Bridge Command - Make your own throttles and wheel

Introduction

Using a simple USB interface chip, the BU0836, it is easy to construct your own throttle and wheel assembly with simple DIY and soldering skills

For more details of the BU0836, and how to buy one, please visit the maker's site. Reading this site will also be very useful in order to understand what you're doing when making your own controller set.

The BU0836 chip allows you to use variable resistors to control an analog joystick channel. Therefore, you will need three variable resistors, one for each throttle lever, and one for the wheel. These should be linear, and with a resistance somewhere around 10k (The exact value doesn't matter). If you wish, you can also use a button switch (push to make), which will sound your ship's horn. You will also need some wire to connect the parts.

The electrical stage

The variable resistors

Using the connectors which come with the chip, connect up the three pins of the first variable resistor as shown:

Then repeat this with the two other variable resistors, and connect the connectors to the three sets of pins on the left of the board:

You should now be able to test the controller with Bridge Command. Find your Bridge Command installation folder (typically C:\Program Files\Bridge Command 4.3GPL\), and open the text file joystick.ini. Change the line "use_joystick=0" to "use_joystick=1". Now, connect the BU0836 to your computer, and start up Bridge Command. Try changing the three variable resistors, and you should see their effect on the ship. If required, swap around the way they are connected, and if necessary also flip the connectors, so your resistors control the right engine or wheel, and act in the right direction.

The enclosure

Once this test has been sucessful, you can build an enclosure and levers and wheel for your controller. In this you are only limited by your ingenuity, but a few pointers are below:

Links and references