DIY virtual cockpit

Interested in building your own home grown cockpit?

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BeastFromTheEast
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DIY virtual cockpit

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:49 pm

Been working on this for a while ...... it's been quite a big project and my facilities are a bit primitive, but these pictures illustrate the project so far:

Basic ladder chassis. Made entirely from CLS timber which is about £3.00 per eight foot length, chopped to length on the scroll saw, and then screwed together with Turbodrive self tapping screws. These do not require pilot holes: however, the joints have to be very securely clamped together prior to screwing.

002small.jpg


Rudder assembly: This is far from finished: in particular the U clamps are inadequate to make each pedal stiff enough. The assembly slides into the front of the chassis and there is about 4" of movement to fine tune the position.

006small.jpg


The seat: This is made from 2" thick polystyrene foam insulation board, chopped up with the scroll saw, and then joined into sections using white glue. The sections lock onto the cross pieces and push into place - no glue is required.

013small.jpg


Ian
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Last edited by BeastFromTheEast on Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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BeastFromTheEast
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Re: DIY virtual cockpit

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:53 pm

Control stick: 1/2" socket extension bar fitted into a Hookes joint. There is a 23mm socket buried in the wood to secure the joint at the chassis end. The movement within the gate is a bit excessive, particularly fore and aft: I will probably make some replaceable plywood shims to fit inside and restrict the movement.

005small.jpg


IMU module: This fits onto the stick as shown (although I will probably not use sellotape for the final version :) )

022small.jpg


The module contains the following:

- the IMU itself, comprising a 3 axis accelerometer, 3 axis magnetometer and 3 axis gyroscope, on a single board
- a PICAXE 08M2 microcontroller
- a Micromega FPU 3 maths co-processor, which works out the angular orientation of the module, and calculates positional bytes (0-254) for pitch and bank.
- 5V voltage regulators (the incoming supply can be 3-32VDC)
- an inverter chip, which is used to interface the FPU3
- two 1/8" jackplug sockets which allow the PICAXE and the FPU to be interrogated by the host PC via USB interface sockets.

IMU small.jpg


Still a fair way to go yet ........ but so far it feels quite promising.

Ian

Ian
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Sprunga
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Re: DIY virtual cockpit

Postby Sprunga » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:40 am

Looks very good. love that you used a socket extension for the joy stick! Looks very simple but at the same time very clever!
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BeastFromTheEast
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Re: DIY virtual cockpit

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:06 pm

The hooke's joint idea was not mine - it was used by another chap who built his own joystick, although he used mechanical linkages to connect with potentiometers.

Designing the seat took a fair amount of time, although I found a couple of old research papers on vehicle seat design and a cutaway diagram of a glider cockpit, both of which were very useful. The sections are removable mainly because I will want to do some fine tuning: you generally have to sit in a seat for quite a while for any failings to become apparent ( EDIT: Prophetic words indeed .... see below :) ).

IMUs seems to make remarkably fine joysticks although programming the co-processor and the microcontroller have been lengthy tasks. The code is basically the same as my head tracker (I use Fat Shark VR goggles) although the heading (magnetic) function is not required. I will probably use a third module to connect to the rest of the flight controls (airbrakes / gear / flaps / PDA buttons / water / release / climb - cruise) and possibly a USB hub as I am fast running out of available ports on the PC!

Ian
Last edited by BeastFromTheEast on Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
You can take the Beast from the East
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BeastFromTheEast
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Re: DIY virtual cockpit

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Thu May 07, 2015 11:11 pm

Try as I might I could not get the rudder assembly stiff enough with the plastic tube, so I reverted to wooden cross beams.

DSCF9286small.jpg


The rudder interconnection is provided by a bicycle brake cable (£2.97 from Amazon) although securing it at each end took a little head scratching.

DSCF9288small.jpg


The slot is filled with some plywood offcuts and 20 minute epoxy resin, clamped together to make the whole thing secure.

