Custom Controllers For Kerbal Space Program

kerbalKerbal Space Program is already a runaway indie video game hit, and if you ask some people, they’ll tell you it is the way to learn all about orbital dynamics, how spaceships actually fly, the challenges of getting to the mün. The controls in KSP are primarily keyboard and mouse, something that really breaks the immersion for a space flight simulator. We’ve seen a few before, but now custom controllers well suited for a Kerbal command pod can be made at home, with all the blinkey LEDs, gauges, and buttons you could want.

[Freshmeat] over on the KSP forums began his space adventures with a keyboard but found the fine control lacking. An old Logitech Dual Shock controller offered better control, but this gamepad doesn’t come with a throttle, and USB throttles for flight sims are expensive. He found a neat plugin for KSP made for interfacing an Arduino, and with a few modifications, turned his controller into a control panel, complete with sliders, pots, gauges, and all the other goodies a proper command pod should have.

[Freshmeat]‘s work is not the only custom Kerbal controller. There’s a whole thread of them, with implementations that would look great in everything from a modern spaceplane to kerbalkind’s first steps into the milky abyss of space. There’s even one over on the Hackaday projects site, ready to fly Bill, Bob, and Jeb to the mün or a fiery explosion. Either one works.

Thanks [drago] for the tip.

A flight simulator made out of a real 737 cockpit

[Trent] sent in an awesome story about a single man who bought the nose of a 737, put it in his garage, and built a flight simulator inside the cockpit. His name is [James Price], and right now the only thing we’re wondering is when we can have a visit.

The cockpit came from an aircraft boneyard in Oklahoma. After [James] plunked down $1500 for the shell of a cockpit, he moved his new toy to a Livermore, California aircraft hangar and eventually into his garage. While the plane is meant to be a simulator, [James] is a tinkerer at heart: he says the best part of building his 737 is building the systems, programming the computers, and making everything work together. We’ve got to admire that.

Of course this isn’t the first cockpit-in-a-garage build we’ve seen. Years ago we featured an Avro Lancaster, and just a few months ago we saw a strikingly similar replica 737 flight deck (it’s made out of wood, and not a real 737). [James]‘ build is one of the very few home-built simulators made out of a real airplane. Someone get this guy an F15 cockpit stat.

Installing military hardware in a home flight simulator

The cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon features a small 3-inch display that monitors and tracks hostile aircraft and missiles, friendlies, and the current target. This Radar Warning Receiver is vitally important to pilots in combat, so [Mike] decided to add one to his homebuilt F-16 simulator that runs Falcon 4.0.

The RWR displays threats as symbols that are usually generated by tens of thousands of dollars worth of military hardware. [Mike] figured a $7 PIC microcontroller would work just as well and set about designing vector graphics that would fit on a single chip.

[Mike] had the graphics displaying correctly on an oscilloscope, but that’s a far cry from the from the surplus RWR display he picked up. Although the display is a simple CRT, the original designers of the radar warning receiver thought it necessary to put the deflection amplifiers in another part of the airplane. After building a pair of 30 Watt amplifiers, [Mike] could finally display more than a single dot on the display.

After all was said and done, [Mike] has a wonderful radar warning display that fits into his F-16 cockpit perfectly. While it’s not quite a 737 in a garage, we’ve got to respect someone who takes surplus avionics and makes them work. Check out [Mike]‘s display in action after the break.

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737 cockpit will satisfy even the most discriminating simulator afficiandos

This isn’t an airplane, it’s a simulator. But you won’t find it at a flight school as this labor of love is a home build of a 737 cockpit (translated) that has been going on for more than two years.

It started off as a couple of automotive bucket seats in a room with two computer monitors to display the view out the windscreen. From there each piece has been meticulously added for a wonderful overall reproduction. The range of skills needed to pull this off is impressive. The seats have been rebuilt with padding and upholstery true to the Boeing factory options. The support structure that forms the domed front of the aircraft was built from wood with a metal bracket system to hold the overhead control panels in the right position. The only thing missing here is the rest of the plane. Take a look at the simulated landing run in the video after the break to see what this thing can do.

Looking for something that will take you for a bit more of a ride? Here’s a collection of motion simulators that might satisfy your craving.

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Well-balanced flight simulator

Here’s a flight simulator which uses concepts simple enough for anyone to build. As you pilot your virtual craft, the cockpit you’re sitting in moves as well. But unlike some of the more extreme simulator builds we’ve seen, this uses basic materials and simple concepts to provide that motion. Its center of gravity is balanced on a base frame. The joystick slides as you move the nose of the craft up and down, shifting the center of gravity causing the cockpit to tilt as well. The pilot sees the simulated flight through a wearable display. There is a stationary reference in front of him which allows the system to measure head movements, panning and tilting the virtual display to match. Check out the overview video after the break, or click through to the page linked above and watch all 22 episodes of the video build log.

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