Q) = question - A) = answer - C) = comment - R) =reply
Q) Absolutly outstanding.... I will be completely revamping my site
shortly, and this will feature prominently within it, with your
permission, of course...
This is just what I have been looking for and request any and all
information on it. I personally would invest in its construction,
as I am sure many other simmers would....
Just one minor question (maybe not so minor).....
Would it be possible to mount a light weight wheelchair in place of
the seat in its design? When I fly by the seat of my pants, I do
just that......got the pressure sores to prove it too........
A) Yes! The seat (of the prototype) is a simple lawn-chair type framework
(for weight saving) that could be substituted for just about anything.
Q) your simulator looks interesting. I am developing a high-end ($) simulator
(fully enclosed with 3-4 axis and force feedback). Are you familiar with the
Rock-n-Ride platform? It also has active two-axis motion via a small air
compressor. The complete unit has a very small footprint and retails for
only $799 (complete, except computer hardware, joysticks, etc.). Check it out,
or send me a note.
A) Yes, I've seen the Rock-n-Ride. It's the first platform that's about the right
price for a home unit. Is yours electric or air driven? I like the lower cost
of air but don't think I'd like the noise. Motors on the otherhand may be to
slow except for heavys. I've pondered adding force to mine via the joystick
base attachment to the seat. Without larger custom shakers it might not have
enough effect on the cockpit. What are you going to use for the display? I've
found a new HMD called "Scuba" by Phillips. $299 but no headtracking or 3D
but since it's just a TV designed for games, I assume I can get 640-400 from it
with my ATI PCTV card. This should get me past the swinging monitor
problem that really limits response.
Q) So, what do the plans cost and when will the kit be available?
I'm very interested in the workings of the Rider, am a student pilot and
have hand & power tool skills as well as some design expierence.
A) At present I have detailed photos of the assemblies that I'm
compiling into a working set of plans. These would be for the
non-designer builders out there that just want to "cut & paste"
one together. Price will be reasonable but yet to be determined.
Due to the many different configurations possible with joysticks,
throttles, rudder-pedals, displays, etc. It's become VERY hard to
achieve a "one size fits all" model. The purpose of the site is
to inspire the designer in us to experiment with the possibilities
and hopefully submit ideas and suggestions that can be incorporated
in the plans.
Q) Also, how do you relate the "stick" to the electronic joy stick or yoke?
A) As stated in chapter three, the cockpit's CONTROL STICK
(except for the buttons in the handle on top) only moves the cockpit.
The joystick base connected under the seat sends the cockpits motion
to the computer just as if you were moving a joystick.
C) Your design looks just like what I've been looking for in a home-based
motion platform. I'm now a medically grounded pilot, but I used to fly AH-64
attack helicopts in the Army. Before I joined the Army I flew
fixed-wing Cessna and Piper aircraft. Simulators are the only way I can
enjoy flying now. Since newer PC simulators are getting as good as the
ones I flew in the Army, I'd like to add the motion and really
experience the thrill of flight again.
I would appreciate any additional information you could give me about
your design. I'd really like to build one and try it for myself.
Q) I don't know where to start! This is something I'm trying to do for over
two years. Due to financial and lack of proper ideas and plans, etc, I've
resorted to looking at thunder seats and fresnel lenses etc. I fly on the
net using GSC's F-18 hornet every day. Log my flights, practice, am in a
squad, and on the hornet ladder. I would like to have plans for the unit if possible.
Got a good Mac for the sim, and a 17" monitor. Weight is approx. 200 lbs.
Could you help me please? Your unit looks fantastic as well as having a practical rugged
designed. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for putting up
a home page for guys like me who want to fly but cannot. Zorro out,
A) The picture is of a year old prototype. I've since refined
the 'Rider to a real clean design that's a lot simplier to build for use
with either a HMD or the new SCUBA head mounted TV by Phillips. You could
always sit in front of the monitor, but then you lose realism without it
following the platform. The SCUBA is inexpensive and since not many programs
support head tracking anyway, and the display will handle 640 x 480, it should be
a good compromise. The control response without even a small monitor on it
makes a big difference. Balance is better, and it just feels right. Since you fly
jets you know that a roll rate of 360 deg. per second isn't unreasonable.
