Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday micro post

Last night I had a few spare minutes, so I wired up the Engravity gear lever. It's connected to the computer via the CPFlight MIP board. I was expecting that I'd need to tweak FSUIPC to get the "button push" recognized by FSX. However, without making any software changes, the sim recognized the movement of the lever and the gear now goes up and down. The gear transit and gear down lights all work beautifully.

Don't know what it is but hauling on a mechanical lever, hearing and feeling it clunk into place is just way more satisfying that clicking on the G key... Bottom line, if you don't mind wiring and soldering, this CPFlight board is pretty darned close to plug and play. Much better than other hardware I've used (GoFlight take note here).

What else? Got an update from Flight Illusions, looks like 3rd week in March for the standby gauges... I guess I'll just standby for that.

Forecast is for yet another rainy weekend in San Francisco. Might get around to building the base and will work on the yoke next.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Update on Project Magenta issue and weekend build details

As previously reported, I had a problem with the nav display, in that the waypoints would disappear on pressing Exec on the CDU. As also reported, it was probably something dumb on my behalf. Enrico proved that this was the case (what a patient man). The fix? Select an airplane on the IDENT page...

Story behind this is that I got a new system for the box running Project Magenta. In my haste to set it up, I forgot to select a model on the IDENT page. No wonder I couldn't find the flaps setting on the takeoff page. When checked, the CDU displayed a model akin to "defaultfs04" (sorry - didn't get a screen shot and reinstalling the software didn't reveal it). Switched it to 737-700 and the display worked flawlessly. A practice flight and the autopilot, CDU, displays et al. were a pleasure. So thank you Enrico, all is now well in the world (and I've added checking the model on the IDENT page to my pre-flight checklist...)

What else? Well, I glued up and positioned all of the anunciators. Since most (with the exception of 1) require 2 LEDs per display, I started off by soldering each pair of LEDs together. Insulated the leads with heat shrink tubing and set them in the holders ready for wiring. Then I ran cat 5 wiring to each annunciator and here are the results: 

Only got the center panel wired up - had to break away to take the dog to an emergency visit to the vet. She's fine - thanks for asking. Poot thing only complained when the vet whipped out the thermometer...

What also arrived this weekend were the dimmers I mentioned in a previous post. All the way from Hong Kong, postage free. The little beauties work like a dream! Great dimming range with no flickering. So with this, I've abandoned trying to figure out why my home brew circuit board doesn't work. Here's the link again if you would like to order your own. Now all I need to figure out is how to mount them on the sim and make them look like the real thing.

Since I'm running out of things to wire on the MIP, I've started thinking about the yoke. Picked up some 2" plastic tubing (electrical conduit) this weekend. Will start work on it if my gas gauges don't turn up soon...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wiring up the pretty lights

Some good news folks - I found my tripod! Expect a dramatic improvement in the photos otherwise Maddox will be completely on my case... After all, he does rule, has the best page in the universe and knows a thing or 2 about blogging.

So this week I've been wiring up the fire and master caution lights, the six pack and the AFDS (Autopilot Flight Director System. I always slag my guys off when they don't spell out acronyms, I better get with the program too). Here are the former:

The lights on the fire and warning buttons are a little dim. I'll be experimenting with brighter LEDs. More on this in a future post (if I ever get the suckers to work). Check out the depth of field in this photo and the lack of camera shake. It's the tripod I tells you.

Here's the latter:

Can you believe it takes 17 individual wires to get this unit going? The A/P and A/T buttons have both amber and red LEDs in them. The test button will reveal both colors when activated. There's backlighting in there too. So how did I hook them up? I used 2 sets of CAT 5 cable and a separate strand for the 12v +. So the backend is starting to look more like an early 20th century switchboard, or that viral email that's been going around, depicting an Indian street scene of telecommunication mayhem:

And at best I've only got about a third of the connections made....

Next up, I tackle the annunciators (where are my analog gauges anyway?)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A brief note about your comments and other stuff

I'm amazed and thrilled that I actually have 7 followers of this blog. I appreciate your feedback, comments, questions or contributions. In digging through the older posts today, I noticed 2 comments, one from Bret and another from Gianluca. Apologies if you feel your comments were ignored - I simply don't get notified when you post them! (although I just found a setting that should alert me when you do). So please check back in with the comments you have made, I've provided responses.

