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KSP Controller Build


cyberKerb
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KSP Controller Build Log
By CyberKerb

Okie Dokie, I've been playing around with various bits of hardware with Arduino and Teensy for the last few years. I'm motivating myself to 'actually' start something - ANYTHING to do with the project. My office desk is currently about 80% junk pile of electronics. I'm also starting to lose track of why I've ordered stuff and what it was supposed to be used for. It's time to start putting the parts and the knowledge I've picked up into action.

 

Big credit to @alexustas & @MOARdV for their ASET series of mods and the RPM/MAS mod that allow them to be displayed. Without the work they have put into their mods, I wouldn't be even trying this.

 

Long Term Goal: Build a half-decent controller that will allow me to flip buttons and switches to my hearts content.
Maybe I'll even learn how to do purely IVA missions? Who knows?

Guide to update frequency::
I'm planning to write this build log as frequently as I can. I'll look to pretty it up later. This is just my first step into logging the progress to make sure I keep on track. I usually only get from 10 mins to 1 hour on any given day to work of this. So progress will be a bit slow. The odd 5 days gap due to busy days with work, should probably be expected.
 

Step 1: (Start small) Build Throttle controller.
And not 'any' throttle controller. I want this 'specific one' by @alexustas. Every time I play KSP with the ASET IVA in the Mk1 lander can, I can't help but stare distractedly at the controls... and the gauges... and the dials...  
Green LCD at the front, light up sections on the handle and the main housing, buttons to auto-set full and zero thrust. This should be fun.
dg2BriL.jpg

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7.Feb:
I've stared at that darn model in KSP  / the forum posts long enough! Where are my scissors, metal ruler and utility blade?! Check , Check & check.
Hot Glue? Check! Cardboard? (Glances at cereal supplies.) The Cheerios are low enough, stuff the remaining bag into a Tupperware and gimme that cardboard box.
OK - we're GO for project initiation.

I have a little modification I want to add to the throttle. The idea is that you slide the handle right which will "shift" the engines into "reverse" mode. This idea makes the design a little mod complicated, so I needed to work out how the internals should work.
*cut**cut**cut**rule**cut**glue**glue**glue**glue* - Done.
ylyAA17m.jpg

Crap that handle is large. How big it this thing going to be when I finish anyway? Er... I need a reference....
 

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9-10.Feb:
I spent parts of the last 2 days learning Sketchup. I managed to trace the ASET model as best I can from the 3 perspectives that were available. (not a great representation on my part, but good enough to get a sense of scale of the part. in relation to each of the bits that make of the throttle.) I also added a shipload of measurements to do some more mockups regarding size.
d2wdbffm.png

 

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13.Feb:
Referenced my hacked together 3Dmodel and went with a 110mm wide hand grip as measured inside the hexagonal end caps. 
I figure it would allow for a little space either side of my fist holding the throttle handle. How big the housing now? 
qiFUQt7m.jpg

Welp, that's HUGE! It completely obscures the already large cardboard mechanism mock-up. Ok, time to reel the size back in. How about knocking a little bit off to start with... umm what about a 100mm handle width? What size in the housing now?

Eh... It got smaller by 2cm in height. Not a big change, but for some reason that's enough for it not to seam overly huge. Lets go with that.
HGVMzxYm.jpg


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15.Feb:
Next step: Roughly create the rest of the outer shell of the model in cardboard. Just to see if the proportions are OK for my hand size. (I'm not Kerbal-sized, so I guess I'm putting in a custom order to Wernher)

Edited by cyberKerb
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17.Feb
I really like how this looks at the moment. Very psyched to start marking it in wood. Proportions look great now that I took the measurements of the in game model!
EdgzVprm.jpg f5C8gfLm.jpg

 

The grip fits my hand width without any contact either side, so that's nice. Not shown is a pommel piece on the left side of the grip, I found it to be a bit too much time commitment to make in cardboard with all the angles it required. It'll just have to wait for the next version in wood to make it's debut. I've also set my approx angles for 100% Fwd & Bkwd to be 76 degrees either side of the 0% mark. 0% will be 22 degrees towards the user off vertical. These angles were chosen to make sure I has the same range for both Fwd & Bkwd. This may change after I get electronics in as I probably don't need that  amount of resolution for the reverse direction.
Using the reference image, (nearest full degree at the end of the arrows)
"Full Thrtl" 100% Fwd = 67 degrees back from vertical. (107 degree full range)
"Cut Off" 0% = 40 degrees forward of vertical.


cA23Zkfm.jpg zqj6u79m.jpg


Here's the detail I mentioned about sliding a section out to the right to "shift" into reverse. Minus 0-100% would be pulling down, kinda-sorta like a boat throttle. This will probably be checked in code via micro switches to work out where the throttle is in regards to forward/ reverse. (Hence needing to test the internal mechanism first) I know it make the whole thing that extra bit complicated, but seeing that striped section confirmed to me that I NEED that there. 
WR9b9Blm.jpg i5jBzvSm.jpg

---------------------------------------------------
Next step: cut out the pieces in wood. Not happening until next weekend though, busy week at home and won't be able to get out to the shed until then.

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7 hours ago, alexustas said:

Do you plan to implement force feedback here?

Thanks @alexustas, probably won't be putting force feedback in the throttle controller. However, if you meant to ask 'will it be motorised?' then I'm leaning towards 'yes' for that question.
Mainly just to set Full or Cut throttle as shown in the below screenshot from your ALCOR lander.

dpWf4i3l.png

Edited by wile1411
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3 hours ago, Freshmeat said:

Hey, glad to see you are getting started. Looking forward to see what you come up with.

Thanks! For the last few days, I've been staring at the cardboard mock-up thinking it's still a little too big. The thing is, if I knock off the 10mm width I think I can from the grip width - I think that'll shrink the housing size too far to get the LCD screen in.

At the moment, I'm using my hand on the throttle grip as the determining scaling requirement. I might change that requirement to be the LCD width and do one more Cardboard version with the minimum clearance available for the 16x2 LCD screen I'm using and see how it feels.

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24.Feb
Progress update after a day in the shed. If the cardboard version were "Alpha" version, I'll call the a "Beta" version and in my head I'm thinking "It'll do for the first mock up in wood". During my attempt to make the housing I found that I'm having difficulties getting a straight cut while on an angle at the bandsaw. Next time I might try doing these on the table saw instead. I've taped the previous cardboard handle as the one I tried to do in wood ended up too thin in two dimensions as well as being quite rough. I need to rethink my order of operations to get the handle looking like I want.

For this weekends version, I just used a small roundover bit to soften the edge. I'll probably redo the whole housing again so I can add that 45degree edge that's on the in-game model. I'll also move the screws inwards away from the edges using some blocks onside the housing . 

x90J5Gpm.jpg8xifzQ6m.jpgmbyxyTmm.jpgdg2BriLm.jpg

So... more of a think about order of operations during the week and then next weekend I'll redo the housing and try the handle again.

Edited by wile1411
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  • 3 weeks later...

12.Mar
Phew - back to it this weekend. Only got about 2.5 hours to work on the project this weekend.
Mostly used that time to remake the housing, this time with thinner 9mm walls as the old build were 12mm thick. It's the one gluing up in the background.
I also redid the handle and grip. I've stuck them into the old housing to give an idea of size. It'll be mounted on the other side as shown in the sketch-up model.
I'm currently sourcing some 5mm thick translucent plastic to act as the diffuser in the grip for the LEDs. Can't seen to convince myself that Red should be the way to go and might do blue instead. My indecision tells me I should use RGB LEDs and ignore the issue :P Gotta have that cockpit lighting :) 
Got close to starting the knob at the end of the grip, but will have to settle for just getting the measurements done. I think I understand how to create it and I've got the wood gluing together already.
Also need to track down what font was used for the CUT OFF / FULL THRTL text on the side of the housing. Any tips @alexustas?

OwUllUVm.jpgDDyE6dAm.png

Outta town next weekend - so, another two week progress gap coming up.

Edited by wile1411
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  • 3 weeks later...

30.Mar
Very small update from last 2 weekends. Only had a short time to work in the shed between getting home in the afternoon and sitting down for dinner. I mostly trimmed up the plastic bits that will be used to light up in hand grip. Also created the "pommel" and the end of the grip. Spent the rest of the time last weekend thinking how this is going to be assembled. This weekend I grabbed some 3/16" threaded rod and a decently long drill bit from the hardware store and I drilled through the middle of the grip and put it all together. It's only held together with friction from the screw at this point. Hoping to do a little work on the housing this afternoon, wont be much though - probably only get an hr tops.

jX4xGqem.jpg2RS2fpBm.jpg

The 2nd picture shows the handle lit from behind with the torch on the left. It's gives an idea of the effect I'm going for. The LEDs will arrive next week and that'll be a stage I'm most be looking forward to aside from getting this mounted on the housing.

