Poll

Would you buy:

mfd hardware
14 (28%)
panel elements and gauges
13 (26%)
entire cockpit mockups
6 (12%)
motion simulators
2 (4%)
dope for snuffy
15 (30%)

Total Members Voted: 29

Voting closed: June 01, 2012, 01:09:35 am

Author Topic: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.  (Read 3717 times)

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Offline Nuke

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OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
the possibility of interfacing freespace and hardware is becoming extremely likely. ive already tested inter-process communication, and hardware interfacing with the freespace engine with good results. it just takes a little lua, c/++ and some electronics knowhow. i figure with some time, funding, and dedication, someone could create and manufacturer elements with which to build freespace cockpit mockups. these would be designed under the open source hardware model. turns out oshw enthusiasts are making a killing selling their kits and projects and using that money to create bigger and better projects. i figure start with simple multi-purpose mfds and interface software, and progressively move up to purpose build gauges, like a hardware ets or shield gauge that can be panel mounted in your own diy panel. and work up to entire mockups and potentially motion simulators. you would eventually get some epic

the purpose of this poll is to determine if people would buy this stuff. while the nature of oshw is to release all design files and source code, there is still the issue of manufacturing. anyone is free to use the source files to build their own, or as a basis for a spinoff. but there are those who would simply prefer to buy completed units or kits to improve dev time. people are basing entire companies around oshw and its been big buisness for many. consider this a little market research on the subject. let me know what you think.
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Offline Mongoose

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
I would probably not, since I have many other things that I'd much rather spend my money on (plus where the hell would I put it), but the idea is really cool, and I'd wager that at least a few people around here would be interested.
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Offline Ulala

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
There's always Kickstarter.
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Offline Dekker

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
If i won a lottery, I'd buy it all.

 

Offline esarai

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
Hmmm... I'm imagining a set of panels that mimic the systems layout of a FS fighter with a space in the center for whichever joystick the user wants.  Like... weapons control on the upper right, shield management gauge just below that, ETS panel next to the joystick, targeting and comms systems on the left... hhnnnnghhh that would be awesome.
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Offline Thaeris

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
You should totally build a com panel akin to a UFC. You'll be c-3-9'ing faster than derpers derping at a software convention.
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Offline Nuke

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
an mfd panel would be a good place to start. it would have broad use with other games/simulators. definately a good stepping stone for moving on to bigger and better things.

there are two routes to take for this:

route a:

run an application on the computer that renders the graphics to an auxiliary video output from your video card. output to a small lcd monitor (like those composite review camera monitors you get for $20-$30 on ebay). these displays would be modded to also contain an array of command buttons and possibly other controls, like knobs/rotory encoders. you need a video card with composite out (unless i can source a monitor with vga/hdmi interface), and probibly a usb connection for the buttons.

pros: better graphics, cheap, more configurable
cons: more cables (usb/composite/probibly power), dependant on cost and availability of non oshw lcd screens, requires video port on your video card (and theyre starting to phase out composite/svideo/vga, for new standards like hdmi)

route b:

design a stand alone unit with a usb interface. it would do all the rendering onboard, so graphic detail would be limited. screens would likely have limited color depth (12 and 16 bit lcds are common at this size) and may only be 1-bit. there is also not a lot of cpu power available to a microcontroller. on the other side you could probibly keep a better eye on power usage, potentially only needing the usb interface. reprogramming the unit will take some hardware and programming skills (initially they would handle a set of fs style gauges, and would need to be modded to handle additional gauges for other mods/games). it would also require more complicated electronics design and firmware programming and more complicated system side drivers.

pros: better wiring, somewhat configurable, doesnt use up video ports, can be designed as entirely oshw
cons: probibly more expensive, longer dev cycle, not the best graphics.

beyond mfds id like to some kind of system of gauges with a central controller and power supply. it would be like the hub unit to interface with the computer and a number of gauges. gauges could be bought one at a time as desired, and would use a somewhat standardized bus, with standard connectors and wiring. it would talk to the computer over usb most likely and would need to be plugged in to power everything. each gauge would be designed for a specific purpose, like shield, ets, weapon select, sensors, control panels, etc.

and beyond that id like to think about bigger things, full cockpits, display systems, motion platforms, collimated displays, augmented reality (you see your real cockpit interior, joysticks and all your real stuff, but look out the "windows" and see the game, using some kind vr gear+cameras, but thats really ambitius stuff there). do some head tracking, you could use a static projector with a motion platform cockpit, and use something like kinect to track the pilot, so the displays react to you and your simulator's motion. badass stuff, but out of my dev budget, for now.
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Offline pecenipicek

