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DIY Flight control gear. ( Planktronics Optical Flight Control System project )

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Posted (edited)

Yes I did post this on the RoF forum under my alter ego. * shrug *

 

Opentrack 2.3.11 for headtracking

Opentrack 2.3.9 and modified single point tracker plugin for stick tracking.

3D pro for rudder etc.

 

35091013_pic01.thumb.jpg.ae009bb7e543848e6647198aec17161f.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

815438453_pic02.thumb.jpg.c42a2eda72ce72e7af71a6c594546321.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

469591840_pic03.thumb.jpg.a520f27975d725fc491a4584607d9a57.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

661843140_pic04.thumb.jpg.98450ac0909e087daa31cfb2951c417c.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

1435121438_pic05.thumb.jpg.16822218c2fd8cc7ec9ff04274748d3c.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

879387608_pic06.thumb.jpg.4b5c9ce1042a18492e64be2b13e531ba.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

139955208_SticktrackingIgo.thumb.jpg.fe4249532df1de5cd8c1ce43794cb9e9.jpg

 

 

So far it's up and working. It took a lot of faffing about to get it to go.

 

The stick is pretty darn good.

No deadzone at all, no slop and the output curves are fully customisable ( not that I bother ) .

 

For the rudder I use my logitech 3D pro rudder bar.

Which frees up extra analog inputs for throttle, mix, flaps and RPM, I guess...

 

Draw back is that opentrack 2.3.9 can bug out when starting tracking.

A bit like freetrack you just have to wait....

 

It's AWESOME. Super smooth and just amazing.

 

Salute!

 

Planky. ( DIY idiot and shedist/garagite )

 

 

PS. All the zipties and string are temporary until I decided to go all professional with metal fandagoes etc...

Plus it's very cheap to make. The camera was a tenner and the rest was junk and a bit of hard work. : - ) 

 

 

Edited by Plank
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Posted (edited)

Ahem.

 

Actual video evidence of the camera tracker working:

oooh...

 

I have new bits to cobble together a new gimbal, stick and baseplate etc.

Should look quite sexy, moar metal etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusted  to get +/- 25-30 deg throw on pitch which is a lot with the long stick.

 

 

Feels great to use, awesome.

 

Hope the the link is working, youtube really like to make things hecking complicated....

 

Salute!

 

Planky. ( Getting over the flu now... back to the garage! )

 

Edited by Plank

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Interesting solution, Planky. I see one major drawback: the resolution of the camera (640x480 max) is still lower than that of an average controller (1024x1024), meaning that the feel of smoothness doesn't translate into an equally smooth control movement. Still the lack of any enforced deadband might be a great advantage over traditional controllers.

BTW, don't you feel the need for some dampening effect?

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Posted (edited)

Hello sniperton.

 

This is an interesting point/s that you bring up.

 

Since I use 640 steps for pitch, divide for one control surface deflection.

Control surface max angle is about 30deg ish.

Divide 320 step into 30 equal parts. = 10.66 steps per deg of control surface angle.

( opentrack output is ... no idea. DIview tells me the stick is still outputting 65000 steps...)

 

Do you really notice a 1 deg elevator change?

So how about 1/10 of an degree ( 16.6 moa )

Do I have enough definition here?

 

Have you ever considerd that your head tracking was not so good? 

Because it's the same technology.

 

Of course this is just using workarounds and some ingenuity to get this off the ground.

If I was able to start from scratch and build everything.... it would be much better.

( ask any digital camera tracking device.... like an expensive air to air missile...)

 

and as it stands right now it's pretty darn good.

I would not bother going back to a  normal stick.

 

And dampening...

 

I have put thousands of hours through this setup,

after you get over the fact there is zero center notch,

no ends stops and the stick is light as all heck in the center

and gets heavier as you move it further outwards...

It becomes super comfortable.

It's like pointing the plane with your mind. ( Hi Raaaid! )

 

and micro precision around the center. Just insane. 

