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Yet another warthog slew upgrade


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Thrustmaster Warthog Slew Upgrade kits are now available to purchase from my website https://deltasimelectronics.com/

 

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Hi guys first post around here so I thought I would make it a good one.

So I’ve wanted to upgrade the slew sensor on my warthog throttle for ages, and on one of my eBay browsing sessions came across this beauty:

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=176477&stc=1&d=1516457809

 

It's the FLIR control grip from an RAF Chinook (I think MK6 upgrade?), complete with force sensing mini joystick (I have already removed it in the above picture)

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=176478&stc=1&d=1516458163

 

This part is made by a UK company called DACO scientific. It doesn’t have any movement but give an analog output voltage based on the amount of applied force (it's actually 2 half bridge load cells).

I've not been able to find all that much information on the actual part used in the A10C throttle but I believe it's a similar concept.

So, next job was to interface this thing with the warthog throttle. I've seen a couple of other posts about guys who have added Xbox style thumb sticks to the throttle, but they have always used another USB joystick controller to do it. I wanted to interface directly to the existing throttle controller.

The sensor that comes with the warthog is an AS5013 made by AMS, with talks I2C, so it was a simple enough job to reverse engineer the protocol using the datasheet and oscilloscope and simulate that sensor using a microcontroller. I knocked something together using at ATTiny841 micro I had lying about. This circuit just plugs straight in to where the old sensor did in the right hand throttle, no soldering or modifications required.

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=176480&stc=1&d=1516458847

 

This thing can do everything I need to simulate an I2C slave device and interface with the new sensor.

Next I designed an adapter the fit the sensor in the existing hole in the throttle, and got it 3d printed by Shapeways (excellent service, would highly recommend).

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=176481&stc=1&d=1516459097

 

And we are done!!

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=176484&stc=1&d=1516459431

 

New slew sensor fitted and working perfectly!!!

 

OK, so it wasn’t quite as simple as that. There was a fair bit of headache getting the microcontroller to talk nicely to the warthog throttle, as well as understanding how it handles all the calibration and self check features built it, but we got there in the end, and I’m very happy with the result!!

For anyone who is wondering, DACO do still sell this sensor, but I contacted them to check for pricing and it would be about as much as 2 complete HOTAS systems to buy the sensors in one off quantity. So you're probably best off looking for used units on eBay, there is one on eBay UK at the moment, search for "BOEING CHINOOK MK6 HELICOPTER AIRCRAFT WEAPONS CONTROL GRIP"

If anyone wants any more technical info about the I2C protocol used, or code running on the microcontroller I’ll happily do a more in-depth write up, just let me know.

 

A few more bonus pictures attached below too :)

 

Cheers

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1768192495_IMG_20180114_2128081.thumb.jpg.c4018a27d745f495416e520cfea30725.jpg

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491208604_IMG_20180114_2147201.thumb.jpg.61c1e00fe598b26a305a7bdedffcf332.jpg


Edited by Deltaalphalima1
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order 2065 arrived today.   installation is easy they said!   It was easy enough unscrewing the throttle, then the fun started, I think someone else has had a problem with short ribbon cables. The b

Very nicely done Sir :thumbup: It does sound like the sensor is quite similar to the one in the A-10 throttle; https://forums.eagle.ru/showpost.php?p=2540923&postcount=59

 

You are not using any amplification of the sensor signal?

 

Cheers

Hans

 

I’d not seen that post before, thanks for that :)

 

Originally I did have a complex op amp amplifier circuit, but the sensor actually has an extremely high sensitivity, the datasheet claims 95mV/V. Running on 3.3V excitation voltage gives me +/- 300mV full scale deflection, that’s easily enough for the 10bit ADC in the microcontroller to map the 8 bits the throttle needs to send to the pc. So I ditched the op amps in favour of simplicity.

I got really luck in that respect I think.

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This look absolutely brilliant and it looks to be a very nice solution, though sadly only one of a kind. I have been looking myself at trying this with more readily available (off the shelf) slew sensors, but I had issues deciphering the I2C protocol and finding sufficiently compatible hardware.

 

Would you care to elaborate some more on those; the I2C (reverse-engineering) and simulating that using a microcontroller? Because if you are able to do so, wouldn't any sort of 4 way sensor in theory be able to replace the sensor in the Warthog?

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I was actually wondering a couple days ago if anyone ever solved the i2c problem for the WH slew. I'm very curios about the circuit.

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This look absolutely brilliant and it looks to be a very nice solution, though sadly only one of a kind. I have been looking myself at trying this with more readily available (off the shelf) slew sensors, but I had issues deciphering the I2C protocol and finding sufficiently compatible hardware.