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
i'm all for route b, and you might see me join the development effort there, as i've been itching to get into microcontroller shenanigans for a while now.
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Offline Nuke

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
b would also have the added bonus that it can serve as the host for the other gauges. just brake out the i2c bus and make it the bus master. of course then it would need a more robust power supply to juice all the extra gauges. you can source 500ma from the usb bus, more than that and you risk damaging the port/mobo/whole system. a powerful mcu is happy at 200ma, leaving you 300ma to power the rest of the systems. im kind of exepcting every external gauge to want about 250-500ma of current each. an mfd and six other gauges would eat up (at 350 each) about 2.5 amps.
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Offline pecenipicek

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
b would also have the added bonus that it can serve as the host for the other gauges. just brake out the i2c bus and make it the bus master. of course then it would need a more robust power supply to juice all the extra gauges. you can source 500ma from the usb bus, more than that and you risk damaging the port/mobo/whole system. a powerful mcu is happy at 200ma, leaving you 300ma to power the rest of the systems. im kind of exepcting every external gauge to want about 250-500ma of current each. an mfd and six other gauges would eat up (at 350 each) about 2.5 amps.
i'm kinda of the opinion that its best for the whole system to be completely free of the PC's PSU, and only connect to the PC for data transfer. i've scrounged a old-ish AT PSU and turned into a benchtop powersupply.

USB is good, but arent the chips / logic for it a smidge on the expensive side? granted its the best option as far as bandwidth is concerned.
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Offline Nuke

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
yea its gonna need its own power supply. 500ma is the maximum, by the usb standard, that you are allowed to draw. also your signal lines should be 3.3v (they should tolerate 5v, according to the usb standards, but i think its a bad idea to push it to the maximum rating). most of the usb devices you use are single chip devices, and 200ma is a typical power draw from an avr (not sure about pic). with glue logic, display components, etc, that is easily doubled. things like old laptop chargers can supply a fairly reasonable amount of juice, and the usb standards do allow for external power. then any devices should have a few levels of protection, reverse voltage protection, excessive voltage protection, inductive loads (namely motors/relays) should have flyback diodes, leds should have voltage limiters, and all external connections should use polarized connectors. surely ive left stuff out but the way i see it if im gonna hook it up to my primary rig its going to have all the protection i can give it.

chips that can run usb aren't really any more expensive than the ones you cant. and there are software usb stacks you can use too. i havent done any usb yet, but its something i want to figure out. with high throughput stuff you may be better with ethernet, but aside from streaming video from the game to the mfd (and the ease of setup, namely no drivers to write), i dont think you would really need it.

i just finished up a design for my 10 digit 7 segment display, which will be driven by an attiny2313, a 3-8 decoder, a shift register, and several discrete transistors. i intended to use this for a different project, but i figure i can use it for interim testing of interfaces. possibly make an external ammo counter or something. i also ordered a 16x2 character lcd i can use for other stuff, like weapon select.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 06:14:44 am by Nuke »
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Offline Nuke

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
yip heres my layout, ready for the toner transfer method.
board will use 1x attiny 2313, 1x74hc595 shift register, 1x 74hc238 3-8 line decoder, 10x 2n7000 n-channel mosfets, a 16 mhz crystal, and an assortment of caps and resistors. also an icsp header for programming/spi communication, an i2c header (with power), and a serial header (also powered), also a 2 pin header to connect an extra pin, which can be used to interrupt the mcu, or provide a slave select line for spi. no onboard power supply, but since it needs another device to output data to it to operate it, i guess its ok.




etchant will be diy, the peroxide+vinegar+salt recipe, i only have to steal the peroxide from the first aid kit and i got some vinegar and salt in my spice (*obligatory comment about sandworms*) cabinet anyway. i think i opted against making my own transfer paper (i was having a production issue with my own recipe of transfer paper), since a 10 pack of pcb transfer paper only costs about $5. of course its going to take forever to get here. so i got some time for breadboard testing, and writing firmware. il do some freespace stuff later on, like a stand alone i2c ets gauge.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2012, 05:10:38 am by Nuke »
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Offline Thaeris

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
Nuke, you are perhaps the most awesome electrical engineer I know without a degree. We'd be doomed if you actually had one. :D

Great show, man.
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It's the Duke Nukem Forever of prophecies..."