Unless the motion rate of the platform is at least this fast, it doesn't feel in sync.
Q) Your probably like me, a guy that loves flying and wants
to share the fun. It would be worth it for me to buy the
plans for the time saving's benefit. That way the building time and
decisions I'd be making for the various lengths and heights would be
solved. Got a ABS supplier that I deal with, so ABS is the way I'll go.
You've inspired me to build one. The motorized joyrider, is that too
complex? I was wondering if that one self corrects itself, as to be in sync
with the sim. Any advice would truly be appreciated. I would think the non
motorized JoyRider would suffice though since I do most of my flying in the night
and would keep the wife up heh.
A) Since you seem serious about getting started, Don't try to copy
the pictures of the prototype. As I said, the final version is MUCH
simplier and easier to build. It's more like the concept pictures
in the how-to chapters. I've decided to use an off the shelf (JC Whitney)
bucket seat ($45 ouch) but it's great in that it's sturdy, locks you in
for banking, is easy to install and looks cool. Also a subwoofer could
be mounted on the back of it and the sound will resononate through the
seat back cutout slots.
Q) Got an idea but you'll know if it's any good or not. What if counter
weights were placed in such a way to negate the extra weight of the
monitor. They would have to be placed such that it would counter the top
heaviness of the monitor. This probably isn't a great idea in that the
extra counter weights, and monitor weights would require extra effort to
move the stick, as apposed to the lightness of a headset.
A) This is exactly right! Every possible configuration has been tried over the
last year. Oh, before I forget it, I'm afraid that ABS is going to be too
brittle for JR use. I only trust PVC schedule 40 (thick wall) in the right
diameters. I'm using 3" for the gimbal frame, 2" for the base, 1.5" for the
seat frame (should probably be 2" also) and 1" for the secondary cockpit frame.
Back to the balance. As I think I mentioned in the articles, The platform
can be balanced with a monitor for a single pilot. The problem arises when
a different weight person gets in. It's the teter toter effect. A lighter
person causes a severe down trim and a heavier one causes severe pitch up.
Instead of weights, I used bungees behind the seat to the gimbal frame to
bias the nose heavyness of the monitor. This allowed a slightly larger range
of pilot weights but only + or - 10 pounds or so. It also added pitch
centering pressure. It's all a trade off.
Q) Hi Ken, Greetings from Tropical Queensland Australia... I'm starting
to get some material together for building a motion flight simulator in
1998 to use with Microsoft FS98. I like what I see in your design and I'm
looking at using a CH Pro Yoke and CH Pro Pedals instead of a joystick. Do
you have ideas, plans or drawings on how I might incorporate buiding them
into a joyrider? I'd be interested in the exact sizes and parts
required that sort of thing..... And finally, any ideas on the inclusion
of a cockpit/canopy arrangement to further add to the realism? I'd
appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks mate......
A) As for the flight yoke, you almost need to go with a powered platform
since the yoke would be very hard to activate the motion. One could be designed
that could but would still need to be attached to the stick which would control
pitch, and then be linked with cables or control rods to control roll. (Something
like the old bombers used)
I'm just finishing up a much simpler design and have thought about a canopy.
With a passive design like mine, the less weight you have, the better it flies. If I
could use the canopy as a projection screen, then I'd have something, but I'm
afraid that the curviture would distort the view too much. Still considering
all the possibities however.
C) By the way I was just reading that Windows 98 supports multiple video cards
so you can have a second or third monitor hooked up for radar,weapons.....etc.
Imagine your simulator with left and right monitors or projections on a screen
showing the views out your left and right windows.
Yeah.... sounds good and expensive but once I get your
design up and running I will definetly be looking at something to do with
the views as I agree that Virtual Reality helmets are aways away.
What I like is your approach to affordability and availability of parts for your
average joe;like me. Your design is what I could have seen myself doing if I
had thought of it. The way it WORKS is more important than the way it LOOKS
as the best results are discovered in the dark.
I have at my disposal some old projection t.v.s, so I will see what I can
think of as far as the idea of multiple views go.
