ARC-159 Update

The ARC-159 UHF Radio was one of the very first panels I built for my first Skyhawk sim, back in the early 2000’s. Back then I didn’t have access to CAD/CAM CNC or even plastics, so it was all made with whatever materials I had at hand. The design was all done in Corel Draw 4, printed out 1:1 then taped onto each piece of material before drilling and cutting to shape with hand tools. The backplate was from aluminium saved from the scrap metal bin while the faceplate was 5mm MDF, with a paper print-out glued to the front. It worked ok, and has been in use, complete with the oldest Interface components in the sim; ACCIS which was the very first interface built by Simulation Hardware (who became Pacific Simulators – my current employer…)

Fast forward nearly 20 years and I have access to lots of cool technology. Luckily I had the original Corel Draw file for the ARC-159, so I imported that into Fusion 360 and created a new 3D CAD model of the faceplates while retaining the original layout for mounting hardware. This meant that I *should* be able to re-use the back plate which I had hand-made all those years ago. This time around I included the bezel for the display at the top of the radio which I hadn’t tried to make originally. To my surprise the faceplates did fit, with just a minor amount of fettling, which goes to show that my original design and manufacture was pretty good!
This time around I fitted all the remaining switches, which I didn’t have originally, and finished it all off with 3D Printed custom knobs.

Dry-fit of most of the components. Still need to make/fit the Squelch, Lamp Test and Dimmer switches

Tonight’s mission (Sim Work Night!) is to get the final components fitted, then pull it all apart and paint it. Then I can move on to the TACAN and finally the APX-100 Transponder, and that will be my radios refurbished!

Workshop update

For sometime I have been planning a major re-shuffle of the garage space, partly to make room for the 737 simulator, and partly to give me a more useable workbench. The current bench was built to fit into a space in the previous garage, and is really much too small for most of the projects I have undertaken. One of the main considerations in the workshop design is to not impact on the space needed for the ‘primary’ purpose of a garage…. i.e. as a garage…. So, as part of the plan I have incorporated a ‘Murphy Desk’ style fold-down bench, which gives me a big work-space, but folds away to enclose the storage space behind it.

The bench down in ‘Working’ position
And with the bench up and away. – Yes… it does need a paint

Above the bench you may notice something hanging from the roof. That would be a life-raft stowage door from a 737… it is there partly because it’s cool, and partly because it’s somewhere to store it. It is semi-functional, it folds down (for no real purpose) and latches back up in place… I have visions of it becoming some sort of funky storage cupboard, for what I have no idea…

Funky Aviation Themed Cupboard? Maybe….

Next step is to relocate the clothes dryer and storage cupboard, then move my current under-bench cupboard to underneath the new bench…. then some power, lighting, a vice… move all my tools and random stuff…..

Time to Dust off ’58

6258, the Skyhawk Sim has been pretty neglected for a while, for a whole raft of reasons. Last night, in the middle of a sleepless night, I had a great idea to fast-track getting her flying again quite quickly. So tonight, for Sim Work Night I set about getting her back and flyable. First up was setting up the displays in the same way as I had them in FS9, i.e. vertically spanned. Next was to roll in the old FS9 panel config as a starting point. FSX-SE is a little different in the way it deals with viewpoints and zoom, so it took a little bit of re-jigging to get it looking something like what I want. Next was inserting and aligning the basic elements of the MIP and HUD. For this I am using Nigel Booth’s Kahu gauges, suitably modified to fit into my physical panel.

Still work to do, but it looks pretty good.

After a few hours of tinkering with the configuration I am reasonably happy with how it looks. There is still much to do, gauges need to be further modified to remove graphical bezels, and to make them interact with my switches.

From here the next big step is finishing the flight controls and throttle, then calibrating it all and doing some flying! CANT WAIT!!

Arrow Flight Model Update

One of my pet ‘peeves’ with the Arrow’s Flight Model was the way the elevator trim functioned. Full nose-up trim gave about 80-85KIAS, much too fast for approach. It has been something I have wanted to try and fix for some time. Tonight I had an epiphany as to how to tackle the problem, and after a couple of iterations of my modification I had a workable flight model.

Full nose-up trim now gives me around 62KIAS, and a nice forward trim at 140KIAS (it used to be neutral trim at full cruise speed).

You may even be able to see some nice new HD clouds in the photo; that’s part of a visual ‘update’ I am working on for FS9… more on that to come!