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Offline Nuke

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
are you kidding, i broke a lot of basic design conventions. the way the mosfets drive the common anode of the 7 segment displays is probibly incorrect. every electronics tutorial i read likes to put the load above the drain. but in my case the load is drawn from below the source. this probibly is not a good idea, and i probibly need some resistance somewhere to balance things out. it would have been better to use common cathode displays and put the mosfet downstream.

the line decoder selects which of the 8 mosfet gates to open, and 2 other transistors go right to the mcu, its purpose is really to toggle 8 gates with 4 pins (3 bits + chip enable to bring one of the 8 channels high, or ~chip enable turns all of them off), and i still need 2 other pins for the last 2 mosfets, since there are 10 displays to drive and a mosfet for each. the job of the chip is essentially to reduce my pin count for controlling the driver circuitry from 10 to 6. i could have used a bigger mcu, and drive the gates directly, but considering the low performance application in this case, it would be a waste. the mosfets allow the displays to draw more current than the mcu/decoder, which are limited to around 20ma. an led segment in the display can draw that on its own, and if you wanted to draw a zero and decimal place, the display would draw 160ma. and the mosfet can supply up to 400ma. only one display will be powered at any time. and thats it for the driver side.

the shift register in this case provides a sink source. for unpowered displays a value of either 0 or 1 has no meaning. in case of 1, the diode will be reverse biased, and will prevent flow, and in case of 0 there will not be any (meaningful) voltage differential to cause current flow. for a powered display, a 0 will allow power to flow, current here will only be about 20 ma, and the pins on the shift register will tolerate that. if its a 1, again no (meaningful) voltage differential, as there will be 5v at each end. all the displace have their cathodes on a common bus, which connects to the shift register through the 8 current limiting resistors (i tested it with 120 ohms, but i might use higher or lower depending on display brightness). the shift register is a serial device, so it only takes 3 pins to control it.

only one display is powered at any time. to output to it, you first power one of the driver channels. then you shift out a byte to the bus. each bit corresponds to a particular segment in the display, and its active low so a 0 turns it on and a 1 turns it off. let it stay on for a small amount of time, then switch to the next driver channel and shift out the value for the next digit. update all the displays thusly. at any given time only one display is on, so for every 10 seconds, each display is on for only one second. but if you do this fast enough, like keep each display on for about a ms, then every 10 ms, they come back on, and thanks to persistance of vision, it looks like its always on.

you can talk to it over i2c, serial, or spi over the icsp port, and i had a pin left over, so i figured id use it for an external interrupt/or a slave select for the spi interface. could probibly also do a one wire serial protocal with it as well. given the limited amount of resources on the microcontroller you probibly wont be able to change interfaces without a reflash, but thats ok, il probibly just use the 12c port.
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Offline Nuke

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
i got the display and sink source all setup on a breadboard, barring any errors. its to late to do anymore work on it. i gave up an entire night of drinking to cut and place jumper wires. i really need a better pair of wire strippers. i also really wish i had more breadboards, i mean i got 3 little ones and one big one, and none of them connect up right. i guess you got to buy a bunch of them at once to ensure consistent design. id love to have more than 4 bus wires, especially when you need to run an 8 wire bus down the thing. the whole display can essentially be thought of as a 10x8 matrix. it really boggles the mind to think about it. thats 80 leds! and im controlling the whole thing with only 9 pins! its a testament to the glory of glue logic.

so i got the 3 control pins and the 2 power pins for the shift register broken out to longish jumper wires (there are 10 more connections for the drivers that i haven't run yet). il probibly plug them right into my arduino for testing. i still dont have the driver part of the circuit prototyped yet. probibly not an easy task in itself. i got to wire 10 mosfets into a common power bus, and then send one pin to the display digits, and one to the mcu, or decoder. il have to make a ****ton more jumper wires though. ive bought 3 wire kits for prototyping, but im still constantly making more jumpers. you cant have too many jumper wires. im probibly also going to need to make several long jumpers, since im gonna end up using 2 breadboards and an arduino for testing. 15 wires going from the large display board to 2 other places. and 4 other wires (and 2 power wires) connecting those 2 other places. i think im going to need to clean my electronics desk.

