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FMS Interface How To - Flight Model Simulator Interface Guide

Flight Model Simulator

Important Interface Notes: This cable is not supported by default in Windows 2000 or Windows XP. However Deon van der Westhuysen has created a program called PPJOY for you to install that will allow this interface to work with Windows 2000 and Windows XP. PPJOY will allow many various controller interfaces to work as virtual joysticks in Windows which means the interface can be used in other games too!

Alternatively, there are instructions in the install directory of FMS on how to build a serial interface but it does require much more electronics experience, although even electronics hobbiests should be able to figure it out.

The other option is to buy one of the USB or Gameport pre-built cables on the internet. If you use Google.com to search for "Futaba Joystick Adapter" you will get many people who sell these for about 30-50 dollars. The benefit of these joystick adapters is they allow your transmitter to work as a joystick in all Windows games and simulators, including most versions of Realflight.

Radio Shack Parts

276-2009 NPN 2222a Transistor (Many NPN transistors will work)
271-1126 1/2 watt 5% 10k-Ohm Resistor pack of 5
276-1547b 25 Position Male D-Subminiature Solder-type connector
276-1536 Shielded hood for DB25 connector
274-020a 6-Pin DIN male plug (For FUTABA connections)
???-???? You also need some 5 ft. wires of course
(CAT-5 would work nice - I used speaker cable!)
Total cost: Around $10 - $15 or £10

It's come to our attention that the DIN connector has been discontinued from radio shack. Special thanks to Laurance Ford for finding an alternate on-line source, Jameco. Here are the parts required from Jameco.

Jameco Parts

15886 6 Pin DIN Plug
15114 D-Sub Solder Cup Conn
15106 D-Sub Metalized Hood
178511 Small Signal GP Transistor (PN2222A)

Transmitter Interface

Here are some random links to other interface tips I've found on the web. When I find a combination that works flawlessly and put it togeather, I'll update this page with more detailed building instructions.

  • "Simple" JR Serial Interface by Mike Roberts. Build this one first, supposedly it works with many models of JR interfaces. You can buy this interface pre-made from the UK at http://www.customelectronics.co.uk/
  • Joystick Interface How to build a transmitter to joystick interface to play any sim with your transmitter, including FlightSim 98 and FMS etc. This page is in french, but you can use babelfish.altavista.com to roughly translate it.
  • Rick G designed a very simple hardware interface to connect your transmitter to the printer port of your computer. The best thing of all is that it also works with FMS! I have made this page off of his simple schematic and have only tested it with a futaba transmitter. Here is the design of the transmitter interface: (This particular design will not work with JR, see link above.)
  • If you dont have the round futaba connection and you're sure your radio is compatible with futaba here are some various pin-outs including the new futaba style pin-out.

Generic Interface

This was my first test, it worked but was obviously difficult to use since I had to jab the ends of the wires into the appropriate holes of my parallel port each time I wanted to use it.

Click On Each Image To Enlarge

FMS Interface Trainer Jack Trainer Cord Parallel Port

Packaged Interface

This is a much more polished version of the same thing. Here you can see that I've soldered the transistor directly to the leads of a parallel port connector. I also bought a 6-pin DIN connector for my trainer jack, note that I shorted the two right pins.

Click On Each Image To Enlarge

Interface 5

Flat side is DOWN, Pin 18 (Ground) is the one on top in this picture and Pin 10 (Collector) is the lower pin

Interface 7

Pin 18 (Ground) on the left, pin 10 (Collector) on the right. (Flat side DOWN)

Interface 8

Interface 6

It's hard to see, but the ground cable is soldered to the outer rim.
Note: When soldering use some sort of heat sink on the transistor leads (hold them with a plyers for example) to avoid over-heating the transistor which may damage it. Clamp it with some aligator clips or hold it with a pliers. This will prevent the heat from passing the pliers into the transistor.

Flight Model Simulator

The futaba trainer cord has a short in it, this probably tells the remote that there is a trainer cord connected. You may (I have not proven this) need to connect a wire where the green line is shown if you don't have a real cable.

DOS interface test utility
Use this to test your interface, you can run it while in windows. It won't apear to do anything until you get a signal - where it will start couting like crazy and all the bar graphs should become linked to the channels of your remote.

In order for the test program to work, your transmitter must be in standard FM mode (NOT PCM) and your parallel port must be set to use Printer Port IRQ 7 and I/O Port 378h. These settings must be set in the BIOS Computer Setup which you usually access by pressing F1, F2, F10 or DEL key just after your turn your computer on, not in Windows, however after you change the setting in the BIOS you may need to remove the parallel port from the Windows Device Manager (System in Control Panel) and let Windows redetect it with the new settings. This is the default setting used on most computers. Also, this is NOT what FMS defaults to, you must manually set the lpt port to 378 inside the fms transmitter settings for it to work.

Also, if you have a PCI Soundblaster (and maybe other soundcards?) you may need to disable sound blaster compatibility in the device manager. I recently upgraded sound cards to a PCI and my interface would say "signal detected" but not show any movement. When I disabled the soundcard's SB Emulation it worked fine. Thanks to Simon on my forum who figured this out.

As you can see, I put the thing together and it really does work! It also is very simple to put together, obvioulsy.

On the futaba transmitters, the signal is the top-left pin when looking at the trainer jack (Pin 2) and the bottom middle / outer casing is the ground.

The only problems I noticed were that it was slightly "twitchy" meaning it was like I was getting radio interference. You can fix this by having shorter exposed leads and shielding the wires I'm told. It was not TOO twitchy to use so it's still a great tool and the little random acts help hone your skill of inputing the correct movements. Kind of like turbulance!

Now it is your turn! Do you have anything to add on this subject. If so please add your FMS Interface comments. Thanks.


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