Progress Update

One of the things holding back MIP work- was the assembly of the COM and NAV panels.  I finally picked up some window tint for the displays and was able to get them assembled and installed.

Radio Panels

In the middle of doing that I found the microcontroller on one of the Display Cards was bad. Luckily I had a PIC programmer already from my last cockpit project still, so I was able to purchase a replacement chip from DigiKey, copy the HEX code from the working chip and write to the new one.  Both Display cards are operational now! Yay!

With the radio panels installed I was able to get nearly all the wiring completed as well.  I decided to make a small PCB for making the connection from the Flaps LED board to my custom I/O board a little easier.  So once that board arrives that I think will round out the wiring for switches and indicators.

Here’s a look at the back side so far. Not as “clean” as I’d like as you sometimes just gotta roll with those “gotchas” 🙂   Also got a close-up shot of a I/O PCB I made as a cheaper and smaller alternative to the OpenCockpits Input/Outboard puts.  One side is for Inputs, the other for outputs and you can put female headers on and plug directly into a MasterCard or male headers and connect with a ribbon cable.  So far they seem to be working well.

Mip Wiring Mip Wiring Mip Wiring Mip Wiring

My 3D Printed display bezels also arrived on Saturday from Shapeways and they turned out pretty good. Just need to paint them boeing gray now.

Displays Displays Displays

And just a look at the front side of the MIP while testing indicators.

MIP MIP MIP

I’m waiting on a order of ribbon cable now to finish up the connections to the OpenCockpits Mastercard, then it’ll be time to move it over to the office desk and start programming things.

FMC Now Functional

Didn’t take as long as I thought as the FMC unit is now up and running.

I’m using an OpenCockpits USBKeys Cards and a custom PCB I made for my FMC.  To bridge OpenCockpits SIOC to the PMDG 737, I’m using the OCP4NGX software.  This software is primarily used for OpenCockpits Plug-&-Play modules, so custom built stuff like my FMC will need some script tweaking to make it work right.

So with the OCP4NGX Software,  the first thing I had to was manually set my KeyCard to be Device 13, what the software uses for the Captain FMC.  Once I got the variable set and the card recognized, the next main hurdle was my FMC PCB board’s key matrix wasn’t wired the same way as an OpenCockpits Plug-&-Play FMC would be, so the key inputs didn’t match up.  I was going to have to manually map each key on the FMC to appropriate SIOC input #.   After some internet searching, I found this required the following SIOC code for each key

if &KeyPressed = 20 // A
{
&CDUKey = 61 // Prosim value
&CDUKey = 0
}

Peter at Build A Boing had the same issue a few years back and shared his final code on the prosim forums, thus saving me a good deal of work of writing the whole thing from scratch.

Once I updated the first line to match what SIOC Monitor was reporting as the key # for each FMC key, my FMC worked great.  I have my FMC code available here.

Here’s a quick video testing the unit:

Throttle Bay Progress

This weekend I was able to get the final bits of wiring done on the Throttle Bay and began programming all the inputs.  As of last night I was able to get everything setup in FSUIPC in P3D V4 except for the FMC keys.  I’ll need to use opencockpits SIOC for that, so that’ll be this weeks project.

Throttle Bay

Of course it wasn’t until I was programming the toggle switches I noticed I have the “off” and “on” labels for the logo and collision lights reversed.  Whoops.

I was hoping to make some progress on the MIP wiring but I ended up running out of wire, so that’s on hold till my reorder of wire arrives this week.

MIP MIP

So in the mean time I started working on a overhead panel project.  For this panel I was thinking rather than having all the text and such etched on the panel directly, I’d create a printed overlay with it all along with some colored panels.  This way the panel could just be made with the cutouts for indicators and switches, cutting it’s cost by 50%.  It’s an early look at the photoshop file for the overlay.

overhead

Throttle (almost) Done

Winter time has kept working in the garage to a minimum but we’ve been having some warmer weeks lately, letting me get some work on the cockpit hardware done.

I’ve managed to nearly finish the CDU Bay/Throttle Pedestal. Only thing left if a couple wires that will need to be connected to the PCB board once it arrives.

CDU CDU CDU CDU CDU

With that pretty much done, I’ll focus on getting my MIP display frames 3d printed from Shapeway and begin the MIP wiring. Since I made the unit rather short on depth, figuring out a decent layout for the hardware should be fun. Here’s it’s current state:

MIP MIP

’til next time. 🙂

The Winter Season

With winter weather in full swing now, the cold garage has been been slowing me down from wanting get in there and working on the 737 panels.  Since November I did mange to some progress, but not as much as I would’ve liked.  Here’s a recent photos of the panels, along with a new workbench I managed to build just before the temps dropped in later December.

MIP MIP MIP MIP MIP Throttle Bay Throttle Bay Bench

 

ADS-B Log Back Online

I recently got the ADS-B Tracker Log back online, logging daily flights my Tracker is catching.

My latest addition was to use Flightware for route information.  Virtual Radar has a route database it uses, but often times I find these routes out-of-date, missing or using destinations for different legs of the callsign.  I discovered FlightAware offers a free option for it’s new API XML 3 feed. It gives you 500 queries a month, but as a ADS-B Tracker, you get 500 more, so 1,000 total.

To reduce the daily query count, I archive everything into a database table.  Since I’m catching aircraft in the same area daily,  whatever part of a route a flight is one will generally be the same day to day. So there’s no need to fetch the same info over and over from FlightAware.   To help build up the route archive initially, I subscribed to their lowest tier plan at $12/month for 2,500 queries.  I may use that for a month or two, and then drop back down to the free one once the archive builds up.

I also only check FlightAware for data from from major airlines. I simply filter it down to flights that broadcast a callsign 5 or more characters long and are flying a Boeing, Airbus, or MD aircraft (1 or 2 others).  This pretty much narrows it down to the airlines, and excludes general aviation flights who my use a different call sign every flight.

It was a fun challenge to figure out, and I’m still tweaking the code.  In the future I want to have callsigns updated every 2-3 months maybe in case they do eventually change.

Custom PCB Files

I’ve added a section under the files menu where I’ll post up all of my custom made Printer Circuit Board (PCB) designs and 3D printed files.

So far I have my FMC and LED Flaps Gauge files posted, but will soon add the others I’ve made over the years.

PCB & 3D Files

Panels Arrived

My two custom fabricated panels arrived yesterday afternoon and they came out great.

Panel Panel

My two main concerns were the opening for the FMC and the AFDS panel, but luckily they came out perfect and the items fit right in. I ordered these from Front Panel Express this time around. Order to delivery took 12 days and the panels came extremely well packaged as well.

With the panels in hand, I can now work on building up the MIP frame and a housing for what I’ll just call the CDU panel.

Throttle Stand

Not many construction photos of this as I practically was planning it as a built it, but here’s a throttle stand I built for the JetMax throttle and my “CDU Bay”.  While I have the stand from JetMax for the throttle, I needed something a little shorter so I could slide the whole throttle unit under the table when not in use.

Throttle Stand Throttle Stand

Constructed out of 1/2″ oak and painted RAL 7011 Iron Grey.

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