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Hi, ppl.

 

I was browsing this forum a bit today (since I've only been here when it started and went away) and I stumbled upon an interesting topic, which now lies burried deep in the archive. Although this topic does not contain any solutions for the realisation of "the idea", it does contain stuff which made me kick myself in a butt and after over a year of fiddling with the thing subcounciously, finally made me move my ass from my armchair and walk 10 steps to my personal junkyard, where I keep all my old putter stuff dating back to the 80ties.

 

What's "the idea". Shhhs... a secret. :D You'll figure it out. Some of you will figure it out after this post. I pity only that ATM I don't have my camera to document it properly. Cos' I want to make a step by step guide. If it works, it'll be a good guide to do something... maybe cool. If it doesn't work... you'll at least get a couple of laughs, me included, and if we were living somewhere close to each other, we'd probably be able to have a bonefire and burn "the failed idea" afterwards.

 

But for the time being... it's something that may work. And I'll try to write about it like in a sort of blog way, so ...

 

So far I've moved my ass from my desk to my junkyard, where I managed to fish out two BTC keyboards model BTC-53. Made in Korea. S/N: K502028625 and K502028627. Date of production? God knows. From some remnants of the stickers and the fact that those keyboards are half metal half plastic I summarise that they were built somewhere in the early 90ties. Regular IBM PC AT model with din connectors and standard 102 keys, no win keys, but there's one described "macro". Who knows what it was supposed to do. Anyway, it doesn't work. Not because the system doesn't recognize it as a key, but because... the macro keys in both keyboards lack the "cushion" which connects pathways when a button is pressed.

 

So, I choose these two from several old keyboards because they are very sturdy, have a lot of space inside their casings and even after all that time all 102 keys work PERFECTLY. I managed to test it because in all the rubble I was also able to fish out a DIN>PS2 cable.

 

I also took two, to have two identical "platforms" in case one of them broke down or got broken due to my clumsines.

 

The design is very straightforward (I really wish I had my camera :| ). Metal casing encompases a laminate board with copper pathways. There are three chips on the board which control the keyboard. Fortunatelly "the idea" doesn't require any such hi lvl electronic fiddling, that would force me to do anything with them. You can see the pathways through the board even when it's attached to the plastic part which holds all the keys, so it's not very thick. Each key (except macro) has a spongy cushion lined with aluminium. When a key i pressed it closes a circuit thus sending a signal from the board to the putter.

 

The fact that the idea behind it is so damn simple, makes the whole "idea" possible, because all I really need to do is to find a way to "forward" the patchway's endings outside the keyboard casing. I wouldn't have to worry about that if I'd simply use the laminate itself and forgot about the casing, but... after I finish with the keyboard, it still has to be operational, even with all the wireing sticking out from it in the back.

 

So, I dismantled one keyboard, checked if everything works and if the laminate is intact and made sure that there will be enough space inside the casing to lay 204 wires. 2 for each key.

 

What's next? I need a drill and two bits for it, one very, very thin, so that it goes through the laminate without damaging it and so that the hole is big enough to fit a very thin wire through. Second bit will have to be very big, but... I'll need it much later on.

 

Right now I'll need the small bit, a soldering iron, couple of meters of thin, copper wire (not aluminium... it could crack) and... some duct tape.

 

Problem is, although I have a small bit and a lot of duct tape, it seems that my bro burned our soldering iron and no one knows where did my 100m pack of copper thin wire went. So... tomorrow I'm of to electronics shop to get a new soldering iron, some wire and... while I'm there... I'll be getting some buttons, switches and maybe even levars, all depending on how much all this stuff is going to cost. Because, I forgot to mention, I'll be counting every penny ("grosz" in my case) spent, to check... how expensive it'll really be to realize "the idea". Note: I'm not going to count the smoldering iron as an expense. I'd have to get it anyways, since I can't imagine being a man without such basics as a hammer, pliers, swiss-knife, smoldering iron, set of screwdrivers, etc. Call me oldfashioned. :> :P

 

So, for the time being, I'm stuck. Because only shop with some electronic hardware which is opened at this hour is Leroy&Merlin and I'm not going to let those bastards rip me of my money (their prices, compared to the prices in normal electronics stores... outrage! They once tried to sell me UTP-5 for 1,3 euro per meter, while the regular price now is ~21 cents per meter of cable and a bit more for cord.). If real life allows, I'll try to get to my favourite electronics store tomorrow, to stack up.

 

BTW, I googled out the keyboard I'm going to "operate" on:

btc5339ro.jpg

 

I'm guessing that some of you already know what I'm trying to do. :) Stay tuned. :)

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Jan "Escar" Hytry

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Allow me to summurize,

Make switchboard from keyboard ;) j/k

 

I guess you need some special kind of switches, to get connect-disconnect in one movement. Also the fact that LockOn uses many cycle keys creates som problems, eg if you where to make a knob for ripple intervall.

But IIRC some MSFS cockpit makers use keyboard circuits and software to work around this.

 

Anyway, it would be nice to have a row of switches click click click (might reassemble and old airliner better than lo jets but..) :p

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If I were handing out prizes, you'd get one. :> Bingo. Or bingo more or less. Make a switchboard ... not out of a keyboard (because keyboard will stay intact and will be available fully operational)... buy use the keyboard to connect the dashboard to the putter, using chips built into every keyboard instead of making a separate board with extra chips. This gives you the great advantage of ... keeping a working keyboard on the desk which means that you don't have to wire EVERY button, just the ones you're actually going to use.

 

And I'm way ahead of you, matey. :) I considered buying chip enchnced boards to program key combinations into one switch (like combos for shifted commands, etc.), but that would make this project much more pricier. And there's no need to do that, since the solution is MUCH MUCH more simpler although it requires a player to make some additional moves.

 

It's true that I'll have to use only buttons that will break the circuit after press. But such buttons are easy to get and cheap. It's just casing, spring and two pieces of metal that clash together. Such buttons are easier to produce then normal ones, since you don't have to install a locking mechanism in them. So I expect them to be cheaper too. Switches that operate on the same principal may be harder to get though.