The stick detects my finger clench when I pull the trigger.

So now I have to retrain myself to be cool/frosty when firing.

( Before when I use the 3D pro MCU it's deadzone culled that out )

 

next iteration is going to be heavy metal version. Just because.

 

and so far the camera tracking is the best bang for least moving parts.

Nothing wears out, no lose bits, no notch, super centering etc.

 

I guess you will have to fly to New Zealand to try it out!

 

Salute!

 

Planky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Plank

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30 minutes ago, Plank said:

Divide 320 step into 30 equal parts. = 10.66 steps per deg of control surface angle.

( opentrack output is ... no idea. DIview tells me the stick is still outputting 65000 steps...)

Yep, but if you divide 512 into 30 parts (the resolution of a traditional controller) = 17 steps per degree, which is more precision by 60%.

It doesn't matter how many steps the stick is outputting if the input is much coarser. You'll need a strong filtering to counteract jittering IMO.

And you have to optimize your device in order to be able to use the whole 640p region of the camera. If tracking doesn't range from edge to edge, you lose steps.

Anyway, I look forward to your flight experiences :salute:

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Mr Sniperton. : - )

 

I can hover the stick between 0.00% and 0.10% with ease.

Using Diview to observe. Seems good enough to me.

It's hard to actually compare the two systems on paper though.

To prove for either one is difficult. Both are "complicated".

 

But I can say that flying with the new system is pretty darn amazing.

 

Wait till I get the laser.... ( ! )

 

Salute!

 

Planky.

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm glad you like it, I found your solution highly inventive and worth considering, my only concern is/was that what you can gain through the longer stick and the lack of deadband is going to be lost due to the courser input. How does it feel towards the centre when you're adjusting your aim?

S!

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1 hour ago, sniperton said:

I'm glad you like it, I found your solution highly inventive and worth considering, my only concern is/was that what you can gain through the longer stick and the lack of deadband is going to be lost due to the courser input. How does it feel towards the centre when you're adjusting your aim?

S!

 

My friend, : - ) 

 

For some reason I do not experience this "coarseness" of which you keep suggesting. It could just be me though...

 

Practically I feel that 10bit samples are possibly over rated and that people have been

sold this idea that you need to have bigger samples to achieve some kind of super level of control.

 

I tend to think of the situation like this: after a certain point there is zero advantage in increasing the resolving power.

A person with 680 steps vs 1024 steps is not really at a disadvantage when the actions are quite rough.

( and yes flying a plane is pretty rough, sorry if that hurt anyone's feels...)

 

Interpolation between steps based on rate of change is not unrealistic with today's computing power.

and it's relatively simple, as you wont be changing the direction or velocity of the stick vector very much over time.

In fact predicting stick movement would be very very easy even in real time. ( humans are very very very very slow ...)

 

So unless you are able to move your stick to any point on your 1024 number line, instantaneously, and you really really really need to know

exactly what point it landed on... you might get away with a much lower bit depth and some basic predictive software.

 

here is a graphic what I made up. It's to show something but, well I ran out of steam considering it...5023272_1024vs680.thumb.jpg.e233863b87ec89f597d28ef7cd5cde9f.jpg

Here it is anyway! It looks like a thermometer...

 

Really it does not look that bad. I would say 1024 is over rated.

Unless you are doing point to point navigation and you really really really need to

avoid reciprocity failure or accumulated thingies.... with zero course corrections... 

( you would have to fly a long long way for this to be a biggie...)

 

Right I will get back to making chicken and sweet potatoe soup for lunch....

 

S!

 

Planky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An accelerometer (like used in ED Track) will be not more practical than camera?

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This is cool. The discussion about 640x480 resolution seems moot; either OP thinks it's fine (he does) or he can just get a FullHD camera with 1920x1080 resolution and get more. But overall I'm just thinking about how cool and inventive this solution is. Nice job.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, Alonzo_LW said:

This is cool.

