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3 DOF Motion Platform - Drive Software

BFF Motion Driver V2.6

BFF PID Servo Controller

BFF PID Servo Controller V2.6

BFF Motion Driver v2.6

 Falcon F4 quickstart document

 

Condor quickstart document


Older pdf User Manual

v2.41 User Manual


V2.8 Details

UPDATE Sept '14 - Driver for rFactor racing sim available V2.83beta1.

UPDATE April '14 - MSFS & X-Plane drivers updated to v2.83.

UPDATE Jan '14 - MSFS driver updated with DE Kangaroo interface.

UPDATE 25th May '12 - MSFS driver updated for Lockheed Martin® Prepar3D®.

Motion Driver V2.6 Online User Guide

Motion Drive Software is a key part of any motion platform system. It handles the real-time extraction of flight data from the flight simulator and the calculation of motion cues for the platform. See the BFF Motion Driver page for full details of the software features. The User Manual is available to download - see download links below.

BFF Motion Driver V2.6 software is now available for MS FS9 / FSX / Lockheed Martin® Prepar3D®, X-Plane versions 8.64 to 10.0, Condor Soaring and Falcon 4.0 AF. A beta version is also available for racing sim rFactor.

 

The software can be downloaded using the links below, it will run in demo or un-registered mode for approximately 10 minutes after which you will need to re-start the driver or register it (time for a quick traffic pattern). This should be plenty of time to let you operate the software to confirm that it runs on your system and to try out it's many features. To remove the time limit you will need to get a software key for the driver version you want to unlock it on your PC -

 

 

NOTE detailed plans for the Mini Motion Platform 3 and the DIY Linear Actuator are now bundled FREE with the V2 motion driver package. (Version 2 of the actuator plans was released 11th April '08.)

 

YOU CAN ORDER KEYS ONLINE HERE

 

 

The price of a registration key for the V2 motion driver is £29.95. (All V2 motion driver versions use the same registration key.) NOTE the V2 software key is now available with the 64SPU-1 card as a discounted bundle - see the order page. Software keys are computer specific.

Download the software from the Introduction page of the Online User Guide

 

 

ONLINE USER GUIDE

 

(Many thanks to Roland van Roy and Thanos Kod for their Beta testing on the V1 software.)

To install the software unzip the files into a dedicated directory on your PC. Run the .exe's from that directory or from shortcuts which point to them - do not separate the .exe's from the other files in the package. To uninstall just delete all the files. For FS/FSX use you will also need the correct up-to-date version of FSUIPC installed. This is available from Pete Dowson's site here - make sure you get the correct version for your FS and read carefully Pete's installation instructions. FSUIPC does not need to be registered for the motion driver to run. If you are running the FS9/FSX version over a LAN BFF Motion Bridge must be installed and running on the main flight sim PC.


NEWS / UPDATE HISTORY

Please see On-Line User Guide for most recent updates....

NEWS APRIL -12 - X-Plane driver updated - see On-Line User Guide.

NEWS JAN -12 - PID Servo Controller upgraded to V2.63. To add data output mode PM10V for use with the PM10V-1 +/-9V analogue voltage converter card.

NEWS DEC -10 - PID Servo Controller upgraded to V2.61. This is to correct a problem with position feedback false out of range detection messages when the all 3 channels are not in use. It also stops the PID_SC.log file being filled with incorrect error messages.

 

NEWS DEC -10 - V2.6beta upgraded to full release. Versions available for FS9/X, S-Plane, Condor and Falcon 4 AF. New online user guide - quicker access and allows me to update the document more easily.

 

NEWS SEPT -10 - Various further updates made to the v2.6beta versions of the driver software - check the v2.6 update document. V2.6beta version for Condor Soaring available.

 

NEWS JUNE/JULY -10 - Various updates made to the v2.6beta versions of the driver software - check the v2.6 update document. V2.6beta version for X-Plane available.

 

NEWS JAN/FEB -10 - I've made available various v2.6 Beta versions of the motion driver and PID Servo Controller to try. If you use these and find any bugs please let me know. Improvements include support for SCN5 actuators, Dimension Engineering motor controllers and many others - see v2.6 update document.

 

NEWS 24th JULY '09  -  Updated the User Manual to clarify built-in noise filter settings of v2.5 & later of the PID Servo Controller software - see section 5.

 

NEWS 16th JUNE '09  -  PID Servo Controller raised to V2.5.1 to correct bug which prevented detection of on-ground indication. This disabled the in-air PID settings and forced the servo system to use the on-ground PID settings even whilst the aircraft is in the air.

 

NEWS 5th JUNE '09  -  Both MSFS & X-Plane drivers raised to V2.4. Support added for the BFF Motion Platform Power Calculator and higher resolution MEM outputs added to support the forthcoming 40MHz SPU PCB. PID Servo Controller raised to V2.5 to add support for the new 28X2 chip SPU PCB.

