I just got IL2 off steam this morning, and quickly decided my current stick isn't really up to the task of a game that needs this fine of control, and the old pedals I had from before I moved are MIA. (But they were actually for a Game Port connector, so I couldn't use them on this new rig anyway now that I think about it.)
Either way, I'm looking into building my own hardware mainly for this, but also with other flight sims in mind, and a real world drone aircraft project I might do starting this fall. (I'm a Computer Science major, with an interest in engineering, so I can really get myself into trouble if I can find the slightest bit of funding.)
The problem is I have never made any kind of analog controller that didn't run on the analog game port. I've wired switches/buttons/indicator lights on a parallel port, but I've never touched USB. I should have access to equipment to program FPGAs for a controller for either port I go with.
My current plan is to mainly focus on the throttle and 'bonus' controls for my left hand, and the steering pedals. I'm thinking that I may as well go with a full 4 engine control scheme but I am still working out just what controls I want to bother with. I'm thinking to include pot controlled throttle and blade pitch for each engine, as well as pot controlled trim wheels for pitch, roll, and yaw. Also button controlled fuel mix +/- for each engine.
I am also trying to figure out how to lay these out in a way that will work well, and I'm guessing the chances of a control patch to allow easy working with dual engine planes isn't coming so I'll have to keep in mind designs for the drivers for self selecting engines when I change the controls. There was another thread on here about that, and should be easy enough to get going once I get into it.
My current layout plan is to group the engine controls into a pair of dual controls, with flush sliding paired throttle handles. With handle heads about 3cm wide, and a spacing of 1 to 2cm between the sets of main controls. This should allow me to work all 4 engines together at once easily enough. 10cm long handles, on a 90 degree arc seems to work out well on paper.
What I'm not really sure on is how to place the blade pitch, and fuel mix buttons. I was thinking of putting them 6 to 8cm in front of the throttles, again in two pairs. Putting the fuel mix up/down buttons to either side of the blade pitch control.
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Kind of like that, assuming the forums don't eat the lame ascii art.
Then off to the side I'll put sliders/scroll wheel style trim controls, in the shape of an I for easy reference. (Roll going left/right at the top, Pitch back/forward in the middle, and yaw left/right at the bottom)
Then at the bottom and up the side of the whole thing, I think I'll throw in as many buttons as I can afford and easily wire.
Any thoughts on the layout, or how to do the actual wiring/interface control? Buttons seems to be easy enough to come across locally, but linear potentiometers seem to be a little rare. I'll also likely need to track down some analog to digital chips, if anyone has some suggestions on a good cheap design for them I'll be very happy.
I know I could likely spend less time and money to simply buy something like this, but I rather have steel and polished wood than plastic.
Edit by Tully: (Hopefully) fixed the ascii art that was eaten by the forum.