I decided to do something different tonight. I have been concentrating on the whole hover thing so long that I figured I was in danger of forgetting the bits that are supposed to come between the hover. The airport I normally start at is Kaikoura. Don't ask me why as I dont have a clue. I puttered around the airport for a bit, going up, coming down, going up again, etc, when I decided that I actually wanted to fly somewhere. Loading up the map, I realised that Kaikoura doesn't really have any close airports to it, so I buckled my seatbelt, turned the ship around and flew down the coast towards Christchurch. I have the GPS unit docked to one of my joystick buttons, and rather than load CHCH as a destination, I just glanced at the GPS from time to time to check I was on track. After touching down at CHCH and refuelling, I launched again to land at Wigram, and then flew on to what I presume is Riccarton.
It was a nice flight, but my shoulder is feeling kinda tired now. The one gripe I have with the sidewinder is that the Rudder springs are too stiff meaning you (well, I) have to put quite a bit of effort into holding the bird straight.
Earlier today I uninstalled my graphics card drivers and installed the latest set. Even with all my settings maxed I was getting decent frame rates, though they dropped a lot over CHCH international. All in all it was a nice enjoyable flight, interupted only by chocolate cake. Gotta hate them interruptions, aye?
I wasn't able to begin making my prototype today due to the weather, and due to family needing me to play taxi at the last minute.
I tried a real weather flight today at Wellington airport. Was praticing just flying down the runway in 40k winds, and was having a lot of fun with it until the winds around here knocked the power out, heh.
Tonight I loaded up at Whangarei airport, and flew between there, and Creator2003's Kensington Park. Once down I checked the replay, powered up and flew back again. Kept doing this route for 1.2 hours, a few hairy moments but no crashes. It was fun flying without GPS, just learning the scenery, where to turn, best aproach angle etc.
I'm thinking that I might just be good enough now to go back to my old practice run, which was from the airstrip at Paraparaumu to the helipro building (scenery from these forums) and into the carpark behind the chain-link fence. Small landing area with a high fence to negotiate.
Well, I trawled through all the bits and pieces of electronica that I could locate and managed to come up with a grand total of 2 pots. Both of these had the right rating but .... both are far too stiff to be usefull, and both have extremely thick shafts. I managed to grab a whole bunch of gears and wheels from various bits and pieces, but none of these will come close to fitting on these without extensive modification. Of course, once they fit, I think all the wheels I have would buckle rather than turn the damned things - So, I'll be off to purchase some pots at some point.
As this is not something I can afford this week, I am revising my plans. Tomorrow, I will start making some prototypes. My head is buzzing with ideas for pedals, collective and cyclic but I need to see whether anything I have can be utilised. At this point, I am hoping I can get away with purchasing some glue and some bolts - I should have everything else.
I have a vague idea that I will be building the cyclic stick with no centering mechanism, but I am worried about calibration in windows. The calibration wizard calls for the center point twice. I am thinking I may get around this by introducing locking pins that will hold the stick dead centre on both axes. Put in the pins, calibrate centerpoint, remove pins, calibrate motion range, replace the pins, recalibrate centrepoint. It sounds kinda clunky, but it could work. I am also wondering if I were to calibrate it as a flight yoke that this problem would be avoided - but I do not know enough about this.
I have removed the head of my precision pro to use for the cyclic and I have a numberpad for the head of the collective. I'm also playing with the idea of incorporating speakers into a pair of earmuffs, along with a small earbud speaker. The plan (if its solid enough to call a plan) is to have the game sounds (stereo) through to the larger speakers, and voice, on a separate soundcard, to go through to the earbud, and to mount a small condenser mic on a boom for voice. I am having trouble hearing people on teamspeak over the cockpit noise, and I am hoping this will allow me to set the voice volume high enough to hear without distortion, and without it being affected by the game noise. To put that another way, I find that when both game sound, and TS sound travel through the same card the sound on both distorts too much. The earmuffs may also muffle outside noises enough to enhance the sim experience. Alternatively the setup might just be too hot and uncomfortable to wear.
As the title says, I don't have a lot to report at the moment.
I have been spending a lot of time installing freeware sceneries (esp those that i can find for NZ with helipads).
Still flying the modified bell 206. Last night I got a hover of +/- 1 foot/s which I was pretty stoked with. The sensitivity of the stick is incredible now, and it operates correctly. I can land a heli with a gentle touch down, even on top of a building in 26k winds. To be honest I never thought I could get that much control.
The Precision Pro is another matter alltogether. For some reason it now operates in one quarter of the calibration window which is really odd. No matter what I do it only operates there and I cannot work out why.
Still looking up ideas for building rudders and pedals. I guess the problem is that I have now looked at so many designs that they are all getting mixed up in my head. Seeing as I have to do this while spending as little money as possible I will probably be going for a mostly wood design with reused pots from around the house - broken stereos etc. Ideally I would love to go with hall sensors, or even home made LDVTs, and a home made USB controller - but these may be later adaptions. I am hoping to rip some stuff apart later today and see what pots I do have. Ideally, I would like 4 linear pots that are a little higher than 1kohm to give me a bit of leeway.
The rudders will need to be linked in that when I push one down, the other will raise, but the mechanics of this seem simple enough. I have seen enough designs for cable and pots. I will have to see what scraps I have around. Someone ingenious even uses fishing line for cable but I am hoping I can do better than this. I also have some gearwheels left over from a dismantled stereo cassette deck, and these may be useful. I just suspect that the engineering required to get these mounted to the axis and pot mechs with accuracy will be beyond me.
For the cyclic stick, I may cut the shape from wood and sand it round (lots of work). I wanted to do it out of metal pipe, but again, finances prevent this. At this stage, I can see that I will be forking out for a gameport plug, plus some bolts and washers, and perhaps some new drill bits. (All mine have been packed away when my wife decided we were going to move in the next two weeks, about 1 year ago).
I have been doing some work on the Sidewinder Precision pro. I pulled it apart carefully, and found the internal construction was much the same as the 3D pro.
After cleaning and re-greasing the stick, I made a new washer for it, but found that the stick still has some slop in the center. I made a second and third washer and still have not eliminated this. Either the thickness of the three washers is not enough, or this fix will simply not work.
I wasn't sure if this joystick had optical sensors like the first but was able to confirm that it does. I had wondered about pulling some pots out of one of these two sticks to build my pedals or collective lever, but clearly this will not be happening. This is not necessarily a problem though, as I can still go back to the idea of linking a brake cable to the throttle control on one of these sticks. I may have to do some tests and see if the Precision Pro has any slop in the rudder or throttle controls, and if not, this may become my collective and rudder - somehow.
I have spent some more flight time in FS9 with the 3D Pro and I am very happy with the results - though the thickness on this may be a little too much as the side to side axis does not quite return to true each time. This means that the heli is pitching left or right somewhat. Having said this, my ability to hover is now 100 times better than it had been and the pitch can be countered by keeping an eye on what is happening.
Yesterday I was also able to shoot into Jaycar and drool over all the electrical components for 30 minutes or so. They have a number of pots, and some gears which may prove useful when it comes to making the rudders (if I do not create some kind of frankenstick for these).