 

Most buttons will work in this simplest of ways (simply just like keyboard buttons). Fortunatelly many actions in LO-MAC have not only "toggle" variant, but full fledged wariant. This will make it simpler. (You won't have to check the indicators, just push "flaps up" to make sure that they are up).

 

For all functions that use a cycle and that could be operated with a knob, I'll try to find and use knobs that will close the circuit with each turn and imediatelly open it. Meaning that the circuit will be closed in a "mid" position, while on "station" position it will be open (knob on my owen works this way). Of course there's no way of telling what setting you have judgeing by the knob position, unless you reset the board first before entering the game. It's not a problem. One may make a checklist of the game start setttings and then make a checklist for the dashboard for setting it up before launching the mission. So... you'd actually have to check knob/switch/button position before "taking off". Hmm... sounds kind of like real life. :> ;) And if for some reason things get de-synchronised in game, you'll always have the keyboard to correct it.

 

As for the other functions which may be knob operated, I thought of a following solution. A knob with a press option. You turn a knob, nothing happens. You press it and release it under a given position and an action is taken (circuit closed). Somewhat similar to combination locks in safes, where you have to turn the knob to a certain position and then push it to release the locking clamps on the lock. Even if there are no such knobs, it's easy to circumvent the problem. Some actions on a plane may require pusshing a "confirm/enter" button. Why not make such a button? Consider a knob where each position is connected to pathways assigned to numbers from 1 up. Such knob would operate flight modes. But with circuit constantly closed... nav mode, for example, would go into a loop. So... let's keep the knob that holds circuit closed in a given position, but let's add "confirm selection" button to the picture. All required cables go through this button. When it's up, all circuits are open. When you push it... all circuits close, but only the circuit closed with the knob let's the current through. Automatically in some modes such "confirm" switch could become "cycle" switch for submodes (like in nav mode enr, ret, ldng).

 

Buttons that keep a circuit closed in a given position could be used for "shift", "alt" and "ctrl", to change the function of the board completely with one button. THere could be push-n-hold shifts and push-n-forget shifts. No problem there. Push-n-hold shifts could be placed everywhere where needed (just multiply the cable until a point where current would be too week) while for push-n-forget there could be a separate section on one of the boards.

 

I'm thinking of taking all 204 wires outside of the keyboard and securing them there so that none gets ripped of the board. Each pair would have description with the keybinding. All wires could end with a connector to allow for easy dashboard configuration. I'm thinking of making three dashboards, but actually there's no problem with making more or less. All wires coming out from the dashboards will be tagged to and all that'll be necessary will be to hook up each pair with a corresponding pair on the other side. Whole wireing after succesful setup, can be hidden inside some cover and all three dashboards could be munted on a piece of wood, along with the keyboard in the center of it. This way you'd get nice dashboards with everything described with nice little tags and still retain the keyboard for ... view control, or something like that. :)

 

All things considered, I'm more affraid of constructing those damn dashboards and making mounting holes in them then I'm of getting proper buttons. Because I'm sure they'll have them in my favourite store. Soldering is also not a big deal. But making those dashboards and mounting the buttons so that it looks remotely good... now, that'll be a challenge. :)

 

Another type of challenge will be keeping track of those 204 wires and not mixing them all up. :)

 

Now... if only I have the time tomorrow to drop down to that shop. And if only they'll have everything I'll need. :)

 

ps:

They'll have everything. And much more... must... ressssssist .... buying .... gadgets... must.... :O

 

pss:

How can ppl waste their lifes watching television. There are so many more insteresting ways to waste your time. Like making switch/dashboards for a PC game. :>

Jan "Escar" Hytry

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ATM I don't have any questions yet. At least none that I can't answer myself. I'm going to nip along to the store in a couple of hours and maybe then the questions will start if I won't be able to get what I need.

 

So far only thing that scares me are the casings. I'm torn between making an aluminium skeleton covered with thin panels or making each casing from wood all the way. I like the first idea better, because it would be much easier to replace the front panel for diffrent configs, then ripping of something made entirely of wood pieces screwed tightly together. Unfortunatelly I'm not sure if I have the skills and tools to play with aluminium.

Jan "Escar" Hytry

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Update:

 

I've been sitting in my office today, half of my brain concentrated on work, half on the wacky idea. I've started planning it a bit, but at some point I came to a conclusion that I must draw it all up in order to sort out whole mess. When I sat dawn to some paper during lunch hour I realised, that the one potential problem in all this is getting buttons that'll enable two circuits in sequential order, to get key combinations. I called three shops and they said that they've never heard of such buttons, so whole thing came to a sudden stop.

 

But no worries. I had to revise my initial project a little. I printed out whole key setup for LO-MAC and then a nice picture of keyboard and sat down with a pencil and red marker. At first I marked all functions I wanted to have "transferred" on to the dashboards. Then I went over them to check which ones are single key only and which ones are key combinations with shift, alt and ctrl. Then I went over whole list of keys and marked which buttons on the keyboard are still free.

 

After couple of minutes of foroutious scribbling I realised that I was short of several keys (I knew that I'll be several keys short of course, but thanks to the scribbling I knew exactly how many more buttons I needed). So I started revising default key bindings to get some more free keys or to change some single keys to key combos to get some more free single keys. After something like an hour and guys peaking over my shoulder and giving pointers I came to a point where I had whole keyboard picture marked red and the list of keys revised. BUT, and this is important, NOT TO MUCH revised. It'd be a piece of cake just to change all keys as I liked, but I wanted to keep as much from the normal layout as possible, to still be able to use normal keyboard buttons for gameplay.

 

For some of the cycle functions, I'll need 2 knobs which will short the circuit in "middle" position and open it in "free" position. Just like the knobs you see on ovens with which you set the clock. If I were flying A-10 such knob would be perfect for setting ripple interval, etc. It wouldn't show the actual value of course, but it would work.

 

Then I'll need 4 actuall switches for permanate setting of alt, shift and ctrl (something like caps lock) and one for "eject" function, where I'll have to flip the switch and then press a button three times to eject.

 

And I'll need 91 buttons for the rest of the functions. Some will be straightforward... press... ready.

