Force Feedback on 3-4 axis

Hello everyone,

We are trying to do a three or four axis force feedback system. So I did get a Basic setup with IONI 4X board and just one drive/motor to test if we can get a connection with the simulator.

What is the difference between SimuCube and IONI 4X - would SimuCube with its firmware have been the better choice or is it only capable of doing one axis?

How realistic is it to get good force feedback results with IONI 4X?

Thanks in advance and greetings,

Marcel

The main difference with IONICUBE and SimuCUBE is that the former is just a motherboard for the servo drives, to be controlled with signals such as PWM&DIR or our SimpleMotion bus, and the latter is an integrated system where there is the STM32F407 microcontroller which implements the USB Human Interface Device which is required for direct connection with commercial simulator games. As SimuCUBE only has one IONI servo drive, only one axis is available.

Options to have multiaxis force feedback are at least the following:

  • Custom multiaxis SimuCUBE-type motherboard with multiple IONIs on the same board. This can be designed by the customer or by us. Contact our sales for more information.

  • Connecting your existing IONICUBE 4X board to computer with RS-485 connection so that the data rate for the SimpleMotionV2 bus can be sufficiently increased to enable good force feedback result. However, the actual connection to simulator software is also required. The interface to the simulator software could consist, for example, an xsimulator plugin for our SimpleMotion motor control bus. We have noted that such plugin would be nice thing to have, but we haven’t had time yet to implement that.

Hi Mika, thanks for the fast reply!

So an IONICUBE with RS-485 connection has at least the same features as a SimuCUBE? I am not a big fan of connecting such a device with USB, so this would be no disadvantage in my opinion.

I did contact your sales and am looking forward for an answer.

And do I understand right, that IONICube and SimuCUBE both do not have a connection software for flight games? I can see that XSimulator supports for example X-Plane and other flight simulators, but I can’t see if this is only for a motion plattform or for force feedback too.

Is there a kind of software available to test Force Feedback effects on my IONICube Setup? I have seen such a software for SimuCUBE if I remember right.

It would be very important to test the forces of the actual motor, get additional motors and build them into the underfloor framework before we can put the cockpit shell back on the frame - and remove the hydraulic force feedback actuators. As long as shell and framework are separated, many other working steps have to wait. :wink: We just need to know that the motors are matching our needs and the software connection will work some day in the future.

I think there are some xsimulator plugins that read telemetry streams from various racing games and flight simulators, and the information can then be used however the xsimulator is configured - one typical example is indeed a plugin to a motion platform.

If you mean DirectInput based FFB effects, then no, IONICUBE does not have the required USB HID microprocessor that SimuCUBE has. You can, however, perform test drives and do test impulses with our Granity configuration and tuning software so you can test motors and reactions.

Hello Mika,

Custom multiaxis SimuCUBE-type motherboard with multiple IONIs on the same board. This can be designed by the customer or by us. Contact our sales for more information.

I did not yet get a number or any Information on the custom multi-axis SimuCUBE.

Would it be thinkable to have three SimuCUBE on one system? Or will there be conflicts in the software or hardware?

If there are conflicts, what about using three Mini-Computer like Raspberry Pi to drive one SimuCUBE each?

Currently our firmware’s Configuration Tool only finds a device with correct USB Vendor ID and Product ID. In addition, launching multiple instances of the tool is programmatically inhibited. This could be changed, and custom Product ID could be developed for a client.

If Rasbperry Pi support creating DirectInput effects some way, then yes. But in Raspberry-like embedded application, it would also be more suitable to use SimpleMotion directly to an IONICUBE and use some other API than DirectInput.

Thanks Mika!

We have to think about all that - but we still have no idea what the costs and developing/deliverytime of all this special Granity Solutions would be.

Yeah, I know, and we apologize as the delay. We are preparing to get everything ready for SPS IPC Drives exhibition, 28 – 30 November 2017 in Nuremberg, Germany, Hall 3A, Booth 310, and that has taken most of our time.

You are welcome to visit us there, and of course I expect @Tommi to get back to you when he can.

I expect the most cost effective solution, in any case, is to develop a plugin to the simulator software you are using that talks to your current IONI drives installed on the IONICUBE motherboard using the SimpleMotion protocol. But more details of your target application would be essential.

Indeed I already think about that. But it is a longer travel and it depends on the benefit it could have for our project. If Granity would finally be interested in a cooperation, please tell me. :slight_smile:

I expect the most cost effective solution

Thank you very much for your opinion - we will think about that, Mika. But I will miss the Software to test Force Feedback Effects.

But more details of your target application would be essential.