 

NEWS 7th FEB '09  -  Both MSFS & X-Plane drivers raised to V2.1. For commercial users support has been added for Galil Position Tracking mode motion controllers. Additionally in-program cue settings and a virtual oscilloscope have been added. PID Servo Controller also raised to v2.1 to add a virtual oscilloscope. Manual raised to V2.1

 

NEWS 28th FEB '09  -  Both MSFS & X-Plane drivers raised to V2.05. This is a correction to an error introduced in v2.04 which corrupted the HEX2 data output. DO NOT USE V2.04 IF YOU USE THE HEX2 DATA FORMAT.

 

NEWS 10th FEB '09  -  PID Servo Controller raised to V2.05. This adds the interesting capability of real-time motor speed controller condition monitoring. The motor controller currents and temperatures are displayed on the Servo Controller main window - keep an eye on your system loading in real-time. Needs the correct .bas flash program and the Enhanced SPU.

 

NEWS 2nd FEB '09  -  Both MSFS & X-Plane drivers raised to V2.04 and the PID Servo Controller raised to V2.04 also. This is essentially a recompilation with a new AHK compiler which produces faster running .exe's. I've noticed a significant improvement in the refresh speeds of the software running on my systems. There are also a few tweaks to the motion driver GUI window.

 

NEWS 6th JAN '09  -  PID Servo Controller taken to V2.03 - this adds the capability for the controller to run at higher baud rates and in particular at 115200 baud for use with the new speed enhanced SPU design. The baud rate is now set in the PID2.cfg file. I've also raised the Motion Drivers to v2.02 to add the capability to specify the lateral acceleration cue washout time constant separately for on-ground operations (TClg).

 

NEWS 22th DEC '08  -  Major upgrade of the Motion Driver to version 2 - this includes new features and includes a roll-up of the new features from the v1.7 beta version. V2 for MSFS & X-Plane now has -

  • LAN operation (to keep CPU load off your sim PC)

  • NEW integrated Articulated Projector driver

  • Drive and Hold buttons (to smooth your start-up sequence)

  • Manual override of position demand outputs (to assist hardware set up)

  • Flight data capture window (to assist configuration file set up)

  • New runway heave motion effects (for MSFS's flat runways!)

  • V2 of the PID Servo Controller with dual PID settings and support for US digital MA3 encoder use for position feedback.

  • Various other small improvements and fixes.

NEWS 18th NOV '08  -  I've made available a beta version of the v1.7 MSFS driver. This introduces a LAN networking option to allow the driver to run on a networked PC. This leaves the main sim PC free from the CPU load resulting from the PID Servo Controller operation and will be a useful option for users running FSX on less powerful machines. v1.7beta also adds a "Capture" button which can be used to capture the max and min flight acceleration magnitudes during key flight events for use in your driver set up activities.

NEWS 18th NOV '08  -  PICAXE SPU_I2C.bas programs all raised to rev2. This is to introduce better handling of momentary loss of serial data especially when using USB virtual serial port comms. The flash programs now make duplicate tests for serial data when a timeout occurs to ensure that the data interruption is not momentary and so avoid unnecessarily holding the platform motion.

NEWS 22nd OCT '08 - MSFS Driver raised to 1.6.5d. Several updates here - mainly the introduction of "Hold" and "Drive" buttons on the driver to switch the output between the config file defined start positions and the live motion output. This will assist startup and shut-down procedures. Several buttons on the driver will not now become active until the driver has completed its initial calculation loops to stabilise the washout filters. A bug fix on passing rig start positions of values less than 100 to the PID Servo Controller software has been fixed. More robust handling of MSFS process detection when the flight sim is switching between full and windowed modes.

NEWS 11th SEPT '08 - X-Plane version raised to v1.3.1 to accommodate UPD data changes made in X-Plane v9.2.

NEWS 26th AUG '08 - I've made various improvements to the .bas 28X1 chip flash programs for the single chip SPU. Further serial input data error checking as been added. Versions now available for 28X1 A.3 chips with external 16MHz resonator and with internal 8 MHz resonator. A.3 firmware chips will only work with the v1.3 of the PID_Controller. Driver_Setup_3pt.exe raised to v1.6.1 to correct writing of actuator start positions when Send_To button is used.

 

NEWS 24th AUG '08 - MSFS driver raised to 1.6.2 - improved detection of unexpected closure of FS window - driver now closes if FS closes. Raised PID_Controller to v1.3 - adjusted serial output to allow PICAXE 28X1 VA.3 chips to read data correctly.

