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A Return to Genius

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A Return to Genius

Post  batjac on Sun Oct 22, 2017 1:03 am

Well, I finally got back to finishing the Batjac Aeroworks Virtual Reality Control Line Training Unit.  After the first one I built a few months ago as a proof-of-concept, I went ahead and built two more.  One to address items I didn’t like in the first one, and then another to finalize and document how to build it.

For the documented build I ran down to the local Goodwill store and bought a used USB flight stick for ten bucks.  It had 14 control inputs, which is waaayyyy more than I needed.  I figured that I needed five at most. One potentiometer for pitch control, one pot for throttle control, and then three buttons for Play/Pause, Reset, and Smoke.





Pulling the base off revealed the internals I would use for the simulator.  I quickly removed the electronics and tossed the control stick and housing in the waste bin.







Then I set out what I needed and threw the rest in a baggie for later projects.  Besides the five above mentioned inputs, I also kept the tophat switch for a remote, as you’ll see later.





I also dug around in my supplies to see what I had to build the simulator.  A SIG 3” bellcrank for the handle to connect to and a 5mm electric motor hub to put it on, a spare motor shaft from an E-flight Power 25 motor for everything to mount on, a steering arm to rotate with the shaft, some bearings for the shaft to ride on, and some ball links to connect the arm to a horn on the pitch pot.  Finally, some wheel collars to hold everything in place.  I decided to use bearings for a smoother control, but they weren’t really necessary.  One could build a box without them.  The servo wheel is what I’m going to put on the throttle pot as a throttle wheel.





And the linkages all assembled and ready to mount to the box and electronics.





As I said before, I saved the tophat so I could use it as a remote control.  This is handy because with the handle a few feet away from the simulator box, it’s nice having the remote unit I can hold in the hand not busy with the SIG control handle.  I cut the wires between the tophat switch and its plug, and soldered male and female USB jacks between them.  I then cut some basswood for the remote, and hot glued the tophat switch to the basswood.  Lastly, I built a box around that.  It would be painted black afterwards.









Then I built a wood box for it all to go in.  It took more time than it was worth, and I’d just go down to the Michael’s craft store and buy a box next time. Since the bearings wouldn't have much pressure on the, I just made plywood bearing blocks for them to sit in.  With everything aligned, I hot glued everything together into the box.  The lip on the lower left side is so I can clamp the unit to a stable surface like the edge of a desk.  The P button is the Play/Pause button, the Start button is the Start/Restart button, and the Select button turns on smoke.  The USB jack at the bottom right of the controller is to plug the remote unit into.  The toggle switch on top isn’t connected to anything.  I just put it there in case I want to add something later…














And, now some videos of the final product! All three videos have me trying to fly the AMA Beginner's Pattern in the sim.

Flying the Extra 300 Control Line model in PicaSim on my computer:






Flying the Extra 300 Control Line model in PicaSim on my Galaxy S7.  You can watch this on your smartphone if you have 3D goggles:






Flying the Extra 300 in 3D using the cross-eye method.  You don’t need VR goggles, you just need to cross your eyes to see this in 3D:





Ans a quick tutorial on setting up PicaSim for control line flying using my preferred settings.  Feel free to play with the settngs to suit yourself:







The Simulated Mark
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  getback on Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:18 am

WOW you have did it man that is soo cool !! This should cut down on the crashes and repair time not to mention improving skills !! This Site Rocks!
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  Marleysky on Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:17 pm

Mark, That is so much more than Genius! That is Marvelous Genius!! Not having any prior experience with "pica Sim" what would you normally have to control a control line airplane? Or do you have to create a handle similuator like you've done here?

Wow, you amaze me with your skills in electronics
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  Kim on Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:58 am

COOL !!!
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  rsv1cox on Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:54 am

Visionary in many ways. Congrats.

Bob
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  batjac on Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:23 pm

Thanks, Guys.

Marleysky, I'm not really Marvelous Genius. If I appear genius, other than in my own self promotion, it's because I stand on the shoulders of others.  The true Genius is Danny Chapman, the guy over in England who wrote the PicaSim program and gives it away free on his website.  It's free for PCs on the website, although I highly recommend the PayPal "Donate" button, and PicaSim also has both a free version and a pay version on Google Play for Android phones.  The Apple Apps store version for iPhones is pay only.

