Flight simulation in 2021 (especially in VR) lets you step into the cockpit of any aircraft and get tantalisingly close to the feeling of flying for real. Unfortunately that immersion breaks when you reach out for the flight stick, trim wheel or flaps.
The goal for AuthentiKitTM is a truly immersive experience in which the flight stick is exactly where you expect it to be and feels just like the real thing, whether that is a Spitfire MkIX spade grip or a basic DR400 stick. The same for the trim wheel, flap lever and other important controls that demand a tactile response.
AuthentiKit is FREEWARE. All the flight controls developed by AuthentiKit are provided as free downloads of CAD files for 3D printing, assembly guides and parts lists for easy self assembly. If you don’t have a 3D printer there are community members who will now print parts for you. Initially all controls were designed and released by Phil Hulme the founder of AuthentiKit. In Spring 2021 an SDK was released including a methodology and reusable components to make it easy for others to design AuthentiKit compatible flight controls. The first of many community designed controls, a Spitfire MkIX rudder trim wheel, was designed by Ian Colman and launched on April 16th, 2021.
The key to achieving all this was to design a modular system based around a Universal Control Hub, an adjustable rig and interchangeable quick release flight controls. In VR we are blind to the real world so we don’t need to worry whether the cockpit looks identical down to the last nut and bolt and we certainly don’t need cockpit instruments with working readouts. What really matters is the feel. This means correctly sized and positioned flight sticks, trim wheels, radio stack instruments, throttle controls and so on. This is where authenticity matters.
With a single USB socket the Universal Control Hub handles the processing of positional information from all controls. The basic model has 10 inputs for a flight stick, throttle, trim wheel etc. Each input takes a standard network cable which connects it to the flight control.
All flight controls mount to the rig via quick release plates. To switch from one type of control to another for a different aircraft, unplug the network socket, slide out the control and swap in the new one.
The adjustable rig allows for easy re-positioning to ensure that the placement of each flight control is exactly right for the aircraft.
The AuthentiKit vision is ambitious – a fleet of your favourite aircraft both in hardware as well as VR software. Surely this is just for the super rich? No. In fact quite the opposite. AuthentiKit takes a self-build kit approach based on low cost commodity parts you can buy from Amazon or eBay. The magic that turns these basic components into quality engineered flight controls is 3D printing. Don’t have a 3d printer?
Designed for simple assembly, the kit requires no soldering and no electronics skills. Everything is push fit or screw together.
AuthentiKit is built around commodity parts such as standard sized sealed bearings and commonly used encoders – most are less than $1 each. Important axis devices use frictionless hall sensors which never wear out.
Custom manufactured parts are where the cost usually comes in but not here. AuthentiKit comes with 3D print files which you can print yourself on a sub $200 printer and $25 worth of filament. Don’t have a printer?
There’s no point having authentic feeling flight controls if you can’t position them exactly where they need to be. Yet most of us can’t dedicate the space for a home cockpit. Here’s the answer.
The AuthentiKit rig system clamps to an ordinary desk in just 5 minutes and flight controls are then attached using a quick release system.
Heavy gauge steel structure but very affordable – it’s just a monitor stand mounted upside down.