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Apr 10, 2016, 11:14 AM
Better SAFE than sorry!
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SAFE Conversions of Phoenix RC Sim Models


As you can tell from some of my other blog entries, I'm a huge fan of SAFE in airplanes and I have installed the Apprentice S SAFE receiver in a number of other planes. I like the fact that SAFE will help keep me from doing something stupid that results in a crash and a broken plane.

Ever since Phoenix added support for autopilot electronics such as SAFE, I've had a desire to add SAFE to some of the other models I own in Phoenix that have SAFE receivers in them in my real fleet. I finally spent the time to undertake that challenge using Phoenix Builder.

How I Made These Models
Unfortunately, you can't edit the official models, but many of them have enough supporting files available to get you started on re-creating them. For these models I used the existing .geo and .bmp files that came with the official model. The .geo file contains the wire-frame model of the airplane and applies the "skin" (texture) from the .bmp files. I now have a much greater appreciation for all the work that goes into just that part of the process!

To get started, I created a new model in Phoenix Builder. Then, I imported the .geo file into a new model in Phoenix Builder using the "Import Mesh" tool. After that, I added the components (airfoils, control surfaces, prop, wheels) back in, one at a time. Fortunately, a lot of the information you need to do that is available when you edit the existing model in the simulator. It was handy to have the original model open in Edit mode in the simulator while I also had Phoenix Builder open. Builder does everything in metric units, so I found it easier to switch the simulator to metric units as well while I did this.

I tested the plane itself to make sure it was flying correctly before the final step of adding autopilot (SAFE) modes to the aircraft.

How to Make SAFE Work in Phoenix
Even if you use the official models with SAFE such as the Apprentice S or the Sportsman S+, it's sometimes challenging to make the SAFE mode selection work correctly on your transmitter.

Like the real thing, Phoenix is looking for SAFE mode control on the Gear channel (channel 5). On the Gear channel, +100% should give you Beginner Mode, 0% Intermediate Mode, and -100% Experienced Mode.

Panic is a bit different. Because Phoenix supports CP helis and uses Aux1 as pitch control, the default setting for Panic mode is on Aux2, not Aux1 like the real SAFE models. You can either choose to change that setting (in System menu > Your Controls, change Panic from channel 7 to channel 6), or you can set up your transmitter for Aux2 on the button or another input of your liking.

If you can only get Beginner and Experienced modes and Phoenix seems to ignore the middle position on the switch, then you need to go through the transmitter calibration wizard again. On the screen in the wizard that tells you to center your control inputs, also center the switch you're using for the Gear channel. Then, when the wizard tells you to move everything around to its limits, flip the switch through all three positions a couple of times. Don't forget to press the Panic button or flip the panic switch (however you set it up) at this time as well. Phoenix isn't smart enough to watch all of the radio channels all the time - it will only watch radio channels that had activity during the calibration wizard process.

How to Use the Files Below
The ZIP files for the models below contain two things: a folder full of files that I used in Phoenix Builder, and a Phoenix PKG file.

If you'd like to work with the files in Phoenix Builder, copy the folder from the ZIP file to your Documents\PhoenixBuilder\Projects\Models folder on your computer. Then, you can open the .modx file from Phoenix Builder and look at how it works. To get the model to appear in the simulator, go to the File menu in Phoenix Builder and select "Test". That will copy the model to the right place for the sim to find it and offer it to you under a category of models called "Testing".

If you want nothing to do with Phoenix Builder and just want to fly, you can install the PKG file. Start the simulator, and on the first little screen that pops up, click the "Advanced" button. Then choose "Install an Update", and then select the PKG file. That will install the model for you as a user-defined model, and then you can fly it.
Last edited by flightengr; Apr 10, 2016 at 07:27 PM.
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Apr 10, 2016, 11:16 AM
Better SAFE than sorry!
Thread OP

ParkZone ArtiZan with SAFE


Here's a rendition of the ParkZone ArtiZan with SAFE installed.

In contrast to the way Phoenix set up SAFE modes on the Apprentice S, I added these adjustments for rate in each mode just like the real Apprentice S receiver applies rates:
Beginner Mode: Aileron 80%, Elevator 80%, Rudder 50%
Intermediate Mode: Rudder 60%
Experienced Mode: Rudder 70%

Panic button works as you'd expect (explained above).
Apr 10, 2016, 11:21 AM
Better SAFE than sorry!
Thread OP

E-Flite Carbon-Z Cub with SAFE


Here's the Carbon-Z Cub.

I didn't add the Panic Button to this model because it would conflict with the operation of the flaps. So channel 7 (Aux2) controls the flaps as is typical on other Phoenix models.


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