So please, please, keep the communication going. I'll do a better job of scanning all the posts for your comments.

Doubt there will be a build post this weekend - we're heading out of town. In the meanwhile I'll continue to work with Project Magenta support on the disappearing waypoint issue. Here it is again. Flight plan is entered in the CDU and is displayed on the ND:
As you can see above, in plan mode the ND displays all the waypoints entered. The Execute button is lit up, ready for confirmation. When you click it, the waypoints disappear from the ND and are replaced with a straight line flight path from the departure airport to the arrival airport:

We'll get it figured out. Again to be fair to Project Magenta, I'm probably doing something dumb...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Short post - too much else going on

Not a lot to report this week fans. A lot going on at work and judging by an email I just received (on a Sunday - can you believe it?) there's going to be a lot of action next week too.

Reported the disappearing waypoint on the ND issue to the good folk at Project Magenta. Just got an email back from Enrico, so someone else is working Sundays too!Could be something dumb I'm doing - just can't figure out what. To make sure I was programming the FMC correctly, I purchased this excellent guide from Leading Edge Publishing. The thing arrived practically the next day after ordering, so you can't fault their customer service. Also bought the Cockpit Companion which I'll be pouring over too. Both are quality products and are worth the price.

So from a build perspective, got the CP Flight MIP board installed:

You can see I've mounted some Plexiglas on top to protect the circuit board from damage or shorts caused by me dropping stuff in there. Only one corner is screwed in so you can peel it back for wiring. And to the realization - this exercise will be all about cable management. All that's in there now are the wires for the six pack. Awaiting connection are the wires for the Fire and Master Caution warning lights/switches. My original idea was to go with wire for irrigation systems, since they are multi strand. I now think the gauge is too thick so will probably go with twisted wire pairs from stripped down cat 5 cable for everything else. This is what I used in the backlighting connections, which you can see here (white and orange wires):

What you're also looking at here are the rotary switches for the display unit selectors and the autopilot/auto throttle warning lights.

That's it for now.

Monday, February 1, 2010

All lit up

John at work was busting my chops because I didn't put any photos in the earlier post. So for you, here's the latest view of the sim (note that the EICAS screen isn't mounted, it's just propped up with whatever was lying around):

So as you can see, I need to paint the walls in the guest bedroom. That yellow is too glaring. Maybe the wife will let me paint it all Boeing gray (fat chance).

And since the photo doesn't do the screens or the backlighting justice, here's another shot without the flash (still haven't located my tripod so the photo is a bit shaky):

Can I go to bed now?

2 posts? Maybe not...

Whatever happened to that weekend!

Spent most of Saturday trying to get all of those components on the circuit board for the dimmer. Although it worked perfectly on the test board, could I get it working when all soldered together? No. I spent hours on the thing trying to isolate the problem. No luck. So I gave up on that for now.

On Sunday, I had to finish up some real work to be ready for a meeting on Monday. As I left the office on Friday, one of the assistants wished me a "happy weekend of building". She has also started calling me Anorak....might not have been a good idea to share these personal details at work, Too late now....

Then the in-laws flew in from Atlanta and needed to be picked up from the airport. They arrived late (thanks Delta) so that put a dent in the time available. It was too late to get them to a restaurant so I had to cook dinner.

But there are the things that get in the way of we Anoraks realizing our dream! It's called life and must be dealt with head on.

So no photos for you until the mini mid week update but what I did accomplish was:
  • Reorganized the guest room to give me more and easier access to the back of the sim
  • Reworked the mounting brackets on the landing gear lever so that it would actually fit the pre-drilled holes in the center panel
  • Mounted and tested the landing gear lever (it feels solid and make a satisfying clunking sound when engaged)
  • Mounted a sub woofer into the forward panel (it was a waste of space anyway)
  • Set up the wiring ready to connect the CPflight MIP card
  • Prepped all of the backlit panels for hook up to the lighting harness
More later....