After adjusting some tolerances and strengthening some parts, I am releasing pneumatic actuator mod for public testing. I will need a month or so to tell if additional load affects the lever in a bad way. Meanwhile, I can say it feels strong enough and is great in flight. If you have printed and assembled the lever by yourself, and are able to reprint some parts should unforeseen problems occur, it definitely worths a try!
I have also reorganized files for collective lever mods and merged them into “Collective levers” folder.
I finally got my MAL16-150 pneumatic actuator from Aliexpress, and here’s what I’ve been able to do with it so far =) This will be a long post, I will try to describe my experience of designing and testing these upgrades so far.
In short, how does it feel in flight? I’d say it’s the best version so far. Moves buttery-smooth, yet boldly holds its position in all of the lever range, a smooth resistance of an actuator is a completely new feeling that adds to your virtual “seat of the pants” sence. More below =)
I’ve made a few adjustments to collective levers building process recently, and after some testing, I think they are good enough to be used =)
When you attach throttle grips, turn resistors fully to the left and then just a bit to the right to avoid its physical deadzones (before it was “fully to the right”, so not much of an axis was left for past idle stop detent movement). In theory, this will allow for more precise throttle movements below idle-stop detent in DCS. In practice, it’s not that important right now, but may be useful for future updates.
I have adjusted master controller firmware for a larger axis range and added a new parameter to make it configurable:
#define COLL_HEAD_DCS_HUEY_COMPAT_MODE_BUTTON_HOLD 50 // how long to hold throttle up/down buttons, adjusted depending on idle stop axis range (smaller range- bigger hold time and vice versa)
I’ve also changed the default Huey head switch modes configuration so you will be able to assign DCS Huey switches in a scale way without reconfiguring them.
An important update to master controller sketch is here! It’s now split into multiple small files.
This approach helps to keep your preferred configuration when updating software: all user configurable settings are now stored in a separate file – a_configuration.ino, just update your old file with new parameters if needed and replace the one from the repo with it! Having multiple files instead of one huge file simplifies navigation through source code as well. All these files will open as tabs in your Arduino IDE (it will actually concatenate them in alphabetical order while compiling, that’s why file names start with letters). If you want to know more about how Arduino IDE handles multiple files stuff, please look at this page.
Let’s look at the new file structure:
master_controller.ino // this file contains joystick and object definitions, all external libraries should be included there
a_configuration.ino // all user-configurable parameters are there
b_main.ino // global variables definitions, main subroutines are there.
For those of you guys who build simchair components as a DIY project, an important note about printer settings that will save you hours of printing. I use P3steel, it’s a nice, solid printer. But, I’ve had a lot of failures while printing some of the simchair parts. Others printed great and caused no problems, so I thought of these issues like of some “floating bug”, which was not the case.
Some parts have small perimeters in them, that require a lot of retracts. If retraction settings are wrong, the nozzle will clog on these parts.
To avoid this, if you have an E3Dv6 equipped printer, and print with PLA make sure your retraction settings are correct:
– its a lot better to use hotends with inner Teflon tubes inside for PLA (yup, they wear over time, yet they prevent clogging which happens a lot more often with all-metal hotends)
– Set retraction to 1,8mm for hotends with a Teflon tube inside, and something like 1 to 1,5mm for all-metal ones, 3000mm/min retraction speed is reasonable
With these settings, I’ve been able to eliminate clogging problems completely! It’s very important for parts like pedals frame, that take 1/3 of the spool to print. Hope this helps.
There are some really good news. The 1st set has reached Australia in 2 weeks, and the guys are pretty much happy with how it performs. More than that, they have already offered an interesting upgrade for the collective lever – a pneumatic tensioner! I simply can’t ignore that, so there will be at least a mod for it. I can’t say if it is better than rubber bands until I try it, but it sure looks very promising! The picture below shows how they’ve done it, check the video as well.
Thank you, Chris and Tony, this project has become what it is now largely because of your interest and contributions.
I have fixed some switch operation related bugs today and decided to make a video to show how to configure a collective head to suit your needs. Different sims can require different switch setups, for example, DCS Huey uses 3 of 4 modes for its collective head.
There are 4 switch modes, to assign a switch or a button to one of them look its joystick button number in joy.cpl and add it to one of the following arrays:
ab412_sw_mode_button_switches – push button mode – joystick button is pressed when you hold the switch, supports mode switch
ab412_sw_mode_toggle_switches – toggle switch mode – when the switch goes up, joystick button is pressed and released, when it goes back to the middle position – the button is pressed and released again (example : gear lever), ignores mode switch setting
ab412_sw_mode_selector_button_switches – maps a 3-way switch to 3 joystick buttons, one for “up” position, one for “down”, one for “middle”. Buttons are pressed when the switch is being held pressed. Example: landing light switch – up-hold-down.
ab412_sw_mode_selector_switches – same as the previous one, but joystick buttons are pressed and released. This is there in case someone needs it for something.
For first two types, you put buttons one by one to the array (one switch is 2 joystick buttons, so if the switch shows as buttons 3 and 4 in joy.cpl, you write both 3 and 4 to the corresponding array), for last two types you only write the lesser of two switch buttons (lets say a switch shows as buttons 14 and 15 in joy.cpl, then you only have to write 14). Do not forget to remove switch and button numbers from their previous mode array when you assign them to another mode.
If something needs more detailed explanation, or if you want some other interesting switch mode, please ask in comments!
While building the twin lever, I’ve decided to change the design of the throttle 1 frame p2 part to make throttle grips tension equal. The part now has a detent in it, that can also add some rigidness to the lever. If you’re building the twin lever, definitely use the new part! All updates are already on GitHub! I will be adding a similar part for the single throttle collective shortly.
Also made some fixes to AB412 head mods and software (added support for an extra mode switch)