This is a cockpit simulator I have been working onfor a while, primarily for MWO. I absolutely love the fully enclosed pits that are being made, and wish I could go that route. Propnut, Foust, TurboCorvair, and all pod builders, I salute you! I live in an apartment however, and have limited space in addition to the usual budgetary concerns. There are various other technical reasons as well, so I have developed what for me is a logical compromise of complexity and function. I took as many visual cues as I could from that incredible Hunchback cockpit artwork wallpaper, within the constraints of my materials. Structurally it is based off of a Schwinn 205p recumbent exercise bike, and is extremely sturdy and very adjustable to accommodate different size pilots. I am placing heavy emphasis on the kinematics and tactility of the controls, as well as adjustability. Other design criteria were ingress/egress and overall pilot comfort. My plan is to use it with a projector, but it would be just as at home in front of a triple monitor or even a single one for that matter... I'm a pilot IRL, and a simdork in general. Through other flight simulator projects I have developed my own list of priorities I deem important in order to achieve a high degree of immersion. I have found there is a certain saturation point, at which the sense of illusion becomes very strong, and as it turns out it is not entirely that difficult to achieve. For me, going beyond this point enters the realm of diminishing returns, which of course is all relative (usually relative to ones budget...).
http://i.imgur.com/AHmhr.jpg -Hunchback Cockpit
http://i.imgur.com/NpQbq.jpg -Hunchback Cockpit, POV
A Schwinn 205p, as it would appear in it's natural habitat
update: Schwinn 205p stripdown- http://imgur.com/a/UBiV6
Some notes on the peripherals. The Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS setup I started with was a unit from ebay, with a clapped out gimbal -knocking it down to my price range, and since I was already dreaming about an ideal stick for MWO it made sense since that would need a completely different gimbal. The Saitek Combat Pro pedals were also distressed ebay units -never used, but with some minor damage to the tension mechanism, ,making them affordable and hence suited to the hack I intended to do with them. The Saitek Cyboorg Command pads and Thrustmaster Cougar MFD's were also cheap ebay scores. I'm sorry if I sniped these from any of you guys...
Descriptions below the pictures:
The stick/throttle are modded Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS. Stick has gimbal made specifically for mech piloting, using absolute pitch/azimuth rather than momentary pitch/roll ( http://imgur.com/a/ixi64 descriptions in link/album -almost done!) and throttle a much longer arm. Pedals are Saitek Pro Combat, but I'm only keeping the two pedals & the electronics, and they will soon ride on new all-metal mechanisms. Cougar MFD's will one day have LCD's if MWO every supports external screens. Saitek Cyborg Command pads (and the MFD's) will one day be replaced with scratchbuilt backlit panels, but I am going to use the plug-n-play gear until the title matures.
The layout and feel of this pit could be very easily changed, and with different panel/siderails, it would be a whole different mech. The construction is as simple as possible -but no simpler. The need for fasteners is kept to a minimum, and I have designed everything to be able to be replicated using basic shop tools -drill press, tablesaw, mitersaw, hand drill, basic hand tools. The Schwinn 205P is an ideal platform to start from, and is easily found on your local craigslist. There are also many good recumbent exercise bikes to choose from actually, use your imaginations! I have 3 of these, the other two being sailplane pits, and $50 is the most I've paid for one so far. I've alse seen some promising looking rowing and x-country ski machines too.
Both sides open up like this, which makes ingress/egress very easy. When finished, they will rigidly lock to the panel. The forward sections of the siderails adjust fore/aft 4", to maintain alignment with panel when seat is adjusted fore/aft. *The seat moves more than 4", but that's as much adjustment as I can get on my siderails, so that sets the useable travel limit. This only leaves enough room to accommodate a 6'4" person, so circus freaks need not apply...
OPEN SIDE SHOT
The 'doors' easily come off, allowing easy access as well as significantly reducing it's footprint for storage/travel. The pivot point for the doors is actually the stock handlebars that came with the Schwinn, but installed in a new spot/orientation. Note the two bolts in the middle of the main beam. This thing actually breaks down easier than an Akers-Barnes, and is able to be transported in anything capable of transporting one of those. Much easier to reassemble though, and requires no yoga to get in and out of
Lots to do still in this area... The pedals will be lower down and further back when on their new mechanisms, but work as is for the time being. The hollow areas of the column will house wires and electronics.
SEAT ADJUSTMENT/EJECTION HANDLE
The handle sticking out at the bottom is connected to a very well designed cam mechanism that locks/unlocks the seat, allowing it to sllide on the rail, but solidly lock down with less than 1/4 turn. The ejection handle is cast aluminum (scavenged from an old golf caddy) and I can lift the entire pit up by it so long as the seat is near the center of gravity.
COLUMN -look ma, no fasteners!
Vertical component is 2 pieces of 1x3 aluminum angle (ripped to .375x3) and the horizontals are 2" square. The Schwinn has a 2" square stub that this mounts on.
Remember those slot contstuction wood dinosaur skeleton models? I used my tablesaw to crosscut the slots. This allows much flexibility, and can be adapted to any size/angle/etc. There is also now a slot at the top, which holds a crossbrace to keep the panel on plane.
Slots of fun!
NEW RUDDER PEDAL MECHANISM...
...mocked up. This will replace the plastic squeaky/wobbly bits of the Saitek pedals. There are many parts missing, but this outlines the idea. All the metal parts here are cut from repurposed metal I have gathered along the way. I am utilizing my access to machineshop tools to make these parts, but they are not necessary ingredient for the pit but rather just to satisfy my finicky need for them to feel solid -able to support my full weight if I stood on them, something you can do in even the lightest of aircraft, let alone a 100 ton mech!
COUGAR THROTTLE MOD...
...in progress. This is my kinematic mockup, which allowed me to find my ideal length for the new pivot arm I am making for the throttle mechanism. The stock one rotates on a 4" radius, and has to use 90deg of travel for it's full range, making the buttons start/end in awkward positions. New mechanism is about 8.5", and uses less than 40deg to achieve what amounts to a longer linear travel. Feels much better. Likely I will use a standard potentiometer for the pickup, since converting it to a Hall sensor requires cutting a trace on the board as well as adding a resistor and I'm trying to leave the boards stock. A high quality sealed pot is juuuuust fine for this though, but the stick will definitely have Hall sensors.
Edited by Loc Nar, 21 September 2012 - 04:53 PM.