All I really did was take a USB joystick and kit (stick) bash it into something convenient and portable so I can take it wherever I want.  I've used it at work and taken it to the flying field.  When not taking it places, I keep it clamped to my table next to my computer monitor so I can put a couple of flights on it before going to bed.  Hopefully I'm getting my brain and my hand trained for inverted flight and the other maneuvers for when I finally get the time to go all the way out to the field to fly the real things.  As you can see from all the empty space in the box, it could be made much smaller.  I just decided a 6" x 6" x 2" box was about right.

The program for the PC will use any USB input device to control the planes in the program.  Danny Chapman recommends the USB RC trainer boxes to fly the planes, but that wouldn't help in developing the muscle memory for Control Line.  Others have also used a USB joystick.  The phone app versions use on-screen sticks you use your fingers to swipe around the screen with.  That way is too imprecise and has too much lag for me, though.  To use the box with a phone, you have to get an OTG (On-The-Go) cable to connect the USB cable to the phone's Micro-USB jack.  You can't use a regular USB to Micro USB cable because the OTG has a couple of internal wires jumpered together to work with the phone.

Next, I'm going to see if I can make a Bluetooth version so there are no cords involved other than the two lines from the control handle to the bellcrank.  I got a Bluetooth controller a couple of weeks ago for $26.00 to try out VR gaming, so I'll see what I can do with that before I order another one to take apart.

The Seer Mark
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  londke3 on Tue Oct 24, 2017 3:42 pm

Very cool and way better than the original. Sam has that sim on his tablet and although it is helpful in training the handle you made is WAY better than anything out there. Kudos.
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  Marleysky on Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:10 pm

Mark, you’re standing on the shoulders of those who came before you!! Here is some others geniuses idea I found on a website inthe Uk. While looking for the weatherman speed plan, the author found it on “Stunthanger”.



A bit more bulky than yours, But look at all those switched and levers!!
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  batjac on Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:45 am

So, I imagine that most people don’t feel like tinkering like I do, so I decided to make another box.  I was moving stuff from one closet to another last week and came across my 15 year old RealFlight G2 USB flight box.  I figured I could make a quick simulator with that.  Shouldn't take more than a couple of hours for someone to make, maybe with their kids so they have a trainer for the young 'uns.

I was going to just screw an L bracket to the bottom of the box and attach a bellcrank to it and then just clamp the box to something sturdy to use the controller.  But looking at the bottom of the box showed a recess of about 3/16”.  And, being me, I just couldn’t do it the simple way.  Besides, I would prefer not to drill a bunch of holes in the box.  I got some ¼” basswood and cut a blank to fit into the recess.




Then I glued the blank to another piece of basswood for an upright.  I scared up a piece of scrap ply and glued the upright to it with some supports and then a couple more pieces to hold the transmitter box handle.  A couple of braces to hold a bellcrank on the end and it’s ready.






A short length of 2-56 all thread, a clevis from the spares box, and a carved up aileron connector and it’s done.  You could use the throttle stick if you didn't want the spring pressure on the stick, but I think it gives a little feedback when you're controlling the simulated plane.





I made the scrap ply wide enough so that I could clamp it down to a table or some such from either side.





Testing it out last night showed it to be better than the previous three I made.  I think it's because the joysticks I used have some built-in dead band around the center, but the USB transmitter box is linear across its travel.  I'll eventually use some filler on the ply to smooth things out and then paint the thing black.


If one wanted to do this, you could order one of these online for $20.00 to do the trainer box:

https://www.amazon.com/Costzon-Volantex-Simulator-Airplane-Helicopter/dp/B071HD8DRB/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1516957876&sr=8-10&keywords=usb+flight+simulato



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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  RknRusty on Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:20 pm

Mark, that's an ingenious and marvelously executed project. It's well thought out and worth bringing to people who either can't fly anymore, or those who just want to play. If you want to collect some choice photos into a folder to screen share and bring them to our show tonight, I'd love to feature it. If not tonight, then I hope you'll consider it whenever you're ready to show it off.
Thanks,
Rusty

P.S. Anyone who has a show and tell that you'd like to bring is welcome to join us.

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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  Cribbs74 on Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:53 pm

Mark,

You really built something worthwhile with this project. Impressive.

Have you considered using a full sized handle? I bet playing with the trim and rates you could really make this thing realistic in every way except for maybe the wind and turbulence. I applaud your efforts and look forward to more info.

Ron
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  batjac on Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:24 am

Cribbs74 wrote:Mark,

You really built something worthwhile with this project. Impressive.

