Students seek funding for Viper simulator mod

Students seek funding for Viper simulator mod

The Viper Simulator will boast a full 360 degrees of rotation in both roll and pitch axes, the team behind it claims.

A group of US students have launched a project to build a motion-controlled flight simulator based on the Viper ships from sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica, and have turned to crowd-funding site Kickstarter to get their mod off the ground.

Using a Piper PA-28 fuselage rescued from an aeroplane scrapyard, the team hopes to build a DIY flight simulator capable of 360-degree rotation across pitch and roll axes. For those of a certain age: imagine a Sega R360, except with a real aeroplane cockpit attached.

Not content with creating from scratch the kind of high-detail motion-controlled simulator usually reserved for large Japanese video game companies and military contractors, the team also plans to theme the interior and exterior according to the Viper attack craft used in the Battlestar Galactica TV programme.

While a typical professional-level simulator costs millions of pounds, the students are hoping to create theirs for a mere $17,000 including the Arduino microcontrollers, motors, monitors and a powerful gaming PC to run the simulation itself.

The team has already received $6,500 towards their goal in funding from commercial companies including Nvidia and Autodesk, and has turned to Kickstarter to crowd-fund the rest. Any excess raised above and beyond the required amount, the team explains, will be sent to the Young Makers Programme, for which the build is taking place.

As is usual for Kickstarter projects, various levels of 'reward' are avaialable for those who choose to pledge their money to the project. The base reward, available for pledges of $10 or more, is a Viper ringtone and screensaver for smartphones. Pledge $25, and you get Viper Team dog-tags along with a DVD of behind-the-scenes footage and photos from the build sessions.

A pledge of $50 provides all of the above, plus a guide to build your own Viper Simulator or a Lego-based prototype model including all required schematics as well as how-to interviews with the builders themselves. $100 adds an official Viper Team t-shirt, optionally signed by the team members themselves, while $250 adds in a ticket to the Bay Area Maker Faire where the Viper will be on display for a back-stage tour.

For the high-rollers, a $500 pledge earns a VIP invitation to the Maker Faire with exclusive access to the Viper Simulator and a customised video of your experience. Finally, the top $1,000 reward level will see the team visit you in any area up to 50 away from San Francisco for a personal experience.

The project has already smashed past its original goal of $2,500, with a total Kickstarter fund of $3,513 at the time of writing. For more information on the project, including a video, and to pledge your own support, check out the team's Kickstarter project page.


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edzieba 21st March 2012, 22:42 Quote
$17,000 seems not unreasonable for similar DIY multi-axis platform projects for regular flight sims. However, they appear to only be handling 3-axis rotation, with little provision for linear force loading (shocks, bumps, etc) such as you could achieve with a Stewart platform or the like, and their budget and site contain noticeably little information on the software side of the simulation. The video of their test platforms also has two worrying aspects: first, the nasty looking underdamped oscillation - which may just be from using a full-scale control law with a sub-scale model - and the lack of tilt to simulate acceleration (a common trick to simulating continuous acceleration is to use the force of gravity, by tilting back to simulate forward acceleration, tilting forward to simulate deceleration, etc). This is compounded by the lack of axial motion meaning the tilt transitions can't be masked by axial movements.

It's a real nice idea and I wish the luck ith it, but it feels from the information they have made available that they've bitten off more than they can chew.
rogerrabbits 21st March 2012, 23:15 Quote
Lol at the picture.
PingCrosby 23rd March 2012, 08:44 Quote
Bloody students.....GET SOME WORK DONE
rogerrabbits 23rd March 2012, 21:29 Quote
Yea! And give Dell Boy his car back!
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