Home cockpit and Arduino: some questions about feasibility.

Hi everybody!

I'm new in the world of Arduino, and I would like to learn how to use it. I'm planning to build a small home cockpit to use with Microsoft Flight Simulator X, and I would like to know if it is possibile, using Arduino Mega, to run:

  • up to 5 stepper motors for "360°+" mechanical gauges;
  • up to 7 servos for mechanical gauges;
  • a LCD 20x2 or 20x4 module for digital gauges;
  • as much switches as possibile using the available, unused pins.

All of them at the same time.

All stepper motors and servos will be powered with an adeguate, external power source. I guess code must be properly written to make all the movements as smooth as possibile, and i'm planning to develop a sort of "filter algorithm" to filter raw data coming from the PC, just to make stepper and servos movement smoother. The data will be sent via USB and with the Link2FS software.

If you need further info, I will provide them as soon as possibile.

Thank you very much for your help! :)

I would like to know if it is possibile, using Arduino Mega, to run: - up to 5 stepper motors for "360°+" mechanical gauges;

With the appropriate stepper motor drivers, yes.

  • up to 7 servos for mechanical gauges;

With the appropriate power supply, yes.

  • a LCD 20x2 or 20x4 module for digital gauges;

Yes.

  • as much switches as possibile using the available, unused pins.

Depends on your skill level with a soldering iron and how neat your wiring is.

I guess code must be properly written to make all the movements as smooth as possibile, and i'm planning to develop a sort of "filter algorithm" to filter raw data coming from the PC, just to make stepper and servos movement smoother. The data will be sent via USB and with the Link2FS software.

Doing the filtering on the PC makes more sense.

PaulS:

I would like to know if it is possibile, using Arduino Mega, to run: - up to 5 stepper motors for "360°+" mechanical gauges;

With the appropriate stepper motor drivers, yes.

  • up to 7 servos for mechanical gauges;

With the appropriate power supply, yes.

  • a LCD 20x2 or 20x4 module for digital gauges;

Yes.

  • as much switches as possibile using the available, unused pins.

Depends on your skill level with a soldering iron and how neat your wiring is.

I guess code must be properly written to make all the movements as smooth as possibile, and i'm planning to develop a sort of "filter algorithm" to filter raw data coming from the PC, just to make stepper and servos movement smoother. The data will be sent via USB and with the Link2FS software.

Doing the filtering on the PC makes more sense.

Thank you very much :) Yeah, filtering on the PC is much better indeed, I didn't specify that ;). Well, you answered all my questions, I guess that's perfect: I'm going to show up in a couple of weeks for more techincal questions I guess ;)

You could put as many ATmega chips on a board as you need and use the Arduino to program them. The chips are cheap and running on internal 8 MHz clock they only need power and ground to operate, but you'll want reset and I/O. You can even use the Arduino itself for the USB connection or get a USB-chip compatible (Teensy is $16) and use your dev board for making the next thing.

GoForSmoke: You could put as many ATmega chips on a board as you need and use the Arduino to program them. The chips are cheap and running on internal 8 MHz clock they only need power and ground to operate, but you'll want reset and I/O. You can even use the Arduino itself for the USB connection or get a USB-chip compatible (Teensy is $16) and use your dev board for making the next thing.

I'm sorry but I'm not expert enough to understand properly what you mean. I should get ATmega chips, program them via Arduino, build a proper circuit to power them and to have I/O pins? What are the pro's of such a circuit? :) Take note that it's the first time I use Arduino :)

The pros would be cost savings and space savings. You can use the Arduino to develop your project, then get an atemga 168 for $3.33, load your code on it, and only add in the parts you need for your project.

For example, this is a board I made for my airsoft props: http://nightscapetech.com/images/stories/bombprop/thumb/Bomb_Prop_PCB_diagram.jpg It has the same basic functionality of an arduino, but only has headers for the pins I need, and lacks a USB to serial adapter since I don't need one for my project. That board, including PCB printing costs (which you wouldn't necessarily need), connectors, and a relay, costs me about $20.

I think you have some learning curve before you build anything final. Reason being, the view from higher up will benefit your approach and designs greatly. And if you can nail cap sense down then you can make really neat surface-touch switches.

The legs on the ATmega chips are almost all I/O pins. Some have hardware support to do specialized functions -if you want-. Here is the pinout for the 168 chip (100% same as 328 chip) and Arduino: http://arduino.cc/en/Hacking/Atmega168Hardware

The through-hole DIP chips plug right into breadboards or sockets. You can solder to the legs of a socket and then plug the chip in without fear of burning it up and confidence you can replace it.

How many ways you could go? Run everything from one chip or make a modular system that you can add pieces to?

The pros are lower end cost, expandability, possibility to sell parts to others in the community. BTW, I'm part of the FS community since 98 (at the old Delphi FSF) but different sims. If I can't shoot, it's not enough!

Have you seen the Leo Bodnar chip/devices? And some of the other simpit devices? Not real cheap but very polished and the work is done. http://www.leobodnar.com/

What you get out of making your own is knowing how to make your own as you want. Keep that in mind when you have spent way more time than you ever thought you would -- what you get is more than the finished project. And here's a warning: Arduino can be as addictive as any flight sim made.

wizdum: The pros would be cost savings and space savings. You can use the Arduino to develop your project, then get an atemga 168 for $3.33, load your code on it, and only add in the parts you need for your project.

