Aircraft Gyro Horizon - DIY

Introduction: Aircraft Gyro Horizon - DIY

About: DIY my way through life. For me, Instructales is a way of living. It's my making log. My life is counted with the instructables I make.

Do you want to make your own Gyro Horizon ? Have you seen this instrument on an aircraft before or in the Flight Simulator ?

This project is based on Renesas RX62N Demonstrating Kit YRDKRX62N as part of Renesas DevContest Competition 2010

Artificial Horizon or Gyro Horizon is a very important instrument for any flying aircraft. Have you ever thought of making your own?

The device is used on all flying aircrafts to indicate its attitude ( Roll & Pitch ) to the pilot.

This meter was a mechanical meter on old aircrafts that used a device called Gyroscope.

Modern aircrafts use an electronic device called ADIRU made by companies like Honeywell and Thales. The new device does the same function of attitude sensing with grater accuracy.

Here is the guide of making one. I put this step by step DIY instructable so you can try to do it some day. If you like it , you may want to vote for me in instructables contest. Thank you.

I received an evaluation kit from Renesas ( A Famous MCU manufacturer ) and decided to enter Renesas design contest.

The challenge was to use the evaluation kit with all its sensors and interface in a working useful application. I decided to use the kit to simulate the Gyro Horizon Flying instrument.

I got the project inspiration from Embraer 170 ADI ( Attitude Directional Indicator )

Here is my Channel on Youtube:


Step 1: Hardware Setup

The Renesas kit was ready to be used for the project . Actually , I designed my application to use the available components of the board .

The components I used in my project are :

3D accelerometer from Aliexpress or Banggood , eBay
Graphic LCD from Aliexpress or Banggood

32 bit Renesas Microcontroller

Step 2: Software Concept

The concept is simple. Just as your iPhone uses its sensors to feel gravity using the 3D accelerometer, I used the kit's accelerometerto sense the gravity in magnitude and direction. The sensor senses gravity in 3 dimensions.

So it can feel not only gravity magnitude, but it can also sense gravity vector. Using the powerful Renesas RX62NMicrocontroller , I knew how to analyze gravity vector to get tilt angel in tow dimensions ( Pitch and Roll ).

This part was the easiest part ( Belive me !!! )

The next part was how to demonstrate these values and readings visually.

The kit had a graphical wide LCD that inspired my ( and the 3D accelerometer ) to make this project . But the problem was that the LCD hasn't been shipped with a drawing driver software.

I had to make the driver for graphics by my own. I started from drawing a single dot on the LCD. Then connecting some dots to draw a straight line.

Then I could draw the entire static display. Then I wanted to draw the updating moving display that represents motion.

That is made by making the line coordinates updated with gravity values.

I also made my Gyro Horizon looks like the real Gyro Horizon in the aircraft in that the lower part ( that represents ground ) looks darker than the upper part ( that represents sky ).

I also made those two parts move and update their position with gravity so it gives the Gyro Horizon looks.

Here is part of the code that reads accelerometer output and responds to board motion:

x = accel_x_axis;
y = accel_y_axis;
z = accel_z_axis;

x -= BSP_Accel_X_Zero; /* Normalize */
y -= BSP_Accel_Y_Zero;
z -= BSP_Accel_Z_Zero;

x2 = x * x;
y2 = y * y;
sum_x2_y2 = x2 + y2;
AppMagnitude = sqrt(sum_x2_y2 / 2.0f);

Step 3: Realizing the Concept

At this step I went to finalizing the project and transform the concept idea into reality.

Here is the link for Renesascontest entry.

Here is the link for the project on my Blog MicroMonitor Embedded Egypt

Here is the link for the project on my Blog in Arabic:

المقال باللغة العربية

Here is the link to my Blog : Embedded Egypt


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    6 months ago

    It's a G meter not a horizon, if you would put this in aircraft and then try to fly by it at night, you would crash in no time, when turning and banking in the same direction (what you always do on aircraft) G force vector goes parallel to your body as if you were straight in the air, so this "horizon" would show that you are leveled when you are not. Stop spreading misinformation.


    Question 2 years ago on Step 2

    Is it possible to have only the source code, so that I can try it to make it work with arduino?


    5 years ago


    How about the code?

    i am planning to do somewhat similar with an ATSAMV21 board from ATMEL / BNO055.

    Could you kindly help me.




    5 years ago

    You will have a problem with accuracy as accelerometers are vibration sensitive and inaccurate in yaw axis. MEMS gyros (like all gyros) will drift, so in quadcopters they use 9DOF, 3axis accelerometers+ 3axis gyros+3axis magnetometers with all sensor results being passed to Kalaman filter for reasonable accuracy. i believe that modern avionics like garmin 1000 use similar approach.