R/C Plane Flies with a Cockpit View

baehawkMosaic

That’s not a jet jockey making a low altitude turn up there. In fact, the pilot has his feet planted firmly on the ground. [Reliku] has built a radio controlled BAE Hawk which is flown via First Person View (FPV). FPV models often have a small camera mounted on the exterior of the craft. This camera gives a great field of view, but it isn’t exactly how full scale planes are flown.

[Reliku] took it to the next level by creating a scale cockpit for his plane. The cockpit is accurate to the real BAE Hawk T2, and features back lit simulated screens. Even the pilot got the FPV treatment. Micro servos move the pilot’s right hand in response to aileron and elevator inputs from the radio control system. The pilot’s head has been replaced with the FPV camera, which is mounted on a pan tilt unit. Pan and tilt are controlled by a head tracking system attached to [Reliku's] video goggles. The entire experience is very immersive.

All this is built into a Hobbyking BAE Hawk Electric Ducted Fan (EDF) model, so space is at a premium. Even with the Hawk’s relatively large cockpit, [Reliku] found he was tight on space. While attempting to keep the cockpit scale from the pilot’s view, he found he was barely able to fit a single seat cockpit into a space designed for two! Adding all these modifications to a plane and still keeping the model flyable was not easy, as displayed by [Reliku's] earlier attempt with an F-16.

The ends do justify the means though, as the final model looks great. We’d love to see those static cockpit displays replaced with small LCD or OLED panels for an even more realistic experience!

33 thoughts on “R/C Plane Flies with a Cockpit View

  1. But if space is already tight, would there be room for the LCD plus whatever hw to drive the screen? How about using augmented reality to overlay the cockpit screens on the video feed to his goggles?

  2. Why not rather add a video overlay for cockpit/pilot hands on the video stream instead of messing with the physical plane? Nobody can see it in the plane while in the air anyway and doing it via video won’t require such heavy mods.

    1. The goal of this project was to give a scale feeling of being in the cockpit via the video feed. Video overlays work great for flying, but wouldn’t meet that goal.

        1. Besides the obvious fact that physically modeling things like the interior of the cockpit it a significant part of the hobby for many RC enthusiasts, latency is a massive issue when it comes to FPV flying. Rendering a realistic looking cockpit interior and then compositing that onto the real-time video feel from the plane in flight is not conducive to keeping the extremely low latency needed to responsive control of the plane.

    2. Why do it at all? Both ways of doing it add zero functionality to the plane. Heck, why even have a model a plane that follows the design of a larger plane, it would be easier to build and maintain without all the extra little details that you can hardly even see from the ground. He wasn’t doing this because it was easy, he doing because it was hard.

    3. Some people build for the sake of building as well. I, for one, really enjoy building RC planes using balsa wood and “old school” wood glue. If my goal was simply to have an RC plane, I’d save a lot of time and money just buying a perfectly molded and amazing plane made of foam at the local hobby shop. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter – sometimes I just want to make some sawdust.

        1. I don’t know, I’d argue that some of the metal frames with hand formed sheet metal skins definitely do. At one point, a number of years ago, I stumbled across a guy’s web build log for a massive Mig 29 built entirely of metal. It consisted of, literally, years of sequential photos showing his entire process from the construction of original hard wood forms for sheet metal shaping to the construction and finishing of the actual metal body. His level of detail was crazy and the final plane looked like the real thing. Unfortunately, I lost the bookmark to the page and have never been able to find it again.

          1. Ah, there it is. Thanks for pointing it out. It is a shame that the original build log site is no more.

    4. Totally missed the point. I loved this, felt like I was flying the plane. Awesome job on having the yolk working properly!!! OUTSTANDING VIDEO!! Just kinda wished at the end he walked over to pick it up. Shared.

    1. Video quality is low because [Reliku] is recording his video feed. Unfortunately all that great video footage you see from drones isn’t what we see when flying it. Until someone comes up with a low cost way to transmit HD video, we’re stuck in the SD (or lower) world.

  3. Very cool!
    Next time use a 360 lens pointed upwards so you can look around after the video is made. For example as seen on gopano.com

  4. This is how HAD should be as for OLED OR LCD

    Keep the weight down Print the instrument displays to some Transparency Film get scale right illuminate with a Led or 2 bit of Alum foil for reflection etc

  5. This is brilliant. Now imagine if you hooked this up so that the pilot was sitting in a modified Sega G-Lock arcade machine from the early 90′s! That would be EPIC!

  6. Wow! That is freaking awesome! The pan and tilt camera…. perfect. This is what all FPV setups should be aiming for.

    I wouldn’t change a thing about the cockpit, and as far as overlays go….. perhaps something utilitarian like airspeed, g’s, temperature, or flight time. It’s already pure awesome, and anything else may just serve to detract from the experience.

  7. Heh, cheers guys! This was definitely a fun project to do. The reason there’s an actual miniature cockpit is because a video overlay would be way too complex to do properly, this is much more feasible and has less lag. Not to mention it looks more realistic too. I’ve considered adding an OSD with speed, altitude, heading etc, but in my opinion it wasn’t really necessary, and it’s quite a lot to add for such a small plane.

    I’m already considering a next project, which will definitely be a bigger plane, and will probably 3D print a cockpit instead (along with some nice screens), should turn out nicely. But that’s something for the winter!

    Cheers,
    Reliku

    1. Thanks for stopping in, Reliku – and thanks for a great project. Can’t wait to see what you do next, especially if you have a 3D printer at your disposal.

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