Wednesday, December 8, 2021


Thanos4U servo motion controller

The new Thanos4U motion controller was designed to easy plug and play connection of the many DIY rigs out there that use SFX-100 or similar actuators. To allow then use the plug and play motion software SimRacingStudio. Essentially you can build the actuators according to the plans for standard SFX-100 and don't use the suggested leonardo, rather use the Thanos4U that is plug and play with the AASD-15A servos used on these actuators. Or use any similar actuators that also have AASD-15A servos (eRacing Lab, Scuderiart, PT-actuator etc).

Features USB-C connector for power/data

The Thanos4U controller features four DB25 ports so you can use standard DB25 cables (straight through 25C one to one). The DB25 ports are hot plug, meaning you can plug or power on the actuators at any time, the controller will recognize the active servo being connected and if ready will calibrate its home position and will move to the park position (usually 1% of the total stroke, retracted). This is especially useful for vertical actuator rigs as the park position will be totally down so you can power off the servos without fear it might drop from gravity. 

The 4 vertical actuators usually are representing 3DOF, aka pitch, roll and heave. But the motion software can also mix in the pitch roll accelerations for surge or lateral very convincingly. The SimRacingStudio, not only handles the motion but also autodetects the presence of the Thanos4U controller being connected and automatically activates and set it up (Spike filter level protection). Apart from the motion, SRS App can fully configure the Thanos4U controller to allow setup of the actuator stroke values, the leadscrew size, inline or foldback arrangement, for each actuator individually. And gives access to alter other parameters like park and standby timeouts, speeds etc. All is done remotely so you don't have to reach for the controller to adjust things like with the AMC-AASD15A controller that has an LCD menu for that.

If extra axis are needed, they can be added later by using a secondary Thanos4U controller to add vertical placed actuators, like for surge, traction loss, or double traction loss (front-back). The double traction loss also serves as yaw rotation axis often because of the combined motion.

Here's a quick comparison table about the differences between the AMC-AASD15A controller and the Thanos4U controller:

Main differences are the plug and play supported software, ways to access the parameters, and number of actuators supported by each. But there are hidden differences in the internal engine of the Thanos4U, with highly optimized code for fixed timing of the pulses interleaved across all 4 motors, that results in much smoother and fluid operation. 

A customer that had tried both AMC-AASD15A and Thanos4U controllers mentioned the noticeable improvement on Discord:

The Thanos4U also features the same RJ45 port used for e-stop button box, which can be either built by the end user according to the diagram, or bought ready assembled from Bajer on Tindie or PT-Actuator.

A copy of the secure firmware along with the user manual of the Thanos4U controller can be found here. That said, the firmware is fully developed and already 100% integrated with SRS but is possible to be updated in the future to add extra features as needed. 

Watch the Thanos4U controller introduction video:


2021, San Diego, California, USA

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

737-800 Sim 6dof Motion Platform

Just wanted to highlight Mike's 6DOF platform project and share here his words about it:

Regarding the design of the 6dof Motion Platform:   There is nothing super complex about its design.  It is modeled after the typical hexapod type design.   What is critical however, is deciding on the orientation/layout of the hexapod components.  These factors largely determine the size, complexity, and cost of the Motion Platform system.

I decided to use a Gearbox/Lever system to drive the hexapod actuators.   The main reason for this was ease of construction and low cost.   In my case, I purchased a 160:1 dual-reduction gearbox made by Grove Gear.   This gearbox incorporates a 1st stage Helical reduction, followed by a 2nd stage Worm reduction.  The Worm reduction prevents any “back drive” movement for safety reasons.  These gearboxes are very robust, having about 10 times the needed torque requirement.

Both the Motion Platform structure and the upper Flight Deck structure are weldments made with steel tubing.   The six Actuators are made using thick wall steel tubing, with 1” size steel Rod Ends on each Actuator.   I decided to use a 6” radius for the Actuator Lever on the output shaft of the gearbox.

There are many ways to design a Hexapod, and the approach that I have taken represents just one way of accomplishing the design and construction of a 6dof Motion Platform.  My approach to the design challenge was mainly constrained by my personal resources to build such a system.  Fortunately, I have my own personal machine shop, so machining and welding, etc. was not a problem.  As far as cost is concerned, I have about $15,000 invested in the motion platform material and system components.   This is relatively inexpensive compared to buying a commercial 6dof Motion Platform.   My Motion Platform is more of an experiment to see if I could build such a motion system on a “beer budget” that would yield an incremental level of Sim immersion to give a realistic sense of motion for ground/air flight operations using the 737-800 flight model.   I am very pleased with the results thus far, and I consider the time and cost worth the investment.

The input drive to the gearboxes is accomplished with six Servo motors.  These are very powerful servo systems, with high resolution encoders.  Each Servo motto is rated at 2.2 KW.  The Servo system is controlled by the Thanos AASD-15A Servo Controller, which in my case, is fed by the BFF 6dof Motion Control-software for outputting motion cues from the P3D flight simulator.   The Servo system is so powerful that careful “tuning” of the motion cues are required to prevent radical platform movements and related jolts that can induce extreme shock and vibration into the motion platform and related structures.  

Because people ride in the Sim Cockpit, it is to be considered a “life support system”, with related precautions and safety measures applied anytime the Motion Platform is in a “Powered ON” mode.  This type of setup needs to be taken seriously to prevent injury or worse.  I never work under the Motion Platform when it is powered is applied to the Servo Systems.  When starting and/or shutting down the Motion Platform, I always use a Check List to ensure it is done correctly each time.

