Arduino Based Helicopter Collective Control - Make: Community
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Arduino Based Helicopter Collective Control

By Kaleb Clark

Helicopter Collective Control for flight simulation based on an Arduino Micro.

Type: Social Impact, Education


State: California
Country: United States
Affiliation: Company - Element14 Presents


What inspired you or what is the idea that got you started?

Flying in flight simulators, my love of making, and the inordinate costs of buying a commercial solution.

What is your project about and how does it work?

My project is a specialized joystick for simulating the collective control of a helicopter in flight simulators. It uses an Arduino Micro along with a library to present itself to the host operating system as a Joystick. I was able to assign buttons, switches, and encoders to joystick buttons that any game or flight simulator can detect and use as input. It has a lever arm that moves up and down that translates that motion to rotary motion to drive an encoder that the Arduino uses to determine the position of the collective. The data from the encoders and buttons are translated in software and then sent to the host computer.

What did you learn by doing this project?

I learned more about encoders than I thought there was to learn! I also took a deep dive into the Joystick library and now have that in my bag of tricks. I can use that for all sorts of things. I was also reminded that our community is amazing. I have been an open-source supporter for over 25 years and still am. This project has been built by the community a few times and I had the opportunity to communicate and help with their builds while they improved upon my design.

What impact does your project have on others as well as yourself?

While I think of this as a practical build, it kind of is not. It's a joystick. I hope the impact of this project was to show people that we can DIY, in this case, it was something that I wasn't willing to spend a thousand bucks on, so I built a version for myself. It doesn't seem like a trivial build, but it really wasn't that hard. I just had to believe that I could do it and well, just do it. I didn't know everything when I started, I had to look up and learn a lot to complete this build. I hope to inspire people to make things, to just go out and do it.