Wiimote Paraglider Control Guide v1.0

Simulator Control Concept - Wiimotes

It’s hard to beat the original control concept for the simulator.  The wire potentiometers offer very precise control inputs and are highly reliable given their nominal life cycle time of ~150k cycles.  However, the one downfall may be their price (which is close to $350 for a pair).  I believe this is limiting their affordability for most potential users.  So, this has led me to develop less expensive alternatives.

Lo and behold, the Wii Remote, otherwise known as the Wiimote.  Yep, you can hook it up to your PC if it has Bluetooth capability, and if it doesn’t, you can buy a Bluetooth USB dongle for less than 10 dollars.

The premise of operation is this:  Holding an IR pen in each hand, as you move your hand(s) up and down (simulator brake toggle movement), the Wiimote(s) pick up the IR signal from the Wiimote and transfers the movement to the PC via the Bluetooth adapter.  Specialized software (freeware) then translates the information into joystick inputs. 

Here’s a simple diagram of the connection: 

  

Diagram of Wiimote Control Scheme

Looks simple, right?  However, there are some things have to be established before communication between the Wiimotes and your PC can occur.

Hardware

First, you’ll need to make a minor investment in two Wiimotes, one Wiimote Nunchuck (for use as your engine controller for a powered paraglider), a pair of IR light pens, and a USB Bluetooth adapter.   You’re looking at a $50-100 dollar investment for all of these items.  (You can buy all of these on eBay for close to the $50 mark; else you can expect to pay closer to $100 if you buy retail.)

Software

For software, you’ll need the following three programs:

Bluetooth stack - which is the Bluetooth controlling software.  Windows comes with a built-in MS stack, which works just fine for our purposes.

GlovePIE - Freeware software which assigns commands from the Wiimotes to the computer.  (Use this software at your own risk.  It is not MS certified, and might require you to put your PC in test mode for it to work correctly.)  GlovePIE is available here:  http://download.chip.eu/en/GlovePie-0.30_174835.html

PPJoy – Freeware software that assigns your Wiimotes to virtual joysticks (which can then be assigned to inputs through the GlovePIE scripting language).  PPJoy is available here:

http://www.simtel.net/product/download/id/75176

Wiimote Configuration

Here are the steps required to set-up the Wiimotes on your PC:

1)  Install PPJoy.

2)  After setup for PPJoy is complete, open the "Start" menu, expand "All Programs", then find and expand the "Parallel Port Joystick" folder. Within that folder, run "Configure Joysticks".

3) Click the "Add" button and change "Parallel Port" to "Virtual joysticks". Click the next "Add" button.  The joystick will install as if Windows were installing an external device.  During setup of the first part of the device, your computer will ask you if you're sure you want to install as the drivers are not signed. Click "Continue Anyway".  Allow the second part of the device to install as well.

4) Repeat this process once more to create a total of two virtual joysticks.

5)  Install GlovePIE.  As previously mentioned, it is not MS certified and might require you to put your PC in test mode for it to work correctly. 

6)  Now you’ll need to get your PC to recognize your Nintendo Wiimotes through your Bluetooth wireless device. To do this, start your Bluetooth program and tell it to search for devices.  You might have to press down the A button on the Wiimote, or sometimes both the 1 and 2 buttons simultaneously.  The bottom lights of the Wiimote should be blinking.

7) When it finds the device, it may ask to search for services. Tell it to connect to the HID device if it does.

8) There is no PIN for the Wiimote, so tell it to skip this step.  Note that the bottom 4 lights of the Wiimote should continue to blink.

9) Repeat the above steps for the second Wiimote.

10) Open up GlovePIE from its folder (or the shortcut you probably made after downloading it).

11) Copy the following script into the programming box:

// This script turns two Wiimotes into IR capture devices, allowing you to use IR flashlights for brake toggle inputs.

Wiimote1.Led1 = true

Wiimote1.Led2 = false

Wiimote1.Led3 = false

Wiimote1.Led4 = false

PPJoy1.Analog8 = 1

PPJoy1.Analog9 = 1

PPJoy1.Analog10 = 1

PPJoy1.Analog11 = 1

PPJoy1.Analog12 = 1

PPJoy1.Analog13 = 1

PPJoy1.Analog14 = 1

PPJoy1.Analog15 = 1

PPJoy1.Analog0 = wiimote1.PointerY

// Set Up Script for 2nd Mote

Wiimote2.Led1 = false

Wiimote2.Led2 = true

Wiimote2.Led3 = false

Wiimote2.Led4 = false

PPJoy2.Analog8 = 1

PPJoy2.Analog9 = 1

PPJoy2.Analog10 = 1

PPJoy2.Analog11 = 1

PPJoy2.Analog12 = 1

PPJoy2.Analog13 = 1

PPJoy2.Analog14 = 1

PPJoy2.Analog15 = 1

PPJoy2.Analog1 = wiimote2.PointerY

// Set Up Script for 3rd Mote

Wiimote3.Led1 = false

Wiimote3.Led2 = false

Wiimote3.Led3 = true

Wiimote3.Led4 = false

PPJoy3.Analog8 = 1

PPJoy3.Analog9 = 1

PPJoy3.Analog10 = 1

PPJoy3.Analog11 = 1

PPJoy3.Analog12 = 1

PPJoy3.Analog13 = 1

PPJoy3.Analog14 = 1

PPJoy3.Analog15 = 1

PPJoy3.Analog1 = nunchuk3.Joyy

E = nunchuk3.Z

G = nunchuk3.C

12) Save the script (so you can open it later), and then click “Run" at the top. The Wii Remotes should now function.  One remote should indicate Player 1, and the other remote should indicate Player 2.

Wiimote Set-up

Now that you have the Wiimotes connected to you PC via Bluetooth and they are tagged to joysticks 1 and 2, you need to set them in place in

Set Wiimote #1 to the left side of where the user will be sitting, with the IR detector (front of Wiimote) facing the user approximately 3’ off the ground and 7’ away.  I mount the Wiimote on a camera tripod to allow me to adjust it.  Once in place, set-up Wiimote #2 the same way on the right side of the user.

Now it’s time to calibrate the Wiimotes.  Sitting in the user position (chair or harness), take an IR pen in your right hand, holding it like a brake toggle, and aim the beam towards the right Wiimote.  Enter the joystick calibration mode in Windows, and select calibrate Virtual Joystick #1. The calibration extents should be from hands-up position down to full right brake position.  Repeat for Wiimote #2 for the left side.

You should be all set!  Run your favorite sim software and start flying with your new controls.

If you need more help in configuring the Wiimotes to work on your PC, then perform a Google search as there are lots of online help resources available.

Keep in mind that this Wiimote control scheme has some deficiencies:

1) It takes longer to set-up than the original control concept (using wire pots) since you have to go through a process of having the computer recognize the remotes every time you boot up.

2) The controls seem to lag slightly (possibly because of the various communication protocols that it must go through to communicate to your sim software).

3) You need a rather large area to make it work since the Wiimotes need to be located 7 feet to either side of you

4) Holding IR pens in your hands is a poor substitute for brake toggles!  Of course, you could always attach them to handles and bungies on a hang-frame to give realistic feel and response.

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