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PC-to-RC: COTS Joystick RC Plane Control

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Hello all! This is my first post to the new forum, but I was a lurker on the old (non-searchable!) RC-CAM forum. :D

I am trying to find a way to implement Off-The-Shelf joystick control of a standard RC plane. Seems like a simple issue compard to many of the others I have seen here, but I just can't seem to find anyone who has done it.

In the attached image, I have shown what I am after. The "Black Box" could be a standard laptop or any of a number of microcontrollers (PIC, STAMP, etc.)

The last thing I want to do is reinvent the wheel. Anybody seen a system like this in action?



Edited by turaboy
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The "Black Box" could be a standard laptop or any of a number of microcontrollers (PIC, STAMP, etc.)

It will have to be a laptop if you insist on using a USB based joystick. The popular microcontrollers (Atmel, PIC, Stamp, etc.) can support USB with simple external components, but only in device mode. In your app you need a USB Host controller, hence the PC platform is a ready solution.

You can pair up the laptop to Risto's PC-to-R/C Interface V2.0 (Click Here) or Ken Hewitt's PC to RC Interface (Click Here).

On the laptop you will need to create your own application or driver. Details to the Microsoft DirectInput tools are found Here.

After the flying season ends I will publish a RC-CAM project that shows how to use a microcontroller to cheaply interface a stock Sony PlayStation joystick on a R/C Tx's trainer port to control Pan, Tilt, and shutter of the aerial equipment. It will have the PanCam features built into the joystick encoder. Should be very cool.

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Your project sounds great! Keep us updated on your progress.

Thank you for the links. The challenge (to me anyway) seems to be the SW code. I spoke to a guy at work (aerospace test lab) who has done something similar with NI's LabView. I will continue to pick his brain for any and all info! :)

I am not crazy about the PC thing since none of them are very portable, but I am really just wanting to try out real flying with the joystick. If it works out well, I can work on a more permanent solution with a microcontroller or 2.

Do you think your PenCam project would be adaptable to my nefarious purposes? I am sure there are plenty of joystick options for PlayStation as well that may work.

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Hello turaboy,

the circuit of your "black box" is here. It converts signals from a standard joystick into ppp-frames for the trainer-port of your transmitter. Please take a look at this thread too.

The code for the above circuit (version 2) is running, but it is really "quick & dirty". In the fall or in winter I will set on the project again.




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  • 2 weeks later...


Looks like you have done exactly what I am looking for! I tried to download your code file from the old forum, but have had no luck. Could you possibly repost it here?

I am not all that familiar with the Atmel line of microcontrollers. I am assuming you need a developer's kit to program the FLASH? It looks like Digi-Key has them for about ~$79.

Also, is the Gamebird Flight Simulator treated as a regular joystick by Windoze? It looks to be that way from the info I found, but you sound as if you have a bit more experience with it than I!

Anway, I would be very interested in the code you posted at the old forum.

Thanks for your help!


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