 

Some will require pushing two buttons. For example buttons attached to " , . / ; " will be located in one group with two additional buttons in close proximity which will be attached to "shift" and "alt" or "control". This way I'll have full control of sensors localized in one place.

 

I wanted to make a knob for flight modes, but after sketching the conections and wires I finally got the idea, that it could only work if shortening wires for keys 1-8 wouldn't cause some other character to be produced.

 

I wanted to make a 8way knob, each position connecting diffrent pair of cables and one side of all of them connected to a "confirm" button, because with only knob in place I'd get a mode loop (key would be pressed all the time). Hence the idea of the "confirm" button. However this button would have to have all 8 wires going through it. I'm not sure (haven't tested) how the keyboard would react to constant short or even quick short of 8 wires.

 

So unless I find a "turn and press" knob in the shop, I'll make just simple buttons for the flight mode selection. :)

 

As for the dashboard itself, I was thinking about it too and I'm coming to a conclusion that whole thing will have to have a base board on which all items will be placed. On the base board, horizontally, I'll place the keyboard in the center with two or four "boxes" surrounding it. Those boxes will have panels placed at 35-45 degree angle. Buttons will be placed on those panels. Whole thing will make it so much easier to mount all the wires and thanks to the base board it'll be very easy to transport. All I'll have to do will be to unplug my regular keyboard, place the whole thing on the desk in front of LCD and plug it in.

 

So right now it all seems pretty well thought through. I'll prolly nip along to the store in an hour or so. I'm thinking about getting semi-see-through buttons, because... I'm thinking about "cabin lights". If I place an extra switch on the "boxes" which will be connected to several flashlight lightbulbs located inside the boxes, which in turn will be connected to an USB port for power... I could have those buttons lit. With proper material used for the panel, whole panel might be partially lit, making it possible to read the descriptions in the dark.

 

I only hope that those buttons won't cost like 1 zl per button, because then I'd be spending 100 zl for buttons and... I hope to keep this whole thing as cheap as possible. :>

 

Mmm.... <more thinking>

Jan "Escar" Hytry

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Well, I've been to 6 shops and now I'm back home. Bought nothing. My endeavour got thwarted a lil bit due to the fact that:

a) those damn parts cost much more then I anticipated,

b) shop asortment lacks some needed parts while at the same time having some stuff I didn't think they'd have.

 

Ergo, ... I'm off to two more shops to check prices and hardware and then, with the new learned knowledge of electronic parts... I'll be revising my my plan. Some of it relies heavily on the tests I have to make on the keyboard (I have to check if it's possible to keep several patchways permanently closed, without affecting the whole keyboard behaviour).

 

Basically, due to the fact that those buttons and switches cost 2 or 3x the price I expected, I'll have to rethink what things I want to have on the dashboards and which ... can be left programmed on the joystick.

 

Besides that, I've learned that there are things similar to POV's, but they cost A LOT, so I've started to think now about scavenging a POV from one of my old joysticks. :)

 

 

Cheers.

Jan "Escar" Hytry

Out from the shadows for a longer time.Smbd lend me some sun block. ;)

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Birdhouses. Little boxes shaped as houses you put on trees in your garden for the birds to have a place to live in!

 

I don't have to build my dashboards. All I need to do is to find a birdhouse in a correct shape, buy three of them and then buy a baseboard to mount them. I don't even have to make holes for the cables, because little doorways to those birdhouses will be great for it. I'll only have to drill mounting holes for the buttons.

 

Will it work... hmm... I have to go to a shop today (prolly Leroy&Merlin) and look at the garden accessories section. :) Hopefully the price won't be outrageous. If it will be... back to the drawing board. :>

Jan "Escar" Hytry

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I simply hate going to such places as Leroy&Merlin. I never get any shopping urges in normal hipermarkets. But in Leroy&Merlin? Or Castorama?

 

 

Daaaamnn... all those tools and equipment. I could just go with two cart and round up every second tool in the tools department, then go on a round-the-shop trip gathering materials and then... take two weeks off and spend that time at home improving EVERYTHING. :P

 

For the time being I got really stuck by portable generators. Since I moved out from the center of the city to the outskirts I've been experiencing power outs like 3-4 times a year. Every time a tree decides that it's tired and leans down on the powerlines to rest a bit... pooof. No power. For couple of hours usually, because the closest transforming station is located on the premesis of one stupid neighbour. It was placed there in the communist era, when nobody asked people whether they wanted something on their land or not. But now, in new Poland, every time a crew comes to turn of the power to clear the tree, that guys walks out and drives them out from his courtyard. And he's suing the electric company for money, because he believes that they should pay him for keeping that station on his ground. They'd remove it long time ago, but ... he doesn't let in. ROTFL. So everytime there's a power outage, they have to cut power not for the street only, but for entire housing estate. Brilliant. :P

 

But instead of vering off topic a bit, I went all the way in the wrong direction. Anyway... I got stuck by the portable generators and after coming back home, instead of thinking about "the wacky idea" I started calculating power usage and decided that I need 2 kWh generator to keep the house "operational" during power shortages. What's most important, that would mean keeping the central heating furnace working. It's a realy great furnace, remote controlled, dual function, double pumps, etc., but just a pile of junk without electricity to operate it. :P

 

Annyyywaaay... I went there to take a look at birdhouses to check if I could use them.

 

Well... I don't know what these people are thinking, but things I saw there which they called birdhouses were frankly... crap. So I went along the aisles (THAT DAMN GENERATOR! :P ) and after some walking here and there, looking and which materials might best suit my needs I decided to use chiboard for the base and vertical walls of the boxes and a fibreboard for the top. Why?

 

At first I was considering fibreboard only, because it's so easy to work with. You can cut it even with a kitchen knife. But then I realised that it's so thin, that I wouldn't be able to use wood screws (not wooden screws, but screws for wood), because they'd damage the fibreboard if driven into it in parallel. On the other hand I don't want to use chipboard for the top cover, because it would hard to make holes in it for buttons and switches + chipboard crumbles so easily, that after making all the holes I'd probably have the front panel looking like after a heavy case of chicken-pox.

