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Tutorial How to convert your Frex SCM to SimTools - Updated

Discussion in 'DIY Motion Simulator Building Q&A / FAQ' started by MasterYoda, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. MasterYoda

    MasterYoda Active Member Gold Contributor

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    Disclaimer: I am not liable in any way if you harm your system/simulator by using any of the following information. Read all information available (X-Sim 2.0 manual, Wiki, forums threads, not limited to the links listed below) and use your discretion when setting up your system/simulator. Use this tutorial at your own risk.

    I decided to write down this quick howto to show other users how simple and fast it is to convert your simulator and take advantage on all amazing and powerful features of SimTools software. Not to mention the great support and friendship this community offers.

    Conversion overview:

    As most of the people know, Frex SimConMotion are build around Dyadic SCN5 100mm actuators. Although you see a Frex sticker over the original manufacturer label, Frex does not manufacture them. These actuators require power DC +24V+/-10% (Max. 2A Amps) and proper control through a RS485 port.
    The control can be made by SimTool software if you have a compatible USB <-> RS485 adapter.

    Given that, you simply need to replace the SimConBase and the Actuator Controller Box (I will call by this name) by a USB <-> RS485 converter. You will still save and use your already installed Power Supply, Emergency and Stop Switches.

    Pictures showing cables configuration before and after the conversion (it even cleaned up some of the cables cluttering)! :thbup:

    Sim_Before.JPG Sim_After.JPG


    Some reasons why you should convert to SimTools:
    1. Much more games supported, including flight simulators.
    2. Games updated by Steam (regardless of your will) don't stop working after online updates.
    3. Better support/help from the community. Much better response time, too.
    4. More information on how things work and why adjusting a setting will improve your sim.
    5. Flexibility to make profiles to your own taste.
    6. Powerful and professional grade software with tons of features.
    7. Easy to setup for basic users.
    8. You can run SimTools on an extra pc, if it crashes you can just keep driving on.
    9. If you disconnect your adapter USB cable with the PC powered ON, they are most likely not going to burst. But, if it happens, they can cost as low as USD$7 each and you don't need to pay shipping costs to the other side of the world and wait several weeks for it to come back.

    Okay...
    Here are the easy steps to follow:

    1. Make sure you read at least the first post of the SCN5 Hardware and Software threads:
    http://www.xsimulator.net/community/threads/scn5-scn6-hardware-thread.1083/

    2. Purchase two (02) USB <-> RS485 adapters. There are several options as you will see in the forum, even a DIY version.
    In my case, I chose the Devantech USB <-> RS485 Adapter.
    You can buy it on the following link by USD$ 37.50/each:
    http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/ ... ector.aspx

    3. Build two cables to connect the actuators to your USB <-> RS485 adapters (see diagram attached).

    SCN5_X-Sim2_Diagram.JPG

    Note: You can use cut the cables from the Frex Actuator Controller Box, but in the future if you want to reverse your conversion (not likely to happen), you will have to fix it back.

    In my case I was helped by Egoexpress who assembled some of these cable. He provided two cable to me.

    4. Download and install the latest adapter drivers (FTDI FT232R USB chip)
    Update:
    For Window 8 I didn't need to install the drivers, so I will leave this applicable only for Windows 7/XP.
    http://www.robot-electronics.co.uk/htm/ ... 5_tech.htm
    http://www.ftdichip.com/Drivers/VCP.htm

    5. Configure your COM ports:
    FDTI USB-RS485 Driver Settings.jpg

    6. Download and install latest SimTools software:
    http://www.xsimulator.net/community/marketplace/categories/simtools.3/


    7. Read and follow the quick start tutorial:
    http://www.xsimulator.net/simtools-quickstart/


    I configured my SCN5 interface and axis assignments as follows, these settings should be a good start point, but there might be better options out there.

    Axis assignments:
    SCN5_AxisAssignments.jpg
    SCN5_AxisLimiting.jpg

    Notes:
    1. You may need to change the direction of some of your axis if they are not moving correctly. But, if you read the Quick Start Tutorial you know how to fix it. Right? ;-)
    2. Make sure each SCN5 axis has a limiter of 90% or less (move slider to the left, never to the right), as per screen shot above. This will help prevent damages to your actuator if it bottoms out.
    3. Don't go crazy installing lots of plugins before you have a good basic Default profile. Every time you install a plugin the SimTools will copy the default profile to create the basic profile for that game. So, if you install lots of plugins, it will be more work to you later to fix one by one, even if you use presets.
    4. Avoid changing forces intensity in the axis assignments, instead, use the Game Manager editor as explained here:
    http://www.xsimulator.net/simtools-game-manager/#Editor
    [​IMG]

    SCN5 interface:
    SCN5_Axis1.jpg
    SCN5_Axis2.jpg
    Note: ComPort will change depending on which port your adapter where installed. Make sure to set each actuator to their correct Comports.

