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Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old April 2 2013, 01:18 PM   #16
Timo
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

My worry was that normal joysticks don't twist, so not even two of them would do much good. (The additional worry was that aircraft-like motion, easily covered by just a single stick where the throttle could be a thumbwheel or whatever, doesn't work for shuttlecraft. But that's a somewhat different issue.)

OTOH, if a twisting function is to be built in, why not go the full mile and make the movements intuitive? That is, twisting for turns only (pushing forward or left on the pivot counts as twisting, too), and sliding for translations (it's easy to yank a stick laterally fwd/aft or left/right, but a ball is better for up/down yanking). And that could be done with two controllers, or then with just one. Which is why I love the TNG balls, because they look like they could do it all with one hand.

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Old April 2 2013, 01:55 PM   #17
Johnny
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

Timo wrote: View Post
My worry was that normal joysticks don't twist, so not even two of them would do much good. (The additional worry was that aircraft-like motion, easily covered by just a single stick where the throttle could be a thumbwheel or whatever, doesn't work for shuttlecraft. But that's a somewhat different issue.)

OTOH, if a twisting function is to be built in, why not go the full mile and make the movements intuitive? That is, twisting for turns only (pushing forward or left on the pivot counts as twisting, too), and sliding for translations (it's easy to yank a stick laterally fwd/aft or left/right, but a ball is better for up/down yanking). And that could be done with two controllers, or then with just one. Which is why I love the TNG balls, because they look like they could do it all with one hand.

Timo Saloniemi

I'm not sure what joy-sticks you've had, but even some of the simplest sticks nowadays have a yaw facility, even things like force-feedback are farely common too.

I don't really understand how a ball that can only control three axis, is any better than a joystick that can only control three axis...? Am I missing how a ball can control direction and thrust at the same time?
If it's that thrust is controlled through the console then surely that brings this all down to preference of control between ball and stick?

IMO, the ball doesn't really give you any feel for where you're at, if there's any visual representation on the ball of where you're at then you're going to have to take your eyes off whatever you're trying to manauver around, almost the complete removal of tactile feedback doesn't seem like a wise choice especially if it's sensitive work. (That's why I have a problem with touch screen, but that's another thread!)

I used to have a roller-ball mouse when I younger, the one when the ball was on top of it, and I tell you it was a pain in the bum! All you got was cramp in your thumb from trying to move it too quickly. I got rid of it after a year and I've never gone back.

Also, with a stick you can hang on to it if your chair goes out from under you, you can see what it's doing from a distance, when it points up it's off, and you can hold on when the gravity fails!
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Old April 2 2013, 02:41 PM   #18
B.J.
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

As I mentioned upthread, there are devices *today* that have all 6 degrees of freedom built into a one-handed controller (see 3dConnexion). It's quite intuitive, I use one of their products for work every day. Just twist or push/pull harder or softer to control the rate of movement.

However, I was wondering if anyone knew what actual spacecraft, like the Space Shuttle or Soyuz, use for their control systems? I've been able to find pictures of their controls, but nothing that explains how they're used yet.
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Old April 3 2013, 10:51 AM   #19
Timo
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

I don't really understand how a ball that can only control three axis, is any better than a joystick that can only control three axis...?
Well, it isn't. But a ball can be more intuitively made to control the spacecraft on the necessary six degrees of freedom, IMHO.

Imagine gripping that ball, or a rock, or a potato. It's a firm grip, and your fingers probably sink into the ball (and may reach "hands on stick" buttons for further functions), but that doesn't make it different from a joystick yet. What does is the next step, where you imagine the ball is in fact the shuttle. (Heck, Type 7 even looks quite a bit like that!)

Push the ball forward without twisting and the shuttle moves forward. Twist the ball forward and the shuttle's nose tilts down. Now, you could build a joystick that does these same things (that is, accepts "push" as a valid command rather than just "twist"), and you could cover the sideways moves the same way. But with a grip of a ball, you can also lift the control so that the shuttle goes straight up, which is not all that comfortable with the vertical shaft of a joystick. Plus you get a bit of extra leverage for twisting around the vertical axis.

The big thing there is that the ball (if soft on the surface) fits all hands. In order to twist or lift a joystick, you have to customize it for your own hand size before you get comfort and leverage.

As for hanging on to the controls, well, that works for the steering wheels of cars or boats, as those only cover one degree of freedom and are immune to stresses in other directions. Hanging on to a joystick or joyball for dear life will always send unwanted control input to your vehicle...

However, I was wondering if anyone knew what actual spacecraft, like the Space Shuttle or Soyuz, use for their control systems? I've been able to find pictures of their controls, but nothing that explains how they're used yet.
Good question. The shuttle controls for seated pilot and commander are obviously classic and trivial - a joystick for wing trailing edge control surfaces (pitch and roll) and pedals for rudder (yaw), and of course there's no throttle because the shuttle is a glider. But supposedly reentry is also initiated when seated, so the joysticks must have a secondary mode for orienting the vehicle with RCS burns before the OMS burn.

