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WINDBOX USB : my HOTAS (Hands-On-Throttle-And-Stick) RC control (DIY)

PierreFromBelgium

Foam Board FPV ADDICT
#1
Hi guys,

To share (care) my windbox addiction, here is a topic of the "Windbox USB flight joystick ground station" from OPUAC :

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"Windbox is a remote control system instead of the traditional mode. With the Windbox, USB flight joystick, USB gamepad, steering wheel, and other plug and play USB peripherals can be used to remote control fixed-wing model aircrafts, quadrotors, toy cars and boats. You will get close to the real fight experience. This product contains a ground station box, and an 8/10/12-channel 2.4G receiver."



I joined the WindboxManualV3_EN.pdf in attachment.

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Firstable, really sorry for my pooring english in writing :(

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Now, I am going to share you my modifications / improvements which I made for my windbox, according to my evolution and quad/planes I began to pilot.

First, two vids to see it in action :

Sorry, no more sound here...


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More vids on my channel : https://www.youtube.com/user/PierreFromBelgium

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Here is the first version: a kind of writing desk on which I settled the windbox in a wood structure, relatively solid. In the time I wished a portable system to allow to transport it easily and to pilot it up. The problem of this version was in the location of the windbox: the signal of the antenna was cut from time to time by the foot of my screen. So I decided to put the windbox in front of the station control.





So here was the second version which was relatively interesting in its use because better balanced and especially a better reliability in the use :









I am never happy with anything...:) or maybe I like building and improving things permanently. As the previous configuration was good but relatively heavy, I have quickly began to have pain in the neck. So...next :



So the third version : a pilot sit (in theory) in a cockpit and especially it is much more comfortable to pilot well. Thus I have to fit out this seated system but not anymore transportable...







Previously, I was mainly flying quadcopters so I changed my joystick to get a more DPI accurate one, a Thrustmaster. But the main reason was especially to get a smaller trhottle, to be able to put gas to min and max more quickly. For the position, the simplest (and thus effective) was to take a normal chair with which I put the windbox on my legs







In the use, I fast understood that the receivers of the windbox were not at all reliable, too big and too expensive. As there was a PPM out, I bought a FrSky module with 4 receivers compatible without the telemetry. Thus I built a case in foam board to assemble the whole and enhance reliability on the long term :














And in the end (final), as I began to pilot more planes than quadcopters, I decided to return to my good old " x52 pro " :







Here is roughly the summary of these last 12 months in the course of which I did not stop piloting with my windbox in fpv.

My actual flying/sitting position :



If you have any questions, it will be a pleasure to answer you by trying to make a minimum of spelling mistakes :)
 

Attachments

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rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#3
Brilliant! Thank you very much for sharing the details on this project! It looks really fun and useful.

I've thought about doing something before that takes USB output from a joystick and throttle and sends it into a Taranis transmitter via the PPM Trainer port. This WindBox simplifies a lot of that setup, but it's a little expensive for me :)

I have seen some people using arduino to do that signal conversion, but not a recent well documented or supported project. I've also found a cheaper hardware unit to do the conversion that looks like it might work https://www.readymaderc.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=285

Have you run across any similar setups during the research and development of your solution?

Thanks!
 

PierreFromBelgium

Foam Board FPV ADDICT
#4
You re welcome rockyboy ;)

No, unfortunetely my friend. I have not tried any other devices during my research to use joysticks in place of the basic transmitter.

I am agree it's quite expensive but the system is really usefull and reliable to use most of the joystick available on the market.

Before the optimization with the ppm output, I was not sure it's was the best solution for me but now I am.

Honestly, I think any engineer in electronics could easily make a cheaper windbox only with the conversion of joystick axes to a ppm signal, this is the deal to work, that’s all...

There are no other similar products and OPUAV makes a lot of money...
 
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PsyBorg

Fly Angry
Mentor
#5
I have wanted as well as wondered why something like this has not been put into place ever since I got my first RC plane back in the 70's.

I have been mulling over a way to use replacement gimbals to make one handed controllers for people with problems using traditional controller. Just need to stop being lazy and budget some funds to get rolling. Maybe I will incorporate doing so when I work in the m9 gimbals change over and use the existing ones for experimentation.

This does seem like a much better solution to the ones I have seen where people do this but run it thru a lap top to interface between controllers and TX module. I always wondered why people would subject a computer to the heat of the sun like that.
 