 

 

Thanks!

 

Here is the laser diode in action. ( $7 nzd, sub mW, 5v  )

 

1423215258_laserandcamera.thumb.jpg.10e7dbcab4723139645afcd38f71c414.jpg

 

 

Youtube:

 

 

So the laser projects on the screen and  I will get a much more linear response.

This needs a whole new test bed to faff about with...

... will continue with the IR led stick and get that tuned up then move on to the next version.

 

The biggest issue with the laser and screen is tuning the system to get the optimal stick throw 

over the widest range on the sensor. without it looking tooooo Dr Frankenstein/Mad Max.

 

Still yet to have breakfast.... time is whizzing by.

 

S!

 

Planky.

 

PS. I can also put the camera on the laser side of the screen but it ends up looking at it an angle ... not quite optimal. : - )

 

Edited by Plank

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1 hour ago, Sokol1 said:

An accelerometer (like used in ED Track) will be not more practical than camera?

 

Salute!

 

I wrote you a long rambling reply but the internet crashed and took it , hecking darn. ( maybe a good thing...)

 

I have never tried accelerometer but mmm... I am not convinced that they would be better than a camera.

For something that is moving around in free space over long distances yes, but for a small dot moving

around in a fenced field... the camera is better. : - )

 

Я надеюсь, что вы в добром здравии.

 

 

S!

 

P.

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8 hours ago, Plank said:

I tend to think of the situation like this: after a certain point there is zero advantage in increasing the resolving power.

A person with 680 steps vs 1024 steps is not really at a disadvantage when the actions are quite rough.

( and yes flying a plane is pretty rough, sorry if that hurt anyone's feels...)

No disagreement here. I'm convinced that for general flying and acrobatics 256 or even 128 steps would be just enough. :happy:

My question was related to small adjustments near the neutral position. You know, when you're trying to put the crosshair onto the wing root of a small target plane or the track of a tank. I'm really curious about your testing experiences. :salute:

 

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@sniperton and @Plank Guys, I KINDA see what's happening here but I've GOT to say.... I LOVE this community!! This stuff makes a rainy Tuesday morning all the more bearable whilst procrastinating over when to actually start doing any work!! Brilliant, thanks.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, sniperton said:

You know, when you're trying to put the crosshair onto the wing root of a small target plane or the track of a tank.

 

Well, I had this head to head with a germ in a 109 on Berloga and managed to dodge their cannon shells while shooting them in the face wing roots...

They died riddled shells.

I flew off to celebrate ( I died shortly later from severe FW 190 air dispensed lead poisoning ) .

 

Not sure what else to say. it works for me?!?  yey !   : - )

 

to wit:

Stick length is about 600mm That gives me about a 500mm throw from stick all the way back to stick all the way fwd.

Frankly this is the shizzle. It just feels right. gush...

( I flew an irl Alpha 160A for about 15min and the stick felt the same.... plane was neutral trim)

 

oh it's my bed time, it sure flies when you are soldering push button switches in the garage... F15 grip in the works... ( it's SHONKY as ....)

 

S!

 

Planky.

 

PS Hey Raptorattacker  Welcome to the party! woo! Hope you are dry warm and motivated! S! ( it's raining here too and cold and windy !!! )

      ( how do you do that @ thing?? )

 

 

Edited by Plank

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As much as I find this interesting to look over and read. I have utterly no idea about any of it. Though part of me is disappointed that your actual screen is not some giant dissected CTR screen from the 90s as shown in the drawing. 

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3 hours ago, Plank said:

( how do you do that @ thing?? )

 

Y'just type an '@' and then either copy and paste the name yer after or start typing it and a drop - down pops up and the names appear and you click on the one you want. Simples!... ;)

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5 hours ago, Geronimo553 said:

Though part of me is disappointed that your actual screen is not some giant dissected CTR screen from the 90s as shown in the drawing. 

