It’s been a while

I have not spent much time on any of my sims of late, the classic ‘real life has gotten in the way’ line applies here. The 737 in particular hasn’t been flown in ages, last time I started it the Cockpit displays computer wouldn’t start. Last night I decided it was time to get it running and go for a quick flight.

The startup fault was quickly tracked down and resolved then the sim started up happily.

All back up and running

A quick night flight around the Manawatu and a successful landing certainly helped blow the cobwebs away. I am looking forward to getting the seat finished and installed so I can do some more flying.

New Sim for the ‘Stash’

I am always on the lookout for sim software to add to my collection, and recently while browsing Trademe I stumbled over one of the more obscure items on my ‘wish list’; ASA OnTop IFR Proficiency Simulator.
This is no flashy simulation game, this is a serious training tool… therefore it doesn’t have pretty graphics or sound, what it does have are accurate instrument panels and aircraft performance for 10 different aircraft. It even has detailed simulations of the Garmin GNS430 and G1000 (although it calls it a G1000 ‘like’ display)

So far, apart from unpacking it and quickly installing it to have a look I haven’t done anything serious with it. I have a grand plan to build a 32bit PC (its old remember) and set it up as a desktop training thing in the ManCave….

OpenScope – ATC Simulator

I like simulators; almost any type of simulator…. In the past week I’ve led a flight of F/A-18 Hornets on a training mission, driven a Kenworth T900 Truck through the mountains of Washington State, driven a GP7 hauled freight train over Donner Pass in the snow and last night… controlled arriving and departing aircraft as ‘Las Vegas Approach’ in a very slick, browser based and FREE Air Traffic Control simulator..

OpenScope is a free, open source ATC sim which I found while reading another sim builders blog. At first glance it appears to be a quite simple ATC game, but as you explore it and learn what it does, it turns into a slick, and very absorbing simulation, It is not as in-depth as a full-on ATC Sim package, but for the casual simmer it’s pretty cool.

My first ATC sim was RAPCON back in 1989, which was by the legendary (in the ATC Sim world) Wesson Intl. Since then I have had, and played a few different sims, but as a casual ATC player, OpenScope appears to do everything I want, without being overly complex.
The open-source nature of OpenScope also means that I could build my own airspace for it….. but with the list of other, more important projects I have… I probably wont 🙂

More TQ Parts arrive

I am getting close to the point where I will have to stop procrastinating and actually build my TQ…
More parts arrived today from AliExpress, my favorite online shop, consisting of Buck-Boost modules, pulleys, drive belts and some nice big bearings.

My TQ ‘concept’ is to make an automated quadrant without using complex software like ProSim to handle the automation. I have a plan, mostly in my head but some of it is now on paper, which will allow me to drive my autothrottles using off-the-shelf components, and some clever programming. I still need to design the clutches for the A/T drives, and a simple way of attaching pots to each axis, but I think I’m on the right track.

With this latest arrival I am getting dangerously close to the point where I am going to have to start assembling this thing. I have loads of good ‘seconds’ from work which I will be re-engineering to fit with my new design, then all that is left to source is the drive motors… I hope.

737 Parts with Historic Significance

At work we recently started to convert our first simulator, our own ‘Ground Zero’, into a display piece. A positive (for me) spin-off from this is that many parts not required for the display project have made their way into my 737 project.
The two ‘prize’ items from the haul were the pilots seat, built by Russell from an old 737 passenger seat, and the Rudder Pedals, which I made in my former life and sent South for Russell to install in his sim.

The Seat has had a bit of an upgrade, gaining seat cushions, armrest covers and headrest from real 737 seats. Next it will get a height increase to bring it up to my preferred seat height, and a repaint in Boeing grey..

Looks good in it’s new ‘clothes’


The rudder pedals will have a big re-condition, with new linkages, and of course a paint. It will be a nice feeling to have the pedals I built all those years ago, in my own sim!

I also scored one of the yoke heads, which again I helped make back in 2001 or so, I’m not going to use the yoke in my sim but I plan on making a display piece out of it…

DCS: SSA Mod

Or “Sean’s Strategic Assets Mod” is my pet name for my conversion project… I plan on converting, with original modelers permission, a bunch of ‘Strategic’ aircraft from FS9 AI models. The idea is to build a mod around aircraft which would be based out of the theater of operations, and so would only be seen ‘in flight’. The reason for this is that until I learn the finer details of animation in Blender or 3D Studio, my models will be static, which is fine for the sorts of aircraft I am planning.
The plan is to convert a few ‘samples’, which I can use to send screenshots to the owners of the models, in the hope that they will grant permission for me to distribute their modified models.

Quick-Build Sim

Yesterday I put together Nikolai’s F/A-18 cockpit. The cockpit design was from Luka at Dogfight Boss, which I had modified for a potential customer at work. When the sale didn’t go through we had the prototype laser-cut cockpit laying around, which Nik purchased. Which goes some of the way to explaining why I ended up putting together someone else’s sim…

The Dogfight Boss design is a simple, slot-together kitset, much like the laser-cut dinosaur toys we all had as kids.. 40 minutes after opening up the package of bits I had the first dry-fit of the ‘pit together.

Dry-fit test complete, now to label and disassemble

After disassembly, I laid out all the bits logically, then set about gluing and nailing it all together.
After a good evening’s work it looks quite good. The final step is to roll it all over and secure the floor to the main structure. I’m sure Nik will be happy 🙂

With a splash of paint it will look awesome!

New IO Interface Component

I have been using up recycled interconnect boards from the skip at work, but as that source is quickly running out I thought I should find an available substitute.
I like the idea of using CAT5 cable and connectors for running between my components and IO boards, so I looked for an RJ45 connector which would suit my needs. A quick search on Aliexpress.com came up with these:

I do quite enjoy getting small parcels of goodness from Aliexpress!

For around $3 each, these things allow me to wire 7 IO lines, plus a common to each cable, which in turn runs to my centralised IO.

My first use of these will be on the 737 MIP, when I wire up the remaining buttons, then the long-awaited EFIS Panel, where I hope to design the connector into the panel, as an integral part, allowing for easy removal for maintenance.

Click here to check out this product on Aliexpress

CT4 Forward Air Controller?

With my playing around in DCS, and my love of the FAC mission, I decided to try a conversion of my CT4 model as a working FAC aircraft in DCS.

I had the basic aircraft geometry imported and converted, albeit with a few bugs so I tackled the task of adding weapons to it one night, and the results were surprisingly good!

CT4/FAC over Echo Lake Nevada on a test flight

I was certain that somewhere in the past the idea of a FAC conversion of the CT4 had been floated, which added some sort of legitimacy to my project.. A bit of searching on the ‘net came up with this page at Aviadejavu.ru

1976 Photo of a CT4 FAC test.

Finding this image was a great step, giving some credence to the idea of a FAC CT4. I need to model the pylons, and find the right sized pods to hang under the wings, and we will have a usable FAC platform for our multiplayer missions!

The most recent news on the modding front is that I am running a 30 day trial of 3DStudio Max, which will hopefully give me time to finish the CT4 project at least… And plans are in play to secure the use of 3DS Max for longer… watch this space!