Dockings and the like are probably done with the aft console controls. There's a classic joystick there for the manipulator arm (frequently updated), and two sticks that look like automobile shifting sticks, supposedly giving two degrees of freedom each (looking much like the original eighties versions even in latest pics). No doubt there are dozens of modes for using those sticks to control the RCS thrusters in sequence, depending on what is to be achieved - and dozens more from all sorts of software modernizations and bypasses that depend on plugging in a laptop that's a hundred times more powerful than the vehicle's own computers.

But I guess an astronaut has no real control over individual nozzles, save perhaps for fiddling with the fuses.

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Old April 3 2013, 03:38 PM   #20
Albertese
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

Timo, do you have a screencap of this TNG-style ball you are describing? I don't recall any such device that would fit your description, but it's been a while since I actually watched TNG so I'm fully prepared to accept that I just missed something along the way or forgot about it.

Also, I was thinking about the D-pad being used just for rotational movements, I had always assumed that throttle controls, for all three axes of flight, would be handled elsewhere... some of those other buttons they're always tapping on whenever they do something.

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Old April 3 2013, 04:33 PM   #21
Timo
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

I had some screencaps on the first page of the thread. Essentially, this device:

http://tng.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...ansnare025.jpg

It's not a trackball, but something that protrudes significantly from the indentation in the panel, possibly on a short stick; it's grabbed by the whole hand when operated. Impossible to tell whether the prop component was actually built to move.

FWIW, when we actually see piloting happen with the flat panel interface, it seems that the "up arrow" makes the shuttle go forward and the "left arrow" makes her take a banking left turn. Or at least that's the general gist of what happens in, say, "In Theory".

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Old April 3 2013, 08:48 PM   #22
Albertese
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

Ah, I see. Interesting.

Now that I think about it, I seem to recall the console of the Galileo/5 in ST5 having some sort of ball thingy. But then, why don't starships have such devices?

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Old April 3 2013, 09:03 PM   #23
Timo
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

We might postulate that computers take care of much of the flying - and that big starships got sufficiently good computers first, while small craft required hands-on controls till the middle seasons of TNG when most of the practical flying was taken away from the pilot and he was left with just those cursor keys...

FWIW, these seem to be our best screencap views to the controls of the ST5 craft:

http://movies.trekcore.com/gallery/a.../tffhd0713.jpg
http://movies.trekcore.com/gallery/a.../tffhd0968.jpg
http://movies.trekcore.com/gallery/a.../tffhd0977.jpg

Alas, none of this survives the prop's transformation into the Type 6 shuttle... But flat panels seem to be in vogue here as well as on the bridge of the hero starship.

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Old April 4 2013, 01:03 AM   #24
Albertese
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

Yeah, I'm referring to the white ball on the dash in front of Sulu.

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Old April 4 2013, 01:20 PM   #25
lennier1
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

Don't forget that the idea of an oversized trackball was also present in TUC:
http://movies.trekcore.com/gallery/a.../tuchd0455.jpg
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Old April 4 2013, 04:28 PM   #26
B.J.
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

^ Was that used for a control/interface? I thought it was just some sort of display, like a 3D starchart or something.
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Old April 5 2013, 12:22 AM   #27
secretreeve
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

you know, if someone made a macro keyboard around image 3 in the OP and labeled the various buttons and stuff it could make for a really awesome STO control pad.

add in the little screen for the target which could display the ship your currently targeting ect and add in all ship controls that'd be worth a buy.
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Old April 5 2013, 11:46 AM   #28
Timo
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

Yeah, I'm referring to the white ball on the dash in front of Sulu.
...OTOH, doesn't Uhura also have some sort of a smaller ball under her right hand in the first screencap provided, at the extreme bottom edge of the picture? Or is it just a particularly brightly glowing area of the flat panel?

The Ferengi shuttles were evidently controlled by domes similar to the ones on the ST6 starship helm consoles - they were rubbed by one or two hands, rather than physically twisted or pulled or rotated. An extremely clever parallel to our phallic joysticks here, demonstrating the priorities the Ferengi give to their various erogenic areas.

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Old April 5 2013, 07:46 PM   #29
Albertese
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

Here's a better shot from ST5, When Spock, Kirk, and Sybok are shuttling to Sha-Ke-Ree and Spock "is no longer in control of the craft."

http://movies.trekcore.com/gallery/a.../tffhd1549.jpg

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Old April 6 2013, 02:02 AM   #30
blssdwlf
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Re: How does the Joystick Pad works?

That's very interesting on the TFF/TUC steering hemispheres. Translating motions on the x,z (sideways,forward-back) axis should be easy and also yawing/pitching/rolling. The only curious part would've been y axis (vertical movement) as "going up" might be tricky but with those grooves in the hemisphere you could grip by the grooves and "lift up" to get that motion.

With it embedded like that, it is also possible to rest or brace your arm on the panel to minimize unexpected movements from the shuttle or ship shaking too. Hmmm....
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