 

Would you care to elaborate some more on those; the I2C (reverse-engineering) and simulating that using a microcontroller? Because if you are able to do so, wouldn't any sort of 4 way sensor in theory be able to replace the sensor in the Warthog?

 

 

Cheers for the support, I appreciate it

As far as it being one of a kind goes, I will happily make everything freely available. If I can get a few people lined up, and some sort of good supply of sensors, I would love make and sell a few. Of course with a proper production PCB and so on.

You are correct that any sensor could be used (Xbox style thumb stick for example) it's just a matter of fitting it inside the throttle body. Any 3D design wizards out there feel free to chip in :)

 

I'll put together a detailed explanation over the next few days (I’m thinking maybe Instructables?) I don’t want it to get lost in this thread if it could be useful to more warthog owners.

 

 

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Cheers for the support, I appreciate it

As far as it being one of a kind goes, I will happily make everything freely available. If I can get a few people lined up, and some sort of good supply of sensors, I would love make and sell a few. Of course with a proper production PCB and so on.

You are correct that any sensor could be used (Xbox style thumb stick for example) it's just a matter of fitting it inside the throttle body. Any 3D design wizards out there feel free to chip in :)

 

I'll put together a detailed explanation over the next few days (I’m thinking maybe Instructables?) I don’t want it to get lost in this thread if it could be useful to more warthog owners.

 

 

Instructables is a nice location to put such a guide, but would you also consider making a YT video out of it? This will yield it more promotion and recognition, especially if you will try to sell your product, which I would wholeheartedly recommend. You could even just sell the PCB / .STL files if shipping or production is a hassle.

 

On that topic, I have experience making 3D files and PCB's, so if you need some help, I would be more than happy to offer it! The crappiness of the TM: Warthog HOTAS slew sensor has been a pet peeve of mine for long and whilst I had attempted to rectify it a while back, I never really could get the I2C reversed. Probably should give that another go someday soon, but glad to see you managed it!

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Nicely done. Now where the hell is my O-scope from 30 years ago??? LOL

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Cheers for the support, I appreciate it

As far as it being one of a kind goes, I will happily make everything freely available. If I can get a few people lined up, and some sort of good supply of sensors, I would love make and sell a few. Of course with a proper production PCB and so on.

You are correct that any sensor could be used (Xbox style thumb stick for example) it's just a matter of fitting it inside the throttle body. Any 3D design wizards out there feel free to chip in :)

 

I'll put together a detailed explanation over the next few days (I’m thinking maybe Instructables?) I don’t want it to get lost in this thread if it could be useful to more warthog owners.

 

 

 

If you can make it PNP or as little work as possible Im in for one. I can do basic soldering but not an expert.

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So as promised I have created a post over on Instructables with some details on how to interface with the I2C protocol used in the Warthog throttle.

 

It's not got any detailed instruction on how to use an Arduino to do this yet, it’s a bit complicated as it requires a 3.3V microcontroller and I don’t want anyone blowing up there throttle with a 5V one so I need to make it as foolproof as possible, but maybe in the future.

 

https://www.instructables.com/id/Thrustmaster-Warthog-Slew-Sensor-I2C-Upgrade/

 

In other news I have been looking at some possibilities of using other -slight less expensive- sensors. Right now I’m having some limited success with the TrackPoint out of a Lenovo keyboard, which actually operates in an identical way to the sensor in the real A10. Just finding a source that actually sells these seems to be a little tricky.

 

I have also been looking as best I can find any other better replacement sensor we could use, but there is nothing I can see that both the right size (<20mm OD) and at some sort or reasonable price point.

 

Thrustmaster might have had a point with the original...

 

Any ideas as always much apreciated.

 

Cheers

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Great tutorial and explanation of how the I2C protocol interfaces with the throttle PCB itself; nice to see you also included an arduino sketch file.

 

Regarding the I2C logic voltage level, would a level shifter suffice or are these not sufficiently speedy to deal with the I2C program frequency?

 

I have also been looking at some sensors and you are right that there are very few digital sensors with adequate resolution and size out there. However, I did find that there are quite a few analog sensors out there that may fit the bill and size; I am trying to discern whether their resolution and deflection (can) match up with the throttle unit to require as little modification as possible.

 

I will probably order some of them over the weekend and play around with them next week when I have some more time on my hands. One such sensor that particularly appeals to me at the moment is this the RKJXL Series from Alps

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In other news I have been looking at some possibilities of using other -slight less expensive- sensors. Right now I’m having some limited success with the TrackPoint out of a Lenovo keyboard, which actually operates in an identical way to the sensor in the real A10.

