Kerbal Space Program – the game of freakin’ space Lego and incompetent little green men – has seen a lot of popularity since it was on the Steam Summer sale. Now, in a bid to out do the flight sim aficionados who build 737 cockpits in their garage, a few enterprising Kerbalnauts are building custom controllers for this wonderful introduction to [Tsiolkovsky], [Goddard], and [Evel Kinevel].
[vladoportos] thought KSP could use custom gaming controllers to provide switches for staging, attitude hold, and reaction control system commands. In the game, these are toggled by keyboard input, but this unfortunately destroys the immersion of being a rocket-powered angel of death for your Kerbal volunteers. He rigged up an Arduino Leonardo to send USB HID commands to his computer whenever he pressed one of the buttons connected to his breadboard controller. It’s a work in progress, but [vladoportos] has some big plans that include a physical nav ball to show his ship’s orientation in space.
USB input is one thing, but that’s only half the problem. If you want to build a real Kerbal ship simulator, you’ll need to get data out of the game, and into your glass or analog displays. [voneiden] over on the KSP subreddit has the solution for you. He’s been working on a ‘mission control’ app that runs in Python, connects to a Kerbal Space Program plugin over TCP, and displays flight information such as speed, altitude, longitude, latitude, apoapsis, and periapsis. The code is up on his git, ready for some individual to bring this over to a Raspi and a character LCD display.
Here’s a story about some guys who set out to build a flight simulator for the Viper from Battlestar Galactica. The goal is to bring a grand project to the Maker Faire. This is a recurring challenge for the group, which has participated over the last several years. But this year they decided to go big and mounted a successful Kickstarter campaign to help with the cost.
The best place to get the build details is their progress updates page. Each week the cadre of teenagers tried to post some info about their progress, and we’ve got a big grin on our faces after reading through them. The simulator aims to provide you with as much of a space flight experience possible given the restraints which gravity imposes. The cockpit can roll and pitch a full 360 degrees in each direction. Of course safety is a concern and they were careful with their frame design and pilot restraint system. But so much more goes into this than just the physical build. There’s sound, lighting, and the virtual simulator, all of which have been complete at an impressive quality level. There’s a ton of video posted and we’ve embedded one short clip after the break showing off the cockpit’s dashboard.
Continue reading “Viper flight simulator (a la Battlestar Galactica) finished”
[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.
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.
Continue reading “Collimated displays wrap around that home cockpit”
[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!
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.
Continue reading “Easy tactile controls and displays for your flight simulator”
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.
Continue reading “737 cockpit will satisfy even the most discriminating simulator afficiandos”