R/C PPM hacked

[Thomas Pfeifer] has taken the PPM signal produced by model aircraft wireless controllers, and with an ATMega8, converted the signal to act as a USB joystick. Which means you can now use a standard R/C remote control to fly model aircrafts on your computer. Of course now with PPM decoded you could also use the signal to control any electronic device. Like your mower, iPod, and we’ve even seen remote controlled pellet guns. Catch a video of [Thomas] flying a simulated quadrotor helicopter after the jump.

[Thanks Max]


  1. anontroll says:

    has been done many times before. what’s novell?

  2. Jake says:

    This writeup seems to imply that he “decoded” some unknown signal, which isn’t the case. He has *translated* a known (and well documented) signal in to a different signal which can be used as a joystick. Just so you know…

  3. Haku says:

    Yeah I was scratching my head at the “hacked” word, especially as you can already buy off-the-shelf cables (or make your own using info online) for linking your RC controller to your PC for flight sims etc. through the trainer / DSC port.

    I’ve been considering buying such a cable for my Fly Sky GT2 trigger controller but the RC car sims I’ve seen out there don’t seem that great enough to warrant spending a few coins.

  4. spagett says:

    wow, yeah, been done. he basically just made something that you can easily buy from about any rc place…

  5. owen says:

    Wouldn’t it be easier to use the audio line in to read this? just sayin’. I know it’s not quite the point though.

  6. Alston says:

    Here’s a good explanation on the encoding of a PPM frame: http://paparazzi.enac.fr/wiki/Image:RC_Receiver_Timing_Diagram.jpg

    The guys on the Paparazzi project also have a board based on an ATmega 328 that will intercept individual R/C channels and encode them into one PPM signal.

  7. ril3y says:

    Quite honestly I don’t know if I have been googling the EXACT wrong thing but I have been looking for information on how to hook up my 2.4ghz controller to an uC etc. So at the risk of sounding stupid to the hackaday trolls.. Does anyone know where I can read more about getting the controller receiver hooked up to a uC? Not sure it matters but its a 6 channel.

    Thanks guys,


  8. sneakypoo says:

    ril3y: Did you try reading the site the article linked to?

  9. dave says:

    HAD should stand for Hacked A Decade ago. There’s been device drivers for remote control transmitters for over a decade now

  10. ril3y says:

    I tried however it looks like google translate is not working for me right now? But I will try it again later. My German is not soo good :)


  11. sneakypoo says:

    ril3y: Or you could just click the link that says “This page in english” ;)


  12. ril3y says:

    Whoops… Thanks!

  13. Jake says:


  14. praetorious says:

    Not to downplay his work, but this has been done several times, try:


    among others.
    Also, does this look a bit familiar? http://alessioandrea.altervista.org/rcjoyng2_gallery4.html

  15. Shadyman says:


    Wikipedia says “Novell is a multinational software and services corporation headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.”

    /trolling a troll?

  16. Coligny says:

    What is this joke ? Esky controllers as well as walkeras when bundled with a rc chopper are provided with a free usb connection wire and copy of freeware simulator for training purpose…

    the full USB only controller 4 or 6 axis cost around30 buck on chinese discount stores…

  17. Dave says:

    Good implementation for the ATMega8. Here’s the one that I’ve been using for a few years on the microchip side. Link goes to rcgroups.


    Definitely a hack, definitely useful. Only one complaint- been done before many times over.

    Good work on the ATmega8 implementation!

  18. Bill says:

    Didn’t know it was done before, but still think it’s useless when I can connect my existing RC controller to my computer already via a $6 cable I bought off ebay.

    Maybe if I create a hack of adding a PS2 cable to my wireless keyboard to connect it to my computer HAD will feature it!

    Alright, that was low, and I’m sorry. I just couldn’t resist.

  19. Dan Fruzzetti says:

    It’s only a matter of time before someone hacks a flight simulator to send fly-by-wire signals so anyone with a laptop can safely land a new airliner should the pilot become incapacitated…

    “can i do that in ‘excel?'”

    gotta love scott adams.

  20. puli says:

    I am pretty sure you can do this with your PC sound card. I had done this some time back when I was learning to fly model airplanes. I hooked up my Spektrum DX6i controller to the PC using an audio cable and used FMS(Flying Model Simulator) and PPJoy.

    I will try to remember details and maybe write up a blog. This comes in handy when you are trying to learn flying and each crash could cause about $10 damage.

  21. M4CGYV3R says:

    Sometimes I feel like the A380 is about that easy to fly. Just push a couple buttons and go.

  22. xorpunk says:

    This isn’t exactly hard to do, its just that the corporate-bob and HAM type who usually use the stuff that has this protocol don’t like reverse engineering.

  23. strider_mt2k says:

    hack? intercept?

    Words like that imply that this is something covert that’s been outed.

    It’s not.

  24. S55MX says:

    Not new but why not.

    I hoped that it’s just a misspell for signal name, that someone finally decoded the 2,4Gh signal (like the Spectrum uses) :P. Well next time :)

    For PPM here some additional reading:


    And for PIC fans: http://alessioandrea.altervista.org/rcjoyng2.html

    Of topic: Does someone have the information how to build “DXTR Head Tracker Interface for DX7″

  25. Anonymous Coward says:

    I’ve done this and the PC commanding the remote, and thought it was so common and lame no one could consider this on H.A.D.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is great craftsmanship of a custom interface. Nice work here, but how much credibility can you pump out of hackaday claiming hax everywhere. No I haven’t got over those fu*king led throwies articles.

  26. keystoneclimber says:


    If you want to connect a radio to a uC, one approach that I’ve done in the past is to use voltage injection. I was only concerned with the altitude channel. On the inside of the radio the control sticks are attached to pots that form voltage dividers. If you disconnect the wiper from its circuitry and instead inject a voltage from a DAC and uC, you can effectively control that channel programmatically.

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