I should also mention that when I first started this 737-800 Sim Project, I knew from experience with other big projects, that I wanted to fast-track the Sim build as much as possible.  In that regard, I chose Flight Deck Solutions for all the main Panel instruments and MIP structure.   Flight Deck Solutions are known for their high quality Sim components and systems.  I am proud to be a FDS customer, and from my personal experience, FDS customer service and product reliability is outstanding.

I also purchase the FDS Nose Section and Interior Panels.  All this gave me a huge head start on the 737-00 Sim construction.  Then I got the bright idea to add a 6dof Motion Platform to the Sim.  Designing and fabricating the Motion Platform greatly complicated the Sim Project.  However, I am now in the final stages of building the Sim, and expect to have it fully completer this year 2020.   This has been a 4+ year project.

San Diego, 2021

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Sim Racing Garage PT-Actuator reviews video collection

 Here is a complete list of videos that Barry from Sim Racing Studio made reviewing PT-Actuator. 

PT Actuator 5DOF Motion System Review Part1 "The Build"

PT Actuator 5DOF Motion System Review Part 2 "Electronics/Wiring"

PT Actuator 5DOF Motion System Review Part 3 "Configuring/Testing"

Scorpion Actuators From PT Actuator Review

PT Actuator 6DOF Conversion Review

San Diego, 2021

EMI Filter Guide by John Spanos

 So I just wanted to drop in here and share my fix for EMI and ground loops on my SFX-100+Surge that was causing grey outs when touching my Pimax headset, and also causing my HE Sprints to completely disconnect:

STEP1: get everything you are powering that’s interconnected in a system (sfx drivers, pc, usb hub, etc.) on one outlet. I accomplished this buy putting everything on a 12 outlet power strip that goes back to ONE outlet. Once that’s done, all of your peripherals and drivers are sharing one ground (assuming the outlet you’re using is grounded.... make sure it is) which will reduce the chances of creating ground loops...

STEP2: Make sure you’re using shielded cable or shielded tape on your servo to driver power lines (data line doesn’t need shielding). Mine came shielded, but If yours didn’t, the Thanos AMC  user manual has a detailed procedure for doing it. 

STEP3: Buy yourself the in-line emi filter suggested by Thanos in his guide. Below is the link. It’s a very easy device to install (will explain next), and it will essentially eliminate a lot of the higher frequency noise that causes drop outs on yours system.

Installing the filter.... Basically, all you have to do is instal this device on your main power cable that feeds your drivers...My drivers power cables are all daisy chained, so all I did was disconnect the wires (green,white and black) from ONLY the FIRST driver in the series, and connect them to the LINE SIDE of the filter (see pictures). The top two prongs on the LINE side are for power and neutral (black and white for me in the US). They are bidirectional so it does NOT matter which one is black and which one is white, just stay consistent when you eventually wire in the LOAD side back to the driver. The bottom prong on the LINE side is a ground for your green wire. So far all you’ve done is remove the 3 wires from your first driver, and wired them to the LINE side of the filter...

NEXT, you want to get two pieces of wire to connect the LOAD side of the filter back to the driver where you removed the black and white wires before... I opted not to use color coded (black and white wires) as I had some red 12-gauge sitting there, so don’t panic and get confused. As long as the wire is as thick as the other power wires, it’s not a problem.... throw some spade connectors on them, and wire them into the LOAD side prongs of the filter.

So now you’ve wired in two wires to the LOAD side of the filter, and you’re ready to connect them back to the driver...


Make sure to take note of which of the two top prongs on the LINE side you made black, and which one you made white.... why? Because your about to connect the LOAD side back to the driver, and as we know, the driver has a specific spot for a black (power) wire and one for a white (neutral) wire... you can’t mix this up when connecting the load side to the driver.... So please take a look at my pictures. I made sure to connect the wire on the LOAD side that corresponds with the black wire on my LINE SIDE to the first attachment point on your driver....The second wire on the LOAD side corresponding with the white wire on the LINE side then goes to the spot right below the black wire on your driver. just like it was before you removed them. LASTLY, connect the GROUND on the LINE SIDE to the driver housing. That’s it!  So you’re done.... super simple....All you did was introduce a filter before your first driver. Now all your drivers and everything else on that power strip will have much less EMI. 


STEP4: ground your rig properly.... sand down the anodized finished or drill a fresh hole into your rig (anodized aluminum is a poor conductor), and attach a wire (I have multiple wires because of multiple layers in my rig with surge). Once that’s done, take the other end of that wire(s) and attach it/them to the green ground wire off a male 3-prong power plug you’ve just cut off from a power cable ... obviously you don’t want power (black and white), as your intention is to make a ground plug for your rig, so you’ll either need to cut the white/black out and tape the ends off with electrical tape, or just remove the prongs associated with those two wires from the plug entirely, and just leave the green wire/ground on the plug. Congratulations, you’ve just made yourself a ground plug you can literally plug into THE SAME POWER STRIP as all you’re other stuff, and ground your rig. Your rig is now grounded using the common ground from your outlet that all your other stuff is using. Do not ground your rig on the drivers! It’s a noisy ground and it’s not as good as the aforementioned method. 

You’re all done! Enjoy your rig without dropouts and grey outs...

By John Spanos



Confused a bit? Take a look on this video to see a bit more clear the wiring:

And see this video with results of the measured EMI after using the line filter: