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Roman Design

My DIY Motion Platform for MSFS - hyper VR for $350

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Some of you may know me from the Canadian airports I released, but now I just want to share a motion simulator project I just completed. I recently became interested adding some motion to VR, but I quickly learned that commercially available rigs are very expensive, so entry cost is too high, and there is no motion compensation solution that works well with WMR OpenXR (Reverb G2), rendering some solutions unsuitable. So that was disappointing. Then I learned that people are building those rigs themselves. I read about that and I was hooked. Research followed, parts were ordered, and soon I started building.

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When I finished the initial tuning and tried it in VR on my HP Reverb G2 for the first time, I was speechless. The result surpassed my expectation. Similar to switching to VR, this is another moment of

OH MY GOD!!! This is what VR is meant to be. I can never go back now.

This is what I wanted, the project is so worth a few days’ work invested in it and more. I can never go back from VR+motion for flight simulation now, that’s official! The level of realism and immersion is like going from pancake to VR again.

Now that this rig is completed (for now at least), here’s a detailed video with the flight demo, hardware and software walkthrough. Watch the beginning if you are interested in the concept, and all the details follow the demo, for those interested.

  • DIY 2DOF Motion Platform for VR Flight Simulators
  • DIY 2DOF Motion Platform for VR Flight Simulators
  • Two 12V motors: 180 WATTS (.24 HP), 50:1 gear ratio, 60NM torque
  • Arduino Uno R3 with customized SMC3 firmware
  • IBT2 motor drivers
  • FlyPT Mover software (free)
  • DIY vibration transducers connected to SimShaker for Aviators (free) + Sound Module (paid)
  • HP 750W power supply
  • Modded Saitek/Logitech yoke
  • Custom 3D-printed VR dual encoder control box with trim wheel
  • Reverb G2 WMR HMD
  • Construction is mostly wood, with DIY universal joint made of 4 pillow block bearings
  • Repurposed office chair - in addition to being free, it’s actually closer to real GA and commercial aircraft chairs than most gaming/racing chairs which are modeled after car racing seats.
  • Designed with a possibility to add another motor for yaw/traction loss in future development

 

Here’s a summary:

Pancake: you are looking at a plane that you are flying. Fully disconnected.
VR: you ARE INSIDE the plane that you are flying. (waiting for VR controller support 2 to actually INTERACT with the plane you are flying in 3D, instead of clicking a 2D control representation with a mouse).
Motion rig + VR you ARE INSIDE and FEEL LIKE YOU’RE INSIDE the airplane.

It really affected the way I fly - much more like in real airplane I avoided sudden control movements, steep turns and hard landings (other than for testing) and tried to fly smooth, so I won’t be jerked around. It got my flying much closer to realistic instantly. The difference is between knowing you shouldn’t make sudden movements but not feeling anything when you do, and actually feeling everything you do with your controls. And a hard landing would really kick your butt hard!

It’s just 2DOF, but this is another level of immersion. This is amazing, I was grinning and laughing during my first test flight. When I stopped after a hard emergency landing, I just started laughing for a minute like an word not allowed, and couldn’t stop.

Edited by Roman Design
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 CYOW  Ottawa International Airport [Ottawa Canada]
 CYKZ  Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport [Toronto Canada]
 CNC3  Brampton-Caledon Airport [Toronto Canada]
Available now at my website FlightSimulation.RomanDesign.ca +4 Free Scenery Packs

CYOW-Ottawa-sig.jpgCYKZ-Toronto-Buttonville-sig.jpgCNC3-Brampton-sig.jpg

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3DOF is more difficult and more expensive to build. Otherwise the more degrees of freedom - the better. 6DOF is best, but 6 powerful motors or actuators will cost thousands. I honestly feel there's more than enough motion to feel realistic. I was planning to add yaw motor, but I'm not sure I want to do that anymore, I think this is so great I'll leave it as is.


 CYOW  Ottawa International Airport [Ottawa Canada]
 CYKZ  Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport [Toronto Canada]
 CNC3  Brampton-Caledon Airport [Toronto Canada]
Available now at my website FlightSimulation.RomanDesign.ca +4 Free Scenery Packs

CYOW-Ottawa-sig.jpgCYKZ-Toronto-Buttonville-sig.jpgCNC3-Brampton-sig.jpg

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This is absolutely genius and I’ve been wanting to build something like this for a long time. I can only imagine how good it must feel to fly using this and VR.

I wish there was a company that sells home-use 2/3DOF motion platform rigs like these that are super modular for incredible immersion and ease of use, at a low enough price point for it to gain popularity in the wider flight simming community. Until then, I believe going the DIY route is the best way. 

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On 10/31/2021 at 10:12 AM, FAZZ3 said:

This is absolutely genius and I’ve been wanting to build something like this for a long time. I can only imagine how good it must feel to fly using this and VR.

I wish there was a company that sells home-use 2/3DOF motion platform rigs like these that are super modular for incredible immersion and ease of use, at a low enough price point for it to gain popularity in the wider flight simming community. Until then, I believe going the DIY route is the best way. 

Thanks! There are several off-the-shelf rigs available, but the price are quite steep. Just the delivery charges often cost more than my whole build 🙂 

Since this video I've replaced the old Saitek yoke with a DIY Boeing-style pendular yoke (a huge difference, feels amazing!) that also converts to a joystick, and a Boeing-style 3d-printed 8-axis throttle quadrant - now I got speed brake, 2 throttle levers with TO/GA and A/T disconnect buttons, and 2 full axes of reverser levers, prop and fuel levers (for GA aircraft) and a flap lever. Few switches too.

I'm now building a left-side HOTAS throttle that converts to heli collective control, and will build a switch/gear/button box to extend my VR control box. When all done, I will make a new post and video of the whole rig.

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 CYOW  Ottawa International Airport [Ottawa Canada]
 CYKZ  Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport [Toronto Canada]
 CNC3  Brampton-Caledon Airport [Toronto Canada]
Available now at my website FlightSimulation.RomanDesign.ca +4 Free Scenery Packs

CYOW-Ottawa-sig.jpgCYKZ-Toronto-Buttonville-sig.jpgCNC3-Brampton-sig.jpg

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