 

This pressure "mouse" is not suitable?

 

https://www.interlinkelectronics.com/MicroJoystick

https://www.interlinkelectronics.com/microjoystick-hdk

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Whilst those are definitely nice (and I had not yet seen them, thanks!) I myself was more thinking along the lines of a sensor that gives a larger slew deflection area than the current sensor; my reasoning being that a slew with a large deflection and a low pressure actuation is going to offer a much better experience than the current (type of) sensor which whilst accurate, moves very little and is thus hard to operate with precision.

 

${1}

 

The youtube video above and the KA-50 collective featured in it made by KA50Oakes shows a nice example of what I am looking for. The nice thing about the Arduino however is that you can make it use virtually any type of control component, as it only requires modifying the program (''sketch'') to do so. You could potentially even do it with just buttons for left right up down and the push button itself if you were that crazy / if that would be something you desire.

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Great tutorial and explanation of how the I2C protocol interfaces with the throttle PCB itself; nice to see you also included an arduino sketch file.

 

Regarding the I2C logic voltage level, would a level shifter suffice or are these not sufficiently speedy to deal with the I2C program frequency?

 

I have also been looking at some sensors and you are right that there are very few digital sensors with adequate resolution and size out there. However, I did find that there are quite a few analog sensors out there that may fit the bill and size; I am trying to discern whether their resolution and deflection (can) match up with the throttle unit to require as little modification as possible.

 

I will probably order some of them over the weekend and play around with them next week when I have some more time on my hands. One such sensor that particularly appeals to me at the moment is this the RKJXL Series from Alps

 

Thanks for the support!

 

In regards to a level shifter, you actually don't need to use anything; a 5V Arduino will not damage anything if used correctly. The reason is that the I2C protocol is all powered by the master device (the throttle itself in this case) and pulled up to 3.3V with pull-up resistors, all the slave device does is pull the lines low (connect to ground), so it being capable of a 5V output won’t damage anything directly as it never output 5V in normal operation. The problem is a normal Arduino would need its own external 5V power supply, which if not implemented correctly could damage the throttle. It would also mean more wires coming out of the throttle, which is what we are trying to avoid in the first place.

 

I actually used a normal Arduino Uno running at 5V for my first experiments which worked fine, as long as you understand exactly what you‘re doing. I may have overstated the risks slightly in the Instructable but better safe than sorry when it comes to multi $100 hardware I think.

The mouse sensors Sokol1_br suggested would work, they are basically identical to a trackpoint sensor, and I can get them for not much at Digi-key

https://www.digikey.co.uk/products/en/potentiometers-variable-resistors/joystick-potentiometers/82?k=MicroJoystick

But they are bigger than ideal to be easily fitted. I am mostly looking at this as something that could easily be fitted by someone who didn’t want to modify anything and just wanted to buy a drop in replacement type sensor, so size it quite important, but something to take a closer look at.

 

The reason for not wanting a larger slew deflection is quite simple, the real throttle has no deflection at all. It’s all based on force, kind of like a mini F16 sidestick. The problem this gives us is that there is basically no clearance between the slew sensor and the coolie hat on the back of the throttle. Meaning even using something like an Xbox thumb stick doesn’t really work, as it just hits the coolie hat when it moves, which is a real shame because they aren’t exactly hard to get.

https://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/joystick-switches/1239578/ (a little cheaper than the DACO)

Note the RKJXL series are only momentary switches, not any sort of joystick. They are nice to use as normal hat switches though.

 

Using a proper force stick is actually really nice, it’s nothing like the original sensor, really fine and precise control, it really is a dream to slew the TGP around (also make Mav’s SO MUCH BETTER). The problem with the original sensor is that it has such a weak spring and moves such a small amount it’s hardly any better than just using a hat switch, you can’t really get any values between fully on and off, nothing like the proper sensor.

As you can probably tell I’ve been thinking about all this probably far too much over the last few weeks (good to have a project though eh?) Another forum member also bought the other Chinook grip off of eBay, and has got the sensor out of it. I’ve sent him an adapter board like the one I made for myself, so hopefully we should have some independent feedback soon on that :)

 

I think the next step should be to try and get one of the Xbox-style ALPS analog sticks working and in some sort of proper 3d printed mount. That would be a good proof of concept to start selling a few of these.

 

All this makes me wonder what Thrustmaster has planned for the F18 Hotas throttle, if they are ever actually making one.

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In addition to the excellent explanation delta has given here above (I totally forgot that I2C can be any voltage level you desire), I would also like to make note something I found out today (whilst talking with our practical instructor) is that the Arduino is able to use aref to set its own voltage level accordingly. What this means is that you can supply a desired voltage to the arduino and it will thus use that voltage level for logic accordingly.