PierreFromBelgium

Foam Board FPV ADDICT
#6
You re right.... I ve already seen something similar with a laptop.

Indeed, a computer is able to make the translation with a controller. But definitively, this small windbox case is clearly more adapted (size, weight and price) that a laptop computer. Besides, the windbow likes sunbathe outside... lol :eek:

Personally, if I had known earlier that the windbox controller existed and that the technology fpv was so cheap, I would certainly have stopped fsx/dcs/... much more early by going to get a breath of fresh air outside, rather than playing with my computer again and again.
 

PsyBorg

Fly Angry
Mentor
#7
What I want to do is a hand held unit that plugs into a radio with a simple mod to interface so people with handicaps can fly one handed. In time I suppose. Do you think you are finished modding your set up at this point or is there more you wish to do to / with it?
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#8
I'm thinking an interface control box - powered by something like an arduino or the cable I linked to above - with a trainer cable out to the Taranis, and USB ports to plug in the joystick and throttle. From a user perspective, setup the Taranis in 'trainer' mode and let it do the mixes and fancy radio protocol stuff. I've seen a couple people using arduino to convert USB to PPM signal, but as I mentioned the projects look a little stale - but a good place to start from. I wonder if there is a joystick out there that would have a good slider switch under the thumb to act as a throttle to really have everything on just one hand with an out of the box controller....
 

PsyBorg

Fly Angry
Mentor
#9
With the hall effect sensored gimbals that are out now the interface would not need to be as bulky and nerdy like the arduino projects. All that would be required is a way to parallel a connector to the case for outside access which when plugged in would disable the in case gimbals and let out of case ones take their place. The only thing left to do would be impedance match for the longer wiring outside of the TX. No external interfacing no extra power supply just a physical place holder for the gimbals and how you want to configure the operation for each axis.
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#10
That would be cool - I didn't realize joysticks had moved to hall effect (in the last 30 years since I owned one... jeeze - dating myself here.... )
 

PsyBorg

Fly Angry
Mentor
#11
Oh I don't know about the joysticks having hall effect sensors. I don't doubt some of the upper end ones might. I was talking when I swap out my Taranis gimbals for the new M9's and then taking to stock ones that I remove and messing around with them on the project. But once again that's on the list... scrounge mode on for street change hehe.
 

PierreFromBelgium

Foam Board FPV ADDICT
#12
What I want to do is a hand held unit that plugs into a radio with a simple mod to interface so people with handicaps can fly one handed. In time I suppose. Do you think you are finished modding your set up at this point or is there more you wish to do to / with it?
Openly, I do not know if I'm going to make more modifications or not to my windbox. In general I like improving things just to see the result, to get a better comfort or efficiency.

The idea to propose this system to the handicapped persons is an excellent idea, nice ! Indeed, to be able to control the whole unit with a single hand is interesting for those peopole.

Previously, I made some tests to replace the head tracking function by two thumb wheels situated on the throttle of x52. Not have been farther but, maybe one day, I could continue in this domain...

Check this out :


 
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PsyBorg

Fly Angry
Mentor
#13
I was debating trying to use a small servo on my quad for an automated tilt angle that changed with pitch input for racing but never got around to it. I think one of the issues would be to overcome jello in your fpv due to linkage tolerances allowing the camera to vibrate on the hinge. Mounting it to a servo like you did I think would raise it to high for a quad and put a strange perspective for low flying needed to hit gate and such. Maybe some day. Its still on that in the back of my head to do list.
 
#16
awesome work!!! do you mind describing how can you switch between models? because I know there are 5 different configurations on windbox, but when i save one, the other is lost.. so i am only able to calibrate and fly one model :(
 

PierreFromBelgium

Foam Board FPV ADDICT
#17
Iceman77: Thanks. Happy you use also the windbox... To answer to your question : in fact, the option "save" of the windbox should be named "select then restart"... At the begin I had the same problem as you. So, the windbox "auto-saves" your settings so to change your model, select it, restart and to get it back, use "save" and restart ;-)

Here is my latest upgrade of my windbox :

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PsyBorg

Fly Angry
Mentor
#19
Nice!!. Thats a cool set up there.

What radio link are you using? I catch a distinct delay between when you move the stick and when the control surfaces actually move. Shouldn't be too much of a problem in open skies but proximity might be a different story.
 

PierreFromBelgium

Foam Board FPV ADDICT
#20