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Home brewed radio gear

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OzFlyer24/12/2019 01:25:47
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7 forum posts
6 photos

Hi all. Decided I had to subscribe to RCM&E, and found this forum as a result. Some very interesting discussions.

I ran a hobby shop in Melbourne (Australia) for a few years, but ended up closing the doors as I could not compete with online retailers. It was supposed to be my retirement income and something to do in my autumn years, but now I'm now properly retired, and have a boatload of aeromodelling gear (ex shop stock) in my garage, enough to keep me going for a few years yet.

Anyway, I do a bit of flying, but my main passion more recently has been making my own transmitter. I have always been a mad single stick fan, and flew one for years back in the day ('70's and '80's). Nobody makes them any more of course. The last one I heard of was actually an Australian company called Silvertone. But their gear was very expensive, and proudly computer free, so not really competitive. I don't think they sell R/C gear any more, they are more involved with UAVs for commercial applications.

I still have my old Heathkit 8 channel single stick, and attempted to fit a Microstar 2000 in it some years ago, without success. It just got too hard and I gave up on it. Now with Arduinos and other cheap microcontroller boards life is a lot easier.

I have one SS tranny working, an Ace 5 channel of unknown vintage. I replaced the RF module with a Frsky Hack module and flew that successfully. Then I replaced the encoder board with an Arduino Nano that I programmed myself, and that now has many flights to its credit. Runs like a Swiss watch.

I also have some other old SS Txs, including two of what I consider to be the Rolls Royce of SS Txs, one Futaba 8SS-AP (aero version) and one 8SS-HP (heli version). Both have stick units that are derived from the original Chidgey stick (Rolls Royce of sticks). Both in pristine condition. I have a third that I hacked mercilessly trying to shoehorn Taranis electronics into it. Again it all became too hard and it has been relegated to the unfinished projects box. The stick unit from it, however, is now part of my latest project. My plan though is to convert both the Futabas to 2.4G, but keep them as original as possible. So I will be hiding the screen in the back, under the existing cover. Maybe.

I could never find an appropriate sized box for a transmitter, and my attempts to make one (from aluminium) usually ended in an unsatisfactory state (read complete cockup). Even with professional help. Then I discovered 3d printing. I've designed and printed several prototypes, and I now almost have a working SS Tx. Futaba stick, Taranis electronics, 3d printed sliders, and trim switches from the Taranis. I've got it to the point where everything fits in the box, but I have to extend the length of some of the connecting wires to the controls (sliders and switches). My soldering skills are hobby level at best, so I'm approaching that particular job with a bit of trepidation.

Currently trying to make my own trim switches, as my next Tx will not have a donor Taranis. The nebulous plan living in the back of my head is to use a Quanum 3 axis stick from HK (regrettably discontinued now, luckily I bought two when they were available), 32 bit microcontroller board (probably ST or Arduino Due, I've got a few different ones), Nextion colour touch screen, FrSky 2.4G hack module, home brew sliders, toggle switches from local electronics shop, and 3d printed box. And, of course, home brew encoder firmware. And yes, I confess I do have a bit of a penchant for doing things the hard way!

I'm also toying with the idea of using raw 2.4G tranceivers (available from Banggood for about $AUD4, or about GBP2.1). Tons of range, some experimenters have achieved 1.6Km with them. And straight digital, each frame can contain up to 32 bytes of payload data. Frame rates well in excess of 100 frames/sec are, in theory at least, easily achievable, so even if half the frames were dropped you still get the same frame rate as most modern transmitters have anyway. And not a PPM signal in sight.

Well, this turned out to be a bit longer than I thought it was going to be. Apologies for the War and Peace.

Cheers, Ian

Chris Bott - Moderator24/12/2019 09:51:47
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Moderator
6707 forum posts
1392 photos
1 articles

Hi Ian and welcome to the forum.

That all sounds really interesting. You'll find some like minded friends here, to be sure.

kc24/12/2019 10:03:29
6207 forum posts
169 photos

There has been lots about converting TX in RCME over the last few years and as a subscriber you should be able to access the back issues online here on the forum if you have not already seen them.

Don Fry24/12/2019 10:41:21
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4385 forum posts
52 photos

Welcome. I've just put a load of sticks on, to start the woodburner. Not the same sort of sticks I expect. Waterlogged, damp and miserable in Europe.

Colin Carpenter24/12/2019 12:05:23
600 forum posts
35 photos

Welcome ! Fascinating stuff !! Used to enjoy the reviews of radio sets back in the 70's ! Keep us up with progress please ! Colin

Mike Blandford24/12/2019 13:22:28
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573 forum posts
22 photos

You might have a look at the open source firmware used on many radios er9x/erskyTx and openTx.

er9x, in particular, runs on AVR processors.

Mike

Martin_K24/12/2019 14:45:52
128 forum posts

Interesting post Ian,

I am fairly new to RC aircraft and had to look up what a 'single stick' TX is. I recently changed from flying Rudder/Elevator only models using the right stick on a mode 2 radio to a model with ailerons. It is proving a struggle to force myself to use the rudder on the left stick!

I like the idea of single stick - consistent operation across a range of models.

Peter Miller24/12/2019 15:23:25
avatar
10491 forum posts
1246 photos
10 articles

I used to have a World Engines single stick cuddle box.

I liked it a lot.