 

Salute Geronimo.

 

Yes well BIG CRT screens are hard to come by these days and the last one I had was a 21inch monster that weighed a ton.

( all that glass...) but it did have 200hz refresh rate BUT the phosphor is quite slow.... so yes.... maybe I could get one for a test...

But... it's possible that the time has come to "re box" my current crappy screen. ( take off plastic etc make new stand....)

 

S!

 

5 hours ago, Raptorattacker said:

drop - down pops up

 

Ah yes the "popping up drop down"... I should have guessed!  lemme try it ... @Raptorattacker    did it work???  I didnae see a drop down menu pop up....

 

S!

 

Rightyho I best zip off to class.  Then I will be back to the garage to continue planking about.

 

Have a nice day out there!

 

Salute!

 

Planky.

 

 

 

 

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@Plank See? Have fun in the garage and I await the next instalment with baited breath!!

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Posted (edited)

Ahem, stopped smashing things together in the garage to make dinner.

 

Please have some Russian while you wait:

 

 

S! P.

Edited by Plank

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Posted (edited)

Ahem. S!

 

Been out in the garage in the balmy 12deg C ... a great temperature to work in as you always   keep moving to stay warm.... : - )
This video is mind numbingly not very exciting! Er... yes.

 

 

But it is a thing... so that is a good.              

I shot a few more clips but I have to look through them                   

and cull out the really really boring ones.            

 

Here is another one... oh dear. 

 

 

 

Yes, yes I did break an almost collectable joystick.... I am sorry! ( not really ) : - )

 

S!

 

Plank.

 

 

PS I regret buying cheap push buttons... they are really crud. They "bounce" when you make contact... ugh.

and really hard to solder without melting them. The plastic is thermo plastic not resin. Ugh... cheap. : - (

 

 

 

Edited by Plank

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Posted (edited)

oh my goodness.... what the heck is going on now...

 

Toy HOTAS what I found:

 

1234168715_Throttlemod000.thumb.jpg.cd1a12541e8c4916d917f25c6654cd4b.jpg

 

 

 

and then....

 

1661502124_Throttlemod001.thumb.jpg.1627a280861d9d28363751a1fb69630f.jpg

 

 

Oh yes, er , two controls ( one more to add) and six buttons ( it is a logitech 3D pro micro control unit )

 

I have video I need to edit into some kind of work over time thingy... need to find softwares etc. 

 

It works.

The main throttle is mapped to pitch and the wheel RPM is throttle. ( it's easier this way, I will amend it later...)

 

The toy HOTAS cost about $5 ( I think... ) and the mechanism is ok sturdy.  

So that is a pretty good win really. The Variable resistor is easy to swap out if it dies.

 

S!

 

Planky.

 

PS. I will add soem kind of thumb control for , er something... later. : - )

Edited by Plank

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On 6/7/2019 at 5:30 AM, Plank said:

The toy HOTAS cost about $5 ( I think... ) and the mechanism is ok sturdy.  

Lucky you that you found one for that price. ;)

https://www.amazon.com/Lutema-Heligram-Simulator-Helicopter-Technology/dp/B00M0UAWSI

I have an RC heli, but it has such a crap controller that I've never felt the temptation to cannibalize it... :lol:

 

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1 hour ago, sniperton said:

cannibalize it

 

Hello!

That is the exact same one!

 

The mechanism is ok, light/medium duty.   

If you are careful and don't yank on it I am sure it will last for ages. : - )  

I wired the potentiometer directly onto the 3D pro inputs and it's worked out ok.

( if you use the Pitch/roll/yaw control input you have to set the controls  to 50% BEFORE you plug the usb in. 

This is to set the internal calibration on MCU start up to the control position... it's "magic"... )

 

The T-bar handle I used on mine is a chair leg!   

 

One thing I have to do is create end stops,   

it's has a tendency to go  past the end of the control in game.   

