© Copyright 2010-2015 Michel Poulin

Last Update: September 15, 2015

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3 DOF Motion Platform Project Index

I have always been fascinated by the capability to fly with an airplane.  In 2009, I have bought the popular Microsoft Flight Simulator X with its Acceleration Pack.  I was so impressed by the flight realism that I equipped my computer with some Saitek accessories such as yoke, throttle and rudder pedals for better simulation.  With my increased enthusiasm, I decided to undertake a challenging project for designing and building a motion platform equipped with a real functional cockpit that supports most airplanes simulated with Microsoft FSX Deluxe.

This project is a challenge because it requires much expertise and skills such as mechanical, electrical, electronic and software knowledge, ability for wood working, knowledge of drafting tools, patience and most important is time to invest for the design and to search for the most economical way of doing things.  

I then want to share the results of my efforts by the production of these Web pages for anyone who would have the same project in mind.  All the information provided on this Web site is for your personal use and should not be used for commercial usage. Do not copy the information, video or photos to other documents or sites. © Michel Poulin, 2008 – 2013.

Page 1:  Wooden Made Motion Platform Overview

The first page provides an overview of my 3 DOF motion platform and its major mechanical components. Mechanical components have been designed and built with residual pieces of hard wood that I had (oak). The platform structure has been built with common house build material such as studs and plywood. The convenience of this material is that it is rigid enough for the application, cheapest material available and the easiness to machinate parts.

Page 2:  PC Software Application (FSX to Platform Interface)  (August 30, 2012)

This page shows the PC software interface used to extract data from Flight Simulator X and to control my 4 DOF motion platform controller.  This software have been developed with Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express (C# Sharp) which is free from Microsoft web site when used for non-commercial used.  Microsoft FSX Software Design Kit (SDK) provides Instruction on how to call FSX.DLL events in order to get flight data from the FSX game.  It is also possible to put data in FSX with the same driver.  My software is also communicating with an Arduino Mega 2560 micro controller to get the real cockpit information.

I am actually adapting my software to support all types of motion platform 2, 3, 4 and 6 degrees of freedom. The software also incorporates now a Washout Filters to improve motion cues. See page 7 for details.

Page 3: Main Power Components for the Actuators

This page provides an overview of major power components used on this motion platform. The electro-mechanical actuators used for the motion platform consist of three power components; AC to DC Power Supply, DC Drive operating with Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) and a 350W DC motors permanent magnet.  A non-linear actuator type has been design for its low cost and simplicity.

Page 4: Main Electronic Components for the Platform Motion Control  (Updated on Sept. 15, 2015)

This page provides an overview of the major electronic components used for the motion platform control. Only one AVR microcontroller is used to control up to six DC motor drives.  The actuators positions are captured with simple high quality potentiometers.  Homemade current sensors have been designed and built.  I developed the microcontroller software with C language using the free Atmel AVR Studio 4 (Editor  & Compiler).

Page 5: Motion Platform Video Library (April 05, 2013)

To see the real thing alive, this page provides links to different videos made during the motion platform Development progress.  As the motion platform is not yet completed, new videos will be added to show new steps accomplished in this hobby project.

Page 6: Cockpit with 6 switch panels & 3 LCD Displays  (March 17, 2013)

I designed a generic cockpit supporting most FSX simulated aircrafts.  Two 17 inches LCDs are used to display radio stack, miscellaneous instruments and gauges as well as GPS.  A third LCD display is used for flight scenery. All switches and controls are grouped on six different switch panels and monitored with only one Arduino Mega 2560.

Page 7: Motion Cues Improvement with Washout Filters Algorithm (January 19, 2013)

Initially, my motion platform software was replicating only the surge and heave accelerations. The roll and pitch position angles of the aircraft were directly reproduced by the motion platform.  Now the motion perception is improved by considering the sway acceleration as well as the roll, pitch and yaw speed rates. The real time positions of pitch and roll are no more used.

This page will resume and explain the algorithm call Washout Filter that produces a better motion perception during flight by respecting motion platform mechanical displacement limits.  This algorithm uses a lot of Math such as gravity vectors, second order Low and High pass filters, integrators, rate limiters, scaling factors, Sinus and logic coordinators.

Page 8: Using Triple LCD Display for Eyefinity / Surround Viewing (NEW January 16, 2014)

I designed a triple LCD display support in order to increase the visual realism by adding a larger scenery field of view (FOV).  This page illustrates how easy you can build your own triple display support with less than 50 boxes.  Since all three LCDs are mounted on the motion platform, rigidity and light weight of the support is very important.  This page also explains how to calibrate the whole thing with FSX and NVIDIA.

 

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