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;
pedals.

Enjoy!

A better XTrident 412 support

It’s been a long time since I added the XTrident 412 startup and shutdown support (for some weird reason it doesn’t have key assignments for starter and idle stop buttons) by request of my friends and I’ve been pretty much concentrating on polishing the hardware lately. I never liked that script, as it was pretty glitchy and written in an anal way, and it may have possibly been eating up some hard – earned FPS. But finally, I’ve gotten some time to read the docs and came up with a much cleaner script, that just adds a few entries to XPlane’s controls menu. It works perfectly and does not disable starter and idle stop switches from sending joystick button presses, unlike the old one, so you can use them when flying something else, and that’s cool =)

An old compatibility mode is now deprecated and will probably be removed (for being anal!) from the firmware. Please let me know if you guys need an option of sending keyboard presses with head switches (you can always do it with software like Joystick Gremlin btw).

To the new script, install FlyWithLua plugin, and put the script under XPlane11\Resources\plugins\FlyWithLua\Scripts folder. Start the sim, and you will find new key assignments for XTrident 412 under Simchair MKIII/412 tab. However, you will notice that there are 3 keys for each switch: left, right, and middle positions. That’s where 412 head’s special switch modes come in handy!

You can either get the latest master controller firmware from GitHub, or make the following changes in switches configuration for the 412 head:

  1. Remove button numbers from ab412_coll_head_idle_stop_buttons[] and ab412_coll_head_starter_buttons[] arrays:

    byte ab412_coll_head_idle_stop_buttons[] = {};
    byte ab412_coll_head_starter_buttons[] = {};

  2. Remove these buttons from ab412_sw_mode_button_switches[] array as well:

    byte ab412_sw_mode_button_switches[] = {1,2,17};

  3. Add these buttons to ab412_sw_mode_selector_button_switches[] array:

    byte ab412_sw_mode_selector_button_switches[] = {9,11,13};
  4. Reflash the firmware.

Universal throttle quadrant page added

I have accidentally noticed yesterday that I’ve actually forgotten to add a throttle quadrant page after I finished working on it and built a prototype!

This is now fixed, and the quadrant finally has its own page with a humble description. Consisting of only 4 different (stackable) parts, the thing is probably the easiest one to make, so doesn’t require much of a manual to assemble mechanically. Regarding the software, its current version supports 3 main axes and 3 secondary (reverse or smth) axes, and can be easily changed to support 6 main axes. If you need more and are in doubt about how to do it, please feel free to contact me, I will advise the best way to tailor the software to your needs. This quadrant design can be used to drive any axes number, so you can fly pretty much anything from a Cessna 182 to a B52 with it! =)

Helicopter pedals improvements

While building another set of helicopter pedals, I’ve accidentally cracked the wall of the frame in its weakest spot while press-fitting a 300mm piece of aluminum tubing.

As the frame is quite a long print, requiring some noticeable amount of plastic, I felt the need to do something with this problem (which I have already tried to address a while ago by inclining the tubing slot to reduce its shrinkage). As the fit is quite tight (which is intended) depending on a printer (and temp used to print parts, which should be higher than usual for pedals, I use 225 degrees centigrade for regular PLA, at first, try printing a frame leg and fitting it on a piece of aluminum tubing, it should not break), and also tubing used (there’s a tubing that is 9,8mmx 19,8mm and there’s a tubing that is 10,0×20,0) it may become overly tight. In this case, one needs to sand it a bit, but if the available clearance is misjudged, the frame can crack. Of course, that’s what happened to me (again!) =)

So, here’s the fix, that hopefully will straighten things out:

I have added 10mm extra width to the back of the frame and removed the forward slot for aluminum tubing because of aesthetical reasons (I’ve never used it anyway, and to make it reliable I would have had to add a similar “thing” to the front of the frame, which would have looked kinda out of its place). Note that I have also added a little chamfer, hoping to reduce shrinkage on edges thus reducing chances of an overly tight fit.

I have also added a mod with rubber band holders removed. I have been testing the spring-loaded version for a while now, and it works perfectly (better than rubber bands) yet this is a very refined thing I like to improve gradually. Besides, one can still use it with rubber bands just fine, but note that the latest force-trim mode for a spring-loaded cyclic will only work with pedals with springs. That’s because pedals have to return to the same exact spot every time when released, what actually cannot be achieved with rubber bands.

I hope to be able to print the new frame until tomorrow and tell you guys how things worked.

All changes are already in the repo.

Adjustable ergonomic stick frame for a spring-loaded cyclic

After flying with a spring-loaded reinforced gimbal for a while, I noticed that slight backlash has developed in a stick connector part. While it was absolutely tolerable and that part can be replaced easily, I thought it was a good idea to design a new cyclic frame for those of us who value absolute precision over being able to remove the stick when not in use by simply pulling it off its socket.  The new stick frame is based on M8 bolts and mounted to the gimbal with nuts.  The cool thing about it  – you can easily adjust stick grip inclination (you can make a copy of AS350 stick for example) and fine-tune its dimensions to suit your anatomy. It can still be attached or detached quickly but requires 2 wrenches to tighten/loosen nuts properly. I think it will be a new recommended default for a spring-loaded cyclic.

As always, you can find parts for it on GitHub.

Here’s how it looks (note a slight inclination of the stick on the second photo):

Test flight of the latest upgrades in Dreamfoil 407

I have installed the same clutch pedal springs from LADA 2101 to pedals and made a short test flight of the upgraded hardware in X-Plane.

Impressions:

WOW, THAT NEW FORCE TRIM MODE IS AWESOME, SO ARE THE SPRINGS (like that, boldly, in caps)! Springs have actually added precision and made flying really comfortable. This short flight in a 407 probably felt like the best flight in it ever.

It really changes everything. I’ve been able to remove hands from the controls and pour myself some coke while flying the helicopter with pedals only.

I will need a couple of weeks to test mechanical strength of things, and if nothing breaks, will definitely recommend everyone to try a setup with springs!

A short video of landing:

Springs for a reinforced cyclic gimbal, new force trim mode!

I have finally been able to go to the local car parts shop and buy some springs for the gimbal. Here’s how it looks now:

Reinforced gimbal with springs!

 

I should start by saying it works just great. These springs are from some Lada’s clutch (i think they’re for the pedal), they are 55mm long when compressed and about 11mm wide. I am pretty sure any similar spring will work great, just pick one with light or moderate tension.

More (a lot more) below!

Continue reading “Springs for a reinforced cyclic gimbal, new force trim mode!”