What a night!

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge, and last night was *THAT* time. After procrastinating for so long about changing over the main PC in the Skyhawk sim, I decided to just do it, and figure it all out as I went along.
First step was to fire up the sim in it’s current state, to say farewell.. I was going to go for a fly, but with my motivation levels at a high point, and not wanting to get distracted I decided to just take a couple of final photos then rip into it.

The PC swap-out wasn’t too big of a deal, but running and sorting cables was… One day I will just rip all of this mess out and start again with cut-to-length cabling..

One day…. One day 🙂

With the PC in place it was a case of figuring out what needed to be re-connected, and what wouldn’t work. So far the list of ‘wont work’ things is short; can’t connect my MIP monitor, due to the new PC only having one analogue output, and can’t connect my **seriously* old DB9 COM cable… which runs ACCIS.
SO, PC in, fired up, windows updates done.. time to fire up DCS and see what happens. Of course, DCS needed updates.. many many updates, like 5Gb’s worth.

But finally, we got there! Nothing mapped, and only the stick <sort of> working but it flew.. and looks awesome!

Tonight I hope to start mapping some of the cockpit switches, and maybe define what I want to be able to do in the sim, at least in the short term.

Compass and Clock for the Skyhawk

After making my mock-up compass and clock I started looking for real components to replace them. It all started when I stumbled over an inoperative clock on a suppliers website, then a black compass showed up at work…. 2+2 in this case equals ‘yeehaa’ 🙂

Though not exactly correct they are close, and will look great in the cockpit.

737 Throttle Quadrant

Over the past years I have been slowly collecting all of the used, cast-off or reject TQ parts from work… Today I thought I’d gather them all together and sort out what I had.

The list of ‘missing’ parts was not as long as I had expected, which was a nice surprise. There were even a pair of ‘Classic-correct’ trim wheels (from a development project at work..) in the box!
My TQ build is going to be a long slow process as I get the time to work on it, but at least I have a good bunch of the parts 🙂

737 Overhead beginnings

I had planned on having the overhead as just a static panel, with not much on it, then I evolved it into having only the switches I needed, maybe a ‘fictional’ panel covering the function I needed….
Well, that all changed when I scored a pile of old, quite used FDS panel faceplates from an NG overhead, most of which are usable on a classic. Despite only needing a few switches for my needs, I plan on fitting all the switches and annunciators….

A mixture of real and replica panels. Makes a nice ‘patchwork’ effect, which looks like a worn cockpit.

I will need to draw up a series of backplates, and fit dzus fasteners. Then finally I’ll have to either source or replicate the missing panels.
**Eagle eyed spotters will notice that the Cabin Temp panel is sitting upside-down!

DCS Library Development

For many years Military AI Works have produced excellent military scenery, many of which leverage of a series of ‘Object Libraries’ produced by many very talented designers. I have been using these libraries in my projects for a long time, and with my switch to DCS I felt a little lost without the breadth of objects available to “detail” airports with.
So, being the infernal tinkerer that I am, I have cobbled a workflow together which allows me to convert FS9 Object Libraries into DCS ‘mods’. It is a laborious task, with a lot of file editing and hand manipulation of 3d models, but it does work!

MAIW Objects scattered around a P-3 in DCS

While I was converting models I had a small experiment with static aircraft, converted from FS9 models. The P-3 in the picture above is by Jake Burrus, with my retro RNZAF AI paint, and looks quite good in the sim.

These first experiments with bringing my ‘familiar’ FS9 objects into DCS has started me thinking about how I can incorporate some of the design philosophies that have evolved over the years into the DCS world.

The flight line could get ‘interesting’

With a workflow established, and a bit more learning of the lua files which run everything in DCS, I got a little more ambitious and converted HMNZS Canterbury, and have it operating as a working vessel, with a landable helipad..

RNZAF Iroquois landing on HMNZS Canterbury…. a DCS First (I believe)

Another Sim Software Shuffle?

After recently deciding on the software for each of my sims, and the shift of VR into the Skyhawk, I have had a bit of a re-think!
This has mostly come about by my breaking out my old Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS, and setting it up in DCS and FSX.

‘Cougar’ in place on the desk. Perhaps a custom keyboard shelf will be next?

Another part of the reason for the shift has been a re-discovery of the joys of VR in other simulations. I spent a very relaxing evening driving from Oxnard, CA to Yuma, AZ in American Truck Simulator, which reminded me how much fun VR can be, beyond the ‘cockpit’ of the Skyhawk.

The new plan (until I change it again of course) is to run both DCS and FS9 on the Skyhawk, but skip the VR part, at least for now. I hope to put together a version of the A-4, with a modified version of the F-15C avionics, and simplified weapons, which will let me fly a ‘pseudo Kahu’ in the ‘pit, and join in multiplayer missions, while retaining VR capability on the current desk-based rig. This shift will mean FS9 will remain as the primary sim for the Skyhawk, with DCS being a development as time goes on.

*New Headset for the Arrow

A *new acquisition for the Arrow this week; A Saitek Pro Flight ‘Aviation Replica’ Headset, from my friend Mark in Adelaide (Thanks Mark!).

*New means new to me…..

Looking right at home 🙂

This brings me one step closer to VATSIM flying in the Arrow… It’s now a race between the 737 and the Arrow to see which gets online first! (Although the Arrow has been online… but only as a test…)

Man Cave Ceiling

While “Drunk in Charge of an Internet” recently I bought a piece of cheap camouflage netting to hide the frankly hideous ceiling in the man cave. It arrived, and after much head scratching, trying to remember when and why I’d bought it, I stapled it in place. Doesn’t look too bad, and certainly achieves it’s mission of hiding the exposed ceiling structure!

Doesn’t look bad for $2 plus shipping! It does however highlight the fact that the funky “coral” (because it’s not actually pink) light fitting needs a paint… I’m thinking subtle military black.

Air Force Museum Wigram

I am very lucky to have the Air Force Museum on my doorstep. It is an incredible resource, with a genuinely impressive collection of aircraft and artifacts tracing New Zealand’s’ military aviation history. I enjoy visiting the museum, and take any opportunity to sneak away for a quick peek into our aviation past.

I have visited the museum a few times lately, mostly for research on my DCS paints… I love every single visit, finding something new with every visit. I am lucky, that Nathan, my 8 year old son, loves the visits too. Next time I’ll shoot some photos of the ‘interactive’ exhibits 🙂