Monowai: Update

Another evening’s work on Monowai, and the details are starting to get filled in. The mission was to add the major structures to the fore deck and the various antennae around the top of the superstructure.

The blue coloured bits are yet to be finished and painted, but she is looking much ‘busier’ with more of the details being completed.

HMNZS Monowai: First Look

After completing the initial release of my AI Wasp, I started looking for places for them to fly… I have models of the Leander Class Frigates, but when I found out that Monowai also had an embarked Wasp I thought I’d have a go at modelling her. This is the first quick compile in the sim to have a look, and I think it is looking pretty good so far. Eventually I plan a static scenery object, to be part of the “destinations for the Wasps” but also as a pilot-able ship for my ‘Nautical Adventures’ series….

AI Westland Wasp Released!

It’s been a long time coming, but this evening I uploaded the finished ‘version 1.0’ of my RNZAF_AI Wasp to Military AI Works. It is a long time since I spent any serious time in GMax, and the Wasp has been a great learning experience. I was surprised at how much easier GMax was after the hours and hours of work I’ve done in Fusion360. Despite GMax being from a much older generation of CAD, a huge amount of workflows I use daily in Fusion 360 transferred over pretty well. I am quite happy with this, my first complete AI Aircraft package in a very **very** long time!

Wasps on the ‘Naval Support Flight’ flight-line at Hobsonville.

The package will be available for download from the Military AI Works website soon!

F421 Canterbury Update

Over the past few weeks I have spent some time in the evenings updating the visual model of F421, adding a virtual cockpit, hand rails and even a crew. The most exciting part of the upgrade has been the addition of animated parts, some simple, like spinning radar scanners and the flapping ensign, some a little more complex like the ‘lowering of the ships boat’….

Canterbury sails in the morning sunlight of the Caribbean

Now, with the push of a button the ‘Captains Gig’ lowers to the surface, then disappears so that I can deploy my own copy of the ships’ boat… more of that Nautical Madness!

Many more animations have been added but more on those later, along with a rundown on the other improvements around the ship.

SWN April 7, 2020

Last week’s Sim Work Night turned into a CAD exercise on the 3d Model of Canterbury.. so not much to show!
This week is a different matter. I started the process of swapping out the flight controls in the Skyhawk a couple of weeks ago, and this week I made some serious progress!

The mechanic’s of the stick were all stripped down and cleaned, then I ripped apart an old Logitech ‘Attack 3’ joystick and salvaged the circuit boards inside it. Now I have the stick extended, and interfaced with the Logitech boards. For now I have wired only the switches I intend using, as the stick has more buttons than the Skyhawk grip anyway!

The grip reassembled after being re-wired.

The stick shaft has been extended 100mm, which give a travel which feels about right, and now has a nice offset to make it fit in your hand nicely.

With the extension in place and the new cabling running out the front of the stick I interfaced it to the Logitech boards.
Switch wires attached to the back of the existing boards.
In place, with suitable ‘spacer’ to test the location

With the Throttle and Stick Rewired I tested the various axes and switches, and all worked fine!
The next step in the build is to design a pedestal to support the stick at it’s right height, incorporating an enclosure for the various boards cables and connectors, then make a suitable mounting structure for the Throttle. Part of the mount will include adding a Flap switch to the structure so that it is located correctly (finally) For now the Throttle doesn’t have any buttons interfaced, that is for a later time!

SWN March 24, 2020

COVID-19 has bitten hard, with NZ going in to lock-down tomorrow. So tonight’s Sim Work Night was pretty quiet. After spending the afternoon converting the ManCave into a temporary work office, I decided that I still needed to do something on my sim. So tonight I did some messing around with displays in the Skyhawk, and a cool tool for ‘storing’ and ‘restoring’ panel positions. This means that I can fine tune the positions of all of my undocked panels, an recall them whenever I need.
This application has changed my plans for how I will “build” the virtual panel for the sim. Instead of building a single panel, with all my gauges on it, I will make individual panels for each gauge which I can then move and size to fit the panel. Then I can use these cool apps to store the positions.
I also *temporarily* pointed the projector lower to align with the HUD. This is until I design and build new legs to bring the height up to where I now want it.

Quick and dirty, but shows the capabilities of the apps!

SWN March 17, 2020

On tonight’s blog; I remove a joystick, I destroy a joystick, and I re-make a joystick!

The Skyhawk has been without flight controls now for quite some time, and that is a bit of a hindrance when it comes to flying. I have thrown around a couple of ideas for curing this, from re-instating the old Saitek stick, through up-cycling my Cougar HOTAS to the extreme of building a representation of the real A-4 stick mechanism. Tonight I had another good idea, which is a sort-of half-way solution; I would modify my Suncom F-15E stick and throttle. The ‘Talon’ as it’s known is a reasonable match for the Skyhawk stick, and a pretty good facsimile of the Kahu throttle, despite being a twin-lever setup.
First step was to remove the Cougar, and return it to it’s former use as my joystick of choice for flying VR, then it was time to pull apart the Talon, rip out all the bits I wouldn’t need, and modify the stick base to fit into the cramped space of the ‘pit.

De-construction of the stick went well, with all the circuit boards and wiring removed and the gimbal mechanism and stick grip isolated. Next it was out time for gratuitous use of power tools to cut the base body down to size, then re-assemble the new base and try it out for size.

With the stick base in place I measured up for a mount and a shaft extension to bring the grip to the right height.
Up next in the workshop of horrors was the throttle. This didn’t need any where near as much work, as it was pretty close to what I needed anyway. Once again I removed all of the existing wiring and circuit boards then test-fitted it in the sim. The throttle is pretty close to the right shape and size as the Kahu throttle needing just a couple of switches changed to make it a fairly good replica.

The Suncom throttle looks perfect in the cockpit, but this view highlights the need for paint!

The final part of the nights work was to clean up the quite considerable mess I’d managed to make, and dispose of the evidence of a night of simulator carnage!

I may go to simulator hell for this….

Bunker Lights for the ManCave

I’ve been searching for the right lights to go on the wall in the ManCave for a long while now. After many searches on the internet, and even visits to local lighting and hardware stores I hadn’t found anything that was quite right. An unrelated search on Aliexpress one night turned up some nice looking ‘Bulkhead’ lights, but were a bit pricey for what I wanted, but it started me thinking again about local alternatives. Bunnings to the rescue! They had a pretty good range of industrial-looking lights at reasonable prices, so a quick trip to the store, and $25 later I have a pair of ‘Bunker’ lights… even the name sounds appropriate for the ManCave!

Installed, waiting for wiring

These two lights will replace the halogen spot lights in the middle of the ceiling (which may stay as ‘work’ lights) and will either gain a dimmer, or switch to RGB LED.

A Spark of Genius (or Madness…you choose)

Tonight while quietly sitting on the couch I had a great idea about using another PC in my ‘virtual ship’ setup… This second PC would be a surrogate for Canterbury when I arrived at a location and deployed the RHIB. This would mean that the surrogate would take on the identity of Canterbury while I used the TACOPS PC to simulate the RHIB (or any other support vehicle). All of this would mean that I could leave Canterbury on other adventures, yet she would remain persistent in my virtual world.

The RHIB comes alongside Canterbury after a small excursion in Dubrovnik Harbour

A quick test

Tonight I connected the MIP monitor in the Skyhawk up, via an HDMI to VGA downscaler and had a wee test.

This was using the TACPACK powered T-45 model and avionics, which I will be using as the initial test bed for my TACPACK integration.

It looks quite smart, even just at this stage. Can’t wait to fly it again!