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RcSim - A Model Flight Simulator (picolisp.com)
66 points by eggy on July 27, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments

Only tangentially related to the article, but if you're planning to get started with RC, a RC flight sim is a great option, and can save you $100s or $1,000s on crashed planes.

One of the biggest early obsticles in RC flying is training your brain to know which way to push the stick when your plane is in various positions relative to you. E.g., "My plane is coming back at me. I want it to go to my left, which way do I pull the stick?" Obviously easy to figure out given a few seconds, but often you don't have a few seconds to figure it out. You have to train your brain to intuit it.

RealFlight[1] is the 500lb gorilla in the RC flight sim space, and a good piece of software. But they also have a history of expensive and frequent upgrades, and charging for new models. I prefer Phoenix[2], which so far only has free (and frequent) updates, includes models from my favorite RC manufacturers and lets you download new models for free. Absolute RC[3] is the only current RC flight sim that runs in OSX, but I still prefer Phoenix in Parallels or Bootcamp.

You're going to spend $100-$200 on a simulator and controller, but it's well worth it for being able to practice in a pretty realistic setting before you start flying real planes.

1. http://www.realflight.com/ 2. http://www.phoenix-sim.com/ 3. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/absolute-rc-plane-sim/id5349...

Having something that works with a proportional joystick controller (e.g. - Logitech clone of Sony style game controller), if not an actual RC controller, is essential as well. Keyboard controls are horrible for practicing flying. (I believe the packages you mention come with an RC controller mockup, as well as usually supporting a PC-to-transmitter patch cable)

Alas, the big boys are Windows-only software :-(

There is at least one inexpensive RC simulator out there that runs on Android (and has pretty good glider simulation), which lets you use a PC USB controller for the sticks. You need a USB "On The Go" (OTG) adapter cable to plug the full size "PC end" of the controller into the micro USB socket.

I had a free simulator that worked on Mac, but I forgot its name after it stopped working.

The FrSky Taranis transmitter can be used as a USB controller with a normal mini USB cable. It runs about $175, but you're not likely to outgrow it since it has tons of knobs and switches, runs an open source firmware, and can accept JR-style transmitter modules.

I actually learned on an Xbox 360 controller originally, not nearly as good as a real transmitter, but much better than a keyboard.

Both Phoenix and RealFlight come in packages either with a controller, or a cable to plug in your RC controller.

Interesting. Isn't the XBox controller "asymmetrical", in that the left joystick is above the D-pad, further up and to the side than the right joystick is? (much like a Nintendo Gamecube controller)

transmitter vs controller images:






I've been flying RC for over 30 years. I learned the hard way. When it was time to learn to fly my first heli (TRex 500) I got both Real Flight and Phoenix. I probably logged over 100 hours on both.

I like Phoenix better for heli. Once I got past the basics it felt like Real Flight had just enough control latency to make it more difficult. The context for this is comparing actually flying the real heli against training on the sim.

Because of the approach I took I had exactly zero crashes with the TRex 500. Which is good 'cause I have somewhere between $1,500 to $2,000 into it with all the upgrades.

Today, when I teach someone to fly, I follow a progression on a sim from a pure glider to various powered planes. It works like a charm.

The fact that I can't even get remotely close to flying a heli successfully in Phoenix has kept me from being tempted by the real thing.

It takes time.

I've been thinking of putting together a little course to help get people get started. It can be really frustrating if you don't know how to start and what the progression of exercises should be.

One I've discovered a couple of years ago is 'picasim' -- IMO the best value for money on the simulation; it's truely /excellent/ and I've trained myself on both aerobatics (using slope gliding) and quad with it.

Not affiliated, but a big fan: http://www.rowlhouse.co.uk/PicaSim/

Aerofly RC also works well on Mac.

>One of the biggest early obsticles in RC flying is training your brain to know which way to push the stick when your plane is in various positions relative to you

I took at test to be a Navy Pilot a long time ago that had what they called spatial aperception which tested exactly that. It had the picture of a cockpit, then four different pictures of planes in various orientations and you had to choose the correct orientation based on the cockipit. I'm 100% sure I did well on that part because of playing flight and FPS as a younger man.

This is a fantastic example of Lisp, I'm really enjoying learning the details of flightsim as a Lisp'er would do it - a true bit of heritage software.. Thanks!

Yes, I am not an RC hobbyist. I was interested in the programming aspect of it. I have been playing with PilOS, which is PicoLisp made bootable on hardware, or Qemu or KVM. Alex Burger has been developing and using PicoLisp for decades. It has built-in Prolog, database and other amenities. The Rosetta code examples are telling of the language. I love PicoLisp, since I can tackle learning everything from the ground up. It's also very small, and very embeddable.

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