John Tee24/12/2019 16:19:14
807 forum posts
65 photos

Fleet Control Systems did one as well

Max Z24/12/2019 16:30:05
avatar
544 forum posts
245 photos

Hi Ian, you may be interested in this specialized forum: http://www.mode-zero.uk

Edited By Max Z on 24/12/2019 16:31:00

Edited By Max Z on 24/12/2019 16:32:25

Barnstormer 5224/12/2019 21:20:40
avatar
63 forum posts
7 photos
Posted by Ian Harris 7 on 24/12/2019 01:25:47:

Hi all. Decided I had to subscribe to RCM&E, and found this forum as a result. Some very interesting discussions.

I ran a hobby shop in Melbourne (Australia) for a few years, but ended up closing the doors as I could not compete with online retailers. It was supposed to be my retirement income and something to do in my autumn years, but now I'm now properly retired, and have a boatload of aeromodelling gear (ex shop stock) in my garage, enough to keep me going for a few years yet.

Anyway, I do a bit of flying, but my main passion more recently has been making my own transmitter. I have always been a mad single stick fan, and flew one for years back in the day ('70's and '80's). Nobody makes them any more of course. The last one I heard of was actually an Australian company called Silvertone. But their gear was very expensive, and proudly computer free, so not really competitive. I don't think they sell R/C gear any more, they are more involved with UAVs for commercial applications.

I still have my old Heathkit 8 channel single stick, and attempted to fit a Microstar 2000 in it some years ago, without success. It just got too hard and I gave up on it. Now with Arduinos and other cheap microcontroller boards life is a lot easier.

I have one SS tranny working, an Ace 5 channel of unknown vintage. I replaced the RF module with a Frsky Hack module and flew that successfully. Then I replaced the encoder board with an Arduino Nano that I programmed myself, and that now has many flights to its credit. Runs like a Swiss watch.

I also have some other old SS Txs, including two of what I consider to be the Rolls Royce of SS Txs, one Futaba 8SS-AP (aero version) and one 8SS-HP (heli version). Both have stick units that are derived from the original Chidgey stick (Rolls Royce of sticks). Both in pristine condition. I have a third that I hacked mercilessly trying to shoehorn Taranis electronics into it. Again it all became too hard and it has been relegated to the unfinished projects box. The stick unit from it, however, is now part of my latest project. My plan though is to convert both the Futabas to 2.4G, but keep them as original as possible. So I will be hiding the screen in the back, under the existing cover. Maybe.

I could never find an appropriate sized box for a transmitter, and my attempts to make one (from aluminium) usually ended in an unsatisfactory state (read complete cockup). Even with professional help. Then I discovered 3d printing. I've designed and printed several prototypes, and I now almost have a working SS Tx. Futaba stick, Taranis electronics, 3d printed sliders, and trim switches from the Taranis. I've got it to the point where everything fits in the box, but I have to extend the length of some of the connecting wires to the controls (sliders and switches). My soldering skills are hobby level at best, so I'm approaching that particular job with a bit of trepidation.

Currently trying to make my own trim switches, as my next Tx will not have a donor Taranis. The nebulous plan living in the back of my head is to use a Quanum 3 axis stick from HK (regrettably discontinued now, luckily I bought two when they were available), 32 bit microcontroller board (probably ST or Arduino Due, I've got a few different ones), Nextion colour touch screen, FrSky 2.4G hack module, home brew sliders, toggle switches from local electronics shop, and 3d printed box. And, of course, home brew encoder firmware. And yes, I confess I do have a bit of a penchant for doing things the hard way!

I'm also toying with the idea of using raw 2.4G tranceivers (available from Banggood for about $AUD4, or about GBP2.1). Tons of range, some experimenters have achieved 1.6Km with them. And straight digital, each frame can contain up to 32 bytes of payload data. Frame rates well in excess of 100 frames/sec are, in theory at least, easily achievable, so even if half the frames were dropped you still get the same frame rate as most modern transmitters have anyway. And not a PPM signal in sight.

Well, this turned out to be a bit longer than I thought it was going to be. Apologies for the War and Peace.

Cheers, Ian

Ian

You are really putting the 'E' back into RCM & E

Merry Christmas

Geoff (Harris)

ken anderson.24/12/2019 21:32:13
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8518 forum posts
773 photos

welcome from me Ian...

ken anderson..ne..1..welcome dept.

Engine Doctor25/12/2019 12:56:54
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2383 forum posts
29 photos

"Putting the E back into RCM&E". Does anyone remember when RCM&E was a small A5 sized magazine ? I was a school boy back then ,must have been 1959/60 ish. The mag always had aero, boats and some electronic DIY projects to whet your appetite. Can anyone remember the four channel TX ( 2 channel by proportional standards) that used a tobacco tin for a case. I built it as we had a local components shop near Clapham junction where I could get all the bits . Even made the PCB using Humbrol paint as the mask and Ferric Chloride that I bought at the local Chemist and didn't need a parent with me ! The only thing I couldn't get back then was a small telescopic aerial so used a bit of piano wire. It worked but  affected range and eventually the TX was binned as I managed to find a second hand REP Tri Tone Tx. With a ten channel reed bank it was possible to get about five channels using a combination of buttons.   The tobacco tin TX did work but only at about half the length of Clapham Common pond !

Good educational mag, it's a pity times have changed so much

Edited By Engine Doctor on 25/12/2019 13:09:50

Edited By Engine Doctor on 25/12/2019 13:10:56

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