RC Sim has new keyboard controls

I was playing without a gampad trying to fly my RC simulator and noticed how horrible it was, so I rewrote the keyboard controls.
The new controls do not require a numberpad, and are as follows:
[x] [w] for 100% elevator up and down.
[a] [d] for 100% aileron left and right.
[q] [e] for 20% throttle increments.
This is much easier to operate than the old method. So for people who want to try it out without a gamepad this is your best option.
Try it out here.

Review of EteckCity ‘Measure Up’ Digital Multimeter

This is the second product that EtekCity sent me for free for my honest review as part of their EtekCitizen program.
I requested this multimeter from them because I am constantly looking for my voltmeter, and needed an extra one to leave with my RC gear. This one retails for $16.98 on amazon.ca.

Package for EtekCity Digital Multimeter
Package

I have used this quite a bit in the last 2 days. I have too many large batteries around (for my Dalek, and a wooden go kart I built ), so I decided to give them all a check as well as test some continuity on some of the circuits I have built for my Dalek. I also did some resistive measurements on some bits of RC stuff as well. So far I am happy with this multimeter, it seems to work as expected. Is has a fast settle time (unlike my old tester) and the backlight makes reading the display very easy.
EtekCity Digital Multimeter
EtekCity Digital Multimeter

EtekCity Multimeter backlight
Backlight

It feels very solid, and runs on a 9V battery. The only problem I have with it is that there is no battery cover, instead you need to take the unit apart (2 screws) to change the battery. Also it does not auto power down, so try not to forget to turn it off.
EtekCity Digital Multimeter taken apart
Disassembled for battery replacement check

Conclusion: I am pretty happy with it, it will have a permanent spot on my RC workbench.

Review of EtekCity ‘Roverbeats Bravo’ Headset (3.5mm with microphone)

So I signed up for EtekCitizen free products in exchange for honest reviews to give it a try (ie. They gave me this ‘Roverbeat Bravo’ headset for free so take my review as a paid advertisement). I recently bought a food scale from them for weighing my RC planes and components and was thrilled with the quality of the scale, so I signed up hoping to get more great quality stuff as I was looking for a gaming headset for the kids. When I received the shipment it was well packaged.

EtekCity Headset with microphone
Package

It has very decent sound quality compared to my other much more expensive headset (AKG, K99 Perception), and worked perfectly with my Windows 10 pc and google hangouts, but it definitely feels a bit cheap, the ear padding is super soft and thin and I worry that it will wear out very quickly, only time will tell.
EteckCity Headset with Microphone 3.5mm jacks
Out of the box

I am used to much higher quality audio gear, but this headset retails for $17.99 on amazon.ca so of course I am not going to find it up to par with my usual gear. However for a $17.99 price I would say it is actually a good value for money, I have given it to my kids and they have been using it for their gaming and loving it.
In conclusion: Not high end (duh, look at the price), but good value and so far it has been great for kids gaming. Happy kids = happy dad.

Ram 1500 ‘Puddle’ light fix

My 4 year old Ram 1500 mirror puddle lights failed recently, so I went to the dealer and was shocked when they wanted $74 per side plus $45 labor. I was really upset because I expected the LED’s to last the life of the vehicle, and the price was unreasonable. Since bright white LED’s cost almost nothing, I ordered a pack of 20 pre-wired 12V ready white LED’s from Amazon for $5 including shipping. After drilling 3 holes in each old light holder and soldering the wires up (Thick terminal is negative) I now have working lights that are brighter than the originals. It took me half an hour total, which is how long their mechanics supposedly would take to pop them out and back in. I posted this just to encourage anyone who can run a drill and a soldering iron to do this instead of letting the dealers take your money for such a minor job.
Dodge RAM 1500, Puddle lights on workbench with installed LEDs

Dodge RAM 1500, View of repaired and installed Puddle Light

I also got a pack of 20 Amber LED’s for the signal lights as 2 have burned out on one side. I will fix that tomorrow!

DLG gliders experiment

I recently became interested in DLG gliders after a friend showed me some YouTube videos of the Alula glider and his attempt to build one from scratch. Alula (Flight Test Review)
I built a super simplified version of the Alula and had decent success with it, able to do some slope soaring on a local hill, and also able to ‘discus launch’ it to a decent height. It is not nearly as good as a commercial plane, but I just wanted to try it out without spending over $100. Small foam board DLG The balance point is very sensitive on this wing, but by using a V-tail I was able to make it much more controllable (ie. less unintentional flipping).

