Flutterby™! : Flying plywood

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Flying plywood

2005-09-13 17:18:22.517107+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

I mentioned wanting some helicopter simulator flight controls. I went out and bought a cheapie joystick with a twist rudder, tried to fly the default helicopters in FlightGear, and quickly realized that that wasn't going to work. I looked at Steve's Helicopter Controls, thought "hey, I can do that, and I'm willing to completely sacrifice the joystick" and put something together with an emphasis on materials on hand and quick completion.

These are the results.

There's work left to do:

  • I need to put a setback on the cyclic stick and attach the original handle with buttons on that, so that you don't have to sit far forward when flying.
  • I need to adjust the throw on the collective a bit.
  • I'm still trying to figure out the right sensitivity for all controls.

But overall it's working fairly well. I used an old derailleur cable for the collective because I didn't want to extend any analog cables. The collective folds up vertical to put the whole thing beside the computer table. The pedals are adjustable because I didn't know how long to make 'em, and until I can get drawings or get in a real cockpit to measure I'm going to make the cyclic setback adjustable too.

Fixes for next time:

  • Find a cheaper source for nylon bushings.
  • Either use 3/8" threaded rod for all axles, or support both ends. I'm currently using 1/4", have let two people sit at it, and someone has already stomped on the pedals enough to bend axles slightly ("light touches!").
  • More space in the cyclic box to allow for longer bellcranks on the potentiometers so that I can have finer throw adjustments.
  • Figure out and build stops for limits for all of the sticks early on. I didn't know this time, but now I should be able to get specific.

Other cool homebuild cockpit resources:

But having pedals and a long throw cyclic instantly put me from "dang, this is impossible" to "this is hard, but I'm starting to get a feel for it". I'm afraid I am going to have to break down and buy Microsoft Flight Simulator[Wiki], the folks at Hovercontrol.com use it, and Dodo Sim's Realstart 206 Jetranger reality add-on runs on it.

[ related topics: Hardware Hackery Microsoft Aviation Cool Technology Aviation - Helicopters ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-13 17:30:38.52175+00 by: ebradway

Is that the new chair model from Aeron?

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-13 18:23:42.083266+00 by: Dan Lyke

Grin. Yeah, the Windows machine doesn't see much use anymore...

On another topic, how to build a USB joystick.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-14 13:17:00.108533+00 by: ebradway

I've been wanting to make a simple 4-way joystick for playing Ms. Pac-Man. I ordered a real Ms. Pac-Man red-ball joystick from Happ Controls and an Atari 9-pin to USB adapter from AtariAge. The Atari joystick consisted of either 4 or 8 switches and a button (just another switch). Makes my life easier. But I'm also not interested in analog controls.