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 =)
A very short (replay) video, showing precision maneuvers in X-Plane 11 with Simchair. This is the Dreamfoil 407. Not sure what happened with the engine, all gauges were green during the flight, only noticed the smoke on landing.
I have assembled the twin lever today, everything fits very good. However, I should probably describe one minor “issue”. While building the lever, one MUST drill holes in the second engine throttle grip frame AND put screws into that holes STRICTLY BEFORE routing wires through the lever. Had to put everything apart 3 times because of that (well, at least this way I confirmed the possibility of disassembling the lever multiple times without breaking it). I also noticed, that in the dev snapshot the “collective_connector_adjustable.stl” file was oriented incorrectly. Consider turning it 90 degrees along the Z axis, or removing supports from inside of it will be very hard. Another very minor issue is with an idle stop “detent” mark, it will probably be placed 5 or 10 degrees higher. Otherwise, the dev build files are fine. Will correct this stuff in the release version, which I will post in a couple of days after some testing.
Now, let me share my feelings from the first flight with it!
Many of us sim pilots love flying the great AB412 by X-Trident, and some probably noticed that there are no keybindings for an idle stop switch on the collective head. That kinda surprised me, given that the 412 collective head is very close to release now =) Thankfully, guys on X-Plane forums (including the 412 developer) were very kind to point me in the right direction, and I’ve been able to write a very simple script to fix that.
What it does, is it simply assigns PgUp and PgDown buttons to the idle switch. I will then be able to send these key presses from the Simchair firmware, in a similar way to the DCS Huey compat mode.
For the script to work you’ll need the FlyWithLua plugin, extract it to your XPlane11\Resources\plugins folder. After that, put the script to XPlane11\Resources\plugins\FlyWithLua\Scripts folder (remove the “please read the manual.lua” file). If you want to change keys for the switch, you have to find out their numbers with a sniffer. Put it to the same folder, reload all Lua files from the plugin options menu in X-Plane, and it will show you the numbers you can put to the script instead of PgUp and PgDown.