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IsaacAsimov

Flying a Helicopter Should Be Easy

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I've read in an article called How to Fly a Helicopter that it takes both hands and both feet to fly one of them. It shouldn't be that difficult. I have two computer games called Infiltrator 1 and Infiltrator 2 for the Commodore 64 (in the year 1986) that only requires 1 joystick with a fire button and a keyboard to fly an attack/defense helicopter. I'll describe how it works: First, use the keyboard to press B,S, and I for Battery, Systems and Ignition. Let the RPM indicator increase to 3240 RPM's. Pull back on the joystick to increase altitude to 2000 ft. Since your horizontal velocity is 0, you are in hover mode. If you wanted to go back down to 1000 ft., you would push the joystick forward until you reached that altitude. To make the helicopter turn left, push the joystick left. To turn right, push the joystick right. You can check the compass to see your heading. To increase forward velocity, hold the fire button down and push the joystick forward. I have never tried this, but you should be able to fly backwards by holding the fire button down and pulling back on the joystick.

Let's assume you're flying forward at an altitude of 1000 ft. You could increase your velocity to 450 knots, which is the maximum in this simulation/game. You can press the + key to turn turbo mode on, which increases your forward velocity to 900 knots. To turn turbo mode off, press the - key. At certain times, an aircraft will fly by and contact you. Press * to enter communications mode, and type in Infiltrator or Overlord to hail them. If you enter the wrong code, the aircraft will attack you. If the plane fires a heat-seeking missile at you, you can press F to arm a Flare and press the fire button to launch it. If the plane fires a radar-scanning missile at you, you can press C to arm Chaff and press the fire button to launch it. You can then press R to arm a Rocket (missile) and press fire to launch it at the plane. If you run out of rockets, you can press H to display the HUD (Heads-Up Display) and fire your cannons (machine-guns) at the plane.

I think I have covered all the important details about flying this type of helicopter. I think it would be fairly easy to build. Anybody have any comments on this? Please let me know. Thank you.

 

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Lots of things should be easy; life, the universe and everything... 

But the infinite improbability drive was a bugger...

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1 hour ago, IsaacAsimov said:

I've read in an article called How to Fly a Helicopter that it takes both hands and both feet to fly one of them. It shouldn't be that difficult. I have two computer games called Infiltrator 1 and Infiltrator 2 for the Commodore 64 (in the year 1986) that only requires 1 joystick with a fire button and a keyboard to fly an attack/defense helicopter. I'll describe how it works: First, use the keyboard to press B,S, and I for Battery, Systems and Ignition. Let the RPM indicator increase to 3240 RPM's. Pull back on the joystick to increase altitude to 2000 ft. Since your horizontal velocity is 0, you are in hover mode. If you wanted to go back down to 1000 ft., you would push the joystick forward until you reached that altitude. To make the helicopter turn left, push the joystick left. To turn right, push the joystick right. You can check the compass to see your heading. To increase forward velocity, hold the fire button down and push the joystick forward. I have never tried this, but you should be able to fly backwards by holding the fire button down and pulling back on the joystick.

Let's assume you're flying forward at an altitude of 1000 ft. You could increase your velocity to 450 knots, which is the maximum in this simulation/game. You can press the + key to turn turbo mode on, which increases your forward velocity to 900 knots. To turn turbo mode off, press the - key. At certain times, an aircraft will fly by and contact you. Press * to enter communications mode, and type in Infiltrator or Overlord to hail them. If you enter the wrong code, the aircraft will attack you. If the plane fires a heat-seeking missile at you, you can press F to arm a Flare and press the fire button to launch it. If the plane fires a radar-scanning missile at you, you can press C to arm Chaff and press the fire button to launch it. You can then press R to arm a Rocket (missile) and press fire to launch it at the plane. If you run out of rockets, you can press H to display the HUD (Heads-Up Display) and fire your cannons (machine-guns) at the plane.

I think I have covered all the important details about flying this type of helicopter. I think it would be fairly easy to build. Anybody have any comments on this? Please let me know. Thank you.

 

A computer game built for a Commodore 64 isn't going to be accurate in terms of actually flying a real helicopter .   If it were, it would just be frustrating for anyone trying to play the game.  They'd  start playing the game, crash, try again, crash,...   Most people would just eventually give up.  Besides, a Commodore 64 wouldn't even be up to producing a realistic flight model to begin with.  

There are some more realistic simulators out there,   Microsoft made one that included helicopters.   But even then,  you can change the settings in terms of how realistic the flight model is.   To go from no experience to being at all proficient, you would start at the lowest realism settings and ramp up the realism ( such as correcting for air turbulence)  as you become more comfortable. 

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A Commodore 64 has enough processing power to control a fly-by-wire system for a helicopter ( if one were built using fly-by-wire instead of control cables ). The only reason modern simulators need the latest/greatest processors is for the realistic graphics/gameplay.

Most military computers ( where you usually find fly-by-wire systems ) are programmed in ADA, an outgrowth of Pascal and widely used by the Defense Department, so you wouldn't actually be able to use an MOStech 6510 processor.
The central processor used in the F-22, with the most advanced fly-by-wire system, is only an Intel Pentium 90 ( 90 MHz ) from the early 1990s.