 

So... chipboard for the base, then chipboard walls of the box. All neatly screwed together. Then a fibreboard on top with all the necessary holes neatly drilled in it. Hmmm... each button has it's own "collar" for mounting, so they'll look ok on the board. But that leaves the edges not looking pretty, because you'd see that it's wood. Solution? Aluminium profiles. I'll line each edge with a very small aluminium profile. It should look ok. Especially if I wrap the whole box first with some sort of glossy wall-paper and paint it gray with spray paint. It should get a nice "metallish" look.

 

So, I choose my materials and now I have to put it all on paper to measure the lengths, breaths and angles of the whole thing. If I supply all the numbers and designes probablly they'll cut everything in Leroy&Merlin, so all I'll have to do will be to screw it together.

 

While walking towards the cashregister (accidentally I found bulbs for a lamp I intended to throw out, because I couldn't find bulbs for it) and extra idea hit me. Lots of military equipment has two handles on each side for easy removal from the mounting socket. So... I drifted towards the handle department and after sifting through lots of regular handles I found to that pretty much resemble these that you see on military equipment. Should look ok. And It's only extra 2 euro.

 

 

Besides all that I kept my ongoing tour of electronics shops. Right now I'm probably best orientated man in Poznan regarding electronics shops localizations. I've got one more to go to, but I think that I have a full knowledge now of what I can buy and what is "Whaaat??? Neverheard of such a thing, mister!". Unfortunatelly some of that stuff will have to be ordered, but... what da heck, I can wait.

 

So, I'm going to use three types of basic elements:

- normal, temporary buttons - the type which is ON when you press it and is OFF when you let go, in Polish it's "chwilowe" or "zwierne"

- two-section temporary switches - the type which is OFF in central position and which is ON when you push it up or down, right now I've found only one section switches like that, which is not good enough, because I'd have two fires fuzzed all the time. A two-section switch will allow me to connect two buttons to one switch, which will be perfect for airbrake, flaps, etc., virtually every function of the craft which has two states controlled by two keyboard buttons,

- 360 degrees impulsator with push in temporary button - it's a sort of a rotating knob, if you press it you get a closed circuit on two pins and when you turn it around it shortens and opens a connection for several other pins, which should be almost perfect for weapons toggle and stuff like that (although I'll have to put in a LED on that switch, so that I'll leave it in open position not in closed position)

 

 

The cost of one temporary button ranges from 80 gr to 7 zl. Which is like 20 euro cents to 1,8 euro. It's strange that they seem to price those things not by the level of the complicity of the design, but by weight and size. There are cheaper buttons, for 40 gr, but they are so small that... Basically I'll need mostly buttons which cost from 1 to 2 zl (26-60 eurocent). I'll buy only several larger ones, for some special purposes. Like a eject, weapon override and stuff like that. Wouldn't feel right to push a tiny button for "eject" now, would it?

 

The cost of those temporary switches is 1 zl for one section switch, but I'll need two section ones which cost 1,5 zl (40 eurocent). I'll use it for airbrake and flaps for sure. I'm not sure about other stuff. I almost forgot, I'll need 3 normal, not temporary, switches for ctrl, alt and shft. Or maybe not.

 

Then there's the impulsator which costs 12,5 zl a piece (3,3 euro). I'd love to have one for weapon selection. Other might be usefull for cycling targets and waypoints. Maybe MFD zoom in and out. Hmm... that'd be 2 or 4 knobs. Nah, they cost too much. Only two, for weapons and cycling targets and waypoints.

 

Note: 1 euro costs ~3.8 zl. :) 1 zl = 100 gr

 

Chipboard costs ~7 zl per square metre. Fibreboard ~5 zl. Aluminium profiles ~5 zl per 1,5 metre. Screws are cheap and sold by kilograms. I don't expect them to cost more then 5 zl for the whole set. Handles = 3x2x2 = 12 zl. Cable costs 40 gr/m and I'll probably need 20m of it. Let's say 30 just to be on the safe side. 12 zl. I have kalafonia and zinc for smoldering at home, so no cost there. There'll be 204 cables sticking out from the keyboard which means that I'll need 204 female jacks and 204 male jacks. That's... oh damn, that's 61,2 zl (15 gr a piece). Grrrr... I'll need two LEDs for the knobs. But LEDs are expensive. Maybe some small bulbs instead. That'll be 1 zl for two small bulbs. Two knobs is 25 zl. So that leaves buttons and switches. I'll have to rethink the amount of buttons, to cut down the project's price a bit. Hmmm... I wanted to forward many things from the keyboard to the dashboard, but after some considering I don't think I need all of them, especially since I can program them on the stick. Sooo... it looks now that the whole thing will cost up to 150 zl. So under 40 euro. If all goes as planned, etc.

 

I have to go to that one more electronics shop to get the final bearing on all the prices and stuff and after that it all comes down to finding time to sit on the ass for 2 hrs to recalculate how many buttons I need for the functions I want to have on the dashboards and also drawing the whole damn thing in such a way, so that the guys at Leroy's knows how much material I need and how to cut it.

Jan "Escar" Hytry

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BTW, this whole thing started as a "wacky idea". I just had a thought that I'd like to have a couple of buttons forwarded outside keyboard like in the abovementioned thread with that gizmo which costs over 200$ for the whole set. When I started thinking about it, all of a sudden from several keys I went to all possible functions. Maybe it happened this way because I thought that it'd be best to forward all cables from the keyboard at once instead of adding them gradually. Don't know. So it went from one dashboard to three and really lot's of buttons. I described the whole idea to my family and they imediatelly said "You're building a pit". I said "No. I'm just making some boxes with switches, to make it more fun and easier to fly. You know, for the fun of it. For the fun of putting something together.". Then I went to shops and when people couldn't understand what I was building I started explaining. At first, that I want to forward some keys from keyboard to external boards. Then I begun to say that it's for a simulator. And at some point, don't know after how many shops it hit me: "Damn, I'm building a pit now, am I? Am I? I'm. It seems that way. But all I wanted was a box with some buttons I could flip. Damn. But now it's three boxes, with a baseboard and a place for keyboard and just 5 seconds ago you were thinking about making a special spot there for the joystick and throttle. So... pit or not? Damn. Next thing you know I'll be adding ... more to it!". :OO

 

Yesterday I had to stopmyself from thinking how to build a crossingboard. And intermediary piece which would change the configuration of the keys without altering original games setups. So that ... well... keyboard<>crossingthingy<>dashboards. Instead of changing all games keyassignments to fit the dashboard's setup, just replace the "crossingthingy". That way for LOMAC, FS and other stuff I'd simply need diffrent "crossingthingys". But... it's going to far. And changing key assignments in game would prolly take less time.