Edited by wile1411
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31.Mar
Wheeeee! I'm quite happy when where I got to this weekend. It looks great! Managed another two hours in the shed before family got hungry and I needed to start making dinner.

BLM9wz5m.jpgAnAy3FOm.jpgnWIqsaTm.jpg

I sanded / filed everything flat relative to each other, this is why the button panel looks so ugly. It want be seem when painted, but I must of managed to glued it at an angle. The handle is temporarily on a drill-bit - yes it's crooked, it won't be when on its final shaft. The buttons are also just sitting free in the holes for demonstration. (I've already dropped two buttons into the housing - oops)

Things to-do:

  • Putty over the hole on the outside handle where I mounted the grip.
  • Sand a bevel all the way around the side panels
  • Cut massive hole in the right panel for my reverse thrust pullout section.
  • Might raise the LCD panel up so it isn't recessed
  • create mounting PCB for buttons to hold them at the correct height/angle
  • add electronics into housing
  • wire LCDs into perspex chips in grip and router a channel down inside of  handle for wiring (4 wires total)
  • add hardware for square tubing for mounting to desk/chair
  • slop on a few coats of matte black paint
  • work out how to have a motor drive a sliding shaft for the min/max buttons
  • and then there's all the internals for min/max thrust end stops for both positive and negative directions.

Phew! - plenty to go and this is just the throttle!

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5 hours ago, lorelailangley said:

Have you got the solution?

Not for force feedback. I only plan to have a motor drive it to the off and max thrust positions. Anything else will be set manually. A simple v-belt might be fine for this I think.

Edited by wile1411
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  • 5 months later...

9.Sep
OK, Winter is finally over here in Canberra with the -6c morning mostly in the past. I've restored my itch to do something... bigger. The throttle sat in the shed over winter while I was absorbed into a combination of Factorio and Space Engineers (SE). Such is my habit when I *need* something to be 'finished', I turn to other building games to get that fix and eventually come back to this project when I need a 'make progress' fix. It's an endless cycle I cannot get out of.

So, throughout this years downtime, I built my SE base into a mountain with an impossibly high entrance only accessible via the air. Because SE has a slow grind due to the collection of resources, I eventually tired of drilling into rock. I'm again in need of 'making progress' on a project, so last weekend I've moved back into the physical realm of my KSP controller and started constructing with cardboard. Just need to source some more larger pieces of cardboard and I can start sharing progress.

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16.Sep
Righty-o. Test rig constructed mainly to check placement and size of all the things I've tested and built over the last few years. Next few weeks will be creating mock-up printouts of the dials and switches I plan to install. I've already checked the size of the DSK and I managed to get that size perfect / close enough by accident. The 4 digit, 7segment LED modules are 5cm x 2cm. With two of these side-by-side, there is still room for decently sized warning lights. The CRT screen looks like it'll fit nicely on the bottom right - still waiting for the LCD screen to get here from the US.

giphy.gif

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Oh wow...

8 hours ago, cyberKerb said:

16.Sep
Righty-o. Test rig constructed mainly to check placement and size of all the things I've tested and built over the last few years. Next few weeks will be creating mock-up printouts of the dials and switches I plan to install. I've already checked the size of the DSK and I managed to get that size perfect / close enough by accident. The 4 digit, 7segment LED modules are 5cm x 2cm. With two of these side-by-side, there is still room for decently sized warning lights. The CRT screen looks like it'll fit nicely on the bottom right - still waiting for the LCD screen to get here from the US.

giphy.gif

BRAVO, GOOD SIR! :P that looks exactly like the cockpit view...

Edited by Kerballing (Got Dunked On)
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  • 1 month later...

10.Nov

Righty-o. Finally decided to bite the bullet and move the computer upstairs and see if I could get an immersive KSP cockpit experience with two monitors. I've been putting this off for weeks as I needed to tidy both the office where computer is coming from, as well as the spare room upstairs where I've currently got the cardboard mock-up of a cockpit. Lots of dusting and moving crap out of the way.

I had to play around with the Docking Cam (KURS) mod from @linuxgurugamer to work out how I could modify the screen sizes for the external camera. I first needed to change the aspect ratio in code, then I managed to work out the steps needed to get to the size I wanted. Below is the result.

