View Full Version : Joystick Mod for Akers Barnes homebuilt cockpit

TX Rahman
12-29-2004, 12:37 PM
This is for the folks who are interested in building pits...

I recently modified an old Logitech Wingman Force stick for my Akers Barnes pit and just wanted to share this with you all. I extended the joystick shaft around 7 inches, rewired the switches etc in less than an evening. I think it came out awesome for the time spent.

I used two different sizes of copper tubing, PVC fittings, some thin wire, and one of those new "cold heat" soldering irons...which by the way...works great for soldering wire..

Flying in the pit is taking some getting used to. I made the video for our own TX-EcoDragon who's a real life pilot. I was curious as to how accurate the stick throw was... He looked at the video posted on the TX site and said that it appears to be pretty close to the real thing. I do need to angle the base back a bit so the forward throw doesn't take leaning forward.... In any event...check it out....nice addition to my pit in progress http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif Using this forcefeedback stick worked out nicely since the center spring tension and dampening is controlled by the FF engine... Can dial up the tension so it's not so mushy.

By the way... To anyone who is looking for a good seating solution for their Akers Barnes.. I've found paydirt for the seat.... The problem with the Akers Barnes is it's hard to find high density foam for the seat....hard to get comfortable. I was shopping at a new tools store here in Houston and noticed that they had tractor seats sans (without) mounts for $6.99. Picked one up and I'm happy to say...the pit is now very comfortable to sit in....check the pics on our site in the link below http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Click below to go to the pictures, video and info!

12-29-2004, 01:17 PM
Nice! How's the spring resistance?

TX Rahman
12-29-2004, 01:38 PM
Well...since the spring tension is controlled by the forcefeedback engine...the tension is pretty good. I'll have to check my settings when I get home to check to see what percentage I have the tension and dampening up to. Keep in mind that it's not as strong as it is without the longer shaft, but it is very acceptable! Even the forcefeedback effects still feel good. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

This joystick is the only one I know that uses steel cables and not direct motor drive for the forcefeedback. I believe that the steel cables and pulleys give more tension than would be attainable with direct drive.

Although the stick hasn't been in production for quite some time...it can still be found on ebay from time to time... I bought this one for $10 and still have my unmodified stick at home. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

12-29-2004, 03:39 PM
Before I retired my Akers-Barnes pit I had extended an X-45 in the same manor.

It wasn't bad once I shimmed the gimbals, but it requires a lot of time/effort to do.

The longer stick-throw is very nice http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Glad you found a cushion http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

12-29-2004, 04:03 PM
I'm getting ready (this coming weekend) to build my AB-Mark 1. I'm a draftsman by trade so i took that DXF file and converted it into AutoCad 2005 and got it into good old inches and such, without the silly metric conversion numbers. Converted it to 3/4" plywood and tweeked it here and there to fit my needs. I modifyed the desk portion to fit into my existing desk/rack. And I am going to put it on a caster platform so I can move it around when needed.

I going to have the guys that did the work on my 67 Camaro do a seat cushion for me, although they looked at me strange when I went in with the plans.

I'll post pics when I'm done.

12-29-2004, 04:07 PM
oh and I looked into extending my stick (CH Products Fighterstick) and to keep from overstresing the gimble, I was going to use a hoop with 6 springs attached around the shaft. as long as the hoop is big enough so that all the springs were in tension ar rest, I figured it would relieve the stress on the gimble. Never got around to really doing it but I thought about it for a while. I figure the HOTAS setup would be less work.

TX Rahman
12-29-2004, 05:45 PM
Baldie: Retired?!? Gave up on the pit bro?? We never did get pics of her!!

Hookecho: Awesome! Post some pics in our pit builders forum on our site or here and let us know!!

12-29-2004, 06:38 PM

If you have any info on what you did with the X-45 to get it set up best, I'd love to read it. I was talking with rah about my inclination to do this, I've been ruminating on it for a while, and he just does it one day. . .I have a nearly dead X-45 to convert and fix the buttons on. What sort of gimbal mods did you do? I was thinking of making a box with springs around it and also using the box to set the travel stops so that the stick's built in stops didn't have to take the additional load. Thus far it is all theoretical though.