Same with the RPM control.

 

So get your tools out and CANNIBALIZE !

 

and remember kids:   Mutate and survive!

 

 

 

...must be time of a cup of tea * extends tentacles ... *

 

S!

 

Planky.

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24 minutes ago, Plank said:

I wired the potentiometer directly onto the 3D pro inputs and it's worked out ok.

What about the deadband? In my experience commercial controllers all have a deadband enforced by firmware. You can't remove it. And it's particularly annoying when you have a deadband at 50% on throttle, mixture, or RPM.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, sniperton said:

What about the deadband?

 

Hello!

 

When you say "deadband" is that the same as "deadzone" or DZ as I like to call it... ?   

If it's DZ then yes, the 3d pro does have a tiny one on Pitch, roll and yaw. But not on throttle.                   

As it is, I have the throttle connected to the pitch input and heck, you would hardly notice the DZ                  

as the throw is so short.    So it is fine as far as I care. ( never really fly at 50% throttle that much.... )                           

 

If you don't mind cutting your toy up it's a pretty darn cheap T-bar throttle.

 

You can of course TEST the thing before you do any cutting.

( wire up a jumper lead  to your input on whatever board you use...)

 

and now for something slightly different!

 

 

1235242805_IMG_0076edit.thumb.jpg.a30ca6b9e0a98589ebadb2e4b1ac05e1.jpg

 

mmmm... I am not a fan of this grip. So out it goes!

 

1438947944_IMG_0077edit.thumb.jpg.dcd73fb19268f76fdc543dab9554aacf.jpg

 

 

This grip I developed quite a few years ago and dug it out of the box to see what I could do with it...    

Took off the trigger and buttons and replaced with better more tidy stuff.    

 

 

 

326292478_IMG_0078edit.thumb.jpg.0484262fd8a2bd65d15078abb3d26ac6.jpg

 

You really could not make a trigger this light, this cheap and this good , er, or something. heck. No really it's just great. : - )    

 

So yes, out goes the F-15/18 or whatever grip and on goes the old Planktronics MK IV Grip.  

Which is really very comfortable. Like an old arm chair with a good book, and a mug of Brandy.

 

S!

 

Planky.


PS. The Planktronics MK IV was developed for the AH-6J in Arma2 which I did not fly with a mouse unlike Dslyecxi...  ( it's actually really hard  ) . S!

 

New pics:

 

206484506_IMG_0079edit.thumb.jpg.4407eb5a521ba829a789897414170763.jpg

 

 

Checking the grip fits on the stick. Check!

 

422705454_IMG_0080edit.thumb.jpg.a8329a6f2dc4e83512d10d12f705b2c9.jpg

 

That board hanging off the stick is the board out of the 3D pro grip.    

I need to build a new key matrix diode PCB but for now... this will have to do.    

 

506287304_IMG_0084edit.thumb.jpg.4bece8395348c2f686ad879fbf051d04.jpg

 

 

Old and new.    

Will swap old gimbal onto new chassis.   

At some stage I will upgrade chassis and gimbal to Heavy Metal MK1.    

Getting everything in the right place and flight testing is a priority    

( over making things look sharp and snazzy) .

 

S! P.

 

 

IMG_0086 edit.jpg

Edited by Plank

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Posted (edited)

Getting a little bit out of control here but what the heck:

 

2058954522_PlanktronicsMk-IV.thumb.gif.8e388320ee02320778f0d43133af1817.gif

 

 

 

1540613829_IMG_8026edit.thumb.jpg.a063310c3fe70a31a1c6fae645a2e67b.jpg

 

Moody lighting...

 

191888657_IMG_8029edit.thumb.jpg.c317df7b23371f9fe625c998aeaaa17d.jpg

 

Three buttons wired in, and two to go. : - )

 

Once I get things sorted out:

 

Swap out yellow hookup wire.

Hide the umbilical cable.