Have you considered using a full sized handle? I bet playing with the trim and rates you could really make this thing realistic in every way except for maybe  the wind and turbulence. I applaud your efforts and look forward to more info.

Ron

Ron, I just use the SIG handle because it's handy....  Huh...

You could use any handle you want.  Most probably the handle you normally use with your current airplane so that you keep as much of the normal feel as possible.  I'm not good enough that one handle is going to make much difference over another yet.  And there are a great many settings in the program for wind and turbulence.  The base program is for gliders, and the originator Danny Chapman put in just about any adjustment you can think of for wind effects.  I haven't even played with a fifth of the settings yet.

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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  batjac on Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:33 am

RknRusty wrote:Mark, that's an ingenious and marvelously executed project. It's well thought out and worth bringing to people who either can't fly anymore, or those who just want to play. If you want to collect some choice photos into a folder to screen share and bring them to our show tonight, I'd love to feature it. If not tonight, then I hope you'll consider it whenever you're ready to show it off.
Thanks,
Rusty

P.S. Anyone who has a show and tell that you'd like to bring is welcome to join us.

Rusty, I'm not sure how I would do a folder to screen share.  Maybe you could give me some guidance on that.

I plan to make one more box.  This time done as cheaply, simply, and quickly as possible.  I'm going to order the $20.00 sim box in the link above just to make sure it'll work with PicaSim as I recommended, and to have as a loaner box.  I have an old Windows Vista laptop that's not good for anything and keeps overheating.  If I can clean it up and keep it going, I could have the box and laptop as a set to pass around.  I don't know if the local club would want some kind of club simulator, as I think I'm about the least experienced member of the club, but it might be something to have at fly-ins and barbecues.

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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  RknRusty on Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:45 pm

batjac wrote:Rusty, I'm not sure how I would do a folder to screen share.  Maybe you could give me some guidance on that.
If you're on a computer, just pick the ones you want to share ahead of time and put copies of them in a folder on your Windows desktop where it's easy to find. Then, during the show, click the screen share button. It'll float out in a bar on the left when you mouse over it. When you get to that point, I usually coach people through it unless they figure it out faster than I can talk... which is frequent. I usually share with MS Office Picture Manager or any picture viewer like that.

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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  batjac on Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:24 am

Okay.  Quick and easy.  The new controller didn’t need the carrying handle, so the first thing I did was hack it off.




Then I took a scrap piece of 1/8” ply and cut a bracket for the bellcrank to mount to.  I slotted the bracket to fit into the bottom of the sim box.  Then I made a slot in the bottom of the plastic box to receive the bracket.  





I mounted the bracket to the box, and then the bellcrank to the bracket.  It’d look better if I shot the bracket with some black paint, but this is supposed to be a quick build, so…




Next I attached the sim box to a piece of plastic plate I got for a dollar at Dollar Tree with some hot glue so I could clamp the simulator to a table.  Then I connected the bellcrank to the pitch stick using a 4 inch piece of 2-56 all-thread to connect a Du-Bro nylon Kwik Link on the bellcrank to a 2-56 ball link on the stick.  I didn’t have any 2-56 ball links on hand, so I had to pop over to the hobby shop to get one.  It was a little expensive, but what the heck.





I hooked my handle to the bellcrank and fired up the PicaSim program.  I’m going to have to do some tweaking on the throws, but it works pretty well on the sim.


So, how much did it cost?

1) Simulator shown above from Amazon:   $19.99 shipped.
2) Du-Bro 2-56 ball link: $2.04
3) 4” 2-56 all-thread:  52 cents
4) Du-Bro nylon Kwik Link:  also 52 cents
5) Bellcrank: $1.50
6) Plastic plate from Dollar Tree: Duh...
7) PicaSim program:  Free, but I recommend a few bucks donated via PayPal if you like it

Total:  $25.57 and a couple of hours work while watching the Friday Night Video Hangout


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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  Marleysky on Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:36 am


Yeah, we’ve come a long way... Remember doing this?
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Re: A Return to Genius

Post  fredvon4 on Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:51 am

I am not going to search but many years back I saw ads for very complete home airplane cock pits to go with the rather masterful MicroSoft simulator software...a friend had one that was a tad pricey but real realistic

I was at some food and booze ( Dave n Buster's maybe?) they had an arcade one with a full blown 747 cockpit
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Re: A Return to Genius

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