737 autopilot, courtesy of an Arduino

737

To start this off, no, we’re not looking at a piece of actual flight hardware. This is [Andrea Giudici]‘s project to tie real-world hardware into Flight Simulator X. It’s an autopilot for simulated aircraft, so those of you looking at flying a 737 sometime in the near future need not worry about computers flying your plane. Airbus passengers, though…

[Andrea] didn’t want to dig around with the clunky point-and-click interface in FSX, so he created a virtual autopilot with a 2×16 LCD display and an Arduino to interact and set the most common autopilot settings such as altitude, speed, heading, and engagement. The physical interface is just three tact switches and a pot, while the interface to FSX is a custom driver that turns the USB out of the Arduino into actual flight commands.

It’s not a 737 cockpit in a garage, but it’s still a wonderful alternative to poking around in a completely computer-bound interface.

Video of the ‘duino in action after the break.

Comments

  1. David says:

    Im so glad this isn’t a story about a UAV airplane… where’s that boat upto now ?

  2. truthspew says:

    Actually both Airbus and Boeing aircraft are fully capable of flying themselves from takeoff to landing. I saw a video of a crash – the it was a Boeing 757. The pilot decided to switch off auto-pilot at the very last moment which caused the accident.

    So in essence what this means is that the pilots have been keeping the secret for a very long time.

    • Queeg says:

      If you’re claiming that Airbus and Boeing airliners can takeoff on autopilot, I’ll agree that it is a very well kept secret.

      Even from the pilots who fly them and the engineers who designed them.

      • Eric says:

        With the Lockheed TriStar, only manual thrust can be set for takeoff, however once airbourne, if FMS equipment is fitted (-200’s and -500’s) thrust management can be engaged (no altitude limitation) for the climb thrust desired. Once the V/S in the climb decreases to <500 ft/min, the next higher climb thrust setting is automatically selected, depending on aircraft weight.
        Also, with the TriStar, the autopilot can be engaged on the ground, just before takeoff, in CWS. Once airbourne, command can be selected, with no altitude limitation.

        Very advanced, for its day… But still not a Boeing or Airbus

      • M4CGYV3R says:

        As far as I know, the TO/GA button(at least on the simulator) will firewall the throttle. I usually fly manual throttle, so I’m not real sure.

    • Mental2k says:

      Indeed also from the certifying bodies, who’ve never certified one for civil aviation. Autoland is also rarely used. Stupid conspiracy theorist.

      • M4CGYV3R says:

        I use the AP to line up, but once its trimmed for proper glide, I disengage AP. Autoland I have tried like twice, and both times it ended up short of the runway. Not quite sure if it’s the sim, the aircraft model, or what.

      • Tradari says:

        i think you need to read up a little more on Cat 3 landing. most modern large airports support Cat3 autoland systems

  3. Just so says:

    Speaking personally, I’d like more really cool hacks like this one and less cheap jibes about a Boeing competitor. I don’t care if I’m in a minority on this site, a cheap jibe is a cheap jibe.

  4. kerimil says:

    yup I agree completely with Just so
    Airbus aircraft are just as pilot controllable as any Boeing. This “oh God, a computer is flying my plane” thing is simple scare tactics for retards. This is hack a day – statistically there should be less retards here than the average for your country so WTF ??

  5. Pfeil says:

    This isn’t an autopilot, it’s a control panel that happens to change autopilot parameters.

    The Arduino does not control the plane, it merely changes the settings of FSX’s built-in autopilot system.

    That said, it’s still a nice project.

  6. Erin says:

    Dammit, Hackaday. This isn’t an autopilot, it’s the control panel for one. I’m an aerospace engineer with some background in controls, and I got all excited that someone had maybe made another home autopilot, perhaps better than Ardupilot, that they just hadn’t hooked into sensors and actuators (instead testing it out with a flight sim).

    You guys know better than this.

    • Erin says:

      Addendum: I’d like to agree with Pfeil, who posted without me seeing it, that this is COOL. I like seeing these on Hackaday. I just don’t like them being misidentified. (also re-reading my comment I’m kind of an asshole.)

  7. Mental2k says:

    I’m sorry do Boeing not use fly by wire or autopilot? Just because they use a traditional yoke and artificially add feedback doesn’t mean there’s not a computer sitting between the pilot and the actuators. As most crashes are caused by pilot error I’d probably rather have the computer flying me.

  8. Zac says:

    I would really love it if they included more about how the driver was made to interface with FSX… I for one have almost no idea how to do this, and I’m sure many people would be in the same boat

  9. Matt says:

    Until the 16×2 crashes….

  10. Pulsa Denura says:

    .. until the Arduino rips a small hole in the Autopilot’s plastic and the air starts coming out, and the stewardess has to come in and undo his belt and re-inflate him.

  11. Greg Troyer says:

    If you have X-plane, it’s quite simple to interface to your own homebrewed controller via the Teensy and its integrated FlightSim library. No USB driver work – just start coding in Arduino: http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/td_flightsim.html
    My first microcontroller project of any kind is a radio/autopilot c
    onsole for X-plane: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151501315226728&l=4138300125699283635

  12. Matti Virta says:

    autopilot can connect to FSX-FS2004 simply, go looking jimsz.nl page and how made many different connection to flight sim. simple. and good, i made radio stack now whit arduino and come REALISTIC no face radio.can connect all switches and potentiometer ,LCD, 7-segments, and drive wheels what need REAL cocpit/car/or other

  13. Matti Virta says:

    just i fight to trash my 1 year old ch produckt yoke my fly sim computer, plastic saitek and ch yoke and all parts have shit,no good working and no realistic. i make my own yoke and have 100 x better use.

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