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Old 11-09-2013, 05:51 PM   #1
Boltz
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Default Boltz's A-10 Build

It’s now definitely time for me to start my own thread on my A-10 build. This is what it looks like currently. The first thing I want to do though is thank everyone who has helped me so far. Dimebug's plans have been excellent, without Gadroc's Helios I would not have this cockpit, Duckling's panel layouts have helped with hugely with my panels and also all those of you who are also building pits. It's these that have inspired me to have a go.

It is based on Dimebug’s plans but the MIP has been changed to fit around my two screens. The height has been increased and the part of the right hand screen sticking up will eventually be covered by a glare shield. These two things have caused the MIP to be around 80mm too high which makes a significant difference so I am looking at redoing the MIP with smaller screens and custom instruments.



There is also an Instructor Station behind the cockpit. I has the exports screen which is connected to the main sim computer. It renders things like the MFCDs which are then captured by a screen exporting programme (I can't remember exactly who made it; I think it was y2kiah) and sent over the network to the Helios computer.

The panels are currently made from a single layer of 4mm clear acrylic which is then cut to size and drilled on a pillar drill. The acrylic is then painted black. Labels are then printed from a small desktop label printer and clear coats of paint are used to seal them in place.

This is my second cockpit but my first attempt didn’t get particularly far before I began to notice a lot of very fundamental problems like the height of the MIP…

For it I did build a radio but after finishing the electronics I started on the new cockpit so it was never completely finished. Used the same process to make the panel and 74HC595 shift registers to drive the 7 segment displays.


This is by no means a complete write up. I will add more pictures and info when I have time but please if you have any questions then I would be more than happy to answer them or if you want to see any photos of specific things just let me know.

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Old 11-10-2013, 03:31 PM   #2
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Going for the glass pit also, that's my plan. Main monitor is a 40" LED, below that is a 26" LCD and I have a 19" and 15" in the garage not doing anything. Gonna add one of them, just don't know what's going to go on it.
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Old 11-10-2013, 03:54 PM   #3
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I'm using a 22" and a 19" in portrait mode. The glass cockpit is great because it allows you to fly many different aircraft with different instrument panels which I often do. I was thinking of making some sort of bezels to overlay on the screen that would be quickly removable to make it more realistic.
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Old 11-11-2013, 06:32 PM   #4
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Input and Output
This isn't so much an update but just a more in depth look at how I implement the switches and output in my pit. Obviously there are not many panels yet and the only one properly connected up is the AHCP. On the rear it has a 15 pin D-sub connector which via a standard VGA cable goes another D-sub connector next to an Arduino Mega. For now this just plugs in directly as the solution is still mainly in its design and test stages. The arduinos (which handle switches, rotary encoders, pots, output and everything else) are connected to the Helios computer.

The computer runs a piece of software called A2DCS which I have designed and now have it working with all input and output. I can use Arduino Unos and Megas and probably any others although it hasn't been tested. The software can handle as many Arduinos as is required and uses its own communication protocol. You simply flash the Arduino with a simple sketch depending on its job (switches, LEDs etc) and then add it to a config file. The program then writes it to an export port on the Sim computer which is coded into the Export.lua file. It runs alongside Helios perfectly but uses a different port just to be sure.

I will get some screenshots and photos posted up soon, but it isn't particularly user-friendly. I prefer to focus on functionality. When it is further forward I will post it up along with the program and all codes, sketches and export.lua. I will look at using a "dofile" command so it can be added into the Helios A-10C Interface in Helios when you set it up. This is a much lower cost solution IMO than using Joystick Controllers and multiple different types of IO boards but it just requires some programming which will be finished soon and I will be able to get the results to you guys soon.

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Old 11-11-2013, 09:23 PM   #5
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I need to install and learn how to use Helios.
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Old 11-11-2013, 09:38 PM   #6
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Boltz, good work. a different arrangement of monitors, but it looks like you have a goal in mind.
when time comes i might reach out to you about that A2DCS software you designed
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Old 11-12-2013, 05:39 AM   #7
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That I/O software sound really interesting, Boltz I think I am almost fully covered with input but on the output side I am starting to run short so your software and Arduino sound very promissing. Looking forward for more updates. Keep up the good work.

Cheers
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Old 11-12-2013, 07:42 AM   #8
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Hi Boltz. Good work on your Pit. Looking forward to see your A2DCS.
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Old 11-12-2013, 04:31 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the kind words. They have inspired me to continue with the software development. I will have to decide whether to make a user interface for adding new switches and output or leaving it as code. The latter would mean that you would have to copy some code and change the a couple of numbers. The first option would be better obviously because it would be much easier to add in new IO commands but the second option would take more advantage because you would be able to add in "logic" and I may be able to look at simulating some missing avionics and other panels such as the circuit breakers and SAS paddle switch on the stick and magnetic switch integration. The list goes on and on so I will see just how much I can include. I will probably leave it for now with editing a bit of C# code and in the far future when I am nearly finished it (in our hobby nothing can ever be finished ) I will look at adding some sort of user interface just to make it easier to use.
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Old 11-12-2013, 05:00 PM   #10
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A little work in Excel has now meant that I have a spreadsheet that will generate the code for me that I just copy into the config file.

It only works for switches at the moment but it should speed up the process. The example above is for my AHCP. Controller just means Arduino number. The keyboard part is because before making an export.lua file I tried using keyboard commands. That section still functions and may come in useful for sim commands such as views and pause if I can't find controller and event IDs.

Also here is a screenshot of the software. I am not on any sim computer and have no Arduinos attached so it says error but with an Arduino connected it works great. The large space is a network monitor which is monitoring the export port and displays anything that DCSW is sending out. It's mainly just there for the development. At the bottom is a textbox and a "Test" button. Simply type something in there, hit test and A2DCS will send it straight into the input port. Great for testing the software without having to use any hardware and also for testing controller and event IDs as they seem to vary wildly across the internet. From my first attempt at a cockpit I have another very similar program designed for Flight Simulator X which worked very well and I based the DCS version off of it. I may look at connecting the two so multiple sims can be flown without having to reassign switches. Just make a profile and select it for different planes and entirely different sims.



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