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Once upon a time I built a simpit. It was ok, but it didn't quite meet all of its design goals. It wasn't very comfortable or flexible and it was a hassle to move around.

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Mk1 looked like this. It was designed for flying jets, hence the side stick.

dsc_7024.thumb.jpg.6c9e381efcf90d58a596e0cbc84a4392.jpg

 

I never actually finished the thing. Note the empty panels.

dsc_7035.thumb.jpg.6c6db71ee51372549c6b34d3e55a02f1.jpg

 

Then I grew bored of flight sims and moved on to other things.

 

Until, one day, I bought a VR headset. 😲

 

I've decided to take another stab at the cockpit idea.

 

Project goals:

  • Compact.
  • Lightweight and easy to move by myself.
  • Simple. No fancy jet control panels. VR only.
  • Somewhat modular.
  • Comfortable.
  • Actually finish building it.

 

And so it begins... with a jigsaw puzzle!

IMG_3206.thumb.jpg.ed5c6c650607dcdc3cb35b0e4a7822cb.jpg

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Please keep us updated, this looks fun!

Is the design something off the net or something you've put together?

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5 hours ago, Melonfish said:

Please keep us updated, this looks fun!

Is the design something off the net or something you've put together?

Thanks. I have a rough idea of what I want, but I'm mostly just making it up as I go along.

Edited by lightbulbjim
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S! 

 

Great too see talent at work :) I built my own simpit as well, will upgrade it later. Nowhere near as neat as yours though 😄

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Depends what you plan do with this TQS. Could be an "upgrade". :)

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40 minutes ago, Sokol1 said:

Depends what you plan do with this TQS. Could be an "upgrade". :)

The plan is to build a quadrant with the levers stacked vertically. Similar to the Spitfire, P-47, P-51 (and many others) throttles. The TQS will be to the top throttle lever, and underneath will be mixture and RPM. The mixture and RPM levers will just have simple knobs on top.

 

The TQS is not at all period correct but it's very comfortable and great for VR.

 

That's the plan, anyway. We'll see how it works in practice.

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9 hours ago, Sokol1 said:

Good plan, TQS grip in vertical-right inclined position leave it in more comfortable for wrist and elbow. :good:

 

Nice, I hadn't seen a T-28 throttle before but yes, that's the sort of angle I want to mount it at.

 

I want to make the whole thing narrower in profile than a traditional quadrant, though, so the other levers will be sitting more underneath the TQS grip rather than beside it. I have a picture in my head but I haven't tried building it yet.

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Sanity checking the basic layout:

IMG_3238.thumb.jpg.ffbdc70adb60591751bebf349e3abd18.jpg

 

 

Looks and feels good so far. The real challenge will be figuring out placement for the other controls. Controls I'd like to have:

  • A three lever quadrant (incorporating an F-16 TQS, see discussion above) in the traditional left hand position.
  • Another four levers spread about in strategic locations for radiators and cowl flaps.
  • A landing gear lever with a few ancillary switches (eg rotary encoder on a crank for manual gear up/down).
  • A bank of switches on the right hand side for lights, engine and electrical systems.
  • An eject lever somewhere down low.
  • Possibly controls for flaps and airbrakes. I'll probably just end up using controls on the TQS for those.

I'm not yet sure whether I'll have a small centre console in front of the stick or position everything along the sides. I would like to avoid adding high side rails if possible, but I will if it ends up making the most sense. The number one goal is VR ergonomics, so each control needs to be unambiguous and easy to locate blind.

 

Lots to ponder while I finish off the seat. Did I mention that I'm making this up as I go along? 🙄

Edited by lightbulbjim
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Are the sides of the chair simply glued on? does it not have any retaining nails/screws?

I don't suppose you have any plans to hand for all of this? it's already shaping up very nicely.

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25 minutes ago, Melonfish said:

Are the sides of the chair simply glued on? does it not have any retaining nails/screws?

I don't suppose you have any plans to hand for all of this? it's already shaping up very nicely.

The chair is glued together. I did put some staples in during the glue up to help with alignment, but they don't add any appreciable strength.

 

No plans, I'm making it up as I go along. Plans wouldn't be very useful anyway as I'm building based on my anatomy and the materials and parts I have to hand.