    T/S Tip:
    If only one of your actuators is moving after the conversion, it is probably a problem with their ID configuration. They need both to be set to ID #0.
    To check and correct that, you can use an old x-Sim version or try to use the SCN PC tool:
    http://www.automation4less.com/servact1.htm
    More info here: http://www.xsimulator.net/community...cm-to-simtools-updated.1412/page-9#post-48329

    The following screen shot shows how the SCN5 Devide ID is shown on x-Sim interface settings. If it is set to 1 or another number which is not zero, you can type 0 in the box and click on Change ID button:
    SCN5_Plugin_Config.JPG


    Have fun! :cheers:

    Let me know in case of any mistakes I've made in this tutorial.

    Cheers,

    Master Yoda

    ---

    Old Videos
    of the simulator working after the conversion:
    GTR Evolution


    rFactor


    NoLimits Roller Coaster Simulator


    ---



    Updates:
    2009-02-21: Added three videos and the step 7 screen shot.
    2009-02-23: Added the list of reasons why to convert to x-Sim.
    2013-10-04: Updated instructions to reflect use of SimTools software.
    SCN5_X-Sim2_Diagram.JPG FDTI USB-RS485 Driver Settings.jpg
    Sim_Before.JPG Sim_After.JPG
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    Last edited: Jul 9, 2016
  2. egoexpress

    egoexpress Active Member

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    You've forgotten to mention, that all is working still, though Steam updated GTRE. No driver update, no changes in configuration nor profile needed when games run uipdates :thbup:

    Thanks for the tutoriall!

    Btw, the cheap USB->RS485 converters work as well. Juist with the Hexin ones, I am not sure.
    I'd propose these ones:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/PC-USB-to-Serial-RS ... 0326865357

    @everyone
    Please dont hence back to ask qestions or to make suggestions to complete this tutorial.

    Regards
    Christian
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  3. MasterYoda

    MasterYoda Active Member Gold Contributor

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    Hehehe... Well listed!

    Actually I didn't want to get to the point to start listing all advantages to convert to Frex on this howto I would probably get emotional...
    But, maybe it is a good idea to do so... Lets do some brain storm and list them.
    I can come up with the following from the top of my head now:

    1. Much more games supported.
    http://www.x-simulator.de/beta/plugins.html
    2. Games like GTR Evo / Race 07 updated by Steam (regardless of your will) don't stop working after online updates.
    3. Better support/help from the community. Much better response time, too.
    4. More information on how things work and why adjusting a setting will improve your sim.
    5. Flexibility to make profiles to your own taste.
    6. Powerful and professional grade software with tons of features, such as the Match, Synaptrix, Yoda, there is even a data recorder.
    7. Easy to setup for basic users.

    What else? :brows:

    When we come up with a final list, I will include on the first post.

    Cheers,

    Me
  4. Ringorumble

    Ringorumble Active Member Gold Contributor

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    you can run it on an extra pc, if this crashes (which one time happended) i can just drive on. My scm crashed sometimes and the race was over since everything hung up !
  5. egoexpress

    egoexpress Active Member

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    - X-Sim provides tools to capture motion data even out of not yet supported games.
    - The X-Sim video plugin can be used to make motion rides out of (homemade, professional) onboard videos. For example: rollercoaster POV vids, car or plane onboard/cockpit view videos.
  6. egoexpress

    egoexpress Active Member

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    Amazing cool videos! Thanks!
    Your profiles work great :clap:

    Regards
    Christian
  7. tronicgr

    tronicgr

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    Amazing videos!!!! :thbup:

    That is a huge display... Widescreen projector????? :eek:


    Thanos
  8. MasterYoda

    MasterYoda Active Member Gold Contributor

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    Thanks Christian and Thanos! :highfive:

    That is, are three projectors connected together with a TH2G!
    It gives me a 12:3 projection on 3 x 50 screens in angle for a better FOV experience... :brows:

    Cheers,
  9. SimonME46

    SimonME46 New Member

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    Master Yoda, you are a star. Thanks for doing this write-up. It looks so straightforward that I am tempted to have a go myself rather than wait for my developer to take a crack (although he can still do the hard yards on my speed linked blower fans). I think I might even cut the Frex cables as I'm highly, highly unlikely to go back...
  10. Kullen

    Kullen New Member

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    This is some very good stuff :clap:
    I will convert my SCM as soon as possible. Finally no more waiting for drivers or game support.