The simulation software will be X-Plane 11. If you need more Information, I will give my best to provide them!

Greetings,

Marcel

Hi Marcel,

Can you elaborate a bit on the typical axis configuration for the system you are pursuing? I see the control stick has 2 axis. What does the 3rd axis do?

Hello Mika,

The control column has a yoke for the aileron - not so much torque needed. The column itself is for the elevator, with a lever this axis needs more torque. The third axis are the pedals, used for the rudder at the tail of the aircraft. Like the pedals in a car, but connected. If you push the left pedal away, the right one moves toward you and vice versa.

All three axis are now connected to a hydraulic cylinder via a lever. So we want to replace the three hydraulic cylinders with Mige Servo Motors.

Most (Flightgame) Joysticks offer those three axis + a throttle lever in most cases.

More than one axis could be of benefit for the Racing Community too. Imagine simulating the forces on the pedals. :slight_smile:

Greetings,

Marcel

MF_170408_0002

1 Like

PS: The small cylinders on the pedals are not for rudder. Each pedal can be tilted additionally to the forward/backward movement to control the left and/or right main wheel brakes. You can steer the aircraft on ground by asymmetrical braking.
All cylinders for the force-feedback are under the floor.

This would be a very good product if Granite could make it happen.
Most commercial Aircraft Simulator customers these days want force feedback.

Sadly I think the amount of time creating the software would be prohibitve for Granite.

Perhaps the software/driver could be done by members of the community? I do know programmers but they are not familiar with IONI/Force Feedback coding. I do work in the flight simulation business, so I do have good contacts for the simulator side of the software.

OK; so thats where the 3rd axis comes from.

One solution might be to utilize existing SimuCUBE, as it has already a place for a header to connect to other SimpleMotion products. We could solder that header there. The other axis drives could be on a IONICUBE, so this could be accomplished without any hardware major changes / new hardware.

Then it would just need a firmware to the SimuCUBE to support more axis, and a new configuration software to make it aware that there are more axises. Force scaling and adjustments would be, for simplicity and fast development effort, made just by Granity based adjustments for start.

Does the XPForce addon for XPlane support enough content? I read from it’s website, that the support in XPlane for FFB joysticks varies a lot between different aircraft.

That are great news Mika!

I am pretty new at Laminar Research, so I did contact the team to get more knowledge about the force feedback interface.

X-Plane does come with an aircraft editor. It has also features to enter some data about force feedback.

Yes, real aircrafts feel pretty different. It depends on the shape and size of the control surfaces, whether they are moved via cables, hydraulics or by electrical drives - called fly by wire. XPForce seems to simulate already a lot of effects.

As mentioned, XPForce may be a good starting point. I am waiting for more information on the X-Plane default force feedback support. Effects could improved and extended later. We can learn so much from the racing games, for example about different ground surfaces.

For our project it would be essential to know if the IONI system will be the way to go, so we can order electronics and motors and build them into the framework. As a first step it would even be thinkable to just simulate a centering spring - as we are using on our other simulator. :wink:

As mentioned above - if you are interested in this project too, I could visit you at the at the SPS/IPC Drives next week.

Mika, as far as I could find out, XPForce would be a better way to go than the X-Plane default Force Feedback effects. I ordered a simple Force Feedback joystick yesterday to test XPForce as soon as the stick arrives.

as it has already a place for a header…We could solder that header there.

Any idea what this means concerning the price and delivery time? Or could it done by someone with a little soldering experience? Also I do not feel well to solder on a new SimuCUBE myself. :wink:

Thanks and greetings,

Marcel

Hi Dosim

The pin header in in simucube right next to the power resistor(s), under the pci-e connector. Here’s an image where it can be seen:

From soldering point of view, the connector is likely to require a lot of power from the soldering iron. However, this can be circumvented by soldering e.g. single-thread wires separately to the pads. Single-thread instead of multi-thread to prevent loose threads to cause short circuits. A connector can then be soldered to the wires.

These wires can be soldered from the bottom side, so there would be a lot more space to work.

I would say this doesn’t require professional level equipment nor skills.

Kind regards,
Esa

Esa, thanks! Is it X7 with 6 pads?

Greetings,
Marcel

From firmware point of view, we are still focusing on the SimuCUBE as a steering wheel application. There are still quite a few FFB effects missing from the possible effects. Even if that connector would be soldered on, and connected to IONICUBE, we expect that we won’t have time to try to implement multiaxis FFB interface until next year.

You could, however, use a SimuCUBE and you current IONI drive (as long as it is Pro or Pro HC) as one-axis controller and evaluate FFB effects that way.