 

Regarding the need to power the arduino, the best way would probably to take an Arduino Nano and chop off the voltage regulator and fuze; subsequently replacing them with 3.3 volt compatible components. I have been meaning to test that when I get some more time on my hands: apparently it can be a bit of a mixed bag regarding stability of the arduino, but that also seems dependent whether you use a genuino or a less official chinese clone.

 

Regarding the sensor choice, how would a PSP style thumbstick fare? They are some extremely small form factor potentiometer resistors that also offer the ability to add your own ''hat'' onto the stick embedded in the base, and could thus be mounted recessed in the spot where the sensor component currently sits. The only downside to this would be that a tactile switch would need to be added behind it, as it does not natively posses a center push. https://www.adafruit.com/product/3103

 

I have also been looking at comparable other small factor sensors, but like with the RKJXL it is hard to discern if they offer a nice operational range or if they are in fact more suited as 4 way momentaries due to the small travel / detection range. I assume that most of the ALPS sensor range (such as the RKJXT and RKJXM) suffer from the same problematic effect as the RKJXL in that behave more as 4 way buttons than as true joystick sensors?

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I have found another force sensing mini joystick that looks like it would be suitable in a reasonable price range ($100). However looking at the wiring diagram, it requires both +5v (I'm sure 3.3 would work fine) and -5v. Is that like the sensor you used OP? How do we go about the negative voltage aspect of the wiring?

 

I'm seeing a number of small 3.3v arduino solutions so that part seems to be taken care of.

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I have found another force sensing mini joystick that looks like it would be suitable in a reasonable price range ($100). However looking at the wiring diagram, it requires both +5v (I'm sure 3.3 would work fine) and -5v. Is that like the sensor you used OP? How do we go about the negative voltage aspect of the wiring?

 

I'm seeing a number of small 3.3v arduino solutions so that part seems to be taken care of.

 

That sounds very interesting, could you post a link?

 

The original sensor was indeed supposed to run off +/-5V, but since it’s just a variable resistor a lower voltage is fine.

Worst case I could easily add some sort of negative charge pump to do the -5, at $100 it would be worth the extra effort if I turned out it needed it.

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You have a strange definition of reasonable.

 

Compared to more than twice that for a used DACO sensor, or nearly 7X more for a new one, (or 20X more for an OTTO sensor if you want to go that way), it sounds quite reasonable to me...

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That sounds very interesting, could you post a link?

 

The original sensor was indeed supposed to run off +/-5V, but since it’s just a variable resistor a lower voltage is fine.

Worst case I could easily add some sort of negative charge pump to do the -5, at $100 it would be worth the extra effort if I turned out it needed it.

This guy here. https://www.ebay.com/itm/462-JOYSICK-ULTRA-MSI/292411568241?hash=item4415167071:g:JdUAAOSwNMVaXm9r

 

From what I can tell I don't think it's wired any different than the sensor you're using, so I'm a bit confused on the execution required.

 

You have a strange definition of reasonable.

Well, it's more reasonable than the hundreds or more you would spend on the other limited options.

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This guy here. https://www.ebay.com/itm/462-JOYSICK-ULTRA-MSI/292411568241?hash=item4415167071:g:JdUAAOSwNMVaXm9r

 

From what I can tell I don't think it's wired any different than the sensor you're using, so I'm a bit confused on the execution required.

 

 

Well, it's more reasonable than the hundreds or more you would spend on the other limited options.

 

Manual for the MSI Model 462: http://docs-europe.electrocomponents.com/webdocs/0bf1/0900766b80bf1d8f.pdf

 

It is an MSI brand sensor (http://www.ultra-msi.com/miniature-joystick-models.html) so they would be quality items, IF they are what the buyer is saying they are and it is not some sort of scam. I am genuinely wondering how he amassed such a large quantity of them and why he is selling them for such a low price, given that he says they are unopened.

 

Normal type of this sensor sells for around €550 - €650 EUR (depending on VAT) brand new, which would translate to around approx. 800 USD. Anyone willing to take the plunge?

 

EDIT: this guy is shipping them from SOCAL, US. So might be a bit pricey for any EU, AS or AF located individuals. I have been digging through Mouser and Farnell to check for any (force resistive) mini joysticks and while they do stock what appear to be quite compatible parts, I cant help but feeling somewhat out of depth as I have never worked with these before. Also, most of them seem to run on 5 volts rather than 3. Any pointers for me, what I should be looking for?


Edited by Nanne118

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