability, meant for use as secondary controllers.

Look for the assembly/operating manual in the wiki!

MKIV master controller V2

Long ago, when Simchair only existed as an idea in my mind, I mostly tried to use its prototype to control my Trex 450 and used Arduino UNO as the master controller. It had no native USB support and was generally a pain, but one thing was good about it – the reliable and strong USB-B socket. I was never happy with the micro USB one on the Leonardo – so I finally decided to redesign the controller and addressed a few of its problems. Here’s what was changed:

  • changed size of the box to 100x90mm
  • brittle micro USB socket on the board changed to USB-B socket glued into the box
  • 5th I2C socket added (the box needed to become larger to fit the new USB socket)
  • strengthened the front panel so it won’t be bending because of hot glue
  • removed the reset button (never used it)
  • added a rib that will help to hold sockets in place and protect the board from glue
  • fixed nut sockets height and chamfered their edges
  • new rounded design

I will publish the files after some testing.

Documentation improvements

In the process of building another cyclic, I have taken some photos of improved cable management in the base – this way everything can still be detached for repairs with ease, yet looks cleaner than the old variant. I have also uploaded a pic of what goes where to the rates control panel manual – with it its much easier to get it right from the 1st time.

If you feel that something can be made better – and e.g. you can contribute some photos or a description of the part you found to be hard to understand / badly described in the wiki – please let me know, we will improve it together =)

New hardware and an important software update

It’s been a while since my last post, mainly because I have been working on the project wiki, which is now filled with documentation! Some stuff was just copied from MKIII manuals, but a lot more has been written from scratch. I am happy to say that we are nearing the point where each of the released components will have a detailed building manual.

New hardware piece is coming soon – the MKIV simple collective.

It’s an awesome thing in its own way – beautiful in its minimalism, inexpensive, compact device that still supports all MKIV features, sporting 2 physical buttons and a momentary switch, which are extended to a total of 12 buttons when used with MKIV base mode switch. It supports advanced throttle features (software idle-stop detent) and can be operated with or without the pneumatic mod. It’s also very portable and can be used with motion platforms. You can also fit MKIV base extensions (pedestals at the moment) onto this lever, enabling you to control switches and knobs in your virtual cockpit with your left hand, which is especially useful in VR!

This is a perfect device for helicopter enthusiasts that have limited space in their sim pit or want an inexpensive but feature-rich device.

The latest software update contains the following changes:

  • MKIV simple collective support added
  • fixed a bug in tactile detent mark handler function, that was affecting all collective levers; If your lever does not press joy button 3 after you have pressed the IDLE REL button and closed the throttle, or advanced functions do not work – install this update.
  • cyclic/pedals filtering is now disabled by default; It really doesn’t affect anything but input lag. The hardware is definitely precise enough to fly without filtering.
  • a few other less significant special throttle functions related bugs fixed.

Stay tuned!

Bell 206 collective head release

The final version of Bell 206 style collective head is now available for download, along with a special version of the lever body with a 104-degree throttle turn range! I have also added its assembly manual to the wiki and updated the firmware to support the new head =)

This one looks really good, and, although simple, has everything one needs to fly helicopters – as its starter button and GOV RPM switch support MKIV collective mode switch functionality.

If you want something scale-looking, this one is definitely an eye-catcher.

If you’re using MKIV software, please update – this version has some important fixes related to throttle operation in ALL of MKIV collective levers and related advanced functions:

  • throttle stabilizer works properly now for all collective levers
  • button press on throttle cutoff and DCS Huey compat mode now work correctly with inverted throttle axes