Here is a picture of the innards. If you’ve seen any of the other FFB2 extension projects on other forums, this will look similar. The gimbal, motors and circuit boards are strait from a USB FFB2. I added a Pro Micro board to handle the Warthog stick. The toggle switch is wired to control the power to the circuit boards so that I can power down the stick when it’s not in use without unplugging the cord or turning off the PC. Not shown are the extra 1 ohm resistors soldered onto the circuit board to boost the motor force.
The extension is made from 1" curtain rod, PVC elbows and 3D printed adapters. The black bit at the top is a 3D printed Warthog adapter, sized for standard 1" PVC at the bottom, with a 10 degree forward tilt and 5 degree left twist. I used two 90 degree elbows to help balance the weight of the stick. At the base of the extension is a 3D printed gimbal stop, to keep the stick throw dimensions in limits. The springs are extra 10 lbs’ers from my VKB stick.
Here it is tarted up with some semi-gloss black. I plan to sew a cloth dust boot to cover the springs and gimbal and 3D printed a large ring to provide a clean edge for the boot.
Here’s a picture of the (semi) completed stick at home in my pit. Sorry for the glare.
The good: The height, throw and general feel of the stick is very much like a real cyclic. I love the Warthog stick and wiring it to a Pro Micro board is a piece of cake. The springs provide just enough tension to center the stick with the power off.
The bad: The motors are not strong enough to hold the stick trimmed in position through its full range of motion, and this is partly due to the springs. You can feel the trim moving and holding the stick, and it’s much better than a non-FFB stick, but it’s not 100%. The deal breaker are the FFB2 pots. Because the throw with the extension is limited, it doesn’t use the full range of the pots. There is a very discernible lack of accuracy, and noticeable gaps as the pots register the movement. This is pretty much a deal breaker, as it makes fine adjustment impossible.
The future: The first thing I need to do is retrofit new pots. If I can improve the accuracy, then the stick is useable even without FFB. Second, I am going to try and rig a counterweight system at the base of the stick so that I can get rid of the springs. I may also swap the Warthog with a lighter F-22. Third, I might buy another FFB2 and mount a second set of motors in parallel. That might involve a new box, though.
I wish there was a way to simply replace the motors for something more powerful. Also, I’m really just doing this for the helicopter force trim effect. I have a large subwoofer under the seat and a Gametrix Jetseat, so the rumble and other vibration effects are pretty strong even without FFB2. I can feel weapons firing, stalls and even the rotors passing the seat at low RPM, all carried through the stick and seat just with the sub and Jetseat alone.