More Arrow Flying

As I said in the last post; it is very nice to go out to the ManCave and just go flying. Tonight was a night for just that. I flew out to the training area from Wigram and just enjoyed flying around. The sim worked perfectly, the aircraft flew as expected, and even the weather cooperated!

I even dusted off my old helmet and played the ‘back in the day’ reminiscing game πŸ˜‰

Big smile, happy chap!

The Arrow is home

It was a nice feeling, last night, to be go out to the ManCave, flick the switch and go flying in the Arrow, with no worries about whether or not the PC would start. Though it was only a very short flight it was very satisfying!

Taxiing out from the Canterbury Aero Club

The flight was a quick ‘reposition’ from Christchurch Intl to Wigram just on Dusk. Magical real-time weather, and lovely lighting, even from FS2004 which is now 17 years old!

And taxiing in after a successful flight

Now that the sim is operating properly again I am planning to do some maintenance which I’ve been putting off. Both the Pitch and Roll potentiometers need replacing, and the instrument vacuum gauge needs some attention.

SWN 11/08/2020 – Arrow Surgery

For a while the Arrow’s Sim PC has been giving trouble, mostly when trying to start it.
Last week I was flying the sim home to Wigram from Whenuapai when it crashed a couple of times en-route. That was the motivation I needed to finally fix the problem!
Tonight’s mission, therefore was to get the PC working properly, and finish my flight.

As I suspected the problem to be related to the graphics card, I had a wee rummage around in my spares stash to see what options I had without having to buy something…

Stacked in order of oldness we have everything from a couple of 8800GTX’s through to a 760GT…

After a little surgery, a new card and drivers installed and the sim is running sweetly again. I finished my flight with a lovely IFR approach into Christchurch just after the fog rolled in πŸ™‚

Expect more ‘Arrow’ adventures in the near future.

SWN: July 13th

In my normal fashion I have again reversed a decision in my projects. Some time ago I was working on a Tactical Ops program, trying to make MSFS into a pseudo-military sim, which was quite clunky, and requires a PC running a bunch of apps to air it all happen. I called β€˜time’ on the project when I decided to focus on DCS for my military sim needs.

Fast forward to this year, and some random internet surfing and I stumbled on an idea for using some existing tools to achieve what I wanted for my TACOPS program.

Sims Located on the map in real-time

For this new version of TACOPS I needed to learn ho to work with MySQL I my VB.NET console application. So now I have a simple client app on each sim machine which takes to a Database hosted on Camalus, which is my main server connecting all my sims together. Another small application, this time on Camalus, takes the data from the MySQL database, massages it into the right format then publishes it to my web server. Al this means that anyone, anywhere can run a compatible viewer and see where my sims are. I am using the whazzup.txt format, used by VATSIM and IVAO for displaying their online clients. Viewers such as DOLOYNUM and Qutescoop are my favourites.

Wide-angle view towards the Arrow
Naval ops in full swing in the man-cave

Sim Work Night: AI Edition

Another evening of work on Monowai. My plan was to finish off a few modelling items, then start building scenery in various locations.
I am pretty comfortable that I have the model finished to a standard that I could release, so next up comes the ‘factory work’; Creating each variation of the basic model, then setting up the LOD’s (or ‘levels of detail’) for each variation, creating the scenery and finally writing the manual and packing it all up for upload.

Finished? Maybe?

More boats for Monowai

I know, I know… another post about boats on an aviation site! But bear with me, there is at least a screenshot of a helicopter this time!

Development has been moving along nicely on Monowai with the addition of some ‘proper’ boats to replace the generic placeholders I had in early versions.

Steaming South through the Red Sea with her new boats aboard

On the davits are two SMB (Survey Motor Boats), while on the foredeck is a Rotork Sea Truck… like a mini landing craft, which could carry a Landrover or Landcruiser ashore.

The main purpose of this project is to give the AI Wasps somewhere to operate from, and during the week I achieved just that; A small test scenery of Monowai with a Wasp operating from her helicopter deck.

Wasp ’04’ departing from Monowai on a test mission

Now that I have the process sorted for building working scenery around the ship I plan on placing multiple ‘copies’ of Monowai in various locations, with associated Waps flying meaningful survey or supply missions.

I’m pretty pleased with how Monowai is looking, and with a few final details I will be happy to draw a line under it and finalise the package and release it. I will be producing my complete package, as well as a ‘Scenery Library’ package for scenery designers to use.
So far this has been a cool project which I have really enjoyed. I am toying with the idea of continuing my ship modelling, and move on to HMNZS Endevour, but like anything in this hobby, that is likely to change!