AB412 collective head switch configuration tutorial

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!

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.

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.