12-29-2004, 06:50 PM
Looks a little obscene http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

Very cool. I envy you guys who can do this stuff.

12-29-2004, 10:02 PM
Very cool pit!

Oh...and balls of titanium posting movies of yourself on the net in pants like that!! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

12-29-2004, 10:12 PM
yall are lucky..

when i come over , i get the "homer simpson " version....

boxers..... and constantly scratchin ...

"hello?.. you have to speak up, i have a towel on"..

:P i kid, because i care.

12-29-2004, 11:31 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by TX Rahman:
Baldie: Retired?!? Gave up on the pit bro?? We never did get pics of her!!


I didn't give up, I just decided to go another route.


Here is what I can tell you about the X45:

You will have to cut the wires if you want to shim the slop out of the gimbal. Its a royal pain to do, but the stick is designed so that you can not shim the upper gimbal without cutting.

Take the base apart and you'll see how it works. Its all pretty straight-forward.

If you want to lengthen the stick, you'll have to cut the wires anyways, so you might as well shim the gimbals while you are at it. Any slop will just get worse as the stick gets longer.

Once you remove the gimbals you'll see the axle covers. Play with it and you'll see where the slop comes from. Remove the covers and wrap small strips of aluminum foil around the plastic axles. You'll have to guestimate to get the best fit, but start with too much and work your way back. When done, grease it and reasemble.

For a stick extension, use a suitable length of 1/2 inch PVC pipe. Just cut the part that inserts into the stick handle. Its best to half-assemble everything, check where you want to cut, and then pull the plastic piece out and cut it. Leave enough so that you can cram it into the PVC, and then stick the PVC onto the stump sticking out of the base of the stick. I couldn't put the spring back into mine, but I didn't want too anyways... I've been flying springless for years (not that its any advantage, I just can't stand the hand-cramps).

I had to use a dremel tool to enlarge the inside of the PVC pipe a bit. Once you are absolutly sure of proper operation (check, recheck, and then have a friend check again), you can use a bit of pipe glue to secure it all together. This should be the very last thing you do, so make sure you add a bit extra wire...the handle will need to be put on last.

These instructions make no sense unless you have the stick apart.

One more thing: You might find, as Rahman, that the stick travels too far forward. You'll probably want to build a base that angles it the whole thing towards you. You may also want to twist the stick handle to the left for comfort the same way the Su-25 stick is, but be forwarned, it will throw your aim off the first time you use it.

TX Rahman
12-30-2004, 06:08 AM
Bluedog72: Thanks man http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Very fun to fly in for sure!! As for the pants...let's just say it's better than the boxers and scratchin that GAU has been subjected to.... (Doc said I would be fine GAU...lol!) http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif

Baldie: Cool man...please post pics of your future cockpit ventures.... Always love looking at what others create... I'm amazed by the creativity in our community!! S~~

12-30-2004, 09:27 AM
looks good http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

12-30-2004, 12:34 PM
Rah....looks good man. I haven't been brave enough to disassemble a stick to extend it like that. I hope you get your's painted before I do mine. The throw looked pretty good except like you said forward. As for you other "guys" I never noticed the pants so what were u looking at? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif Rah....will you fisnish Gau's so he will get to use it..it's eitehr that or I'm going to ahve to build it for him. LOL

12-30-2004, 12:39 PM
You may have already seen this, but here is a sneak-peek at what I'm working on now:


12-30-2004, 12:47 PM
OOHHH my wife would love that LOL.
I can here her now "Go play your little flying game and sit in your funny little chair" http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

12-30-2004, 02:19 PM
Thanks Baldie! Sounds like a reasonable task.

I will have at it pretty soon. . . I have never liked the reduced joystick travel, I should have just done it sooner!

12-30-2004, 07:49 PM
OMG! Dude thats awesome. I have the exact same cockpit and the exact same joystick in the closet. I gotta try that out!

I saw your videos. You had mentioned that you have to lean somewhat when pushing the stick forward. Looks slightly uncomfortable. But what if you put something underneat the base of the joystick to angle it towards you slightly? Would that help reduce the amount of yourself leaning forward?

Nevermind, I heard you again when replaying video 3. Let me know how it turns out.