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Helicopters XP12 - Tips-Tricks-Advice

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On 11/21/2023 at 11:57 PM, Murmur said:

Some advices from experience:

.use minimum null zone (hence a quality joystick is advised);

.joysticks with a strong centering spring make control more difficult (and less realistic). A joystick with a weak spring or, even better, with a removable spring would be better. Or a force feedback joystick, to be used unpowered (with no centering force);

.in the flight control menu of X-Plane, set a specific profile for helicopters, with max linearity on all 3 axes; also, it may help to limit max deflection for all axes from 100% down to 70-80%, so to have less sensitive controls;

.helicopters require continuous, fine and smooth control, so be sure to have high FPS, I'd say 40+ but higher is even better; reduce rendering settings if needed;

.for the same reason, use a very wide FOV; I'd suggest something around 100 degrees, at least; it will help detect small movements with your peripheral vision and react to them;

.small helicopters are actually harder to fly because they are very sensitive and with little inertia; a larger helicopter might be easier to practice with.

 

Great list!

I will add increasing the Sim Rate in XP settings a few notches does wonders as well.

A helo with SAS (stability augmentation system) can be a great "trainer". X-Trident Bell 412 is a smooth and stable example.

p.s.: echoing the recommendation to reduce control Saturation to *at least* 70%, esp when getting started. It will GREATLY reduce the natural tendency to over-control.

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Over the past few flights, I found that one method to decrease the frustration in learning to fly helicopters on a PC is picking one with a bit of mass (and thus inertia) and trim capability. While I can't even control the default R22 because it's a paper leaf in a hurricane, I manage to adequately hover taxi the Bo-105 because it has thrice the mass and thus doesn't run away at the slightest control input. And trimming takes out the requirement for constant control deflections, much improving control.

 

Now I'm eyeing JRX' Bell 407 because cockpit visibility seems to be better. How does it handle compared to the 105?

Edited by Bjoern

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Yep. Even with joystick control curves turned down and in VR, that R22 persists as a wild horse for me. The default Sikorsky is fun to putter around in though.


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLK83gbQSCA&t=1s&ab_channel=Enigmaskop

 

in German only maybe you can fin a way to translated it ..


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On 2/6/2024 at 7:57 AM, Bjoern said:

Now I'm eyeing JRX' Bell 407 because cockpit visibility seems to be better. How does it handle compared to the 105?

If visibility is what you're after, then you want either Gazelle or Llama. B407 feels claustrophobic by comparison (though I love it so).

I can't say enough good things about the Llama. And if it's a bit too nimble for your taste, it has built-in stability adjustment.

https://store.x-plane.org/SA-315B-Lama-XP12_p_1628.html

p.s.: There's a good freeware B407 on the .org (in the form of an OH-58) if you want a quick demo before you shell out for payware.

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11 hours ago, UrgentSiesta said:

If visibility is what you're after, then you want either Gazelle or Llama. B407 feels claustrophobic by comparison (though I love it so).

I can't say enough good things about the Llama. And if it's a bit too nimble for your taste, it has built-in stability adjustment.

https://store.x-plane.org/SA-315B-Lama-XP12_p_1628.html

p.s.: There's a good freeware B407 on the .org (in the form of an OH-58) if you want a quick demo before you shell out for payware.

The Gazelle is the same category as the 105, with less utility. The Lama is too small and slow.

Good point regarding the OH-58.


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4 hours ago, Bjoern said:

The Gazelle is the same category as the 105, with less utility. The Lama is too small and slow.

Good point regarding the OH-58.

Ah, well your stated criteria were better visibility and handling in a light helicopter...

If you need greater load and IFR/foul weather, the AB 412 might be your Goldilocks addon.

The visibility is good but not great.

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22 hours ago, UrgentSiesta said:

Ah, well your stated criteria were better visibility and handling in a light helicopter...

No, not quite. My question was actually about how it handles. Better visibility was just an assumption.

Performed a few laps with the OH-58D, with and without stability augmentation. If the 407 handles anything like it, I don't think I will have any issues. Thanks again for the hint.

 

 

22 hours ago, UrgentSiesta said:

If you need greater load and IFR/foul weather, the AB 412 might be your Goldilocks addon.

Looking at some videos...well, maybe once I want to add fuel system and other systems management to my workload. 😅

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7950X3D + 6900 XT + 64 GB + Linux | 4800H + RTX2060 + 32 GB + Linux
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I was struggling with helis a lot, practically in all sims. Firstly I found out that almost every helicopter is way over-sensitive to control inputs, that was the main issue. I was usually solving that by reducing extreme deadzone by 50 to 70%, which translates to 30 to 50% of usable axis travel (2x to 3x less sensitive to inputs). But another issue arise, is that there is no enough pitch down travel so I could accelerate properly, or in a best case, I had to push my joystick all the way forward to reach cruising speeds, which was of course a no no, completely not ergonomic. At the time I was using T16000M without springs (so it could act like a cyclic more or less) and later on VKB Gladiator NXT, also without springs, but dampers would keep it where you left it, it the grip would not fall down like in the case of T16000M. But even then, controlling the helis with VKB Gladiator NXT was also properly challenging, because inputs were needed to be extremely tiny and precise. 