 

NEWS 3rd MARCH '08 - I've introduced a second driver setup program to be used specifically for configuration settings for 3-point support type motion platforms. It should be used for these types of rigs with the FS9/FSX driver v1.6 and later and the X-Plane driver v1.3 and later. The two setup programs are now called Driver_Setup_ind.exe (for rigs with independently actuated DOF's) and Driver_Setup_3pt.exe (for 3 point support type platforms).

 

NEWS 16th JAN '08 -  The X-Plane motion driver has now been upgraded to work with X-Plane v9.0 Beta 2. Note there are settings changes required in X-Plane 9 - check the updated driver manual (v1.5.1)

NEWS 21st DEC '07 -  Along with a new much simpler single chip Signal Processor Unit design I've released v1.5 of the BFF Motion Driver for MSFS which now includes a software PID Servo Controller. This does all the controller calculations on the PC and substantially simplifies the external electronic hardware that needs to be built. For more details see the updated system page here.

NEWS 28th NOV '07 - Informational plans for a 200W 425mm stroke DIY linear actuator are now bundled FREE with software key purchases - you can read about the actuator design here. IMPORTANT - I will issue a corrected drawing sheet shortly but for prior notice the roller chain length given in the Actuator drawings as 110 pitches should be 119 pitches (without connectors) or 121 pitches including two end connectors - apologies. - see v2 of the actuator plans.

NEWS 7th Nov '07 - I've now been able to release full versions of the motion driver (v1) which run with FSX/FS9 and X-Plane 8.64. The drivers come with a Driver Setup application which allows a full range of user configuration settings to be made and multiple configuration file saves. There is a fully detailed User Manual. The v1 setup application works with the new v2.0 PICAXE chip programming to enable the system SPU to be configured from the PC rather than by changing and flashing the microcontroller chips. The driver outputs may also be used with other drive hardware configurations.

Update History......

(Updated 19th March 08, FS9/FSX version to v1.6.1 - updated to increase resolution of position demands on 3-point support rig output to 4 significant figures for PID servo control software use.)

(Updated 3rd March 08, FS9/FSX version to v1.6, X-Plane version to v1.3 - both updated to use the new configuration file settings for 3-point support type platforms as defined by the new Driver_Setup_3pt.exe configuration program.) 

(Updated 16th Jan 08, X-Plane version to v1.1.4 - upgraded to work with X-Plane 9.0 Beta 2.)

(Updated 14th Jan 08, X-Plane version to v1.1.3 - change to roll cue to make ground and air turns consistent - oops!)

(Updated 21st Dec 07 FS9/FSX Driver and Setup program to 1.5. Major upgrade to include the new v1.0 BFF PID Servo Controller application. Additional small changes to recognise French language version of FS9, better handling of aircraft crash situations + misc updates. User Manual updated.)

(Updated 29th Nov 07 FS9/FSX Driver to 1.1.3 & X-Plane Driver to 1.1.2, improved error handling & COM port checking - NOTE these versions require new unlock keys - can existing customers please email me with the computer ID generated by the registration window and I'll email your new keys back.)

(Updated FS9/FSX Driver 18th Nov 07 to v1.1.2, added recognition for non-English language versions of FS9.)

(Updated Drivers 15th Nov 07 to v1.1.1, tweaked serial port programming to work with Vista, fixed hang behaviour in X-Plane version when UDP data not available. Adjusted Setup program to v1.1.1 to allow lower "Ramp Cutoff Distance" settings to improve control system response.)

(Updated Driver 9th Nov 07 to v1.1, altered roll +ve direction in 3-point support for consistency & minor adjustment to the way mid-position is determined for 3-point support output. Additional info in manual.)

(Setup program updated 7th Nov 07 to v1.1, Fixed bug which prevented changes to Heave_Rev parameter from being saved in config file.)

(Major v1.0 payware release 6th Nov 07 - Additional config parameters added to enhance cue customization, added textual data output options for inspection/charting, added support for 3 point support platforms, added Shared Memory data output for direct inter-process communication, added normal-rate reverse roll behaviour for 360Deg rolls, implemented full set of aircraft status indicators, updated manual).

(Updated 12th Oct 07 - Beta v0.9.2.1, Changed HEX2 data output to use upper case letters - some microcontrollers may have difficulty with lower case HEX data.)

(Updated 10th Oct 07 - Beta v0.9.2, Serial output corrected and should work on both BIN and HEX2 modes at speeds up to 115200 baud. Bug in setup program fixed which incorrectly set the VALim2 param in the config - file. Manual updated. Various small tweaks.)

(Updated 5th Oct 07 - Beta v0.9.1, upgraded to run with FSX & FSUIPC4, Driver Setup application added with multiple configuration file facility, User Manual added, PC based SPU configuration added. Various improvements made.)