A) The multi-display deal is interesting but I'm wondering if you need a separate
video card for each display. Even so, unless there's a way to get cheap
projectors (current hi-res is about $2000 each) even low-res (640-480) TV
ones are $900 each. Ouch! You'd need at least three plus maybe an overhead
plus mini ones for instruments like you said. If all the above didn't weight
anything, a powered platform wouldn't be needed. There's that compromise
One idea for the multi display thing is to use a huge projector screen for the
outside view only (no dash) and it would have to stay horizional to the floor
since the banking is in the cockpit. Next use a large laptop for the
instruments on the platform. Weight stays down and you get great clarity
for the readouts.
Sooner of later we'll all have light thin big hires monitors and we can bolt
one on. Until then, the display is the weak link.
Q) I would like some more information on your Joyrider flight
simulator...if possible. I am currently learning to fly and now have
about 35 hours in a Cessna 172. I would like to put a simple simulator
at the flight centre so that I can practise as well as play around. I
would like to make it as realistic as possible, however budget limits
that quite considerably.
How well does your simulator interact with Microsoft Flight Sim using a
force feedback joystick?
A) The Joyrider works well with MS Flight Sim. Using a force feedback stick
should add even more realism to the platform since the "force" part connects
below the seat. This should (I'm guessing since I don't have one) tug on the
connecting bungees transfering the "feel" directly to the cockpit's seat.
Only the joystick handle mounts on the control stick.
Which force stick do you have? How is it implemented in MS Flight Sim?
C) The things that I am thinking about are: PRICE!!!
Visual: multiple monitors (MS Flight sim can do this)
Control: MS force feedback joystick
Control Yolk and other aircraft controls
Addons: Sound system
other "homebuilt" controls
I am an electronics engineer and I would probably make some little
extras to make as real as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding the plans. I'll talk with
you further soon...
Q) I enjoyed the information you provided on the internet about the
joyrider. It sounds like a great project for me. I have some people
who are willing to weld the joyrider out of aluminum for me but I
didn't see any dimensions or general rules of thumb for your
prototype. I was interested in that information if possible. I
basically was not sure about the balance of the whole thing. I would
like to mount a monitor to mine so the image will move with the
joyrider but I wasn't sure about offsetting the CG. Any info you have
would be great. Thank You for providing the project.
A) the CG does change with the addition of a monitor.
This can be adjusted but the problem comes when a different weight
pilot tries to fly. Due to the linkage angles, you don't want to keep changing
the CG for different weight pilots. A workaround is to add "trim" bungees from
the cockpit to the gimble frame. This allows a range of weights without CG
adjustment, but the downside is that you now have added stick pressure :(
The new design doesn't use a monitor but would work well with a lap-top or flat
screen monitor (something light) I've now got the Scuba HMD from Phillips that
although doesn't have headtracking and is low-res, eliminates the CG problem.
If money is no object, I'd go with a projection system to a screen (could be the
canopy?) mounted on the cockpit. The projector could be located over the pilot
so the CG stays close to the same.
Q) This thing is too cool !!!! My wife said,"If you make anything, make
this!" I did the same thing you did, I have it drawn in CATIA, CAD
software. I found the center of gravity moved 2 inches rearward and 4
inches up from the center, with the monitor and occupant inside. SO...
I moved the occupant and monitor down 3 inches, and to compensate for
the other 2 inches i suppose the seat, rudder pedals, etc. below the
centerline will move the CG down.
Anyway the pivot point for the Control stick is the problem. Any
suggestions? Is there a preferred length, angles?
What I have right now is about 25 degrees of movement in pitch and 30
degrees in roll. I wanted at least that, for standard turns and T/O and
App angles. The stick in my opinion is to long, but then again, too
short would mean a stronger arm to move this thing around because of
the lack of leverage. In short, Help with the stick! If you can...
A) For the stick pivot to end up only 2 inches from the cockpit pivot you
must be off-setting the seat back alot due to the monitor. For a reference
my cockpit pivot is now just about at the center of mass of the pilot. The
heavier seat I'm using now balances the lighter forward cockpit nicely.
The stick pivot at full down is 20" forward, and 11" down from the cockpit
bearing. At full back, the stick pivot is 16" forward and 6" down. The
stick pivot travels through a 7" arch between full up and full down. This
(as you've no-doubt figured by now) is swinging on the stick pivot mount
assembly that's rocking from the base almost directly below the seat.