 

I think that I spend too much time thinking about how to build this thing. :P If I start dreaming about it, I'll drop the whole idea. It'll be too scary then. ;)

Jan "Escar" Hytry

Out from the shadows for a longer time.Smbd lend me some sun block. ;)

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Ever thought of making a blog? That might seem mroe appropriate for these "discussions"

 

Ever heard of reading first then replying? ;)

 

I've mentioned in one of the above posts that I'm going to keep this a bit blog style, for one intent and purpose: To trail the line of thought and document the stages of the project. Why? For people who actually might be thinking about doing a similar thing, but not convinced that they could actually do it themselves. To show that I'm just a regular guy, not a technic-wiz, a guy who has to go into a shop and says "I need this something, with this thing, that does this thingy, you know" and get THAT look from the sales person who thinks "OMG, not one of those again, f....g amateurs!". :P I don't know how this will finally turn out to be, but if it does great, someone might just read the whole damn story and come to a conclusion: "Hey, if this dude can do it, so can I. And I don't even have to worry about stuff and find solutions, because this dude has written all up here.".

 

BTW, I'm also going to post scans of the notes, schematics and also photographs. I'd already post some, if it weren't for the fact that my camera is broken and I'm supposed to pick it up today. Most probably during this weekend I'll post the tables for key bindings and what types of switches and buttons could be used for these. Hey... as I said. I'm always trying to bring something good to a community I feel part of.

 

BTW2, I don't like blogs. Didn't like Big Brother either. Watched one episode of it just to make sure that I don't like such shows. Everything remotely similar=> TV OFF/change channel. If saying the above makes me a blog kind of person... hmm... I'd say that it's more like this guys page: http://www.f15sim.com . If I start to say what I had for lunch (haven't had lunch yet, actually :P ) and if I already pooped today, then... I'm definetly going bloggy. And then feel free to spank me (You big boy, you. ;PPP ).

 

So far, at least IRL, people have reacted very positively to the endeavour. Just two minutes ago I was speaking with two guys who I know as alarm system technicans and when they heard of the idea, they gave some nice suggestions and then confessed that after hours one of them is a radio technican on the airport and the other does aircraft electronics in general. I was like "WHOOA?? You guys??". :D And in some of the shops I visited people were like "Damn... that's new." and they flocked from all over the shop and even brought the equipment to check exactly which connectors get shorted with which, when a given button/switch/trigger is in position A, B, C, etc.

 

Least, but not last... if you're not interested... skip the topic. :)

 

As for the wacky idea itself... I've been to that last shop and JUPIII, they had them. I now have 8 (their entire stock) temporary, three position, two section switches, 5 permanate, three position, two section switches and one permanate, one section, three position switch. ... errr... I kind of got carried away when I saw the first ones mentioned and then that last one had such a nice cover, etc. :P I'm going to use it as "fuel dump" switch. You have to keep the key pressed in LO-MAC for fuel dump, so it might aswell be a permanate switch.

 

What all this means in plain human language.

 

Those 8:

They have six connectors placed in two rows of three. Switch is temporary, which means that it returns to a given position when not pushed. In this case it stays in the centre. When it's in the center, no connectors are connected. It's three position, so you can push it up or down. When you push it up, the middle conncetors connect with the connectors that are up. Pushing down=vice versa. In a normal situation, where the middle connectors would be just plain ground or +, you could attach up to 4 diffren cables to the switch. However, due to the fact that in keyboard I have to keep each pair of patchways separated, I can only attach 4 cables total to the switch, which means that each pushed position will give me one key. I've changed the key assignments a bit, so now I have separate keys for flaps up and flaps down (without shift/alt/ctrl... just one key). So, if I connect the "F" key to the "up" position and "B" key to the "down" position... I'll have flaps up-down switch.

 

AFAIR there are only two systems in LO-MAC which works this way. Why did I buy 8 switches then? Because I decided that I want to have entire mechanical and some of the flight system controls controlled with switches... because it'll look cooler.

 

The permanate switches are very similar, same connectors short when the handle is moved. The diffrence is, that the handle of th switch stays in position when it's moved. I'm going to use 3 for permanate shift/ctrl/alt on and two more... still thinking about it. Acutally I could've just aswell buy two position, one section swithces for this task but... they were the same price, so... :).

 

The last switch is pretty straightforward. It has an ON-OFF-ON position. One section only, which means that it has only three connectors. The central connector connects to either right or left connector depending on the switch position. I'll just connect one pathway to the central connector and the other patchway to the other two. This way, regardles which way I'll push, fuel dumping will start.

 

 

 

Hopefully after this explaining it all still makes sense to everybody. :) I now have to count the functions again. I know I need two impulsators. So that's an easy buy. But I now don't know how many buttons I have to get to have enough for the required set of functions. So... it's back to paper and markers. :)

Jan "Escar" Hytry

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Sure calculations:

 

8 temporary switches - 24 zl (bought)

5 permanent switches - 12 zl 50 gr (bought)

1 permanent big switch - 2 zl 40 gr (bought)

 

 

2 impulsators - 25 zl 80 gr

8 temporary small red buttons - 11 zl 20 gr

13 temporary red round buttons - 11 zl 70 gr

19 temporary black square buttons - 19 zl

 

30 m of 0.5 copper cable - 12 zl

 

3 aluminium profiles - 17 zl 70 gr

6 handles - 12 zl

?? screws - 5 zl

 

 

2 square m of fibreboard - 10 zl

3 square m of chipboard - 21 zl

 

 

Total:

184 zl 40 gr

 

Damn... I overshot with all those switches. :P So right now it seems that the whole thing will cos 48 euro for sure.

