An important software update

I have tried flying the TF-51 with new quadrant and remembered I’ve been using a hat switch on the B8 stick to set up trimmers. I mostly fly helicopters, so had my B8_HAT_SWITCH_MODE set to “ATT_TRIM”, which dedicates the hat switch to making a tiny “electric” cyclic movements when force trim is enabled. Then I thought, that there’s actually no reason to block hat switch input when force trim is not active, and added a new option “BOTH”, which is now a default one. Hat switch now works as usual, until you press the force trim button. Then, pressing the hat switch moves the stick around “electrically” as in ATT_TRIM mode =) This allows you to assign hat switch to fly planes, and use it to make tiny adjustments with cyclic when cruising in helicopters at the same time.

Please update your master controller software.

5x5x5 magnet holder for reinforced gimbal added

I have added modified holders for the reinforced gimbal that Guido has asked for. Sadly I can’t test them myself, so please tell me how these mounts worked for ya mate =)

There are 2 versions: the “a” version has the same distance from magnet to the sensor as 6x6x4 one, and in the “b” version, a magnet socket is lifted a little for an extra tolerance (the magnet is 1mm wider so potentially can touch the sensor with its angle when turned, tell me if you encounter this issue).

Trying latest stuff in X-plane

Finally, after quite a long process of designing new things and upgrading old, I can relax for a while and fly to my heart’s content: stuff needs testing. I try to fly every evening, sometimes in DCS, sometimes – in X-Plane. I like both of them: DCS for the Huey, which feels alive, X-Plane for Ortho4XP, VATSIM and the opportunity to fly around the world.

Sometimes it’s a bit hard to go from DCS to X-Plane and fly perfectly: the way these sims handle controls input feels very different. Usually, I try new hardware in DCS at first, because its flight model is better. I have been flying there for a while lately, even had a chance to lead a large enough formation, and could say nothing bad about the new gimbal.

Today I decided to go on with my X-Plane journey across the US West in a 407, doing a short Derby (KLOL) – Silver Springs (KSPZ) leg of the route. After getting used to more sensitive controls response of the 407, the flight has been a pure joy. I have started the flight with 80% sensitivity mode enabled but quickly switched to 100%. The gimbal allowed for slightest adjustments to be made with cyclic. This time I used force trim function in flight a few times, to hold the stick while I’ve been looking at the map, and to try 407 specific “electric” cyclic movements with a hat switch.  With rubber bands now present on the gimbal, it holds and centers cyclic stick quite well, now I use force trim mode on the ground only when I need to remove cyclic stick to go pour myself some tea =)

So far the gimbal feels perfect. It’s very precise, maybe because of a stronger mechanics, there seems to be no backlash at all. The collective with a pneumatic mod still holds together and feels great as well. I tried adding a few drops of bicycle chain oil to the tensioner, this way it can strengthen the assembly, yet not affect smoothness of travel.

Overall the whole set is very precise and smooth, probably leaving nothing more to wish for, except maybe pneumatic mods for cyclic and pedals =)

Bell 407 in Silver Springs is awesome, especially with Ortho4XP!

Throttle quadrant released!

I have printed the quadrant, its parts seem to fit together quite well. I have also added firmware for it, for now, it supports 3 axes (3 more can be added easily).

Each slider has a reverse mode, programmed as a separate axis, so we can fly STOL aircraft =) This is the first version of the software, more features will follow. Let me know if you have ideas of useful functions for it!

Simchair MKIII universal throttle quadrant

Simchair MKIII universal throttle quadrant

I really like flying helicopters, but sometimes I just want to take that Cessna 172 for a ride. Sometimes, I like flying TF-51 in DCS.  Sometimes I fly STOL aircraft, and I know some of my friends love flying jets.

I have made a single prop GA control panel with three axes earlier, but that one only has 3 axes, and most of the times I am too lazy to go fetch it from the shelf and mount to the table. That’s why I decided to make something universal, that will fit the standard IKEA GUNDE chair frame, somewhere on top of the collective lever base. I want it to be connected and active simultaneously with other stuff at all times (I think we all can find a good use for some additional axes).

I also want it to be modular (stackable, from 1 to 6 axes, for now, tell me if you need more!), and I want full reverse support (there’s a problem with it usually). I don’t think it needs to resemble any particular aircraft, so it can stay universal =)

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far =)

Simchair MKIII universal throttle quadrant

It uses all of the standard potentiometer’s 300-degree travel range. Forty degrees of travel is reserved for reverse operation (various types of reverse will be supported in software), then there’s a small gap with a tactile detent, and the rest of its travel is used for main axes. I will start printing it soon and release it after I  check that parts fit together properly.

Stay tuned!

Pneumatic mod counterweight design improved

I have found that an issue with the collective lever being a bit too stiff was not due to the counterweight position, but rather because of how upper cylinder hinge was assembled. I have improved this unit and achieved silky smooth travel regardless of a position of the counterweight. Thus, I decided to move it to where it can be barely seen, to improve the overall look of the lever:

A better counterweight housing design
It is almost completely hidden under the chair

Strengthened gimbal released!

As I have promised, the gimbal is finally released for public testing =) Also, for those willing to try other two designs (MLX90333 based), you can find their dev source files under “dev” directory.

Let me know if you guys have some cool ideas! I will be adding the pneumatic mod for these as soon as pneumatic cylinders arrive. While they are en route though, I am going to make some flying so I can test the new stuff properly.

Here are some pics of the new stuff =)

The strengthened 608zz and SS495A based gimbal
Single collective lever with the pneumatic mod installed