il post some pics when i got it working. the prototyped version will be slightly different than the diagram. the crystal, headers, power are all built into the arduino, and i wont need to set those up. i can eliminate the large decoupling capacitor, as the arduino's supply has one, but you should decouple the high frequency stuff close to your ic. also the mcu is more powerful than the one i will be using. but it will allow me write the control code for the display. il worry about code for the interfaces later (it will be very tight code considering the program space / memory limitations of the 2313). i can use the serial interface to send numbers to the mcu for testing. im thinking about several display modes. first mode is hex, which will display 5 bytes worth of hexadecimal (one byte per dual display), decimal, which will display any 10 digit number using some format (i figure all integer values from -999999999 to 9999999999, or fixed point values with a format somewhere between 10.0 and 1.9, or 9.0 to 1.8 for negative numbers), raw mode will just send bytes where each bit represents one of the segments in the display. im also thinking about a pseudo-english format as well, substitutions have to be made for k,m,t,v,w,and x, but the rest of the english alphabet works ok on the display, so i have to learn 6 new letters big whoop. t can be a backwards 7, v can be a backwords y, k can be a line with 2 sticks growing out the side. il chuck it if its not readable enough. storing a large font in a little tiny memory is probibly not a good idea.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 07:20:52 am by Nuke »
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Offline pecenipicek

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.

hokay, so, this is supposed to be how big, in real-life dimensions? and, from what i can figure out, good old through-hole, back and front mask. you are gonna have a freaking nightmare aligning that to each other, and thats not counting that your printer might **** up the dimensions as well. and then there's the horror of drilling all those holes....

* pecenipicek shudders...

okay, yeah, i'm a breadboard man. i've yet to actually assemble anything on any sort of pcb and have it working afterwards :p
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Offline Nuke

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
i did one single sided board in high school, and it didnt work. thats the limit of my expertise. i actually printed out a test, held em up to the sun and all the holes lined up. i also took a ruler and measured a bunch of known distances on the board, the dip packages have a 0.1" spacing, so 6 pins should be spaced by exactly half an inch. thats not the actual size in the image (its a 1600 dpi png with a 1 bit pixel depth) its roughtly 2" by 5 1/4" (bout the same width as a cd drive and a little taller). alignment will be a *****, there are 4 alignment holes (the large hexagonal pads near the corners). my plan is to use a template pattern with the alignment holes marked, clamp it to the board. then drill out the alignment holes with a dremel. then i can clean up the burrs, and polish the **** out of the thing, clean it, and get it ready. then affix the transfer paper with masking tape. i will take a small hole puncher that i have somewhere, and very carefully and precisely punch out the alignment holes from the mask sheets, then i just center those holes on drilled holes, and hope for the best.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 07:46:26 am by Nuke »
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Offline ABetterWay

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
Nice work Nuke.  I can't wait to see it up and running.  You are definitely more ambitious than me at the moment! :)  For starters I will be displaying my output using a second LCD monitor mounted behind 2 or 3 Thrustmaster Cougar MFD's (http://tinyurl.com/ThrustmasterCougar). 

 

Offline LordMelvin

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
Although outside my current budget, this is very relevant to my theoretical interests.
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Offline pecenipicek

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Re: OSHW and Freespace. Would you buy parts for building an fs cockpit simulator.
i did one single sided board in high school, and it didnt work. thats the limit of my expertise. i actually printed out a test, held em up to the sun and all the holes lined up. i also took a ruler and measured a bunch of known distances on the board, the dip packages have a 0.1" spacing, so 6 pins should be spaced by exactly half an inch. thats not the actual size in the image (its a 1600 dpi png with a 1 bit pixel depth) its roughtly 2" by 5 1/4" (bout the same width as a cd drive and a little taller). alignment will be a *****, there are 4 alignment holes (the large hexagonal pads near the corners). my plan is to use a template pattern with the alignment holes marked, clamp it to the board. then drill out the alignment holes with a dremel. then i can clean up the burrs, and polish the **** out of the thing, clean it, and get it ready. then affix the transfer paper with masking tape. i will take a small hole puncher that i have somewhere, and very carefully and precisely punch out the alignment holes from the mask sheets, then i just center those holes on drilled holes, and hope for the best.

i hope for the best. the best i've got on my hands is drills. not even a proper drill holder, so i cant exactly do it "hands-free" :p
Skype: vrganjko
Ho, ho, ho, to the bottle I go
to heal my heart and drown my woe!
Rain may fall and wind may blow,
and many miles be still to go,
but under a tall tree I will lie!

The Apocalypse Project needs YOU! - recruiting info thread.