7. Important Notes on Trim
UPDATE - July '17 Support for the
BFF Motorised Trim Wheel has been added in V1.321+ of the CL
software. For more details see Appendix I.
The trim system in conventional flight sims
tends to be a bit peculiar to the needs of control with a spring
centred joystick. These sticks have only one position in which there
is zero net force – ie in the middle where their centering springs
put them. In order to trim the controls so that the aircraft will
fly straight and level with the joystick always in this position it
is necessary for the flight sim to, in effect, adjust the flight
control surface position (but not the stick position) when the trim
is adjusted. So for example adjusting the pitch trim with the
joystick stationary at its zero force position will cause the
aircraft pitch angle to change.
The BFF CL system uses its own
trim potentiometers (or trim buttons) and these in the default
settings are entirely
separate from the flight sim's trim system. In the BFF CL system
in GA Mode (see Tab 5 Item 17) adjusting the pitch trim when the elevator control axis is held at a
constant position results in a variation of the force level on the
elevator control – not in a change in pitch attitude of the aircraft
(which remains under the control of the elevator position). This
allows the flight controls to be trimmed to a force balanced state
at any position and to ensure the pitch attitude is controlled
solely by the elevator control axis position.
In this scheme the flight sim's
trim controls should NOT be used, because doing so effectively
adjusts the aerodynamic zero position of the plane's flight control
surfaces away from the zero position of the FFB flight controls. Not
using the flight sim's trim system should not be a problem as there
is usually no need to do so during manual flight when you have external trim pots
or buttons connected to the CL system. However a problem does arise
in that the sim's Auto Pilot implementation is likely to use the
pitch trim when controlling altitude / climb rate – and when the AP
is disengaged the FS trim is left at a non-zero position and the
control surface / flight control zero positions will be left out of
To overcome this the CL software
monitors for AP disengage events and when it detects one it
automatically returns the flight sim pitch trim to zero.
NOTE The CL system trim is
reflective of trim systems in GA aircraft with reversible controls.
More recent versions of the CL software introduced a Heavy Jet Mode
(Tab 5 Item 18) in which the Elevator axis trim behaves differently
- see Appendix D for more details.
Most settings for the trim input
method are made in the Configuration Manager Tab 7. where they can
be adjusted. The CL system operating mode is set in Tab 5.
Tab 5 Items 1, 2 & 3 allow
input methods to be set independently for each trim axis.
This allows a mixture of potentiometer and button inputs to be used
for the trim inputs. Eg Elevator can be set to use the button
settings, whilst the aileron can be set to use potentiometer inputs.
Items 5, 6 & 7 set the axis
letter on the pilot's joystick used for elevator, aileron and rudder
trim potentiometer inputs in that order (usually R, U and V).
Item 4 allows a different
joystick number to be specified for trim potentiometer input if the
pilot's joystick is not to be used. In this case axes X, Y, and Z
could also be used on this joystick.
Item 8 allows a joystick number
to be specified for trim button inputs as an alternative to
potentiometer inputs; and Items 9 to 14 specify the trim button
numbers on that joystick.
Indicator Output Options
A number of options for driving
trim indicators have been provided. These are also set in Tab 5.
Items 20 to 23 in Tab 5 provide settings for the Pololu Servo Card serial output which
can be used to drive trim indicators. RC Servos on channels 1, 2 and
3 of the Pololu card will show the trim positions for elevator,
aileron and rudder axes respectively. Item 20 sets the update
frequency to the servo card in number of background process loops (1
for each loop, 3 for every 3rd loop etc), Item 21 sets the COM port,
Item 22 sets the baud rate and Item 23 sets a scaler which can be
used to adjust the servo arm movement (1.0 for full scale, 0.5 for
half scale etc, giving a -ve value will invert the servo movement).
To use the more recent Pololu
Maestro range of servo cards give the Item 20 setting a -ve
value (-3, -5 etc). This will output the CL trim positions in Pololu
simple 8bit format (V1.07 & V1.15 background) to servo channels 1, 2
& 3 to be read by a single Maestro card on the specified COM port.
For Maestro controllers it is the "Command" COM port for card that
should be set in Item 21.
The 8bit format allows different
mid-position and working range settings for a servo to be made using
the Pololu Maestro Control Center software - see its Channel
Special Elevator Trim Indicators
Tab 5 Items 17, 18 & 19 provide
an alternative elevator trim indicator servo position range mapping
to those provided by the the Maestro card.
Three mapping points A, B and C
set in Items 17 to 19
can be used to configure the operating range of the RC servo which
drives the elevator trim position indicator (if it is active). Point
B adjustment allows an asymmetrical mid point to be defined.
The effect is to alter the apparent indicated trim position to
better suit individual trim indicator hardware.
The respective default pulse lengths for the mapping points A, B & C
are 1000, 1500 & 2000 uS. These will map the normal full working
range on most RC servos to the CL system's internal elevator trim
position range. The defaults will show the mid or neutral trim
position (ie the elevator trim tab position at which zero elevator
hinge moment adjustment is applied) at half way on the servo's
Please note this mapping adjusts the indicator servo's position only
- it has NO effect on the CL system's internal trim position
register used to calculate trim related force adjustments. The
elevator trim position register is tied to the associated
game-controller joystick axis position, or to the trim button
activity when button input is active.
Mapping point A is the RC
servo pulse length which maps to the CL system's elevator
trim MINIMUM position.
Default is 1000us (1.0ms). MUST be a value between 1000 and 2000 us.
Mapping point B is the RC servo pulse length which
maps to the CL system's elevator trim NEUTRAL position.
Default is 1500us (1.5ms). MUST be a value between mapping point A
and point C.