WIRING DIAGRAMS & PICAXE PROGRAMS

Signal Processor Unit - Single 28X1 chip version (for use with the BFF PID Servo Controller)

See here for more details. As there is only the single 28X1 chip on this SPU it is easier to build and there is less data needed. The single short flash program is now included in the V1.5 Driver download package above. The system and SPU wiring information is below -

28X1 PICAXE Chip Pin Designations

New SPU Wiring

New Overall System Wiring

 

Previous (4 chip) Signal Processor Unit - v2.0 Chip Programming (NOT for use with the BFF PID Servo Controller)

 

The programs and wiring diagrams in this section are for the earlier 4-chip SPU design and are not for use with the single chip SPU

 

The v2.0 PICAXE chip programming uses only two programs - one for the 28X chip and one for all the 18X chips and allows the 18X chip tuning to be set from the driver setup applications. They are -

ReadPosGeneric.bas - the 28X flash program - Read position data from PC COM port & distribute + 18X initialisation and EEPROM storage of settings.

Pos2SpeedGeneric.bas - A single program to program all the 18X chips - motor controller speed demand.

The programs are contained in this zip archive -

PICAXE_progs_v2_0.zip

The download / flash process is accomplished using the free PICAXE programming software. Make sure you flash the correct chip with the correct program.

(Check here for your local distributor of PICAXE chips.)

The behaviour of the SPU with these programs is slightly different from before in that on power-up of the SPU each chip will initialise in turn and will flash its LED four times to confirm that initialisation. A new initialisation can then be forced at any time from the Driver Setup application on the PC to alter the control system response for each DOF. The new settings are stored permanently in the 28X chip's EEPROM and will be used until the SPU is further updated. See the User Manual for details of the settings.

(Nov 19th 07 - Quick note on the 28X programming. I have just tried the newer 28X1 chip instead of the 28X I have been using for some time and can't get the serial read to work with the newer version. The documentation for the 28X1 doesn't suggest there should be any problem with the serin command, but there may be. I'll look into this but be-warned the 28X1 may not work with this programming.

Update on serin issue - I still can't get the 28X1 to receive serial input on 4800 baud, but it does work on 2400 baud! As a workaround if you want to use the 28X1 chip rather than the older 28X then you may have to amend the serin commands (there are two) in the ReadPosGeneric program to 2400 baud and make sure the BFF driver is sending at the same rate by setting the Baud parameter in your config file to 2400.)

Circuit and Wiring Diagrams

These are available in .pdf format for easier printing.

PICAXE Chip Pin Designations v1

Signal Processor Wiring 1 v1

Signal Processor Wiring 2 v1

Overall System Wiring v1

Please let me know if you come across any obvious (or less obvious) mistakes in the information so that I can correct them and re-issue.

Please note that the above information is provided free of charge "AS IS" without warranty or guarantee of any kind. Treat the chip software as untested Beta software - it may not always behave as expected. The success of any project using this material will depend as much upon the quality of your construction as on the quality of the above information.

There are presently no detailed engineering drawings available for the mechanical design of the cockpit. My current feeling is that the mechanical build may be too challenging a project for most DIY'ers - there are several very highly loaded joints and structures in the design which may fail dangerously if they are not built well and some precision is needed in the vertical guides and pin/bearing element builds for the machine to run smoothly. I'm still thinking about the best way to present the mechanical build information in a way useful to most builders.

DIY builders may however be interested to have a look at a new project where I have had a go at designing a low-cost DIY electric linear actuator that might be of use in more conventional platform designs.

DIY Electric Linear Actuator

I do have a full set of 3D solid models of the cockpit design however which I may be able to make available "as-is" for a charge once I've made a few post-build changes to them to record the design changes made in the workshop and on test. If you are interested in these please email me. They are presently in TurboCAD Pro v12 format but can be made available in other formats such as STEP or ACIS.

Motion Drive Software     Signal Processor 


OLDER SOFTWARE VERSIONS

 

 

Signal Processor Unit - v1.1 Chip Programming

 

The PICAXE chips, which are the brains of the Signal Processor Unit, come un-programmed. To get them to do what they need to do they must be "flashed" with their working programs. These are written in BASIC and are -

ReadPos.bas - the 28X flash program - Read position data from PC COM port & distribute.

Pos2SpeedPitch.bas - Pitch DOF 18X program - Pitch motor controller speed demand.

Pos2SpeedRoll.bas - Roll DOF 18X program - Roll motor controller speed demand.

Pos2SpeedHeave.bas - Heave DOF 18X program - Heave motor controller speed demand.

The download / flash process is accomplished using the free PICAXE programming software. Make sure you flash the correct 18X with the correct program. The programs themselves are contained in this zip archive -

PICAXE_progs_v1_1.zip

(Released under the GNU General Public License)

(Check here for your local distributor of PICAXE chips.)

 

 

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