Reassessing the principles behind the heave add-on

Readers who have followed the project from the start know we’ve followed the maxim that heave (or up and down motion) is nice to have, but not essential. Lifting the whole platform, and user, is very expensive in terms of power and engineering strength which is largely why motion simulation is so expensive to get into. Rotating the user is cheap, so that’s what we’ve concentrated on figuring out first.

We realised early on though that even though heave wouldn’t be a major focus it would be awesome to add sooner or later. If our average customer is happy to pay X for a sphere they might be happy to pay X again to get that sphere to move up and down. Ideally the mechanism for heave would fit inside the base and be backwards compatible. It seemed like a good principle, but perhaps not the best idea.

We want to get the sphere cockpit perfected, but having to design around a future mechanism makes the task rather more complicated. We would need to actually design and build the heave add on at the same time. This falls into the realm of ‘feature creep’ which is pretty dangerous when trying to make something on a budget, spending a good chunk of your prototyping budget on a future feature isn’t the best plan.

Instead I’ve realised that there is a great opportunity for simplifying the idea behind the heave add on. We always believed that the ‘end game’ for the platform was a sphere mounted on a six degree of freedom platform which would give the most options for users so why not have that as a guiding principle instead. A simple lifting mechanism inside the base doesn’t move us towards that final goal.

We also recognise that while people react well to the sphere lots of people are still in the market for a ‘traditional’ simulator. They still want an affordable 2 or 3 degree of freedom system (pitch/roll + heave) which the sphere design doesn’t fulfil.

So, it makes sense to actually design TWO simulators. The spherical cockpit version and an affordable base with pitch, roll and heave that can also be updated to add sway, surge and yaw. We treat both designs as separate unit that work individually but can also be combined. So users could buy one, or the other, or both. They might decide to upgrade either unit. You also have the option (if you had both) to separate the modules if you had a friend over to play 🙂

As usual the philosophy is to ‘keep it cheap’ so I threw together a quick frame version.

simple frame60  Clearly this is no good, what is the point of making something affordable if it’s too ugly to want?

Instead I think it would be better to have something with more elegant lines. This could be made by bending three sheets of aluminium and reinforcing them with an external frame.
simple frame2

The sphere is already quite large so this would add more bulk to the setup, so instead of three large parts we create smaller ones with the center missing, as demonstrated by the right hand picture below.

curves

This means the heave add on is much smaller when used separately, perfect for your own chair or with a ‘playseat’.

chair

If you want the whole setup you could use the same parts but add three panels to fill in the center of the platform. It’s possible these could be dispensed with since the base for the sphere would cover any gaps depending on how it’s designed.

chboth

This idea is more like a 3D sketch to get the ball rolling and creative juices flowing, it’s very early in the whole process but I think this could be the way to move forward.

Two platforms that could be used alone or combined would be a great way to give users more choice, as well as increase functionality.

Comments, as always, are welcome.