Build new PCB.

Wire in extra buttons.

Maybe put the hat switch in..

etc.

 

S!

 

Planky.

 

PS. Hey I just noted: almost no plastic! ( If the push buttons were only ceramic like in the old days...)

 

 

Edited by Plank

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Posted (edited)

Ladies and Gents,

 

After  getting nowhere with my struggle with RoF crashing I decided to    

get back on the horse with regards to my  flight control experiments.

 

What I had was two instances of opentrack running.

One was head tracking and the other was stick tracking.

 

This worked fine and is stable. 

 

A slight drawback is that opentrack  will not use a single point tracker plug in

AND use the latest version. So I made a three LED target for the stick and use that .

It's not optimal for a two axis only  target. ( X, Y) A single LED target and corresponding    

single point tracker is best.

 

So,

 

I knew that Freetrack has a single point tracker ( 2doff ) built in... and this is better than (6dof) , but how to get it all to work?

 

Using the three LED target on my stick I decided to see if I could get the whole thing going.

Well I will spare you the details ( it was not easy I can say this ) and cut to the chase:

 

Opentrack now tracks my head outputting 6DOF ( TIR/Freetrack protocol )

Freetrack now tracks my stick and outputs 2DOF ( PPjoy protocol )

 

There is a little dance you have to do to get it all to work. It's a waltz actually.

 

The thing works, flew around Verdun in the Nieuport N11 and everything was fine, tuned Freetrack to give optimal   

stick throw and did some barnstorming. It works well.

 

335053924_OpentrackANDfreetrack.thumb.jpg.a94585e060a846a3806f0c8157998011.jpg

 

 

 

Opentrack running left, Freetrack running ( 3 LED target/hat clip model ) right. 

 

FYI:

 

The reason a single point tracker is better is that it uses the most of  your camera sensor,

due to the target being a single small dot. Also the mathematics is much less.

 

Will solder up a new single target soonish. ( after a strong cup of tea.  )

 

The single most useful tool I have used to date:  Persistence.

 

Salute!

 

Planky.

 

 

PS. I can now proceed on my laser target proj and replace the LED's...  S!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Plank
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Posted (edited)

Chaps.

 

Just crash landed back in the home after plonking along in the garage;

 

 

Fabbed up the single IR led and

 

1078045966_IRLEDpcb001.thumb.jpg.d3ef5649df90c5eaef043a8fab8f71b8.jpg

 

Glued it on to the tin can filled with lead...

 

1082485810_IRLEDpcb002.thumb.jpg.3a6e5e71e0c248cfc17b1710d4d0f2bd.jpg

 

 

 

and cranked up Freetrack...

 

849791413_FreetracksticktrackerandRiseofflight001.thumb.jpg.50781aa9afe3b14c91e7f4c7ec55722b.jpg

 

 

and here is yet another pic of the stick sans camera.... ( I forgot to put that in shot. )

 

34597593_Stickystick001.thumb.jpg.e647f6433778ed5e797665b16089abe0.jpg

 

 

Flew around in my Nieuport N11 "Bebe" and the stick is awesome.   

I can dial up any curve or response  I like.   

 

i.e

I have set up the stick back to get about 20 deg angle from centre stick

and set the roll up to be about 10deg. ( I like roll to be very positive feeling )

This feels really good with the long stick and due to the decreasing rate  

is excellent for barnstorming, dog fighting etc.    

When I try out the laser I will have constant rate and it will be interesting  

to see how that  handles.  

 

For the  "haha" squad the set up is actually really really good, sturdy, durable and very very cheap.   

 

So "haha" indeed!  : - )

 

Salute !

 

Planky. ( Boffin !)

 

PS. I put the camera on it's side so that PITCH is longways and YAW is shortways.  

( Dot left is stick back and dot up is stick right.)

This is why the red dot in Freetrack seems like it's in the wrong place.    

It's not!    S!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Plank
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