Screenshot of Microsoft Flight Simulator with the Dune expansion, and in the top right corner, the mod's author is shown using their phone with an attached gamepad for controlling a Dune ornithopter.

Take Control Of MS Flight Sim With Your Smartphone

Anyone with more than a passing interest in flight simulators will eventually want to upgrade their experience with a HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) setup that has buttons and switches for controlling your virtual aircraft’s assorted systems, which are well supported by games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS). But a traditional HOTAS system can be a bit of an investment, so you might want to thank [Vaibhav Sharma] for the virtualHOTAS project that brings a configurable HOTAS interface to your phone — just in time to try out that Dune expansion for MSFS.

The phone’s orientation sensors are used as a joystick, and on the screen, there’s both sliders and buttons you can use as in-game controls. On the back-end there’s a Python program on the computer which exposes a webserver that the phone connects to, translating sensor and press data without the need for an app. This works wonderfully in MSFS, as [Vaibhav] shows us in the video below. What’s more, if you get tired of the touchscreen-and-accelerometer controls, you can even connect a generic smartphone-designed game controller platform, to have its commands and movements be translated to your PC too!

All the code is open source, and with the way this project operates, it will likely work as a general-purpose interface for other projects of yours. Whether you might want to build an accessibility controller from its codebase, use it for your robot platform, maybe simply repurpose this project for any other game, [Vaibhav]’s creation is yet another reminder that we’re carrying a sensor-packed platform, and it might just help you build a peripheral you didn’t know you needed.

Don’t have a phone handy? Perhaps an Xbox controller could work with just a few 3D printed upgrades, or you could stock up on buttons and build your own joystick from scratch. Oh, and keeping HOTAS principles in mind can be pretty helpful — you might get to redesign the venerable computer mouse, for instance!

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Physical Control Panel Elevates Flight Sim Experience

Like so many of us, [pgsanchez] has been bitten by the flight simulator bug. It’s a malady that can only be treated, but never cured — and like so many hobbies, it has a nasty tendency to spawn more hobbies. A software developer by trade, [pgsanchez] is also adept with Arduino and electronics, and his blog post about the PGS-2 Flight Simulator Control Panel demonstrates his fine abilities well, as does the video below the break.

A player of Digital Combat Simulator, he grew tired of having to remember awkward key combinations to control the simulator. Flying a jet, even in a simulator, can require quick thinking bound with quick reflexes, so having a button to press, a switch to flip, or a knob to turn can be vastly superior to even the simplest keyboard based command.

An Arduino interfaces the buttons to the computer, and a white acrylic case is employed to keep all the parts flying in formation. Yes, a white case — with great care taken to allow the case to be backlit. The effect is excellent, and it looks like the panel would be right at home in the Sukhoi Su-25T that it’s designed to control in the game.

We appreciated the attention to detail in the panel, as even the gear status lights and flap indicators match those in the simulator, a nice touch! What more could [pgsanchez] build? We’d like to see! If you’re into flight sims and the like, you might be interested in this fully 3D printed flight sim controller.

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