SimCraft introduces STAR - The Motion Simulator Development Kit

05/14/2009
Five years in the making, low-cost military grade simulation has arrived

Marietta, GA (May 14, 2009) -- Over the past five years the team at SimCraft has been working on refining a new CORE architecture for simulating the motion of 4-wheeled ground vehicles and aircraft. Unlike many other approaches to vehicle and aircraft motion simulation, the SimCraft architecture moves the entire cockpit, including the controls AND the visual display systems.

"There is really no other effective way to accomplishing an immersive simulation experience. If you want a realworld simulation, we have learned, it is generally best to take your lead from how things work in reality. With this in mind, the entire environment must be captivated in the simulation.", says Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Sean Patrick MacDonald.

Along this journey of development toward compelling simulation, SimCraft's unique technology has been applied to practical application. As a result, the company is working alongside some very smart people on a project called S.A.V.E. - Synthetic Automotive Virtual Environments - a research project to study, understand, and in the end effectively simulate the dynamics of a vehicle being driven in a loose surface environment. (Dirt, mud, snow, sand, gravel, etc.) This project aims to save the lives of the men and women in uniform by giving them a real training environment - synthetically - to practice high speed loose surface driving techniques. Collaborating on this project with SimCraft are Ford Motor Company, MIT, GA Tech, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Vehicle Control Training, among others.

In addition to working with the bright minds involved in S.A.V.E., SimCraft's team has been working with professionals and serious amateurs in motorsports and aviation specifically because it is within these groups where the company's benchmark of high performance is defined. Taking in these experiences and feedback over the years, the company has prototyped many different versions of the SimCraft application. The company launched the APEX sc830 in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"It is the best sim we can possibly make at this time and incorporates all of our years of chassis design knowledge.", says MacDonald.

MacDonald continues, "The sc830 is also a great example of the application of the SimCraft architecture as it utilizes the very same components found in the STAR kit. The chassis of the sc830 just happens to be built from welded chromoly steel, making it very expensive to make, but it's strength and stability allow for unmatched performance and a higher standard in durability as well as incredible longevity."

Going back to 1997, MacDonald's father - the late William Dexter MacDonald - had an idea for a balanced mass architecture to reduce the need for high force actuation. This idea led to many observations over the last 5 years as his son and team continued developing the architecture. SimCraft's architecture requires less power, is safer to work with, and allows for ZERO latency™ from controls input, to motion output. In addition to these observations the team also has discovered that the SimCraft architecture is modeled more like a real vehicle since the rotation axes (roll, pitch, and yaw) are always fixed, rotating at or near the actual center of mass (of the sim), and intersecting at a single, static point.

"Because this is exactly how actual vehicles behave (on land or in air), the organic experience created from such a system is the closest you can come to real world vehicle dynamics. No other motion simulation system on planet Earth is designed this way."

Although the seeds of SimCraft's CORE technology were in place 10 years ago, the R&D team has iterated again and again to improve the performance of the system.

"We began our long iterative process by moving away from air pressure control and primarily working with electro-mechanical systems because they allowed for more consistency, better performance, increased longevity, and in the case of motorsports simulation - more intensity."

The actuators SimCraft uses in their systems stroke linearly and because they are electrically driven, they respond at the speed of light.

A key component in the SimCraft architecture is the support of, and movement around the rotational axes, accomplished with a novel device the R&D team calls a knuckle.

"A knuckle is essentially a bearing assembly designed to provide near frictionless rotation in any orientation while supporting hundred of pounds.", MacDonald claims.

The company has designed many different versions of knuckles over the years and felt the idea was novel enough that they filed a United States patent for them.

The R&D team has also been working on constantly improving their efficient code base, which now allows raw physics to be extracted from dozens of racing and flight physics models and then processed and deployed to the motion control system in less than 1 millisecond.

MacDonald continues, "We have built in rich features into the software allowing for realtime customization of the motion of each axis and the ability to save, restore and share these XML based settings for a particular title, a particular car setup, or a specific aircraft training situation."

SimCraft currently boasts high-performance physics based integrations to 16 simracing titles, 8 flight sim titles, and 3 military/commercial level vehicle dynamics modelers.

The company has also built over 15 different chassis designs over the last four years using everything from lumber to aluminum extrusions to welded tubular chromoly steel. After building a chassis out of wood in just a couple of days as a mockup sim project, the company began working on a development kit incorporating the engineered components of their motion simulation architecture and has now productized the kit as STAR.

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STAR from SimCraft - Some Time and Assembly Required from $2,995

STAR, the motion simulator development kit is a product that incorporates all the hard parts of the engineering behind the sim - the SimCraft architecture - and leaves the chassis building up to you.

Included in the STAR product:
1. Two (2) electro-mechanical linear actuators that position at the speed of light, coupled with high precision Aurora rod end bearings.
2. Four (4) aluminum housing knuckle assemblies that allow for frictionless rotation in any orientation.
3. Four (4) high precision actuator chassis mountings
4. One (1) pre-wired power and USB communications box
5. One software interface to anyone of our flight sim or simracing titles and the CraftCon system for realtime motion control and XML based settings adjustment and sharing and access to the Craftware SDK - the software control library for the system.
6. Plans to build a 2 Degree of Freedom (Roll / Pitch) sim from lumber and access to tubular aluminum plans, extrusion kits, and chassis parts that are stocked at SimCraft

Additional costs to you? $300 in materials. Plus a computer, a monitor, and some controls - most of which you already have anyway. And a weekend of your time. One long day if you are a superstar builder and have a couple of buddies to help.
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You can read more about STAR on the company's website:

http://www.simcraft.com/star.html

The company is also offering a bonus to the first 100 orders for STAR: a free lifetime license to ALL 24 Racing/Flight integration modules and access to future modules as the company continues to expand it's integrations.

About SimCraft

SimCraft's roots trace back to the late William Dexter MacDonald, a retired electrical engineer, who designed a new method of simulating the motion of aircraft in 1998. Though MacDonald never saw his vision come to complete fruition, his son Sean continued the mission and expanded the technology into motorsports simulation.

As several generations of prototyping ensued, so did the young company's needs for planning in manufacturing and business development. SimCraft partnered with XenGenn, LLC, to catalyze these efforts and help refine the new technology and expand its applications. The patented simulation technology appeals to drivers and pilots alike because of its high-fidelity performance and military-grade quality. From training applications to pure entertainment, the SimCraft product lineup has broad appeal.

SimCraft's principal technology and innovation is the simulation of movement. The company's proprietary software and patented hardware provides a realistic motion experience with zero latency™ from visualization to realization. SimCraft's motion simulators interface with a number of commercially available PC gaming titles as well as custom training applications for the military and commercial industries.

SimCraft is a member company of the Advanced Technology Development Center and is located in Marietta, Georgia.

Release prepared and distributed by:
SimCraft Corporation
1705 Enterprise Way
Suite 102
Marietta, GA 30067
877-746-2723 (tel)
pr@SimCraft.com

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