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  1. #1
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    Arduino suitability for building steam gauges?

    Gentlemen,

    I am in the beginning stages of planning some steam gauges for my GA pit. It appears that I will need an output solution that will interface with servos and stepper motors. The arduino cards seem to be versatile enough to handle both, but are baffling me a bit. Can I get some help with some basic questions?

    1. What would the hardware system generally look like? I assume that I would need the arduino card itself and an i/o shield that handles the required outputs? Has anyone done this that could recommend a specific card/shield combination?

    2. What software options would I have for interfacing between the board and FSX or FSUIPC offsets? Does Link2fs have the ability to pull data from FSX to drive gauge needles?

    I am sure that I will have many more questions in this thread, but thanks for getting me started.

    Reid
    http://juneaucessnasim.blogspot.com
    N58243 (virtual)- Low and Slow...

  2. #2
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    Re: Arduino suitability for building steam gauges?

    Reid,

    Sorry for the tardy response... and, sorry if I go over a few things that you already are familiar with...

    First, yes, an arduio board, platform, can do what you are wanting to do. The arduio microcontroller is capable of doing anything and everything that we in the simulator world need done.... the trick is the interface between the simulator software and the microcontroller...

    Arduino is an approach... the atmel micocontroller and the arduino software that allows easy programming of the 'chip'... the chip and a few capacitors and a resonator is all you need for an arduino board... the comercial boards, be they arduino or others... such as the RBBB of modern devices, or boarduino at adafruit...are all adruino, just a different form.... all are the same software diven and chip system...

    back to the specifics of your question... steam guages... a few simple stepper motors, such as the X25-168's.. see this article and a simple stepper motor controller will do exactly what you need...

    Again, the primary issue is getting the necessary data out of FS and into your arduino... JimNZ has produced a great interface through link2fs... this is a continuing work in progress and he has provided a great platform/interface for the arduino system to interact with FS.... if you provode spedifics to Jim on what you hope to accomplish, I am sure he will work those into future distributions... he has been very helpful and accomodating...

    Looking forward to seeing what you have planned!!

  3. #3
    500+ This must be a daytime job Jim NZ's Avatar
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    Re: Arduino suitability for building steam gauges?

    Hi Reid ,,, There is at least 1 guy out there that is using Arduino's with aviation gauges ,, I remember seeing a Youtube video of his unit so do a wee search in Youtube and hopefully you may find it. (or others)

    There are quite a few different types of stepper motors so tread carefully before you part with your cash as some probably wont be suitable for what you are planning.
    Have a good read of Mikes books ,, I don't have them but no doubt he would have covered stepper motors although probably not with Arduino's.

    Do a Google for ,,, Arduino stepper ,,, I got 400,000 hits so there's plenty of info out there.

    R/C servo's are very commonly driven with Arduino's so there is no problem with them.

    Now ,,,, You don't say how many gauges you are talking about ,, Is it the "full deck" or just the standby gauges ?????
    If it's the "full deck" then you have one heck of a mission in front of you !!!!

    Make a list of all the outputs you need and go thru the available outputs at ,,,,
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/libr...ftAvionicsData
    which are the variables in the ESP version but most of them are available in the RTM version which I use for compatibility.
    Be aware some units you may want may not be there singly but are made up mathematically by various other readings.

    Dig into it Reid ,,,, Jim
    www.jimspage.co.nz/intro.htm
    All this and Liz still loves me ! !

  4. #4
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    Re: Arduino suitability for building steam gauges?

    Jim,

    I am "trying" to build the whole panel of a 172. May add a Manifold Pressure gauge for when I fly more complex planes, but yes I have bitten off a chunk!

    Most of the gauges are mechanically pretty easy. One servo driving one needle... engine gauges are 2 driving seperate needles. Steppers are pretty handy for things like altimeters that need more rotation than a servo will allow or constant rotation. There are a few that will be harder, but I won't start them until I have a handle on the interface system/software.

    As far as the hardware goes, I found this doing a search for servos:

    "The Servo library supports up to 12 motors on most Arduino boards and 48 on the Arduino Mega. On boards other than the Mega, use of the library disables analogWrite() (PWM) functionality on pins 9 and 10, whether or not there is a Servo on those pins. On the Mega, up to 12 servos can be used without interfering with PWM functionality; use of 12 to 23 motors will disable PWM on pins 11 and 12"

    A 48 servo card(mega) would be more than sufficient, but I am not sure whther the PWM limit would come into play. Do servos use PWM? Steppers?

    Ugh.

    Reid

    BTW: Thanks for the variables link. If I were interested in starting with one or two gauges, could I get those to you first, rather than all at once for inclusion?
    http://juneaucessnasim.blogspot.com
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  5. #5
    500+ This must be a daytime job Jim NZ's Avatar
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    Re: Arduino suitability for building steam gauges?

    Hi Reid ,,,
    Ok ,, that's not so bad ,, I was thinking you were talking about a 737 or the like

    To me its seems very "do-able" and it would certainly be an interesting mission to follow thru on. Maybe some-one else will pop up and share their knowledge with driving multiple servos and multiple steppers from the one card as I haven't been down that road yet ??

    There again ,,, There's heaps of info out there ,, it might be just a matter of "jumping off the cliff" and actually starting the mission and being a trail blazer, so to speak.
    Sometimes a mission gets too messy in your head and its best to just start and follow it thru ,,, in the end it turns out not so messy as first thought.

    As far as extractions from FSX ,,, there are quite a few in my "inOut" program already (Altitude, RPM, IASP, vertSp etc) so there heaps to get you started. By the time you've caught up with whats there now ,, I can add more to finish off your project.

    Get into it Reid ,, we're all watching ,,, Jim
    www.jimspage.co.nz/intro.htm
    All this and Liz still loves me ! !

  6. #6
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    Re: Arduino suitability for building steam gauges?

    I was afraid you were going to say something like that...

    Let me make sure I know what is going on first though:

    1. Acquire Arduino(Model TBD)
    2. Plug in to USB
    3. Run your configuration software
    a. set which pins have what function on the card in "inOut"
    4. Plug hardware into the card.
    5. Go Flying with my great new instrument!

    I am afraid of what may be missing that involves learning a foreign language and typing accurately. What step did I skip?

    Thanks for your patience and encouragement to jump off the bridge first, Sir.

    Reid
    http://juneaucessnasim.blogspot.com
    N58243 (virtual)- Low and Slow...

  7. #7
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    Re: Arduino suitability for building steam gauges?

    Hi Reid.
    Just chimed in on this one. I would suggest that you go with the Arduino Mega 2560, which you can get on ebay for about $35USD. This gives 54 inputs/outputs, including PWM (Servo) and space for switches and output LEDs and stall buzzer.
    For more servos go to:
    http://www.renbotics.com/products/servoshield.php
    They have a 16 Servo card available for $15USD. This will give sufficient for a full house steam cockpit. As for the Altimeter, I would suggest you make your own with a modified servo. Check the renbotics site for a 360 degree servo. It is just a normal servo with the limit-stop removed, or you can do it yourself. Remove the current potentiometer (Check the value) and replace it with a ten turn potentiometer somehow, and make the needles with 10:1 gearing. This would give you a 10,000 altimeter. Just a thought.
    Rob.