I'm going to have to shorten my stick also since from full forward to back
the grip travels 20"! This is too far for easy reach, but the added range
I managed without the monitor in the way is great!
Q) I stumbled into your page a while ago and was
very impressed with your design. I've been considering for a while
building some kind of motion simulator. After seeing your design I
realized that you've solved the basic mechanical problem with a low
cost design. I'm interested in designing a HMD based VR/Motion system
that interfaces to Jane's f15, and Flight II. I'm a software engineer
so I believe I can extract the necessary information from the
software/drivers to control a motion system. I've also, in the last few
days, discovered the RockNRide motion simulator (www.RockNRide.com).
They've come up with a very clever idea using an air compressor and air
cylinders to create an active motion system. As far as I can tell two
out of the three pieces necessary to build the system are in place.
Since flight II has come out with a VFX-1 interface, it should have the
necessary hooks to the sofware to control the point of view (POV) need
for an HMD. As long as the control of the POV is present in the
software it's not to hard to simulate the VFX-1 drivers. At some point
F15 should also have the POV control. While the biggest drawback the
the current HMDs are their resolution vs price from what I can tell this
won't be a problem too much longer.
As far as designing a controller to manage the platform it looks like
the new cordless joystick could provide the positional tracking needed
to provide the closed loop control necessary (I haven't checked this out
in detail yet though). It might also function as a head position
tracker for a home grown HMD.
So these are some of the ideas I've been considering. I had a couple of
questions about your system. I see you had a range of motion of +-20
degrees. Is there any major problem with increasing it to 60 degrees or
even 90 degrees? Are there any stability problems with faster rates of
rotation? Also have you looked into the possibility of modifying your
system to make it an active motion system? One more question is: have
you come across anyone else working on a system like I described above?
A) The way I understand it, the ideal setup would be to have
the software control the platform much as it does for the headtracking in
the VFX-1. This way when the plane stalls, the platform pitches down no-
matter what the stick is doing. The Rock n Ride could be adapted I'd guess
due to it's powered nature. I hear it's fast but jerky.
Since I abandoned the monitor and keyboard from my platform, the new design
gets me about 30 x 30 degrees of motion. The problem with increasing it
more is that the passive mechanical linkage of my design won't allow it.
Going powered would of course, and could even allow full 360 roll and pitch!
Wireless controllers would be required of course, and a full harness seat.
Have you heard something about higher res HMDs? I want to keep up on the
latest and greatest, but cost is still as much as a used airplane for one
the last I checked! I just got the Phillips Scuba HMD. No headtracking
but I'm so used to flipping views, and tracking enemys that it would only
be nice for sightseeing. I've seen a simple homebuilt headtracking setup
using micro switches and a headband thats hung over the cockpit. Simple
switching but if replaced with the wireless controller circuit could be
made to work well I'd think. Here's the link for the SCUBA site. It's real
low-res, hard to focus (I may have a bad one however) but only $200 for a
demo right now. I hope to upgrade it myself someday with a hi-res LCD if
that could even be done.
Q) I heard rumers for sometime that Forte (now IIS, Interactive Imaging
Systems) is supposed to ship the VFX 3D. If you search USENET for VFX
you'll see the threads. At one point on there website it sounded like they
were going to announce the product in the middle of March, but that didn't
C) (they are taking advanced orders now in fall of 99 but still not yet available
to my knowledge - Ken)
Do you have any ideas on the best way to power a simulator? I've seen the
rocknride with air pressure, and a link on you website uses car starter
motors. Another alternative is to use a servo motor, although I don't know
what the cost would be.
I wonder why the RockNRide is jerky. I could see that the air valves maybe
either on/off, or maybe the control software doesn't smooth the motion
during the position changes.
As far as the rock & ride being jerky, I can only assume that it's due to trying to
reverse the direction on the mass moving at hi speed. Without decelerating
first, its inevitable. I dug deeper into the site and it's stated that it
uses a proportual control system, but I think it's direct from the joystick,
not through any software.
There are sources for inexpensive servo motors (smooth and quiet?) that have
the torque to drive a well balanced platform.