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dude, you could be in for some funny technique in there around the curve.

 

Would I have to do it, I would hesitate between 2 : either I cut thin pieces of mdf and make the curve with putty and sanding, or I try to kerf bending plywood.

 

Note that I would probably choose the second technique as I am looking for a reason to test it. there are plenty videos around showing you how to do it and how to calcule it like this one

 

 

 

anyway, you inspire me and this winter might be the one I choose to put some work into making my own homepit.

 

keep on with the good work

 

 

Edited by OBT-Psycho

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40 minutes ago, OBT-Psycho said:

dude, you could be in for some funny technique in there around the curve.

 

Would I have to do it, I would hesitate between 2 : either I cut thin pieces of mdf and make the curve with putty and sanding, or I try to kerf bending plywood.

 

I would have done a kerf bend for the whole seat (in one piece) if I had a tablesaw. One day...

 

I'll make it work. I was contemplating leaving the sheeting off altogether at one point. With the cushion it was quite comfortable and it wasn't actually that obvious that you were sitting on the skeleton.

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Rather than using MDF or ply, have you thought of using leather or faux leather? perhaps layers of plastic or similar?

relatively cheap and would cover the slats fine to allow you to mount your cushioning on without issues.

just thinking as you said you were thinking of leaving the sheeting off, but at least this way you'll get the support from the frame and not feel the ribs

 

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7 hours ago, Melonfish said:

Rather than using MDF or ply, have you thought of using leather or faux leather? perhaps layers of plastic or similar?

relatively cheap and would cover the slats fine to allow you to mount your cushioning on without issues.

just thinking as you said you were thinking of leaving the sheeting off, but at least this way you'll get the support from the frame and not feel the ribs

 

On the front (convex) curve I definitely need something supportive to hold the shape. On the inside corner it's less important. Surprisingly enough you can't really feel the ribs (even before I put any sheeting on at all).

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1 hour ago, lightbulbjim said:

Surprisingly enough you can't really feel the ribs (even before I put any sheeting on at all).

 

Yes, this is the "fakir effect". If you sit on one nail, you will feel this and it will hurt you. But if you're sitting on

hundreds of nails, you won't barely feel nothing.

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Great build. Stick looks kind of high but should be fine with enough cushion under your bum. I’m keen to see where you get to with VR controls; I currently have MT50 stick and throttle, plus Saitek 3-axis quadrant, but I do find the controls hard to locate at times. I’d happily install a right-handed button box for some things like canopy, I’d love it if gear was very clearly delineated from other controls.

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9 hours ago, Alonzo said:

Great build. Stick looks kind of high but should be fine with enough cushion under your bum.

Thanks. It feels fine when sitting in it, even without the cushion.

 

9 hours ago, Alonzo said:

I’m keen to see where you get to with VR controls; I currently have MT50 stick and throttle, plus Saitek 3-axis quadrant, but I do find the controls hard to locate at times. I’d happily install a right-handed button box for some things like canopy, I’d love it if gear was very clearly delineated from other controls.

I'm trying to avoid things like button boxes since the controls won't need to sit on a desk. I've yet to see how it works in practice, but my plan is to spread all of the controls around to help avoid ambiguity.

 

VR is also the reason I'm sticking with a full featured HOTAS for the primary controls. Plus the F-16 TQS is particularly ergonomic.

 

Still a bit of filling and fairing to go, but I'm happy with how the curved areas are turning out:

IMG_3256.jpg

Edited by lightbulbjim
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Looking good and coming along nicely.

I wouldn't worry about your stick position or height. Looks very similar to what I have on my Monstertech rig.

 

100_0326.JPG

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Seat painting is underway:

IMG_3261.thumb.JPG.d775c05a06750a6315994a542baf5d64.JPG

 

While that's going on I'm making a box to house the electronics (a USB hub and 2 Bodner BU0836X boards). So far it looks something like this:

IMG_3267.thumb.JPG.5ffc6b026a0804d1bb5cf0d767b019ff.JPG

 

I also plan to include a compartment for storing spare springs and cams and the like.

 

While I'm thinking about it — Dear Virpil, please consider using standard USB-B sockets on your devices instead of those round plugs. I get that they look cool and are positively retained, but USB-B sockets would make replacing cables far easier and are more than robust enough.

