Scouts - Be Prepared

Unit photoOur glider simulator project:

In early 2019, the unit was given the decommissioned airframe of the University of the West of England (UWE) gliding club’s old K7M glider to turn into a glider simulator.

Our objective was to turn this 2 seater glider into a dual simulator i.e. a simulator at the front with its own set of controls and a simulator at the back also with its own set of controls. To achieve this, the unit wanted to use virtual reality headsets.

 

The benefits of such a simulator are:

  • It can be used by 2 people, independently and concurrently, hence allowing more time per person during a section / unit night;
  • Head tracking ensures that the pilot has visibility of his/her instruments and is also able to keep a good lookout naturally (through head movements rather than the unnatural action of pushing buttons);
  • More immersive and easier to use than a more traditional, “open air” simulator using a large screen or projector;
  • Portability;
  • Ease of setup;
  • Usable in all lighting conditions (including bright sunlight).

Our simulator was only made possible thanks to generous grants and donations from:

Our simulator is now fully operational. To see how we built it, check out our glider simulator blog.

Unit photoUnit photo

The unit’s explorers flew in G-DDYR before it was decommissioned in 2015

Current project status: simulator is complete and operational. We have some cosmetic work to do on the air frame that was delayed by the pandemic.

  • The airframe has been extracted from the hangar, cleaned, cut (1st rough cut) and moved to a workshop for the explorers to work on.
  • We have successfully tested our concepts to translate control movements into signals the flight simulator software understands.
  • Condor Soaring gave us a 50% discount on the simulator licences and aircraft packs – Thank you!
  • Using our prototyping kits we wrote and debugged the firmware for the Arduino boards:
    • Simulator controller (we’ll have 2 of this)
    • Lighting controller
  • We proved that we can control a VR glider using our sensors and firmware
  • We finalised the design for the simulator electronics
  • We used Fritzing to create the schematics for our simulator electronics
  • With all the funding needed for the project in place, we have been able to purchase:
    • 2 refurbished Dell G7 gaming laptops capable of running the simulation software and Oculus Link
    • 2 Oculus Quest virtual reality headset
    • 2 x Condor soaring licences, K8 and K21 aircraft packs
    • The electronics components we need to improve our prototyping kits
  • We have completed our electronics design
  • We have built the electronics for 1 simulator and the simulators’ lighting
  • We have written and tested the firmware for our simulator and the simulator’s lighting
  • We can control the glider in virtual reality with our electronics
  • We have designed the mechanisms to connect the mechanical controls to the electronics sensors
  • We have installed steel cables (wire ropes) in the glider and designing the 3D printed parts we need
  • We have created the support cradles
  • We have created wooden panels and 3D printed control panels for the buttons, switches,
  • We have installed the cabling and connected the electronic components
  • Firmware tuned to work with the simulation software
  • Front seat calibrated and tested
  • Front simulator test flight completed successfully
  • Panels and enclosures for the rear simulator 3D printed (we ran out of PLA filament and were not able to get new stock of the same colour for several weeks at the start of the pandemic)
  • Rear seat enclosures installed
  • Rear seat calibrated and tested
  • Rear simulator test flight completed successfully
  • Simulator laptops configured to enable both “aircrafts” to fly together

Next steps:

  • Refurbish and repaint the airframe
  • Apply sponsor logos to the airframes
  • Formally inaugurate the simulator

Photos and videos of the K7 simulator project:

Click here to access the project documents and resources (please note: All documents were scanned for viruses prior to uploading to our website).