Designing an Arduino-powered pneumatic flight simulator

A Maker by the name of Dominick Lee has created an Arduino-powered pneumatic flight simulator dubbed “LifeBeam.”

According to Lee, the LifeBeam Flight Simulator is basically a motion platform capable of performing full rotations tilting at about 40-degrees – an efficient equivalent to the traditional “Stewart Platform” simulator. Indeed, the LifeBeam manages the same physical movements (2DOF), although it only runs on two pneumatic cylinders while the Stewart platform requires 6.

So how does LifeBeam work? As Lee notes, the LifeBeam comprises a “full setup” of equipment that runs simultaneously and collaboratively.

“The data is first sent from the graphics or gaming PC through a custom software program that acquires game data. The game data is scaled and converted into specific coordinates for the roll and pitch (X and Y) axis,” Lee explained.

“The program sends out the final signal which is received by an Arduino Duemilanove (Atmel ATmega168 or ATmega328). The Arduino has a complex program on it that combines the serial commands and parses certain values to calculate a voltage which is then converted into PWM and sent to a low-pass filter which smoothes the PWM into analog voltage. The analog voltage is connected to a pneumatic valve amplifier which controls the pneumatic cylinders to make the platform move accordingly.”

Interested in learning more about Dominick’s Arduino-Pneumatic Flight Simulator? Be sure to check out the official project page on Instructables here.

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