Improved throttle frame design for collective levers with head support

It is an improved 200-degree turn throttle frame. The frame diameter was changed to 36mm, so overall throttle grip diameter will change to 40mm (like in a real Huey). That change was made to improve the structural strength of the unit. The I2C upgrade allows for some interesting things here, so I will try to make some kind of an idle stop button (most likely a software one).

Pseudo force trim added

Along with “FORCE_TRIM” sensitivity switch mode, I decided to add an actual force trim feature. There are two modes available: INSTANT and ADAPTIVE. The first one will disable the trim when you press the button, and the stick will turn to where you hold it. It will often result in a weird maneuver, as it’s hard enough to put a stick in an exact same place where it was when you trimmed it. That’s why an adaptive mode is there! When you press the button, the stick freezes, and will only move again after you press the button, AND the stick will be within the given range of deviation from the trimmed position! You can give the range in percent; I think a value of 5 or 10 is a good point to start. Note that you have to press the button once and then move the stick to a trimmed position, it will move as soon as it reaches a given deviation range.

If you ever get into trouble, SENS_SWITCH_TRIM_EMERGENCY_RELEASE is there to help. With it enabled, just press the SENS_SWITCH button to instantly release the trim regardless of cyclic position.

I advise you to use SENS_SWITCH_MODE  TOGGLE along with the ADAPTIVE trim setting; this is a default setting. Note that though this is not the exact way trim works in a real heli, it is probably the best thing we can come up with for a non-FFB stick.  I have tried it in a short flight and was fairly satisfied with how it works.

Please share your thoughts on how force trim should be done on a non-FFB stick!

Download an updated .ino file from GitHub.

Trigger PTT button keyboard combo press function added

For when you need Teamspeak or some other external software for your comms, enable PTT_KEYBOARD_PRESS and set your desired keyboard combo. It will disable one of joystick buttons (you can choose which one, trigger PTT it a default setting) and press the selected keyboard combo instead.

#define PTT_KEYBOARD_PRESS 0 // set to 1 to enable keyboard combination press instead of a joystick button
#define PTT_BUTTON 4 //1st button is 0, 4 should be PTT trigger position

// this should press CTRL + Q
#define PTT_KEYBOARD_KEY ‘q’

Download an updated .ino file from GitHub.

Hat Switch mode added for a B8 stick thumb joystick

While testing a stick for last two weeks, I honestly couldn’t find a use for analog axes on a thumb joystick of a B8 stick grip. But, from time to time I noticed that  I could use a regular hat switch instead. So I decided to add an option for that to a master sketch.

#define B8_POT_MODE “HAT_SW” // HAT_SW or ANALOG

HAT_SW is now a default option (as I believe most users will find this behaviour natural), but you can always change it back to ANALOG and get two 8-bit axes, e.g., for searchlight control or something like that.

Download an updated .ino file from GitHub.

Thoughts on sensitivity of controls

I have been testing new hardware more thoroughly and noticed, that different sims have very different controls sensitivity settings (and ways to adjust it).  More than that, some of the sims tend to react on even the slightest jitter from Hall effect sensors and ADC (which is really almost nonexistent), while others ignore it completely.  That means that often, there’s a need for per-sim or even per-aircraft setting.

Simchair MKIII cyclic and pedals are sensitive enough to emulate the control response of lightest and twitchiest helicopters out there. But what if you feel it is too sensitive for the particular helicopter model you want to fly? Or, maybe the sim you are flying in treats joystick sensitivity settings differently, or even doesn’t have proper controls settings at all? What if setting curves is not what you want, but your sim doesn’t have any linear sensitivity adjustment options?

Continue reading “Thoughts on sensitivity of controls”

A better resolution for cyclic and pedals

While experimenting with adjusting controls sensitivity for different sims, I have found an interesting thing: in fact, the ADS1115 is so precise its values can be used without filtering at a 15-bit resolution! It is rather impressive 32768 points per axis. I can’t say the difference is as huge as between 8 bit and 12, but it depends on the game. For example, while I  only felt a marginal difference in DCS and X-plane, it was very noticeable in Arma 3. That’s why  I added an ADS1115_RESOLUTION constant to the master controller sketch.

You can set ADS1115 resolution like that:

#define ADS1115_RESOLUTION 15 //from 12 to 15 bits

I am now curious if changing a connection scheme of an ADC to a differential one will give even better results!

You can download an updated .ino file from GitHub.

Helicopter pedals assembly manual added

You can find it here. These are a further evolution of Simchair MKII pedals, which were based on a simplified Mi-8 mechanics. The design turned out to be so simple and reliable, mostly aesthetical changes were made to it, along with some other improvements, including added centering, strengthened frame, and better ergonomics.