Throttle latch button design improvement

A really small update for the latest physical throttle latch mod. A fellow 206 pilot pointed out that the shape (and the color!) of the button was not realistic!

So who am I to argue with a pilot, here’s the new one 😀

I have filled letters with white paint marker ink, then wiped the surface of the button with a cotton pad wetted in acetone. The button was then glued to the shameful “unrealistic” one with cyanoacrylate =)

The cap is already in the repo if you like it (I do, it really looks much better) 😉

Realistic throttle latch operation for all collective levers

When I added support of sending a button press at zero throttle position for new throttle latch, I thought that nothing actually prevents me from doing the same thing for levers with tactile idle stop mark!

So, I have added a similar mode for Huey-style lever (which still looks better with a tactile mark design, as in the real Huey the idle stop latch is driven by a solenoid). So, to press the cutoff button (throttle latch button in Dreamfoil 407 for Xplane11) with a turn of the throttle grip, in case of the tactile mark lever, one has to press the assigned idle release button on the head before moving throttle grip past the idle stop detent. This pretty much makes all levers very similar in the sense of realism, the only thing absent in tactile mark levers being the actual detent of the idle stop. Not a big deal tbh!

For levers with physical latch, the button will always be pressed when the throttle grip reaches its zero position.

Here’s how it looks in the configuration:

#define BUTTON_PRESS_ON_THROTTLE_CUTOFF 1// this feature will send a joystick button press when the throttle is fully closed
#define THROTTLE_LATCH_MODE “TACTILE” // PHYSICAL for physical latch mod or TACTILE for levers with tactile marks
#define PHYSICAL_LATCH_MOD_JOY_BUTTON 32 // joystick button number as seen in joy.cpl for the 1st Leonardo in the list
#define THROTTLE_MIN_AXIS_VALUE 0 // check this if the default doesn’t work, print raw_throttle value in e_single_collective.ino and set this line to its value, corresponding to a fully closed throttle

Physical throttle latch mod for a single collective is released!

I am happy to say that the test sample of the mod works perfectly!

All related files and models are pushed to the repo. Here’s a short video of it in action:

The cool thing about the mod is, except for printed parts, it only uses a spring from a PBS-16 button which is used in the Huey head as well as an idle latch release button. So no unicorn horn powder involved =)

I will be adding software support for it today. It will send a joystick button press when the throttle is set to zero, so DF 407 in xplane and some other helicopters that have it implemented in an equally anal way will work properly =)

I have also added a version of a collective housing with a revision hatch for a rubber band based tensioner version.


News on the latest updates

I have been working on the 206-style collective lately, and here’s what it looks like so far:

A few notes about it:

  • it works!
  • it will be released as a mod to the single throttle lever.
  • it uses 3 parts (one of which is an assembly of 3 small parts itself) that are different from the original lever, so any existing single throttle lever can be modified without too much effort
  • 1st test video showing an assembled lever will probably be released on this weekend =)

I have also added a mod (part 1 and part 2) for the collective housing that allows access to the magnet from the left side of the lever:

And look at this really great 407 head design sketch by Connor P. Bourque (I hope you don’t mind me posting it for everyone to see mate)!

Hopefully, I will be able to assemble and try the lever on this weekend.

Stay tuned! =)

Important updates for reinforced gimbal

Some really cool and important upgrades for the reinforced gimbal here!  Here’s the list:

  • Ethernet socket is moved to allow for gimbal rings assemble extraction without the need for removing it
  • Y-axis magnet holder review/ adjustment hatch allows for easy adjustment should the need occur. It also allows for adjusting wires after everything is assembled.
  • FTCR (Force Trim Center Reset) button was added. It allows redefining the recorded center position (it is recorded on controller startup). The button has its own housing and is connected to the rear of the gimbal through a separate  Ethernet socket.
  • the most important upgrade: spring holder support ring! If you have built this thing by yourself, print and install it! This thing improves force trim operation and increases precision! It turned out that spring holders can rotate under load, thus moving the physical center position from its recorded (on controller startup) spot. Basically, this makes force trim operation unreliable. The support ring fixes the issue completely.

All changes (hardware and software) are pushed to repositories. The button uses 2 last pins of an Ethernet socket (white-brown and brown). The socket connects to 5v and A2 pin of an ADS1115 board inside of the gimbal.

You can now redefine the stick physical center (the spot where the stick is returned by springs) at any moment. Make sure the controls (cyclic and pedals) are absolutely still when doing this. This is useful in case you have pushed the stick to its boundaries, or just detached/reattached the stick, or changed its physical configuration (adjusted its lengths) without disconnecting the controller from USB.

Here are some pics:

And a video, that shows it in action!

Goodies to come

Since we will have a Bell 206 in FFS, tuned by an owner of the real one, its default MILVIZ 407, ported from FSX, also works (more or less, its flight model  needs improvement, its systems are yet to be added), and there are great Dreamfoil 206 and 407 for X-Plane as well, I decided to take on the challenge of making a mechanical 206-style idle stop latch mod for a single collective =)

I am not yet sure how it will look, and what changes to the lever will be needed (as I see it now, 3 parts would need to be replaced, thus it won’t look good with a Huey head anymore).

We can also expect a 206 semi-scale head and probably a 407 one. Can’t say anything about when yet, but here’s a small teaser:

If everything goes right, with a good model of 206 made by a real pilot and backed up by affordable open source hardware, we can set a new standard of quality helicopter simulation, as a Dodosim 206 did some 10 years ago.

Some amazing news

A while ago, I have been invited to join the closed beta testing of Flyinside Flight Simulator (FFS). It’s an interesting new project, focused on flying in VR. It focuses on high performance and gesture controls while scenery still looks great. For now, they are at the beginning of their way, but the project looks VERY promising, especially for us, sim heli pilots. That’s because they already have some intersting effects in their physics engine, like VRS (vortex ring), translational lift, different yaw authority in left and right pedal turns.

Whats even more important, they have a great community. One guy, RotorRick, is a helicopter pilot, who flies both 206 and a Rotorway, and happens to be a programmer as well. He was very kind to provide the 206 collective head and cyclic stick measurements.

Also, he wants to bring a proper flight model to us simmers. With such guys working on the sim, I am quite sure it will become the helicopter flight sim of the future.

Collective pneumatic mod manual updated

A few good things happened in the last few days.

  • I have added a very detailed step-by-step manual for the collective pneumatic mod. Some minor improvements were made.
  • I’ve been able to test the twin collective with it, works flawlessly
  • MAL-16-100 cylinder has been tested, and it works as good as the MAL-16-150 one, but is shorter (this is the shortest one that will work, MAL-16-50 is incompatible!)
  • some minor tweaks has been made to the software configuration to fit new manuals.
  • the helicopter controls set is now completely documented (and very polished)!

We now have quite a detailed documentation with photos for:

single and twin collective levers;
collective heads (switch panels);
reinforced cyclic gimbal with its stick frame;
B8 stick grip;


Reinforced gimbal manual updated

I have updated the reinforced gimbal assembly manual page to reflect the latest changes in it. I decided to make adjustable spring holders a default option (these are really good) and put older ones to Mods directory for the gimbal. Don’t use them unless you have some problems with drilling (like not having a drill, but I would still recommend buying / borrowing one). The provided drill guide tool, used carefully, allowed me to drill as much as 8 holes, still remaining usable after that. I noticed that rinsing the tool with water helps a lot!

I have made a 2-hour flight in a 407 on VATSIM yesterday and absolutely loved how the gimbal worked. It was flawless!