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I've found games gloss over a ton. Lack of mechanical failures are particularly noticeable.

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16 hours ago, IsaacAsimov said:

I think I have covered all the important details about flying this type of helicopter. I think it would be fairly easy to build. Anybody have any comments on this? Please let me know. Thank you.

Flying a helicopter is definitely not easy. I don't know about modern helicopters, with a lot of computer assistance, but I think professional pilots must still be able to do it the hard way so they can handle emergency situations.

A small simulator experience, like yours: I once played around with the flight model simulator. In the beginning I did not even succeed in flying forward. I just curved up a little forward and then the helicopter fell back along more or less the same trajectory, going backwards and up. Like a pendulum. As soon as I changed some other rudder, I went really forwards, but also down, so I had to increase power, which brought me again in a pendulum like movement etc. 

Just realise that the flight model simulator is made to learn to fly plane and helicopter models, so it better be realistic, otherwise you would crash your dear flight model on your first real flight. On the other side, models of course do not behave exactly as their real counterparts. Why don't you try a helicopter crash course? My son once did that. 3 Evenings theory, and then half an hour real flight. Costs were about 600 bugs, which at the present exchange rate might be about $600.

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Eise, I don't know what you mean by flight model simulator, especially the word model. Was it a full-scale model that you sit in, or a remote-controlled small helicopter about the size of a drone?

I have a more realistic helicopter simulator for my Commodore 64 than Infiltrator. It's called Gunship Apache-64 Simulator, and has so many functions that you need a keyboard overlay to play it properly. Cheers!

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Scale models often behave differently than full-size because of scaling laws, so one can't necessarily conclude that they would have the same difficulty. Just by the fact that wind and airflow does not scale (a 10 km/hr breeze does not become 1 km/hr when you are flying a 1:10 scale model) will also have an effect.

The other point, which has been made but I will try to make again, is that any simulation is not automatically realistic. The number of controls on your keyboard is a measure of the complexity of the interface, rather than being a measure of how realistic it is.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, IsaacAsimov said:

Eise, I don't know what you mean by flight model simulator, especially the word model. Was it a full-scale model that you sit in, or a remote-controlled small helicopter about the size of a drone?

I have a more realistic helicopter simulator for my Commodore 64 than Infiltrator. It's called Gunship Apache-64 Simulator, and has so many functions that you need a keyboard overlay to play it properly. Cheers!

I had "Gunship Apache-64" and all it taught me was how a helicopter fly's (collective, cyclic, throttle etc...) and that was because I read the manual.

Are you seriously trying to suggest, you can operate a helicopter/plane/car/bike/etc... by reading a manual???

It's akin to thinking one is a formula 1 mechanic, because one watched a documentary. 

I taught my son to ride a bike by telling him to peddle and holding on to the saddle, until I was confident enough to let go.

Edited by dimreepr

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Posted (edited)

Not sure how we got to simulators/games; the OP was about using a computer to facilitate piloting a helicopter.

A helicopter is inherently stable, its center of gravity is directly below its center of lift.
A plane, on the other hand, can be unstable, to facilitate aggressive maneuvering. While a stable plane has its CcoL behind of the CoG so that the tailplane has to provide downward force to pitch, an unstable aircraft has the CoL ahead of the CoG making pitch departure that much easier, and increasing maneuverability.
A pilot cannot cope with the constant control inputs to keep the plane flying level, so a computer is inserted in the electrical control system ( fly-by-wire ). These used to be triple redundant with manual ( control cables ) back-up, but nowdays make do without the manual back-up, and maybe to quadruple redundancy.
The computer translates the force on the stick ( they don't move anymore ) into control laws, along with departure limits, and background trimming to keep the plane level. Since most 'modern' aircraft were designed in the 80s and 90s, the processors used in the F-22, B-2, F/A-18, F-16, Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen are all 386/486/early Pentium.

I see no reason you couldn't have an electrically actuated ( fly-by-wire ) helicopter where a computer takes care of all background tasks and limits departure, allowing for a single stick control with a throttle, as on a video game.

edit: sp mistake

Edited by MigL

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12 minutes ago, MigL said:

I see no reason you couldn't have an electrically actuated ( fly-by-wire ) helicopter where a computer takes care of all background tasks and limits departure, allowing for a single stick control with a throttle, as on a video game.

My son had one throttle control...

18 minutes ago, MigL said:

Not sure how we got to simulators/games; the OP was about using a computer to facilitate piloting a helicopter.

You still have to learn how hard to press the peddles...

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1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

I had "Gunship Apache-64" and all it taught me was how a helicopter fly's (collective, cyclic, throttle etc...) and that was because I read the manual.

Are you seriously trying to suggest, you can operate a helicopter/plane/car/bike/etc... by reading a manual???

 

It can't hurt to read the manual. It will tell you which control will affect which surface of the vehicle, and will give you some insight as to how the machine works.

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1 minute ago, IsaacAsimov said:

It can't hurt to read the manual.

Indeed...

But it won't tell you how hard to press the peddle...

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