For example, this is a board I made for my airsoft props: http://nightscapetech.com/images/stories/bombprop/thumb/Bomb_Prop_PCB_diagram.jpg It has the same basic functionality of an arduino, but only has headers for the pins I need, and lacks a USB to serial adapter since I don't need one for my project. That board, including PCB printing costs (which you wouldn't necessarily need), connectors, and a relay, costs me about $20.

Well that's quite a good looking circuit :) Thanks for your help, cost saving is an important target of my project! :)

GoForSmoke: I think you have some learning curve before you build anything final. Reason being, the view from higher up will benefit your approach and designs greatly. And if you can nail cap sense down then you can make really neat surface-touch switches.

The legs on the ATmega chips are almost all I/O pins. Some have hardware support to do specialized functions -if you want-. Here is the pinout for the 168 chip (100% same as 328 chip) and Arduino: http://arduino.cc/en/Hacking/Atmega168Hardware

The through-hole DIP chips plug right into breadboards or sockets. You can solder to the legs of a socket and then plug the chip in without fear of burning it up and confidence you can replace it.

How many ways you could go? Run everything from one chip or make a modular system that you can add pieces to?

The pros are lower end cost, expandability, possibility to sell parts to others in the community. BTW, I'm part of the FS community since 98 (at the old Delphi FSF) but different sims. If I can't shoot, it's not enough!

Have you seen the Leo Bodnar chip/devices? And some of the other simpit devices? Not real cheap but very polished and the work is done. http://www.leobodnar.com/

What you get out of making your own is knowing how to make your own as you want. Keep that in mind when you have spent way more time than you ever thought you would -- what you get is more than the finished project. And here's a warning: Arduino can be as addictive as any flight sim made.

I DO have a learning curve indeed ;) I came up with the idea of using Arduino while looking for something capable of keeping the price low and the result as good as possibile. It's been a few weeks since I started to learn how to use Arduino and I still have a lot to know, and that's why, in my first post, I told I would show up in a couple of weeks, maybe some months ;) I wrote this post just to know if what I was trying to accomplish is possibile, so now I'm going to take care of the techincal part of the job. Again thank you very much for your help, I can be sure I will ask many other questions :).

On the other hand, a bit OT, what simulator do you fly with?

Have anybody made yoke and rudder pedals at arduino, shop yoke pay lot and can do itself if have code whit arduino ? i need yoke,choke,trimm,pedals,and maybe propeller angle ?

i looking at web many but only have all radio,fuip,some meters(gauge) no other found arduino building, no need radio basic flight newer, whit cessna 172. first need trimm,rpm,choke,and yoke,then can fly, second need swiths and other ??? have anybody good link how made ? ms FS 2004 program whit win 7. (win xp mode) want looking AND LEARN MORE HOW MADE COCPIT AND YOKE MY GAME.

Have anybody made yoke and rudder pedals at arduino, shop yoke pay lot and can do itself if have code whit arduino ? i need yoke,choke,trimm,pedals,and maybe propeller angle ?

The easy way to make a home controller is making it an HID combo: mouse/stick/keyboard. Maybe the Leonardo can do that. The Teensy 2.0 and Teensy++ 2.0 certainly can as it's built right into the Teensyduino IDE addon. If you're not a solder wiz make sure to get the with pins option on those, they plug right into a breadboard. The Leonardo uses the same chip as the Teensy, there's a features comparison on the Teensy site. Plain Teensy 2.0 has 12 10-bit analog pins and USB-speed serial, for like $20 with pins.

You can get higher precision ADC chips and run them with controllers if 10 bits is not enough. But even with 10 bits you want short shielded wires from sensor to chip to get the best results.

For homemade sticks, the best axial measure is a bar magnet across the end of a shaft and a linear Hall sensor right above the turn axis. The Hall output will tell the cosine of the alignment of the magnet times the input voltage. Stick position can be read any time.

There are people making floor-mount joysticks out of car U-joints. Some on a frame with seat, pedals and PC-mounts. Some weld steel, some use PVC tube, one in Greece includes a gimbal mounted motor-powered limited-tilt-couch for the user and PC.

Pax_1601: On the other hand, a bit OT, what simulator do you fly with?

I don't fly much at all anymore. Last was IL-2, a spin to look at 4.11.1. I like IL-2 and it's the most modern flight sim my PC can run. But my good videocard died so now I run with limited-range vision.

Last time I was up to being really into it, 8 to 12+ hours a day online was RB3D in 1998 in beta testing and after till life caught up with me. I got pretty hot then. Not the best but better than not bad. I had a partner and we'd practice loose-deuce from server to server. It was fun.

I may be a bit late with this but! If you are looking at flying the MS FSX Flight Simulator, then you are able to have switch inputs, LED, and guage outputs using the excellent free software on http://www.jimspage.co.nz/ I have used this with UNO, and Mega running Arduino 1.0.6, Windows 8.1 64bit, and MS FSX Steam Edition.

simple way adding all switch, joystick and gauges have arduino mega 2560 board whit jims program, but proplem have arduino code, how made radio,gauges whit stepper motors, gauges whit servo, leds, i need same too, i have uno,mega2560,nano,board what i use many project but code have proplem whit flight sim now how made or have somewere code what can use,i need all gauges,switch,annuincatorlight,joystick,radiopanel whit arduino, i looking jims site can adding about 3 arduino board to simulator, mega have lot inbut outbut who can use. if somebody have links to code adding here. many other need too made own cocpit building. and ardunio have cheap way made all in/out if code have.

thread started in 2012.

time to start a new thread. please let us know what you have and what you need.