A group of US students have launched a project to build a motion-controlled flight simulator based on the Viper ships from sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica, and have turned to crowd-funding site Kickstarter to get their mod off the ground.
Using a Piper PA-28 fuselage rescued from an aeroplane scrapyard, the team hopes to build a DIY flight simulator capable of 360-degree rotation across pitch and roll axes. For those of a certain age: imagine a Sega R360
, except with a real aeroplane cockpit attached.
Not content with creating from scratch the kind of high-detail motion-controlled simulator usually reserved for large Japanese video game companies and military contractors, the team also plans to theme the interior and exterior according to the Viper attack craft used in the Battlestar Galactica TV programme.
While a typical professional-level simulator costs millions of pounds, the students are hoping to create theirs for a mere $17,000 including the Arduino microcontrollers, motors, monitors and a powerful gaming PC to run the simulation itself.
The team has already received $6,500 towards their goal in funding from commercial companies including Nvidia and Autodesk, and has turned to Kickstarter to crowd-fund the rest. Any excess raised above and beyond the required amount, the team explains, will be sent to the Young Makers Programme
, for which the build is taking place.
As is usual for Kickstarter projects, various levels of 'reward' are avaialable for those who choose to pledge their money to the project. The base reward, available for pledges of $10 or more, is a Viper ringtone and screensaver for smartphones. Pledge $25, and you get Viper Team dog-tags along with a DVD of behind-the-scenes footage and photos from the build sessions.
A pledge of $50 provides all of the above, plus a guide to build your own Viper Simulator or a Lego-based prototype model including all required schematics as well as how-to interviews with the builders themselves. $100 adds an official Viper Team t-shirt, optionally signed by the team members themselves, while $250 adds in a ticket to the Bay Area Maker Faire where the Viper will be on display for a back-stage tour.
For the high-rollers, a $500 pledge earns a VIP invitation to the Maker Faire with exclusive access to the Viper Simulator and a customised video of your experience. Finally, the top $1,000 reward level will see the team visit you in any area up to 50 away from San Francisco for a personal experience.
The project has already smashed past its original goal of $2,500, with a total Kickstarter fund of $3,513 at the time of writing. For more information on the project, including a video, and to pledge your own support, check out the team's Kickstarter project page