Vibration & Rumble card for Flight Sim
NOW AVAILABLE! - PLEASE
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I've been working on a wee project to provide
vibration and rumble effects for flight sim cockpits. The
result is a new Shaker card which can be used with new BFF
Shaker software and to drive separate DC motor drivers and
DC motors to generate the vibration effects.
The DIY shaker system can use low cost DC PM
motors to develop the mechanical vibrations. The input to
the system is not the audio output of the flight simulator -
instead the BFF Shaker software determines the flight
conditions directly from the sim (via FSUIPC / XPUIPC) and calculates
appropriate vibration amplitudes and frequencies for a range
of vibration components. This provides much more control
over the strength and tuning of the various vibration
The vibration effects included are:
Engine running vibrations
Engine start and stop shudders
Random runway bumps
Flap and spoiler air turbulence buffeting
Stall air turbulence buffeting effects
Landing gear extension air turbulence
Landing gear transition rumbles
Landing gear motion stop thuds
IMPORTANT: Like many of the cards and
systems on the site the shaker/rumble system is NOT a plug
'n play system. It is a project that will require careful
attention and building - please read all the technical
documentation BEFORE attempting it.
For full details of the electrical system
please read carefully the
SHKR-1 card datasheet.
The SHKR-1 card produces PWM outputs to drive
a separate Pololu motor driver card. The Pololu
provides the main electrical effort to drive the motor
vibrations. I used this driver card because its PWM output
to the motor can be updated at high enough rates and
resolutions to produce vibrations over the required
frequency range. The SHKR-1 card does not drive the
The SHKR-1 card can drive two Pololu drivers
and hence two vibration motors at the same time with the
same vibration settings.
Additionally the SHKR-1 card provides separate uni-polar PWM
outputs which can be used with some additional filtering
components to provide analogue signals for audio amplifiers.
I haven't tried this myself but check out Roland van Roy's
web page and great video tutorial for details on how he
went about it.....
All in all the SHKR-1 card provides a number
of options for driving DIY rumble systems, and together with
the software allows the rumbles and vibrations to be tuned
to suit different cockpits and aircraft and builder
Roland's rumble set up for an alternative
There are lots of possibilities for how
the motor can be mounted on the cockpit structure to
transfer the vibrations. After a few experiments I worked-up
a simple design for the electric motor - see the image
right. This may not be the best solution for your cockpit -
so be prepared to do some experimentation and tuning of the
The low cost electric scooter motor (Unite
MY1016 24V DC PM) has a simple vibration arm with a weight
I removed the existing chain sprocket from
the motor and fitted a belt pulley with a taperloc
compression fitting. The pulley is just used to allow the
taperloc bushing to be fitted - this can be drilled and
tapped with a couple of M5 threaded holes and used to attach
a 12mm steel bar as you can see from the photo. Another
pulley with taperloc bushing is fitted near the end of the
bar to act as the vibrating mass - neither pulley is
actually used to drive a belt.
I then mounted the motor on rubber mounts on
a piece of 18mm plywood. The rubber mounts allow a small
amount of vibration movement of the motor. The vibration arm
is pulled onto a simple wooden block using a strong elastic
band - a rubber pad is fitted between the arm and the block.
arrangement allows vibration of the motor casing to be
transferred through the base plate into the supporting
structure. The wooden block and rubber pad allows vibration
from the motor shaft and arm oscillation to also be
transferred into the structure. The strength of the elastic
band can be adjusted to control excessive "bounce" of the
vibrating arm/weight at higher magnitude vibration outputs.
The image left shows the unit clamped to the
frame of my office seat - for test purposes. Here's a couple
of clips showing the unit in action.
http://youtu.be/rfTRVlqTjrI - This one shows moderate
engine vibration - its tricky to see much because the engine
vibration has a small amplitude and relatively high
http://youtu.be/m2XzttgiM-8 - this clip shows a light
runway vibration - it is easier to see the vibration
shudders and bumps...
http://youtu.be/T37PgYTv4z4 - and this one shows fairly
heavy runway and engine vibration and is fairly typical of
the aircraft moving at high ground speed with high engine
power approaching take-off.
The motor I've used is a low cost electric
scooter spare and is widely available. If in time the
vibrations are strong enough to damage the motor then it is
inexpensive to replace, or relatively easy to open up for
repair if you are knowledgeable enough.....
For more information on the software see the
on-line user guide.
The BFF Shaker software drives the vibration
output of the system. It extracts live flight data from MSFS
or X-Plane and calculates the vibration amplitudes,
frequencies and mixes to send to the SHKR-1 card. The
vibration outputs change as the flight state changes.
is important to note that the vibration output is not
derived from the audio output of the flight sim as it is in
conventional rumble units. Each vibration component (engine,
runway, bumps, shudders etc) is calculated by the software
in response to live flight conditions and events. This
allows better definition of individual vibration effects and
greater control of the relative strengths of the effects.
The tuning for the vibrations is set using
the software (click image below for details). Typically each
continuous effect (eg engine running vibrations, runway
rolling vibrations etc) has a basic gain (strength) and
frequency setting. Additional settings provide control over
the mix of waves used for each effect, randomisation of
frequencies etc, Where appropriate, settings for max and min
levels and scaling effects are provided. In addition
settings are provided for one-off or repeated discrete
events such as touch-down bumps, engine start/stop shudders,
semi-random runway bumps etc.
The settings are saved in .cfg files so your
setup for particular aircraft models or types of aircraft
can be kept separate.
Pop-up help tips are provided in the software
which can be used to learn more about a specific setting.
The software can be used free of charge for
personal, non-commercial projects. For use in commercial
projects please contact me.
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