Arduino Library for the Stewart Flight Simulator Platform — Part 1

David Such
7 min readAug 31

The Stewart Platform, also known as a hexapod, motion base or parallel manipulator, is a mechanical system that consists of a platform connected to a fixed base through six independently actuated legs. This arrangement allows for precise and versatile motion control in all six degrees of freedom (DOF): three translational (surge, sway, heave) and three rotational (roll, pitch, yaw).

Figure 1. Stewart Platform [Image Credit]

In the context of flight simulators, the Stewart Platform is utilized to replicate the dynamic movements and sensations experienced by pilots during flight. It provides a realistic simulation of aircraft motion, enabling pilots and trainees to practice flying maneuvers, emergency procedures, and various flight scenarios in a controlled environment. By synchronizing the movement of the platform with visual and auditory cues, flight simulators enhance the training experience and help pilots develop their skills without the risks associated with actual flight.

Figure 2. Original Stewart Platform Design¹

The platform can recreate accelerations, vibrations, and spatial orientations, by adjusting the length of the actuated legs. The name comes from a design publicised in a 1965 paper by D Stewart¹ to the UK Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Figure 2). Gough had earlier suggested a similar design for a tyre testing machine.

Figure 3. RobotDigg Stewart Platform [Image Credit]

The Stewart platform is used in car/flight/VR simulators, machine tool technology, animatronics, crane technology, underwater research, simulation of earthquakes, air-to-sea rescue, mechanical bulls, satellite dish positioning, the Hexapod-Telescope, robotics, and orthopedic surgery.

We will be using it to test our drone flight control hardware, IMUs and associated software.

The RobotDigg Stewart Platform

Rather than build our own Stewart Platform, we bought the 6DOF-PID-S model (Figure 3) from RobotDigg. The specifications for this model are:

David Such

Reefwing Software · Embedded Systems Engineer · iOS & Android Development · Robotics · Drones · Arduino · Raspberry Pi · Flight Control