 

I also need 2 really big buttons for eject and kobra and two medium buttons for autopilot and map. An I'll need some paint. I think it will add aditional 20 zl to the picture.

 

Due to incrising costs I've scrapped connectors for wires (they'll go straight from the keyboard to the dashboards) and lamps (can live without them).

 

I'm thinking now about scrapping one impulsator and replacing it with a temporary black square button. I could also cut 5 zl from the picture if I resigned from transferring trim to the boards and kept it on the joystick. Hmm... got to think about it a bit more. But if you're interested in costs... here's how it looks. At least by prices we have here in Poznan, Poland. :)

 

EDIT:

I'll need 6 connectors for shift, alt and control cables. I'll have several shifts, controls and alts on the dashboard so I'd have to make a separate cable for each and every one from the keyboard. With connector, I can easily solder those extra cables to the connector and have just 6 cables coming out from the keyboard for the alt, shift and control.

 

I've drawn a picture of the boards and tried to place the buttons there and it seems that I actually only need two boards. One for "flight operation" and another for "combat". So... this should also cut the cost. Mmmm... maybe I'll manage to get it down to 150 zl? :]

Jan "Escar" Hytry

Out from the shadows for a longer time.Smbd lend me some sun block. ;)

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Hi, ppl.

 

My camera is still being serviced, so ... no pictures still. That's a pity, because I bought all the materials and wanted to give you the idea how it all looks like.

 

However, I now have the full list of items needed to build "Wacky Pit" (hopefully).

 

 

8 x 3 position, two section temporary switch = 24 zl

 

5 x 3 position, two section permanate switch = 12 zl 50 gr

 

1 x 3 postition, one section permanate switch = 2 zl 40 gr

 

30 m of TDYd 2x0.5mm cross red-white copper cable = 13 zl 20 gr

 

20 x temporary, square button = 20 zl

 

13 x temporary, round button = 11 zl 70 gr

 

8 x temporary, small square button = 8 zl

 

4 x temporary, larger square button = 4 zl 80 gr

 

1 x angular impulsator BCD = 12 zl 90 gr

 

1 x black knob for the impulsator = 4 zl 30 gr

 

0.40 x 1.82 m MDF board = 11 zl 90 gr

 

0.80 x 0.20 m particleboard = 2 zl 77 gr

 

3 x aluminium profiles (1 m long 10x10 mm ) = 15 zl 87 gr

 

1 x military gray pain in spray with enamel = 9 zl 95 gr

 

2 x gray metal handle = 9 zl 20 gr

 

0.150 kg x screws for cartoon-plaster boards = 2 zl 70 gr

 

 

Total:

166 zl 19 gr

 

which in euro is ~ 43 euro 70 eurocents.

 

 

Hmm... as you see I only took two handles, it took smaller buttons for eject and kobra, I also didn't get the connectors for wires. That's because I really wanted to keep it as cheap as possible. :D I think that I can live with it. :) What started as an idea that was supposed to cost no more then 40 zl, turned out to be an idea which costs me ~44 euro. :> Am I complaining? Damn me, I'm not. I'm having fun. Even my bro, who was at first very sceptical of the whole idea, now wants to help me with the woodden parts. :D

 

With the info above, all of you people thinking about similar thing, now have an idea of what is needed and how much it may cost in Poland and probably Europe.

 

 

Now, I was thinking of posting scans of the keyprintouts, but they'd take forever to load and are not all that interesting anyway. I'll write down here all key assignments with correlating buttons.

 

So here it goes (I've changed some key assignments, some were cleared completely, some were changed to diff key assignments, I'll list those changes below/ this is a printout for the 1.02 version of the game / I'm building this for Su-27/Su-33/Su-25/Mig-29, so some essential stuff for F-15, etc. may be missing):

 

 

Alt - - 3 position, two section permanate switch

Shift - - same (same article, not same button!)

Control - - same (same article, not same button!)

Down Arrow - Trim down (cleared) - temporary, square button

Up Arrow - Trim up (cleared) - same (same article, not same button!)

Left Arrow - Trim left (cleared) - same (same article, not same button!)

Right Arrow - Trim right (cleared) - same (same article, not same button!)

H - Toggle ASM - 3 position, two section temporary switch (combined with toggle auto-throttle)

U - Toggle onboard lights - temporary, round button

K - Exectue "Pugachev's Cobra" - temporary, larger square button

T - Cancel Trim Settings (key changed to Ctrl+T) - temporary, square button (placed in the center of trim buttons)

+ - Increase BP of the Altimeter (cleared) - temporary, small square button

- - Descrease BP of the Altimeter - same (same article, not same button!)

H - Toggle auto-throttle - 3 position, two section temporary switch (combined with toggle ASM)

Home - Airbrake out - same (combined with End)

End - Airbrake in - same (combined with Home)

Ctrl + EEE - Eject - 3 position, two section permanate switch + larger, square button

E - Toggle ECM - temporary, round button

B - Flaps down (cleared) - 3 position, two section temporary switch (combined with F)

F - Flaps up (cleared) - same (combined with B)

G - Toggle landing gear up/down - same (combined with 9)

9 - Toggle arrestor hook down or up - same (combined with G)

0 - Canopy open/close - temporary, round button

P - Release drogue chute - 3 position, two section temporary switch (combined with Y)

Y - Toggle folding wings (key changed to Ctrl+Y) - same (combined with P)

N - Dump fuel (flight) or refuel (ground) (cleared) - 3 position, one section permanate switch

M - Jettison fuel tanks (cleared) - 3 position, two section temporary switch (combined with R)

R - Toggle refueling boom - same (combined with M)

X - Toggle gear light Near/Far/Off (cleared) - same (combined with L)

~ (tilde) - Select next waypoint or airfield - temporary, square button

A - Toggle auto-pilot - temporary, larger square button

1-8 - Various flight modes - temporary, round button

~ (tilde) - Cycle through targets - same button as for the "Select next waypoint or airfield"

TAB - Lock selected target or target point - temporary, square button

Ctrl - Extra control switch for TAB and W - same (same article, not same button!)