    Thanks a lot Master Yoda
  11. MasterYoda

    MasterYoda Active Member Gold Contributor

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    Good to hear that my friend! 8)
    You will save lots of cables on these two seats you have there!
    Don't forget to keep us updated.

    It there a post where you talk about the blower fans?

    Cheers,
  12. MasterYoda

    MasterYoda Active Member Gold Contributor

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    Thank Sirnoname and all x-Sim community, we would never have this if it weren't for their great work!

    And, yes, no more suffering from lack of proper customer support! :sos:
  13. NathanAV

    NathanAV New Member

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    Hi all x-sim community..I will convert my SCM..But I can't find any FSX and IL2 profile and also iracing, Do you have it yet?..How to compare using Frex and Xsim..for driving for sure..It's more immersion? I found frex new driver it's kind slow movement..maybe it's reduce to avoid break actuator..I already ordered that USB <-> RS485 adapters converter ...It's need 2 right? for right and left actuator..Thanks alot

    Cheers
    Nathan
  14. MasterYoda

    MasterYoda Active Member Gold Contributor

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    Nathan,

    The actuators speed and acceleration are under your control with x-Sim.
    In the end, it will only depend on your profiles.
    If you download one you don't like, just adjust it to your taste!

    I am trying to make a FSX profile, but I am not sure it is gonna work out, our actuators move way to fast for flight sim!
    Maybe, I am overlooking something, dunno... :(

    Please, read all recommended material before starting anything or spending money! :thbup:

    Cheers,
  15. egoexpress

    egoexpress Active Member

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    For FSX you probably have to adjust/lower speed and accelleration. No problem though...
  16. MasterYoda

    MasterYoda Active Member Gold Contributor

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    I've tried really low settings... But, when it gets to be smooth it becomes extremely slow and delayed in relation to the game movement! :(
  17. bvillersjr

    bvillersjr Active Member

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    Certainly the problem is solvable. There are multiple ways to solve it, and since I dont have the game, I cannot recommend a mothod. However, there are the following possibilities:

    -Toy with speed / accel values (Lengthy process, but a solution can be found this way) Because the acceleration value controls the acceleration and braking ramp, it's usage can sometimes be deceiving. For example, lowering the accel value to about 100 and placing the speed at 100% will result in slow smooth motion. The point is that slowing things down doesnt necessarily mean reducing the speed value.

    -Another possibility that may be appropriate for flight sims is adding a washout effect

    -Another possibility would be to use the smoothing feature

    If you cannot find acceptable motion with a combination of the above, then it is likely that you have not captured the appropriate min/max values for one or more of the axis.

    I probably haven't mentioned anything that you weren't already aware of, but maybe the vote of confidence will push you to keep trying. Your goal is achievable.

    :cheers:
  18. MasterYoda

    MasterYoda Active Member Gold Contributor

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    You are right... There is ALWAYS a way out! 8)

    I need to try more...
    I've tried about everything you listed, washout, several smoothing settings... But, I didn't know about the high speed with low acceleration, that is something I wanna try!

    I had some issues with the acceleration data from the game as well, it was like one axis was always interfering on the other.
    I had to re-map the pitch and roll angles, they were more steady parameters to work with.
    Then I was going to add vertical accel... But, my neck got sore and I stopped testing... ;P

    Will try again when I find more time, not so soon! :(

    Cheers,
  19. egoexpress

    egoexpress Active Member

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    Please be careful. High speed with low accelleration may harm your actuators, as accelleration is as well BRAKING!

    We should open a new thread for FSX, to keep on topic in this one.

    regards
  20. NathanAV

    NathanAV New Member

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    Sorry everybody...I am just a newbie. :lol: .in frex menu option there is a vibe cut option..I think vibe cut movement suit for FSX and IL2..it's slow and can fast but less rough vibration...I am never try Flight sim in 2 DOF sim..seem in X-Sim no limitation of actuator..can I make 4 DOF simulation with my frex cockpit using SCN5..So the question?..Can scn5 support my body? anybody know limitation SCN5 can carry the weight?..Sory for my English 8)