Collimated displays wrap around that home cockpit

We don’t recall having heard the term ‘collimated display’ before, but we’ve seem them in action. These are mirrored projection display that give the viewer a true peripheral vision experience thanks to well-designed optics. Here is a project that [Rob] and [Wayne] have put a ton of time into. It’s their own version of a DIY collimated display that uses a shop vac and Arduino to form the screen shape.

The frame above is the structure that will support the screen. A sheet of mylar was later attached to the edges of that frame. That is pulled into place by the suction of the vacuum. But it needs to be stretched just the right amount or the projected image will be distorted. They’ve got something of a PID controller to manage this. A valve box was built to vary the amount of vacuum suction inside the screen’s frame. A switch positioned behind the mylar sheet gives feedback to the Arduino when the screen reaches the appropriate position and a servo closes off the suction box. If you lost us somewhere in there the description in the clip after the jump will help to clear things up.

Here’s an unrelated project that implements the same concept on a smaller scale.

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Improving your flight sim experience with Hall effect sensors


[Gene Buckle] built himself a nice custom cockpit for playing Flight Simulator, but during use he found that the gimbal he constructed for the pitch and roll controls was nearly unusable. He narrowed the problem down to the potentiometers he used to read the angle of the controls, so he set off to find a suitable and more stable replacement.

He figured that Hall effect sensors would be perfect for the job, so he picked up a pair of Allegro 1302 sensors and began fabricating his new control inputs. He mounted a small section of a pen into a bearing to use as an input shaft, attaching a small neodymium magnet to either side. Since he wanted to use these as a drop-in replacement for the pots, he had to fabricate a set of control arms to fit on the pen segments before installing them into his cockpit.

Once everything was set, he fired up his computer and started the Windows joystick calibration tool. His potentiometer-based controls used to show a constant jitter of +/- 200-400 at center, but now the utility displays a steady “0”. We consider that a pretty good result!

[Thanks, Keith]

Easy tactile controls and displays for your flight simulator

If you’ve been thinking of adding some tactile controls and readouts for your flight simulators this guide should give you the motivation to get started with the project. [Paul] explains how to build controls and connect them to the simulator data. He makes it look easy, and thanks the interface examples in his code it actually is.

Here he’s built the hardware using a Teensy controller board. The controller communicates via USB and the software is cross-platform. He’s controlling the heading information of the X-Plane simulator using the rotary encoder for fine adjustments and the buttons for increments of 100. But he doesn’t stop there. He’s working on an auto-throttle design that uses a servo motor to move the throttle lever. A potentiometer can be used to vary the throttle, with the servo mapped to the position of that knob. But it works both ways, dragging the virtual throttle on-screen will do the same.

This is one way to make flight simulators more interesting without devoting a whole room of your house to the cause. Don’t miss [Paul's] fantastic demo video 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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Strap yourself in and let this robot arm shake the bejesus out of you

This man is strapped onto the business end of a huge robotic arm. If you’ve seen videos of industrial robots on automobile assembly lines and the like, you know how fast and strong these machines are. But this isn’t headed for the factory floor, it’s a new flight simulator built do train Australian fighter pilots.

Researchers at Deakin University were looking for a way to give a fighter pilot a more realistic simulator experience. What they ended up with is an apparatus that can spin continuously on two axes. This lets the pilot feel what it might be like to stall and have the aircraft spinning out of control.

The video after the break is not to be missed. You’ll see the test pilot (read: guinea pig) flung this way and that to the point that we almost decided this should be a “Real or Fake” post. But we’re confident that this actually exists. We expect that future renditions will include the front portion of the aircraft and be completely enclosed in a projection dome, just like the Lexus driving simulator.

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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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Flight simulator but you’re the plane

[Rafael Mizrahi] built a flight simulator that lets him fly like Ironman. As you can see in the video after the break, the hardware involves an automotive crane, hang gliding harness, plus the wings and tail from a UAV. A giant fan pointed at the wearer allows him to use the wings and tail to maneuver while the Wii remote strapped to his chest tracks the movement and feeds it to Google Earth Flight Simulator which is seen through the head-mounted display. We’re used to seeing intense flight simulators but this is something completely different.

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