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Centurion-1

[Hardware] Making an old Logitech stick into proper helicopter controls

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Hi Guys, didn't know where to stick this topic but since it will be mainly for DCS I posted it here.

 

To cut a long story short I decided to finally buy some rudder pedals as a late Xmas gift for myself, one of the main reasons being I wanted to get into helicopter flying. After watching a bunch of helo training vids on youtube I realised my fixed wing HOTAS would not be up to snuff, and so I started to prowl the net for solutions. All off the shelf helo controls are really expensive, and I can't spare that kind of money now. Luckily there are a lot of DIY solutions on the net, and my two main sources of inspiration has been these two gents:

 

Home Made Collective Control for PC Simulator by Daniel Liska

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQrhrjTfu-s

 

X52 Helicopter cyclic control.mp4 by Dave Stevens

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1smUvU2V558

 

My plan

Drawing1.jpg

Since I have an old unused Logitech Attack 3 stick I intend to build my prototype out of it. It has a stick with X/Y motion, no twist, and a small throttle flap. I plan to remove the joytick grip from the base, stick an extension made out of some type of tubing, probably PVC and extend the wiring and run it externall like Dave Stevens has done.

Most of my planning is based on this excellent breakdown of the Attack 3 stick by Peter Vis.

For the collective, I plan on removing the throttle flap and situating it on the end of an arm like Daniel Liskas solution. The wiring will be extended and I will make some type of quick connector so it can be stored separately from the cyclic stick.

 

So guys, what do you think? Any potential pitfalls you can see?

 

Drawing1.jpg

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I've taken a dislike to helo flying (maybe because I've done fixed-wing for so long), especially the Mi-8 since it rotates uncontrollably and easy to break.  The Black Shark is alright and have yet to fly the Huey but overall I honestly prefer Arma 3 for helo flying compared to DCS.

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Well things sort of escalated, I talked about my idea to some guys at work and they immediatly shot down my PVC pipe idea and insisted it must be made out of metal. So a lot of welding, drilling and cutting later we are about 75% there mechanically, I will go and get a Logitech Extreme 3d pro joystick for 50 bucks that we will butcher for sensors. We are even trying to build some ghetto rudder pedals following this idea: http://i1201.photobucket.com/albums/bb342/Charl_Hartman/DSC03051-1.gif

I still intend to try my initial lightweight solution at home, I can't store the monster we are creating here at work but it will be here for us to use after hours. I will post updates how it turned out, if it works or not and how it behaves in game.

 

EricJ yeah I have Arma3 also, that was another reason I wanted to get into helo flying.

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Yeah don't get me wrong the article is cool as hell, but I actually started helo flying around March or so ish around last year and been hooked since.  Given though DCS does realistic modelling I think while A3 is making great steps to finally improve the modelling, I just think I'm better off fixed-wing for DCS/A3/SF2 and helo flying for A3.  I just don't have the care I guess for the helos, given (with the exception of the Huey) they're all Russian and would appreciate an Apache for DCS or at the minimum a Cobra.  I like flying Russian iron but I've done it for over a decade so I need a change :smile:

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Yeah I feel ready for something "more" in the virtual flying area. I agree that there should be more diversity in the DCS lineup but it is an universal problem. I hope Belsimtek does a late model Cobra followed by the Hind. That would be amazing. The new terrain theaters should provide for some fun helo flying opportunities. In the mean time Arma 3s increased fidelity and large amount of different aircraft and terrain will probably keep me busy.

 

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Well the reason I despise flying in A3 for fixed-wing is the size of the islands, which is great because while it does take time, can be added without waiting for years of development.  And one reason I don't like DCS is man you'll be in your 90s before a real good module comes out. Granted the A-10C is a real good module but overall still... years is what some people just don't have the patience for.

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I am probably the unluckiest man alive, because yesterday I went to pick up an Logitech Extreme 3d pro joystick from a local dealer. They only had one in stock so I bought it, score I thought and gladly paid the 55€... When I came back to the shop, some type of sixth sense told me to hook it up and ensure it works before starting to disassemble it. And woudln't you just know it, the damn thing was a dud. Didnt power up at all when I plugged it in.. Tried two different PCs and all the different USB ports. SO that bummed me out, but it didd give me and the guys time to refine the mechanical parts.

 

Here you go, the rudder pedals work remarkably well considering the low precision they are made with. Time will tell how well I can get the yaw sensor from the twist stick wired up, it will be situated on the small plywood bridge glued to the bolt that comes up there. It's all pretty ghetto but after some matte black paint on there it will look OK, and I have high hopes for the functionality.

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That sucks man, I used to use the FLY 5 stick... and the damn thing broke just sitting there, out of two one key broke.  Novel concept for the deployed Soldier but seriously the Logitech has never failed me... Nice shots too!

 

And enjoy sitting on that seat man, guess it's a South African thing :smile:

Edited by EricJ

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Behold, the ghetto helicopter stick and rudders! Haven't had time to do the collective yet so just used my saitek throttle for that for now.

 

WP_20150114_12_44_10_Pro.jpg

 

 

I must say the range of motion is really good with the tall stick extension and you can make small corrections easily enough. Flying is hard and I had no idea what I was doing, oblivious to all the gauges in the Mi-8 I just set on out and apart from losing it some times because of overcorrecting I must say I am pretty proud of myself and my little control. I think I will write a little article about this project.

BTW does the Uh-1H module have more training for flying tips? Or should i try BS2 instead?

 

Here is my third attempt to get airborne and fly around. I botched the landing of course so that's not there but other than that it went quite ok. As of writing this it is still processing so it might be a while before it's avaliable for viewing.

 

 

 

 

 

WP_20150114_12_44_10_Pro.jpg

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Nice work!  I have been on DCS since last summer.  Never really got much with the fixed wing planes, but when I picked up the UH-1H I was hooked.  I must have spent the first 10-15 hours just trying to get the dang thing off the ground and then back down in one piece.  Your homemade stick mod is one of many I have looked at recently and I am getting more and more inspired.  I think I am about ready to take my logitech G940 system apart and fab up my own cyclic and collective.  Thanks for the great pics and design description!

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Thanks! I say go for it, it is surprisingly uncomplicated once you get into it. As I said, flying works remarkebly well and even with the standard low quality potentiometers in the stick. I am now looking into replacing the cheap pots in my Logitech Extreme 3d pro based build with Hall sensors. http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/85431-Successful-repair-of-Logitech-Extreme-3D-PRO/page3and  http://www.jpfiles.com/hardware/uni_stick.pdf

The G940 system apparently is already mostly on hall sensors so no problems there. 

 

This gent seems to have a pretty awesome mod for that stick, though you've probably seen it already:

http://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=123231

 

I think we need a dedicated hardware subforum here!

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Some updates on the other prototype, decided I did not want to let the buttons on the stick base go to waste so prototyped up a box around that circuit board and made a simple button extension by using bolts.

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Ta-daa!

 

Works like a boss! Some things needs to be tweaked for  ergonomy but overall so worth it. Got a couple of hours more on the Mi-8 now and can pretty reliably land it, hover, takeoff etc. If you are into helo simming and have the space, I highly recommend this. I will probably write a longer article about this, got a lot of thoughts out of this.

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