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  1. #1
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    Question New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    Hello All.

    Some time ago, I ordered a joystick controller board from the UK and began building my "switch box" to control landing gear, lights, flaps (up/down step), simple auto-pilot functions (pushbuttons), etc. In all I have 26 switch functions using momentary switches - pushbutton, toggle types. I am also designing a flight yoke using hall effect sensors and a throttle and rudder/brake system using potentiometers for this same board.

    A month has past and the controller board has not arrived. In the meantime, I read about Arduino and the many things it is capable of. So I ordered 2 Mega 2560 boards. I think I bit off more than I can chew. I have some programming experience with VBasic and C++ but mostly scripting for the web in php and Javascript. I'm good at soldering and building.

    The more I read about the Arduino, it seems I may have entered new territory way beyond my experience.

    Looking at the specs, if the joystick controller board I ordered never arrives, can I use the Arduino 2560 Mega instead? I read that it has 54 digital I/O connections, but my switches and potentiometers are analog. So what can I do to utilize my switches, hall effect sensors and potentiometers...if anything?

    Ultimately, I would like to incorporate more autopilot functions, as I am reading about in these forums, to include the IAS/MACH, HDG, ALTITUDE and V/S displays (LED) to use with the jets like 737 and 747. But I would like to start off with my switches to some capacity if that is possible. Then, I would like to add rotary controls to the autopilot setup and go from there.

    So I guess to sum up my confusion and lack of true Arduino understanding:

    Can I use my switches with the Arduino 2560 Mega (and if so, can I use all the switches on one 2560 Mega?)
    Can I use the hall effect sensors with the 2560 Mega?
    Can I use the potentiometers with the 2560 Mega?
    Are the two 2560 Mega boards I ordered enough for my project - either with or without the LED displays?

    Thanks for any help and insight you may provide without yelling at me for not knowing enough about the Arduino before purchasing it.

    Mike

  2. #2
    500+ This must be a daytime job Jim NZ's Avatar
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    Re: New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    Research is the name of the game Mike ,, in here you will find (somewhere ?) threads on this very subject.

    Basically for joystick and throttle inputs use an old stripped joystick. I never included them into my software because of the high serial data flow and the swing resolution.

    You could flash one of the Arduino's and turn it into,, what is seen by windows,, as two joysticks but again ,, the resolution is not very good on the pot's travel but you do get about 64 buttons as seen by windows.

    The nuts and bolts of what we do is summed up by looking around this sub-forum here and reading the Doc's with my software.

    Happy researching ,,, Jim
    www.jimspage.co.nz/intro.htm
    All this and Liz still loves me ! !

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  4. #3
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    Re: New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    Hello Mike,

    dont be afraid Arduino isn't that hard to learn.
    If you downloaded the IDE from arduino.cc look at the examples. Simply start with input and output testing. At least you should have some c experience otherwise its a bit weird on the begining. But there are explanations of every function on arduino.cc/reference.

    Once you digged in ther are relative no limits. You will see.

    Cheers Chris

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  6. #4
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    Re: New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    Thanks Jim.

    I've read several of your posts and posts of others and the technical experience and help you have discussed with others is very commendable and interesting.

    I wasn't aware that the resolution of the Arduino was not up to par with a joystick controller. That is surprising considering all that the Arduino architecture *can* do.

    If I can get the Mega to use my switches, as a startup project, that would be sufficient. Is that 64-buttons PER Arduino Mega or is that between the two boards I've purchased?

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    Re: New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    Thanks Chris.

    I will download the IDE and look at the examples. My first project is basically to get these switches to interface with FSX. Once that is done, I plan to expand a bit with the LEDs, rotary pots/encoders, etc. I have seen some great and useful examples here with the rotary encoders and 7- or 8-segment LEDs as an Autopilot board. That would be great. But I still am not sure if 2 Mega boards is enough. I will read up and I'm sure once the boards arrive I will see it more clearly.

    Thanks again!
    Mike

  8. #6
    500+ This must be a daytime job Jim NZ's Avatar
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    Re: New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    Mike the resolution of the actual Arduino card itself is fine, it's 10 bit (1024 divisions) but all the conversions that I bothered to study converted the 10 bit down to 8 bit (255 divisions) ,, you may or may not notice any difference. (Some people say it can be jumpy ,, depends on the hardware attached I think)

    The conversion gives a total of 64 buttons per Mega ,,, I think from memory you can't use 2 of them for some reason so that makes it 62 buttons per Mega.

    Also be aware not all Mega's can be converted to a USB joystick and that it is a 'hack' with the possibility of when things go wrong you end up with a very light paper weight.

    I'll leave you with Chris now ,, I just wanted answer your question.

    Cheers ,, Jim
    www.jimspage.co.nz/intro.htm
    All this and Liz still loves me ! !

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  10. #7
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    Re: New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    Thanks, Jim, for the information and quick reply. I can still use the joystick controller (if it ever arrives) for my throttle, yoke and pedals hardware. And the Arduino for my switches and display.

    I downloaded the Arduino IDE and I am reading examples and tutorials on how the Arduino is used. At first I thought Arduino was just another "controller" interface.

    I know I'm jumping ahead quite a bit, but I see a potential project using Arduino as my switch board to control FSX aircraft switches (the original purpose) plus an autopilot controller for FSX with rotary encoders to adjust A/P speed, heading, altitude, etc., and a multi-line LCD display readout showing the autopilot data from FSX. This looks possible.

    Mike

  11. #8
    Our new friend needs to reach 10 posts to get to the next flight level hatch's Avatar
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    Re: New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o6_HK6pQPs&list=UUSmLIAiVC7G-Hdrb7dp879A
    Hi Mike,

    I'm actually working on making an Autopilot module using Jim's software and the arduino. Once I'm done with it I will share it with the rest of the community. I just started it last week so I have a lot of work left. Here is a link on the progress.

    ]-[aTc]-[

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeb1028 View Post
    Thanks, Jim, for the information and quick reply. I can still use the joystick controller (if it ever arrives) for my throttle, yoke and pedals hardware. And the Arduino for my switches and display.

    I downloaded the Arduino IDE and I am reading examples and tutorials on how the Arduino is used. At first I thought Arduino was just another "controller" interface.

    I know I'm jumping ahead quite a bit, but I see a potential project using Arduino as my switch board to control FSX aircraft switches (the original purpose) plus an autopilot controller for FSX with rotary encoders to adjust A/P speed, heading, altitude, etc., and a multi-line LCD display readout showing the autopilot data from FSX. This looks possible.

    Mike

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  13. #9
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    Re: New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    Oh that is very nice! And you can fit that all on one board. Really cool.

    In the video, it looks like the pulse switches are hard to turn...? Are there alternatives without sacrificing available spots on the main board?

    The completed project will include all the autopilot switches as well and still use the one Mega board?

    I like the LEDs you have but could this be done with LCD's like a 20 x 4 display using the LCD library? I'm looking at a compact design but I do like your LED setup.

    Sorry for all the questions, but this is looking like a really good project to plan once I learn more about this card. And thank you for sharing your hard work.

    Mike

    Quote Originally Posted by hatch View Post
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o6_HK6pQPs&list=UUSmLIAiVC7G-Hdrb7dp879A
    Hi Mike,

    I'm actually working on making an Autopilot module using Jim's software and the arduino. Once I'm done with it I will share it with the rest of the community. I just started it last week so I have a lot of work left. Here is a link on the progress.

    ]-[aTc]-[

  14. #10
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    Re: New to Arduino...what did I get myself into?

    very cool would like the code when its done too if possible ..!

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