Then a week ago I thought "wait, why I shouldn't try to attach some type of DIY cyclic to T16000M?". And here it is, completely simply DIY cyclic made out of PVC water pipes, and connected by melting.

spacer.png

Looks funny and awkward simply by looking at it, but believe me, it completely transformed my helicopter flying experience! I can control them now properly, still small control inputs, but now I can hover, before I would over-control, roll over and crash. It was a real struggle. I don't even touch the sensitivity curves and extreme deadzones, all is at default 100% axis travel, and yet much more precise, smooth, and not gonna even mention the immersion factor. It feels like controlling a real heli, especially in VR, no kidding. Can't imagine how much I would be immersed  if I get the real proper cyclic hardware that costs 500+ bucks.
And yes, after a long time, I can now properly hover, take-off smoothly without any crazy drama, and land without crashing. I still practice as sometimes I need 2-3 approaches to land properly, but again, before I would just crash the heli and quit the sim while looking at the flames lol.
Now I'm running v1.2 of the cyclic (the pic is v1.0), with shortened main tube for less axis travel, and better pipe connections. Also when the main pipe is longer like on the picture, it tends to bend when you rest your hand on it.

So, if you have a bit of spare time, and even if you don't have any PVC pipes, go to the store near you and get them. You will transform you heli sim experience. I've seen people disconnecting the whole stick from the base, attach the grip to the top of the cyclic, and soldering long wires from the base all the way to the top. That is the ultimate solution, but I don't have patience to do that now to be honest, and I'm not a fan of soldering. 🙂
I've seen examples of cyclics made of bicycle handles, metal tubing, etc etc. The sky is the limit. 🙂

Edited by Pe11e
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Current system: ASUS PRIME Z690-P D4, Intel 12900k, 32GB RAM @ 3600mhz, Zotac RTX 3090 Trinity, M2 SSD, Oculus Quest 2.

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For some reason, I don't find the 16000M's stiffness much of a hindrance for flying helicopters. Maybe because of arm strength and keeping the stick constantly on the move. The zip tie mod is attractive nonetheless.

The Thrustmaster rudder pedals were much worse. Only after dismounting the heel rests, removing a centering spring, greasing the rails a bit, increasing positioning distance for a shallower leg angle (i.e. more leverage) and learning to move the pedals with my forefoot, I managed to obtain any degree of fine control required for yaw.

On the TWCS, the only things I did were decreasing the friction with the adjustment screw and greasing the rails a little. It's enough for passable collective control.


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My add-ons from my FS9/FSX days

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1 hour ago, Bjoern said:

For some reason, I don't find the 16000M's stiffness much of a hindrance for flying helicopters. Maybe because of arm strength and keeping the stick constantly on the move. The zip tie mod is attractive nonetheless.

The Thrustmaster rudder pedals were much worse. Only after dismounting the heel rests, removing a centering spring, greasing the rails a bit, increasing positioning distance for a shallower leg angle (i.e. more leverage) and learning to move the pedals with my forefoot, I managed to obtain any degree of fine control required for yaw.

On the TWCS, the only things I did were decreasing the friction with the adjustment screw and greasing the rails a little. It's enough for passable collective control.

It's not the stiffness only, it's mostly the short axis travel in a default configuration. Also, real helicopter cyclic doesn't tilt near as much as the joystick grip does, but that is more on the immersion/technical side. Springs were removed simply because real cyclic doesn't have any, and on top it makes T16000M more controllable, or better to say - more smooth on tiny movements. I found my T16000M center detent pretty strong, so let's say I needed more strength to "un-stick" it from the center, causing over-controlling the helis.

For rudder pedals I use good old Logitech G25 racing pedals, adjusted via vJoy and Universal Control Remapper app, to bind accelerator and clutch pedal to one axis. Not the ideal solution, as pedals are not connected physically, but I'm managing to control helis and airplanes pretty well. The biggest issue with this setup is that I have to use the brake pedal for the, yep, braking, and it's kinda hard to slow the aircraft down when you have your feet on both other pedals.🙂

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Edited by Pe11e

Current system: ASUS PRIME Z690-P D4, Intel 12900k, 32GB RAM @ 3600mhz, Zotac RTX 3090 Trinity, M2 SSD, Oculus Quest 2.

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