Tag Archives: Oculus Rift

Maker builds a full-scale cockpit simulator in his bedroom

Told he could not fly, this San Diego Maker decided to create a Cessna 172 simulator for use with Oculus Rift. 

What do you do if you’re a 17-year-old Maker whose aspirations of flying an airplane have been grounded by the FAA due to a pre-existing medical condition? You build your own cockpit similar, that’s what!


Having been interested in aviation for quite some time and still determined to one day earn his Class 3 pilot’s license, Aidan Fay decided to design a full-scale Cessna 172 simulator right in the comfort of his own bedroom. And unlike other computer programs and video games available today, the San Diego-based Maker wanted a system that would take his training to whole new heights. His life-size cockpit includes everything from pedals that control actual airplane rudders and brakes, to a steering yoke, to an Oculus Rift running Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D software for a truly immersive experience.


Beyond that, he employed an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560), several switches, potentiometers, a few disassembled joysticks, as well as MDF and acrylic for the construction of the actual panel. The innovative teen also used some gears and motors to create a haptic feedback mechanism that can tighten and loosen the steering depending on the simulated flying conditions. In total, the project required more than 200 hours of sweat equity — and it was well worth it! Fay continues his training and looks forward to the day that his dreams are no longer bounded by a medical condition.


“I love aviation, especially World War II aircraft, and I love to build things. This project was my way of combining two of the three things I love most,” Fay explains.

Intrigued? Fly over to the Maker’s project page, and be sure to read MAKE: Magazine’s recent writeup on the simulator here.

Widerun is bringing virtual reality to indoor cycling

This interactive bike trainer is designed to deliver engaging fitness sessions through VR headsets. 

Let’s face it, stationary biking can be boring. But what if, during your workout, you were suddenly immersed in an intense uphill battle in the Tour de France, a leisurely ride along the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, or a thrilling escape from zombies in a Walking Dead-like post-apolocayptic world? That may soon be a reality thanks to one Italian startup that has debuted on Kickstarter.


While turbo trainers that allow avid cycling enthusiasts to use their actual bike indoors is fairly common, Widerun is a smart bike trainer designed to connect to virtual reality head-mounted units. At the moment, the system offers support for Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, as well as other mobile VR displays. Widerun pairs to either a PC or smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy with a theoretical distance over 100 meters.

Everything on the bike functions as it would had you actually been riding in these various settings. Meaning, when you switch gears to cycle faster or slower, Widerun transmits the real-world changes caused by the cyclist into the virtual world. As a true plug-and-play system, users don’t need a special bike to enjoy an immersive VR cycling experience. Instead, Widerun accommodates any piece of equipment with a wheel radius between 26″ to 29” — no adjustments necessary.


What’s more, Widerun features real-time, coherent feedback between your movement and your reaction in the VR world.

“One of the crucial aspects into delivering the best immersive virtual reality biking experience is the possibility to regulate the resistance and the inertia on the rear wheel according to the position in the 3D VR world,” the team writes. In other words, a rider will feel as if they are climbing mountains, breezing through forests or descending steep hills, as the trainer will automatically regulate its resistance.

Beyond that, Widerun also offers gamification and community elements that encourage users to choose among various VR settings to ride, engage with other cyclists, locate people to challenge, and monitor their performance history.


In order to create the most optimal VR biking experience possible, the team designed Widerun with two components: the trainer itself and a steering part that appears to be based on an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4). An embedded MCU receives inputs from both the game environment and the bike trainer to regulate back the electrical signals to match the virtual experience the user is having, such as steering degree, speed magnitude and ground resistance.

Widerun hopes to get other VR software developers onboard in the coming months. The team notes, “We believe that there are many amazing wizards in game design and development out there able to create even better 3D environments where to bike through Widerun. We decided to include with any type of pledge the complete SDK to let you build and (if you like) upload your own VR worlds! We’re looking forward to bike in your VR creations!”

Interested? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the Widerun team is currently seeking £30,000. Shipment is expected to begin early next year. 

3D printing your own virtual reality headset

It is without question that Oculus Rift has become the gold standard of the VR headset market; however, for those where a Rift headset is a bit out of reach, you can always devise your own in true Maker fashion. Noa Ruiz over at Adafruit has published a complete tutorial detailing how to do just that — create your own virtual reality headset with the help of some 3D printing and old-fashioned ingenuity.


To complement an instructional video, Ruiz’s comprehensive guide features a full materials list as well as an extensive breakdown of each step throughout the development process. “In this project we’re building a wearable HD monitor. This is great for anyone looking to make their own a personal display,” the Maker wrote in his introduction.

The design of the DIY VR headset is similar to that of the VR2GO mobile viewer, including a 5.6″ display. The main components of the headset consist of a four-piece design that “keeps secured with machine screws.” The Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4) and 9 DOF are mounted to the back frame with four screws, while a pair of aspheric lenses are mounted inside the frame panel. When mounting the monitor to the Arduino board, Noa compels fellow Makers to, “remember you can choose which way the (HDMI + Power) wires will connect into the monitor, either from the top or from the bottom.”


As for the 3D printing portion of the project, Ruiz has made the STLs readily available for download so that you can quickly load them up into the printer and be on your way.

Writing for Hackaday, Matt Terndrup notes that “it would be interesting to see if this design in the future can eliminate the wires and make this into a portable unit. Regardless of which, this project does a fantastic job at showing what it takes to create a homemade virtual reality device. And as you can see from the product list after the break, the price of the project fits under the $350 DK2 amount, helping to save some money while still providing a fun and educational experience.”

If you are interested in following Noa’s guide and creating your own VR headset, you can see the full guide over at Adafruit. For more innovative 3D printed designs, take a look at our archives here at Bits & Pieces.