D - Cycle through weapons selection - angular impulsator BCD (function=turn)

W - Toggle cannon (key changed to C) - same (function=press)

Q - Dispense chaff&flare - temporary, square button

Insert - Dispense chaffs only - temporary, round button

Del - Dispense flares only - temporary, round button

Alt+W - LPO - temporary, square button + angular impulsator BCD (function=press)

Ctrl+W - Jettison weapons (airborn) reload (ground) - same control button as for TAB + angular impulsator BCD (function=press)

V - Toggle salvo mode (key changed to Ctrl + V) - temporary, larger square button

I - Toggle radar illumination on or off - temporary, square button

O - Toggle EOS - same (same article, not same button!)

Shift + I - Reset to center all sensor - same shift button as for scan zone/designator box + temporary, square button

Keypad - - MFD zoom out - temporary, small square button

Keypad + - MFD zoom in - same (same article, not same button!)

; - HUD target designator down - temporary, square button

, - HUD target designator left - same (same article, not same button!)

. - HUD target designator up - same (same article, not same button!)

/ - HUD target designator up - same (same article, not same button!)

Shift+;,./ - for radar/EOS/TV scan zone movement - same + ;,./ buttons

[ - Radio: Attack my target - temporary, small square button

] - Radio: Cover my six o'clock - same (same article, not same button!)

Shift - for extra radio commands - temporary, square button

Shift + [ - Radio: Wingman on mission>join - same shift button as for "shift + ]" + [

Shift + ] - Radio: Windgman on mission>RTB - same shift button as for "shift + [" + ]

Alt - for extra radio commands - temporary, square button

Alt + ] - Radio: Toggle formation - same alt button as for "alt + [" + ]

Alt + [ - Radio: Rejon formation - same alt button as for "alt + ]" + [

Alt + H - Radio: Request AWACS for bearing/distance TB - same alt button as for "alt + []" + temporary, small square button

Alt + T - Radio: Reuqest AWACS for bearing/distance TT - same alt button as for "alt + []" + temporary, small square button

Keypad Del - Enable/change padlock view - temporary, square button

Keypad Numlock - Disable padlock view - same (same article, not same button!)

Sht + Keypad Del- All missile padlock toggle - same shift button as for scan zone/designator box + Keypad Del

Alt + Keypad Del- Threat missile padlock toggle - temporary, small square button + Keypad Del

L - Toggle Cockpit Illumination - 3 position, two section temporary switch (combined with X)

 

These are all commands for LO-MAC I want to transfer to the board. Hope this is pretty selfexplanatory. Switches might be a bit confusing though. Temporary switches simply have two keys attached to them. The rest is usually diffrent switch, sometimes with shift, alt or control added for extra commands.

 

 

ps:

Damn it!!! I forgot to buy the connector for shifts, alts and controls. Grrr.

Jan "Escar" Hytry

Out from the shadows for a longer time.Smbd lend me some sun block. ;)

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Hi. :)

 

The woodwork is ready. All items carved/cut out and most of them in place. Only the top panels are still not screwed on, because I have to make holes in them for buttons. Not a big problem there, I have a power drill with a set of boring bits, so the moment I measure and mark it all up, it'll be like 5 minutes of wwzzzzoooommmm .... wzoooooom .... wzooooooooom and ready for painting. :)

 

I didn't do three spearate boxes. I made one large front panel with two small side pannels attached to it. Keyboard sits in center. I wish I had my camera to take pictures of it all. Hopefully I'll have it tomorrow.

 

Also, right now I don't have the time to post the exact sizes of all pieces, but I'll do it as soon as possible. Having exact sizes of boards I bought with exact sizes of actual panels, with ruler, pencil and saw you'll be able to make a copy of what I'm building in nno time at all. :)

 

ps:

I'm lazy. Really lazy. Instead of using hand saw to cut it all I used ... angular grinder. :> Cutting itself was fine. Only thing though... I produced so much smoke with it that I had to leave the workshop for a moment. :> Then I tried to use grinder also for some finetuning carving (the tops of chipboards that create walls have to be skewed a bit for better positioning of the panels) which led to a destruction of two plates for the grinder. :> One damn thing actually exploded. Very nice shrapnel. :>

 

But basically, it's possible to do it all with a:

hand saw

screw driver

power drill

one normal bit (for easier screws placement)

a set of boring bits (so far I only made holes for cables, but later these will come in very hande for all the buttons)

ruler

pencil

piece of paper

free morning and part of the afternoon

family that won't scream FIRE FIRE even if there's tons of smoke coming from the basement (such family is only required if you're trying to use angular grinder with plates for metal cutting... for cutting wood. :P ).

 

Cheers.

Jan "Escar" Hytry

Out from the shadows for a longer time.Smbd lend me some sun block. ;)

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no pic's yet... ?

 

no cheapo throwaway cameras available in poland that you can use and scan the pics in after the film is developed? ..(using a same day type service...)

 

I've considered something like this for Falcon but gave up when it came to the the MFD's and RWR units. (way too many hoops to go thru to make it work).

 

Since the 15 is not even close to real in LO.. I didn't even try...

Thanks,

Brett

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There are such cameras available in Poland, however I'm not too fond of them. I have this tendency to think about the world my grandchildren will inherit and I don't want them to live among piles of garbage. I sort my garbage, try to buy things that I know I'll use untill they die and even then I strip them for parts which I later use in various contraptions (ie. electric engine from old washing machine used to build an wind powered electric power plant :> ). Besides, my scanner dates back to 1994 and it takes forever to scan anything with it. :> All this + the fact that my camera should be back from repair today... :)

 

I want it back today, because this way I'll be able to shoot the thing while it's still in quasi-dismanteled state. Right now only back, sides and fronts are screwed together with base board. All three panels are still loose, thing is not yet painted and there are no holes for buttons yet. I'll be doing all this today in the evening, if time allows. Drilling will be the easy part of the today's evening. The hardest part will be planning the proper layout of the buttons and then transferring the layout to the panels, so that all is straight and leveled.

 

After this I estimate two-three evenings for soldering all wires together and making required holes in the keyboard.

 

I don't have the exact measurements yet. I'll have to get back home to measure it all and place it on the diagram. However I'm attaching this diagram with measurements I still have in my head. I'll add the rest in the evening.