The ascent was a bit hairy (Bill must of been piloting), but it did give a little bit of immersion and tweak the inner ear senses to think I'm fipping in the cockpit, so I'd call that a success! :) 

 

Edited by cyberKerb
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On 11/12/2019 at 6:53 AM, Francois said:

Looks pretty cool!

the gap between the two monitors is achieved through your OS/dual monitor settings or you have two cameras placed properly?

I used two external cameras, both placed on a cubic octagonal strut and clipped into the lander can model. (it's transparent from the inside) 

I used precise editor mod  to place both cameras in the exact same spot, but have one with a 15 degree downward tilt, the other is facing straight forward. I'm still tweaking / testing the angles and FOV to give me what I want.

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wow, clever. This problem is at the bottom of my list for now, but I was thinking about learning how to modify the existing capsules to remove all the textures of the internal view and hope it becomes just a giant transparent capsule. Your solution may achieve the same thing in a way simpler way :)

Edited by Francois
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On 11/15/2019 at 7:06 AM, Francois said:

wow, clever. This problem is at the bottom of my list for now, but I was thinking about learning how to modify the existing capsules to remove all the textures of the internal view and hope it becomes just a giant transparent capsule. Your solution may achieve the same thing in a way simpler way :)

Thanks!  I thought about changing the part texture, pretty much the same way that you described. However, I wanted to keep the game how it looked so I could flip back and forth (if necessary) from IVA to external view without there being an invisible part in 3rd person view. The camera I'm using is from the mod Docking Camera (KURS).

I bumped the screen problem up in my priority as I needed to know if I should commit any money to the project at all. Hence the recent feasibility test for the cockpit style build I'm aiming for. I'm feeling confidant that I can proceed without too much worry. Seems like the bulk of the things I want will be possible, just need to learn some new skills / get the hard work done.

I initially wanted to use the ALCOR lander can, but it has bits / panels on that part which are visible from the inside of the part (specifically the framing panels around the window. When I worked that out, I abandoned that part and went back to the MK1 lander can. I think the idea might work for other stock capsules, but I've not tested anything other parts.

So far, I'm managed to get the functionality of ALCOR + RPM/MAS sandwiched into a Mk1 lander can. I'm planning to avoid glass cockpit elements as much as possible to keep the gritty 'used-look' aesthetic. So yeah - I'm inspired by things several layers deep at this point. MK1 Lander Can > ALCOR > RPM > APOLLO > SPACESHIPS!

Current to-do:
     Print more (IRL scale) instruments on paper to work out where I want them placed on the walls / panels of the cockpit.

Edited by cyberKerb
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25.Nov

These are from September when I posted them onto Reddit, but I forgot to add these to the build log.

They are my test of my CPU interface to control target selection, setting manuever nodes and other items that I plan to add. The aim is to have a CRT monitor display to replicate what is shown in the ASET prop pack. I also included the built-in PDAI integration for port renaming / selecting when close to targets so I can control that with just Arduino buttons.

It done via a Logger mod to get the data out of KSP/Unity so it's usable for something other than shoving down the serial line to Arduino. This allowed me to update a text file as required which is then read by an independent WPF application that watches for file updates. That app just reads the updated file and formats the text using the same fonts from the ASET mod pack for the display on a small separate monitor. I've got a 800x600 monitor on order that will be it's proper display. Doesn't work as well on a widescreen.

 

 

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  • 6 months later...

5 Jun

Haven't posted in a while, so I figured I give a blip of a heartbeat. So 2020 has been a sh*t of a thing as everyone knows. Since the last post, the immediate area around where I live was threatened by bushfires (no damage) and then we got smacked with massive hail in Jan / Feb. Due to the hail damage, car ended up being a write-off and the house has been leaking for the last 6 months anytime it rains.

The house is still being repaired but on the plus side, the Insurance company finally got around to getting us water tight with a replacement roof that finished last week. Work should begin on the inside damaged 3 rooms, which included our electronics / sewing room I share with my wife. All items were saved, but work stopped while repairs are going on.

As such, I've mainly been doing on prep work / shop infrastructure project to gear things up when I'm able to get back to this. The shed still isn't organised, but I've completed a new bench with a self made biesemeyer fence for the table saw I've installed into it. Now I can cut decent sided plywood sheets down with good accuracy. Also, a CNC machine I ordered was delivered this month after a big delay due to covid19. I just need to build a bench for it.

All-in-all, keeping busy in all the chaos, but still working my way to have that KSP cockpit. :) 

Edited by cyberKerb
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