Twin throttle collective lever test build

Twin throttle Bell 412 – style collective

download dev snapshot

I have assembled the twin lever today, everything fits very good. However, I should probably describe one minor “issue”. While building the lever, one MUST drill holes in the second engine throttle grip frame AND put screws into that holes STRICTLY BEFORE routing wires through the lever. Had to put everything apart 3 times because of that (well, at least this way I confirmed the possibility of disassembling the lever multiple times without breaking it). I also noticed, that in the dev snapshot the “collective_connector_adjustable.stl” file was oriented incorrectly. Consider turning it 90 degrees along the Z axis, or removing supports from inside of it will be very hard. Another very minor issue is with an idle stop “detent” mark, it will probably be placed 5 or 10 degrees higher. Otherwise, the dev build files are fine. Will correct this stuff in the release version, which I will post in a couple of days after some testing.

Now, let me share my feelings from the first flight with it!

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Scenic flight in X-Plane 11 with photoreal scenery

Just a piece of unedited X-plane 11 flight video with Dreamfoil Bell 407, showing the beauty of an Ortho4XP photoreal scenery (and a very nice 407 :D). An autogen layer was generated on top of HD mesh v 4.  Camera shaking is done with X-Camera and Headshake plugins, along with the G-Force plugin. Of course, Simchair MKIII set is used for controls, you can see how it behaves in X-Plane. This video shows what X-Plane can give us that DCS can’t.

I’ve been flying from Walla Walla (KALW) to Lemhi County (KSMN) via SALMON (LKT) VOR online in VATSIM, using maps. There wasn’t any tower available at the moment, and no other aircraft in the vicinity, so I decided not to flood the Unicom channel with unnecessary messages on approach.

AB412 collective head released!

I think after few days of testing I can finally release the head, it looks and feels great. There are few versions, with or without 1 or 2 rotary pots and mode switch on sides of the head. I would recommend using one with a rotary pot and a mode switch.

You will find more info on the build process, electronics, and configuration here.

X-Trident AB412 idle stop switch compatibility mode

Many of us sim pilots love flying the great AB412 by X-Trident, and some probably noticed that there are no keybindings for an idle stop switch on the collective head. That kinda surprised me, given that the 412 collective head is very close to release now =) Thankfully, guys on X-Plane forums (including the 412 developer) were very kind to point me in the right direction, and I’ve been able to write a very simple script to fix that.

What it does, is it simply assigns PgUp and PgDown buttons to the idle switch. I will then be able to send these key presses from the Simchair firmware, in a similar way to the DCS Huey compat mode.

For the script to work you’ll need the FlyWithLua plugin, extract it to your XPlane11\Resources\plugins folder. After that, put the script to XPlane11\Resources\plugins\FlyWithLua\Scripts folder (remove the “please read the manual.lua” file). If you want to change keys for the switch, you have to find out their numbers with a sniffer. Put it to the same folder, reload all Lua files from the plugin options menu in X-Plane, and it will show you the numbers you can put to the script instead of PgUp and PgDown.


AB412 collective head showcase!

Have you ever dreamed of starting the engine of DCS Huey without touching your mouse or keyboard? Now you can, with this open source Simchair MKIII collective lever. I’ve been working hard on software for the last couple of days. The head now supports 4 different switch operation modes to cover all your needs, 3-way  mode selector switch option (which will triple your buttons or spring-loaded switches number), IDLE CUTOFF compatibility mode for DCS Huey. Because of the latter, the realistic startup procedure can be performed, with one exception.

In a real heli, the idle stop button controls a solenoid valve. if the battery will die in the wrong moment during startup  (that happens sometimes), this valve may not open and you won’t be able to shut down, resulting in a burned engine. That’s why you want to position throttle just a little bit off the idle stop position on the decrease side, but you can’t, due to how DCS handles throttle operation past the idle cutoff switch. This is really a minor issue, still, if you want the procedure to be as realistic as possible, connect an external power prior to startup. Note that when flying in multiplayer, chat window has to be closed when using idle stop related operations with the collective.

The fresh software snapshot with all the goodies included is available on GitHub


AB412 collective test print photos and thoughts on software


Finished the first test print of the head, and it looks good! Seems like it will be quite interesting from a point of software: with 3-way switches, there will be 17 buttons + 2 hat switches, and if we add a mode switch, it will triple this number. The question is, whether the master controller will be able to poll all this stuff and return values to windows without lags (in windows joysticks have weird limitations of 32 buttons, 1 hat switch and 2 7 axes per piece, so it will have to look as several joysticks to work everywhere). In the worst case scenario, it will be a semi-scale head with 2 hats, 11 buttons, 1 rotary axis and (probably) a mode switch.

Master controller software bug fix, please update

When working on a flight test video, I noticed that emergency trim release with SENS_SWITCH function had not been working properly if force trim release button was pressed (actually the case when you may need emergency trim release function most). This was just fixed, so please update your master controller software.

Download it from GitHub