It turns out that whilst I have the ability to build a quadcopter (it’s actually not that hard) I don’t quite have the ability to fly the thing around without risking crashing it into nearby fleshy things, or trees.
And whilst there is a little glee involved in a crash (it gives you things to fix, yay!) it slows the learning process somewhat and the propeller smashing can be expensive.
I tried to get the flightgear simulator working so I could practice on my computer, but it’s really complicated and I had little success.
So I wrote a game to help me practice. It’s a 2D top-down quadcopter simulator. It makes no attempt to seriously simulate real physics or even a real a quadcopter. Instead, it aims to just help you become familiar with the transposing of controls as the aircraft rotates around. It’s meant to be controlled using your real radio control, via an ArduPilot controller.
You can see it in action here:
It doesn’t really have a goal at the moment, you just fly around the screen. Once it a while it randomly perturbs the aircraft, sending it spinning off in some direction as if it clipped the ground or something and you have to rectify it. The perturbing is interesting, because I do fine flying around slowly but panic when I clip something.
I was very bad when I first started playing, but I’ve been getting better and it’s definitely translated to better real-world flying.
I wrote it in Ruby, using the Gosu game library (which has a few native dependencies). I’ve only tested it on Linux (Ubuntu). The code is on github. Works for me.