DSCF9289small.jpg


Ian
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Re: DIY virtual cockpit

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Thu May 07, 2015 11:17 pm

These three pictures show the movement of the right rudder pedal (notice the other one in the background moving in the opposite sense). Connection to the pedal is made using M6 studding and repair washers.

DSCF9296small.jpg


DSCF9295small.jpg


DSCF9294small.jpg


The pedals look a bit clumsy but do operate fairly smoothly.

Ian
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Last edited by BeastFromTheEast on Fri May 08, 2015 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
You can take the Beast from the East
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BeastFromTheEast
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Re: DIY virtual cockpit

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Thu May 07, 2015 11:24 pm

The brake cable is routed out of sight under the chassis. I was expecting it to feel a bit flimsy, but it is quite stiff, although it would almost certainly break if you pushed both pedals hard enough.

DSCF9298small.jpg


Loosening the four wingnuts on each side of the rudder pedal carriage allows it to be moved forwards or backwards. It took a little fiddling to get it in the right place.

DSCF9297small.jpg


Ian
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BeastFromTheEast
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Re: DIY virtual cockpit

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Sun May 10, 2015 9:39 pm

IMU module screwed to left rudder pedal.

DSCF9301small.jpg


Circuit board in place

DSCF9305small.jpg


Cover on, interface cables attached to laptop :)

DSCF9307small.jpg


Ian
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BeastFromTheEast
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progress

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Mon May 25, 2015 9:46 pm

Sitting on its frame.

DSCF9312small.jpg


12VDC PSU, composite video generator and a 4 way USB hub are mounted under the chassis. 5VDC is supplied by an old Iomega ZIP drive PSU.

Getting tantalisingly close to taking flight, although the IMU modules will have to be re-engineered to allow more i/o to be patched in.

Ian
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OXO
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Re: DIY virtual cockpit

Postby OXO » Fri May 29, 2015 11:49 am

You will need more glue, and a lot of locking wire if you want it to get a C of A.

:wink:
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BeastFromTheEast
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DIY virtual cockpit takes flight

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:12 pm

OXO wrote:You will need more glue, and a lot of locking wire if you want it to get a C of A. :wink:


:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

DSCF9613 small.jpg


The famous keypad ......to which I have fitted yet another microcontroller to allow serial data to be sent to the PC. The incoming bytes are decoded using GlovePIE to allow the secondary controls to be operated. It operates in one of seven modes (initiate, takeoff, navigation, flying, viewing, landing & exit) and in each mode, the buttons perform different tasks. The GlovePIE program is not perfected yet - none of the viewing buttons work at present and some of the functions which are shared between modes don't operate as expected.

DSCF9555 small.jpg

The black mast is a wing spar from an old radio-controlled model aircraft and holds the wiring harness to the VR goggles. A 12VDC PSU, composite video generator, 4 way USB hub and a couple of wiring centres are screwed to the underside. As you can see the polystyrene foam is starting to suffer a bit :(

This is a youtube video I took of the cockpit in action - edited down from nearly 3 hours of footage. Unfortunately the webcam seemed to saturate no matter what I did with the television, but you should still get the general idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPHMs7sc61M

Ian
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You can take the Beast from the East
But never the East from the Beast
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Beastly Soaring - Tuesday nights, on the ServerOfTheBeast
Competition number IFC, aircraft registration number G-CHQR

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BeastFromTheEast
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new seat

Postby BeastFromTheEast » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:25 am

I have had the cockpit apart for some revisions: now it has custom made cushions made from a high quality synthetic foam called Reflex Superior. The covers were made by my father from an old settee.

DSCF9993 small.jpg

DSCF9999small.jpg

DSCF0006small.jpg


The keypad, unfortunately, has gasped its last. One of the copper tracks on the circuit board has broken and an entire row stopped working. They are only a couple of quid so I will just build another :). Other systems are back online.

Ian
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You can take the Beast from the East
But never the East from the Beast
Image
Beastly Soaring - Tuesday nights, on the ServerOfTheBeast
Competition number IFC, aircraft registration number G-CHQR


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