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17 hours ago, lightbulbjim said:

I also plan to include a compartment for storing spare springs and cams and the like.

 

Are you going to do a bass shaker? I highly recommend it. I have some anemic Dayton audio pucks (small ones for a couch for home theatre) and they make a ton of difference. I'd imagine a proper 50-100W shaker would be really good.

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13 minutes ago, Alonzo said:

 

Are you going to do a bass shaker? I highly recommend it. I have some anemic Dayton audio pucks (small ones for a couch for home theatre) and they make a ton of difference. I'd imagine a proper 50-100W shaker would be really good.

No current plans, but that’s not to say it won’t happen eventually. In my Mk1 cockpit I had a series of transducers under the seat cushion but found it a bit underwhelming to be honest. In the past I’ve also used a Buttkicker clamped to a chair but again didn’t find it helped with the suspension of disbelief. We’ll see. 

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19 minutes ago, lightbulbjim said:

No current plans, but that’s not to say it won’t happen eventually. In my Mk1 cockpit I had a series of transducers under the seat cushion but found it a bit underwhelming to be honest. In the past I’ve also used a Buttkicker clamped to a chair but again didn’t find it helped with the suspension of disbelief. We’ll see. 

 

I really like mine, for what it's worth. There have been a few times when I have felt, not heard or seen, enemy fire in a situation where I was focused on another bogie, and the bass shaking caused me to snap out of my reverie and maneuver defensively. It's also pretty fun to have flak bursting around you and to feel that within the aircraft. I've got 4 small transducers -- two under the bum, two screwed to the baseboard near my pedals. With your setup you could do a 50W shaker under the bum which would also transfer some vibration to the stick, and maybe another one nearer the pedals.

 

Those button box connectors look very good but they are also not cheap. I guess close to plug and play though. Did you consider some of the other techniques such as whatever Arduino (?) board people are using?

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2 hours ago, Alonzo said:

Those button box connectors look very good but they are also not cheap. I guess close to plug and play though. Did you consider some of the other techniques such as whatever Arduino (?) board people are using?

The original plan was to use Arduinos. I have a bunch of Pro Micro clones laying around, which are really easy to turn into USB HIDs. That would obviously allow a lot of flexibility since I could emulate joysticks, keyboard and mouse in the firmware and make them behave however I want.

 

But... I'm time poor at the moment (family etc), and I want to keep this project simple to give myself the best shot at completing it. Realistically, building my own controllers would add a few months to the completion date at my current level of time committent. So I'm going with the simple option for now. I can always add custom controllers later if need be.

 

Plus, using simple game controllers has a side benefit - it forces me to build a more ergonomic control layout. Previously I had all sorts of fancy programming in Foxy to achieve the desired functionality. Without that option, if I want to add another function I'll need to add another control somewhere. I'm hoping that this approach will result in a more intuitive control scheme. It certainly feels in keeping with the sort of virtual aircraft we fly.

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Is it a special plane your building ? 

 

How high are the seat compared to pedals , and the distance and how high in cm are you  ( I'm 170 cm ) .... And how deep is your seat , about have the joystick good place 

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8 minutes ago, H_Steinbaur-VR said:

Is it a special plane your building ?

It's a general purpose do-everything VR plane 😀. Also for gliders (Condor 2).

 

8 minutes ago, H_Steinbaur-VR said:

How high are the seat compared to pedals , and the distance and how high in cm are you  ( I'm 170 cm ) .... And how deep is your seat , about have the joystick good place 

The heels of the pedals nearly touch the steel frame, and the highest part of seat base (at the front, since it's reclined) is roughly 150mm above the frame. There will be a 40mm cushion over the whole seat, but since it's compressible it's hard to account for in measurements.

 

From the bottom rear corner of the seat (without the cushion) it's roughly 800mm to the heels of the pedals when they're in the neutral position. The pedals traverse 50mm in each direction.

 

The seat base is about 300mm deep to the high point at the front (which is the frontmost point you feel) and about 360mm deep overall. That's just the part you sit on, and again measured without the cushion.

 

The stick base is about 20mm below the high point of the seat base (without the cushion). I'm using a 200mm extension and a Cougar grip.

