Pre-Assembled CL System - Case Study
Western Air Spray, Alberta, Canada
Air Tractor simulator
the very end of 2014 I supplied a 3-axis pre-assembled
control loader drive to
Western Air Spray in Canada.
It was installed in their new Air Tractor simulator this
year and Adam from W.A.S has sent some information and
I've just copied his notes below directly
- I think many readers would prefer to hear direct from the
system builder.... I've added a few of the photos into the
Giesbrecht (Western Air Spray)
"We purchased your
3-axis pre-assembled system in the
fall of 2014 for our Air Tractor Simulator project. We went
with the pre-assembled system after deciding that we didn’t
have time expertise or time to construct it from individual
After receiving the assembled system we
were impressed with quality and construction of it. After
deciding to go with chain drives (for cost and parts
accessibility) we got to work designing and installing the
hardware. After almost 6 months of steady work and some long
days we had it ready for a trial run.
I read the instructions several times to
make sure I wasn’t missing anything and we began to
commission the system. We had a few minor issues getting it
to work, but one quick email to yourself and it was sorted
out. Once up and running we spent weeks fine tuning the
system and getting the simulator to feel like the real
When were close to completing the
simulator we trucked it to “Air Spray (1967)” in Red Deer
Alberta for assistance with programming custom features and
getting those to work with the Force Feed Back System. The
programmer at Air Spray Michael Rowland is a genius with
creating custom effects, control inputs and gauges. Things
like making the aircraft pitch up abruptly when dumping the
load, setting up fire retardant and spray effects, custom
switches and an instructor panel. The simulator was then
brought home and final touches were added like decals and
panel boards. We have also incorporated a working GPS
guidance system in the simulator to train ag. pilots.
In March 2015 we finally had the
simulator ready for the first trade show, we packed up and
drove three hours north to setup in the arena. After doing a
test of all systems we ran the simulator hard for 8 hours a
day for three days.
Everyone from small kids to retired
seniors loved the simulator and we collected donations for a
local charity. Everything worked flawlessly! Every night we
checked all the rigging and controls for adjustment and had
to make a few minor mechanical tweaks until everything
settled into place.
We couldn’t be happier with the Force
Feedback System! It’s one of the best features we have in
the simulator. We’ve had other Air Tractor pilots tell us
how real it feels. The support we got from you was amazing,
and even with the time difference I could always depend on a
A few notes: Looking at the project in hindsight we would
have gone with planetary drives instead of the chain drives
despite the cost, for simplicity and lack of maintenance.
The chain drives we quite labor intensive to build, very
sensitive to adjust and take up a lot of room. The chain
drives however are incredibly strong, cheap to build and
easy to get parts for.
One side effect of having chain drives is that when the
chains become loose or sloppy, it can cause an over control
of the axis making the Force Feed Back system think it is
out of calibration. Tightening the chains fixes this problem. The
construction process was also lengthened by making the whole
unit portable, but we are extremely happy with how it turned
We used two 12 volt batteries to power the system, with a
smart charger connected and charging at a constant 24 volt/
2 amps. The batteries also power our GPS system and we have
not had a single issue with this as a power source.
We would recommend your system to anyone, we couldn’t be
more pleased with the performance and operation of the
Western Air Spray Inc.
Many thanks to W.A.S for the text and photos....
The transformation Adam and his team made from the old
disused airframe to the final fully operational training
simulator is impressive; and in a relatively short time
scale. I hope you have found it interesting.
His comments on the chain drives are interesting also. The
alternative approach he considered was to use planetary gearheads directly fitted on the motors. This method is
popular with builders and provides a compact way of
achieving the required transmission ratios. But it is
important to use good quality gearheads, with low backlash
characteristics and smooth gearing, otherwise the force feel
can be affected.
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