 

A bit of description for the diagram:

base - it's a base :P , all things will be attached to it, keyboard will be in the center, closer to the player (me),

 

back - positioned vertically at the farther side of the base, screwed to it tightly, this part will support main pannel, so that it stays at a given angle to the base,

 

main panel - this part will be attached to the back with it's longest side (four screws), the shorter side will rest on the base freely (for easier maintenance, I'll only have to remove the 4 screws in the back), most buttons will be placed on this panel and also below it there'll be space to hold all wires with surplus wireing (in case of any modifications)

 

sides - vertical parts placed at the sides of the baseboard, these will provide partial support for the main panel and main support for side panels, sides are tightly screwed with base and back,

 

side panels - this parts will be attached to sides with two screws each, shorter sides will rest on the base, I'm planning to put here buttons for radio commands + some additional non essential commands, basically these side pannels are an attempt to "break" the main panel so that the whole construction doesn't look so "plain", I couldn't carve the main panel and side panels so perfectly to avoid creating some gaps at the connecting edges, but I'm going to cover them up with aluminium profiles,

 

fronts - these parts will be placed vertically and will cover the hole created between base, side panels and sides, at first I thought of making some kind of grills, to make it look like some sort of ventilation, but gave up the idea because I couldn't find a good "grill looking" material in the workshop.

 

 

EDIT:

Changed the attachement. Now it has all necessary measurements. NOTE!: This is not a rocket or nuclear precision type measuring! :D If you could see the whole thing up close you'd see how crude the wood looks. All of this should be smoothed out with the help of some paint, aluminium and a bit of filling material + good glue. On the schematic left and right parts are shown equal. :D Well... my hand slipped a bit while cutting right side panel so in reality whole right side panel and right side are a bit smaller then the left side and left side panel. :) So, no worries people. If your hand slips 5 mm one way or another it's not a catastrophy. I mean... it's just for fun. :D

project.jpg.0167a84922d3b93002bcf78ba8c74453.jpg

Jan "Escar" Hytry

Out from the shadows for a longer time.Smbd lend me some sun block. ;)

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Most probable button layout. I'm trying to draw it on the wood right now. I'll see how it looks. BTW, imporant thing, you can't use some areas due to the fact that the buttons stick out a bit on the other side, so there has to be space for them to fit.

 

 

EDIT:

Drilling holes finished. I had to use size 10mm bit for switches, size 12 for buttons. I also had to use size 25 mm, but not to drill holes, but to remove some material from around holes made with 10 mm and 12 mm. Because some buttons were to short and I could't mount them properly, because even MDF board was to thick for them. I ruined one button trying to mount it, so I'll have to buy a new one or actually two, because I seem to be missing one more (now two more). So, basically, base is screwed tightly together with back, sides and fronts. Panels are still loose but now all holes in them are made. After making the holes I took the spray and painted whole thing. Two layers on everything. At first I was very disappointed with the effect, but after the paint dried out... wow. Wood with this paint on now looks like old, worn out metal. Verryyyy nice. :) Since the painting is finished tomorrow probably I'll start soldering wires to the keyboard and testing if short-circuiting gives desired effects. And the day after tomorrow I'll probably begin soldering wires to the buttons. NOTE: Due to the fact that it's friggin cold outside, I didn't paint the thing outside or in the garage, but in the largest basement of my hose. Ppl, even though that room is really big and I opened all the windows.... I still fell a bit dizy. :) So children... don't try this at home. Paint the bloody thing outside, with a mask on. ;> Hihi.

 

Nigdy, ppl. I can barely keep my eye opened. :)

layout.jpg.ad031a99463fd06ca97ada0c5aa60436.jpg

Jan "Escar" Hytry

Out from the shadows for a longer time.Smbd lend me some sun block. ;)

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Alright. Got my camera back. :D So here are some shots of how the "weird thing" looks like today.

 

I made some pictures yesterday with my brother's celular, but I don't have the means now to transfer them to my putter. But there'll be pictures showing how it looked like before painting.

 

Hopefully today I'll be able to finish placing buttons and I'll finally start soldering wires. :)

 

BTW, to tell you the truth, when I was looking at all the wood before painting, I was a bit sceptical, but ... now I'm really starting to like how it all starts to look. :)

 

EDIT:

Had to remove three pictures to fit some more in the thread.

PICT3335.JPG.f43d67353ca831204a6f74a2d022d977.JPG

Jan "Escar" Hytry

Out from the shadows for a longer time.Smbd lend me some sun block. ;)

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Some more pictures. All buttons are now attached. You may notice a large free area near the right handle. I'm thinking about attaching some sort of fake TV screen there. So far I came up with nothing. Do you people have any idea what might work as a TV screen imitation? :) If not TV... perhaps I'll try ... some gauges. Haha, maybe a small thermometer. :D

 

You may also notice that there are no small buttons. I went to the store today and replaced them. Simple truth is, it would be too hard to mount them. I had some problems deciding which color should go where, but the final outcome seems ok.

 

From the back, main panel looks now like the insides of a very old TV, like one of those with lamps. I hope that all buttons work. I'd hate to be forced to unmount some of them (nearly ripped off my fingernails mounting them).

 

Do you guys have ANY idea how to make labels for the buttons? I mean, plain printout on the paper will look terrible on this "quasi-metal" surface. I don't want to paint or write on the panel itself, because there may come a time when I'll want to change button asignments. Any idea what to use? I'm thinking about taking several (4 maybe) pieces of A4 foil and printing the labels on them with laser printer and then putting those foils on the panel, of course with holes cut out in the foils for the buttons and switches. Is it a good idea?

 

 

...

 

That's it for now, I guess. I suppose now came the time to leave the pit for a moment and take care of the keyboard itself. Which means I have 204 wires to solder to the keyboard board. :)

 

Cheers.

PICT3339.JPG.3c30f88b11c24a01c29ab8803cf359f6.JPG

PICT3341.JPG.61edcf58c0c14766ff3ec692c6aa2d03.JPG

Jan "Escar" Hytry

Out from the shadows for a longer time.Smbd lend me some sun block. ;)

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