Mapping point C is the RC
servo pulse length which maps to the CL system's elevator
trim MAXIMUM position.
Default is 2000us (2.0ms). MUST be a value between 1000 and 2000 us.
Example: Setting mapping points A,
B & C to 1400, 1500, 2000 respectively will cause the indicator servo to go to
the 1.4ms position at minimum trim, to 1.5ms position at neutral
trim and 2.0ms position at maximum trim. This sets a non
symmetrical indicator range with neutral showing at about 1/6th full
The Pololu software is useful here
for identifying the servo pulse lengths associated with desired
positions on the external indicator hardware. See its Status tab.
Special Elevator Trim FSUIPC
The CL software can be instructed
to write its trim positions to custom FSUIPC offsets. Parameters Tab
5 Item 22 - Use_FSTrim and Tab 5 Item 26 - Cust_TLoc are relevant.
The trim positions are written in
the same format as the standard FS trim positions (see offset 0BC0)
- ie 2byte values in the range -16383 to +16383.
To enable the data write set Item 22 - Use_FSTrim=-1
To specify the custom FSUIPC offset at which the 6 byte data write
starts set Item 26 - Cust_TLoc(=0x66FA).
Offset 0x66FA is the default and sets the write to
the last 6 bytes of the available offsets assigned by Pete Dowson
for user applications. If you are already using these custom offsets
then you can change the target offset by changing the Cust_TLoc
parameter. Note: 6 consecutive free bytes are required to store the 3
x 2byte values for elevator, aileron and rudder trim positions. It
is generally NOT a good idea to write to offsets already assigned to
other FS parameters....
The values are updated approximately every 5 sim
The values can be used to drive external trim
indictor hardware by reading them using the usual FSUIPC API and
processing as required.
NOTE: writing the CL trim positions to CUSTOM FSUIPC
offsets has NO effect on the FS internal trim settings.
7.2 Other Trim Options
In the CL software's default
configuration (GA Mode) it is CL trim that is active and the flight simulator
internal trim should be disabled. On its startup the CL software
automatically sets the FS trims to zero by default, and also on FS
AP disengage events.
Tab 4 Item 11 - APF_Trim_Zero allows the FSX internal elevator trim to be set and held at a position other
than zero when the CL software is active. The value is in the FSUIPC
offset 0BC0 data range – ie +/- 16383 where 0 is mid. It's default
value is zero.
Setting a non zero value can
produce a fixed shift to the position of the elevator controls. Some
experimentation may be required.
Tab 5 Item 22 - Use_FSTrim can be used to
disable the CL trim system and return trim control to the FS
internal trim system.
Set Item 22 - Use_FSTrim=2 to do
this. This will produce a different trim feel response in the
controls however. When FS trim is active trim is achieved by
applying trim input and moving the control axis position too the
zero force position at mid-stroke. When CL trim is active trim is
achieved by applying trim input which moves the zero force position
too the control axis position. These two behaviours will feel quite
See also Heavy Jet Mode (Tab 5
Item 18) in which the Elevator axis trim behaves differently to the
other two control axes - see Appendix D
for more details.
Elevator auto-trim direction
In the v1.07 release an elevator
auto-trim direction indicator output has been added. This also
functions as a auto-trim adjustment feature when trim button input
It is activated and controlled
using Tab 7 Item 16 setting. The setting is
the elevator force dead band amplitude above which the auto trim
direction indicator outputs a signal that a trim adjustment is
This feature is used to allow the CL elevator control to be kept
closer to correct force balance condition whilst AP following is
active so that the AP disconnect procedure is smoother in some
For systems using elevator trim POTENTIOMETER input..... The auto
trim direction indicator is available on Pololu maestro servo
channels 4 & 5 when they are set as digital outputs (use the Pololu
software). High output on a pin indicates the direction in which an
auto-trim system should move the trim pot in order to keep the
ELEVATOR net force calculation at near zero whilst AP following is
active. Active when maestro servo output is active and AP following
For systems using elevator trim BUTTON input..... In this case the
CL software uses the trim direction indicators internally and
automatically adjusts the elevator trim setting whilst AP following
is active. When this is active you should see the elevator trim
position indicator in the Show_Conts window move
automatically whilst AP following is active and the elevator control
position changes. It is analogous to the aircraft automatically
adjusting elevator trim to keep the elevator in force balance whilst
it is moved by the A/P servos.
=0 is default - this disables the feature
>0 makes the feature active, and sets the dead band for the
indicator to the set value. The dead band amplitude should be set
around 10 or 20 (cf full force is 255). Some experimentation may be
NOTE this feature requires additional external hardware for systems
using potentiometer trim input. See also below....
V 1.321 of CL Software adds
support for the
BFF Motorised Trim Wheel (MTW) for modes in which the CL system
has elevator trim authority.
The MTW is fully integrated with
the CL system to provide trim input on the elevator axis, and,
whilst A/P is active, to move automatically in response to A/P pitch
Appendix I for details of the
In manual flight the MTW can be
turned manually to provide normal pitch trim input to the CL system.
The trim wheel's built-in position indicator moves with the manual
adjustment. The BFF Trim Wheel Controller software will also allow
trim buttons to be assigned to move the trim wheel electrically.
When A/P pitch control is engaged
the trim wheel will rotate automatically under control of the CL
software. The movement auto-trims the elevator axis whilst the stick
follows A/P pitch control actions. This simulates unloading of A/P
servos acting on the stick, and the result is an active trim
movement of the wheel whilst A/P is active. It also results in a
force balanced stick when A/P is disengaged which gives a smoother
A/P disengage action.
Flying with an integrated
motorised trim wheel provides a more complete simulation pitch