I decided I had to try building a bigger DLG, so using an old carbon fiber golf club and the dimensions of a 1500mm DLG I found on the web I built this in about 2 hours. The wing is a single piece of foam board cut in half. (Parts cost was $3 for club, $1.25 for foam board, used scrap coroplast for body and tail, so I will guess another $2)
Large foam board DLG
It flies really nicely, staying in the air much longer than the small DLG, but the foam wings could not withstand my bad flying skills and broke after a hard nose landing caused by a very bad discuss launch. I replaced the foam wing with a coroplast wing, and it is now a lot heavier but still flies good and seems nearly indestructible after many very bad crashes. The coroplast body and tail slide along the ground really well and never seem to take any damage even when I nosed in hard. I am going to try to lighten the wing by drilling many holes out of the wing and covering the holes with packing tape. Here is the current iteration (weighing 584g, pretty heavy for a glider but ok for slope soaring)

Coroplast DLG weighs 586g full of holes to reduce weight

With a hard regular hand launch it will glide over 50 meters. It is also extremely tough, having cartwheeled and nosed-in a few times with no damage. I haven’t gotten very good at doing the discus launch yet, I think that without dihedral it is almost impossible.
Building these two planes has been a lot of fun, can’t wait to try slope soaring it.

RC Simulator upgraded to three.js r74

WebGL RC Flight simulator view of landing strip with Flying Stick model selected
I got tired of seeing all the three.js warnings and errors in the flight sim, so I upgraded to r74 and fixed a few bugs caused by the upgrade. I also added more trees around the flight field and changed the aircraft weapons:

  • Gun1 is now smaller bullets and fast rate of fire
  • Gun2 is the old gun1 with a slow rate of fire
  • Bomb1 is the same
  • Added Bomb2 as a bigger sphere with a slow rate of fire

RC Simulator finally has a decent Skybox

Sample of Skybox now used in my WebGL RC Flight Simulator
I would like to thank Heiko Irrgang at 93-interactive.com for posting some really nice skybox’s that are free to use. I have used his ‘TropicalSunnyDay’ Skybox in my RC flight simulator. Looks so much nicer than the old one I hacked together. I just did not have time to do a good job on it, thanks again!

Other Changes:

  • Moved a bunch of the more commonly used features onto the main page with simple icons to click. Much easier to hand launch with 1 click!
  • Reduced the load time a bit by using a fixed terrain instead of randomly generating one on every page load. Hopefully it is a little quicker to load now.
  • Use the arrows keys to move around the flying field.

Python Article on Unit testing

python One of the difficulties in learning a new language is re-learning how to do some common things like unit-testing. Today I was referred to a great article on Python and ‘mocking’, and it was interesting enough that I decided I would post a link to it. www.toptal.com/python/an-introduction-to-mocking-in-python These guys at toptal.com have a blog with quite a few interesting articles on software development, I will be checking their blog regularly for new articles.

RC Flight Sim Physics engine Update

RonsRCSimStickTrainer
So I was just sitting around this weekend, and out of nowhere I realized that I had a flaw in the RC Flight Simulator Physics engine. I wasn’t even thinking about the simulator, I was thinking about my last RC flight and how tight a turn I could pull with my FT-Bushwacker without snapping the wings in half (grin), which lead me to think about the simulator. Funny how the brain works!
I realized that my inertial tensor was being calculated on the aircraft before I had shifted the model coordinates to ensure the c.g. was at coordinate (0,0,0). I had thought that the inertial tensor calcs would not be affected by that originally, oops. After writing a small function to shift the model coordinates, I tried flying a few aircraft and it made a huge difference. The rotation seemed much more realistic and I was able to reduce the rotational damping factor I had been using (to prevent infinite rotation speed) and still have stable calculations. Right now I have cleaned up the code and some of the hacks that I made to some of the model parameters to get them to fly realistically. Some models still do not fly at all realistically, but most are better. The FT-VersaWing still flys incorrectly, oh well, a work in progress…