 

Hopefully that makes sense. It's a bit hard to measure precisely because the seat is a complex shape and the pedals are quite adjustable.

 

I'm 185cm tall by the way. I could move the pedals forward a bit more but it makes the toe brakes a bit hard to use. I setup a few mockups before I started to figure out the dimensions and then I've been testing and tweaking as I go. I used some of Kermit Weeks' videos to help figure out the rough position of the pedals and stick.

 

By keeping things simple and (somewhat) modular it won't be a big deal if I need to rebuild a component to improve comfort. The frame is also easy to mod: just chop and weld 😄.

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Weld a post or two on it to attach ButtKickers! I have one and it really adds to the VR immersion. I plug mine into a Audio port and use the sound.

Then I set the whole thing on packing foam so the vibrations do not transfer to the floor.

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I've been busy with work, but I've managed to find time to do some painting:

IMG_3278.thumb.jpg.7b5082c890d0213ea1f52ce35284fb03.jpg

 

I've also ordered a couple of bass transducers to experiment with. If they're any good I'll incorporate them into the cockpit. I've gone with 2 Dayton TT25s (the mini puck versions). It sounds like the larger units work better, but I don't quite have enough space for them. I can fit the TT25s to the underside of the seat, attached to the front mounting blocks (just behind the bolt access holes in the picture above). I'm hoping this will transfer vibration to both the seat and the stick mount. We'll see what happens.

 

As mentioned I've used transducers before but I wasn't that impressed with them. Looking back I realise now part of the problem may have been that the actuators in that system were motors with offset weights (like the vibration motor in your phone) rather than a piston arrangement like the audio transducers you see around today are. They took a while to spin up and gave a feeling more like vibration rather than impact.

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I have those audio pucks, and whilst they’re okay my setup quickly overwhelms them and goes to nasty sounding rattle rather than vibration—I have to have the amplifier quite low to drive them in their sweet spot. But still, they are a lot of fun and add to the immersion. If you like the effect you could always add a couple near the pedals—getting vibration through your feet is quite nice and immersive too.

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Did some (rough and ready) sewing and got the cushion sorted out. I've temporarily rigged everything up to test the layout properly and start to figure out other control locations. I might extend the frame to move the pedals forward a little. Not sure yet.

IMG_3315.thumb.jpg.e8c5cc5363b6f69a5fca09d94c2ae9df.jpg

 

This is my first time using the Virpil gimbal and I have to say I'm a little underwhelmed it. I'm using the progressive AviaSim cams and they feel quite rough. The Crosswind pedal cams by comparison feel very smooth. I'm guessing the reason the stick cams feel rough is long throw, small cams and hands are more sensitive than feet.

 

The axes are also not quite symmetrical in feel, which is annoying. I wonder why Virpil didn't go with a dual cam design to help with this.

 

All in all the gimbal feels like a downgrade from my Cougar U2 NXT. That gimbal is perfectly smooth with very nice progression. Not as adjustable though (although it is possible to adjust the centre position) and it's not really suitable for using with an extension.

 

I miss Foxy too 🥴.

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Which gimbal are you using? I have the MT50 base with a 100mm extension on it and it seems pretty smooth to me. I think I switched in the Cosmo cam for ailerons and the one with quite an increase in required force for elevator. 
 

Rig looking great by the way!

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2 hours ago, Alonzo said:

Which gimbal are you using? I have the MT50 base with a 100mm extension on it and it seems pretty smooth to me. I think I switched in the Cosmo cam for ailerons and the one with quite an increase in required force for elevator. 
 

Rig looking great by the way!

Thanks. The gimbal is the T-50CM2 (the newest one). I'm currently running the no-centre AviaSim cams (the progressive ones) on both axes, with a medium spring on ailerons and a firm spring on elevator. The extension is 200mm.

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I had to pause for a while for some house projects but things are (slowly) ticking along again. I started work on the throttle arm today.

 

IMG_3331.thumb.JPG.365200e2d5c629f720f3e8958d12689c.JPG

 

The original plan was to have a steel bracket mate to an aluminium arm, but it's easier to just make the whole thing out of steel. Not sure if I'm going to have interference problems with sensors.

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