More Linings and BIG ManCave Plans!

Another evening of ‘doing stuff in the garage’ tonight meant some more work on the 737 Linings.

Even has SouthWest branded tissues in the pockets πŸ™‚

I’ve put enough fasteners in to hold it all in place so that I can plan the structure to hold it up. As I’ve said before; I want the sim to be fairly modular, so that I *could* move it in pieces, but mostly so that I can remove parts of the sim to work on outside of the confines of the enclosure it will be built into.

As part of the development of the 737, there will be a big renovation of the ManCave. For a start the 737 sim will be coming downstairs from the loft. The main reasons are access and temperature; not only is it hard work getting to the sim, it’s also too cold in winter, and way too hot in summer. The 737 will be just outside the current ManCave door, and mounted on casters so that it can be moved around to be worked on. The rest of the ManCave will have a shuffle with the TA-4 being turned 90 degrees, and going purely VR, while the ‘Instructor Desk’ will become more of a general purpose desk and be moved against the wall.

A virtual top down view of the planned layout, TA-4 on the left, Arrow on the right, and the 737 at the top, just outside the door

You can see in the render that it is a very cozy space, but with some careful and creative design I think I can make it all work and make far better use of the space than I do currently.

The 737’s new enclosure, just outside the ManCave door.

With the move downstairs of the 737 sim, I hope to turn the loft back into a useful storage space again, and recoup more space in the garage than the 737 sim will take up.

737 Wall Lining

Tonight I had a wee play around with my 737 side wall and linings to try and figure out whether the ‘side wall cut’ was above or below the bottom of the interior linings. Finding this out is important so that I can figure out how I will eventually mount the side wall structure to the floor.

After a small experiment it appears that the cut line is almost *exactly* at the bottom of the liners, and importantly, is level. This makes my life much easier when I come to designing the mountings as I have a nice flat base to start from.

It’s an addiction!

Since getting interested in Bridge Command, I have started messing with it…. it ships with a basic scenery of Santa Catalina Island, which looks ok, but really needed some textures to make it look better… a quick edit with some photo imagery, and it looks lots better.

Here we are steaming along the Northern side of San Clemente Island (which is just South of Santa Catalina). My textures don’t quite fit, so need a little more fettling to make the shoreline perfect. For a quick edit it looks quite good, and adds to the immersion nicely. Next, I’d like to try building a scenery from scratch, maybe Lyttelton Harbour, or Maybe Auckland?

Great Ship Simulator

During some googling around looking for some radar display images I stumbled on to the “Bridge Command” website, and found a neat ship sim. The biggest surprise was that this sim has an external Radar display, Multiple-PC display, and the ability to talk to a Chart plotter via NMEA data. And whats more; it’s free, open source!

Small test setup, with the main program running on my laptop, a second view running fullscreen radar on a second laptop, and finally the “Instructor Map” running on a small windows tablet.

737 Deliveries

A couple of cool deliveries today, both for the 737. First, I bought the captain’s side wall structure from N615SW, a 737-300 which was cut up at work, which will be used to form the side structure of my sim. I had always planned on making the sim modular, and was going to have to measure and construct a frame for the side wall, but when the opportunity to buy a real section came up I jumped at it.

The side wall will be mounted on a plywood or MDF base, with the linings attached, and a structure at the base to replicate the cable tray on the floor (which I also have the cover panel for)

The other delivery was from Aliexpress; the 10.1″ screen for my engine display.

The display was nicely packaged, and was very quickly and easily connected up for a test run. An old laptop provided the graphics, and it looks awesome. The display driver board is USB powered, and came with a USB cable, so very easy to power from the host PC. I hope to get the display installed into the panel tomorrow night for a test flight!

On this day…

I received an interesting link via Facebook, to a database of US Air Losses during the Vietnam conflict. I am a fan of the F-4 Phantom, and of course the A-4 Skyhawk, both of which featured prominently during the era.
The search function on the database was pretty cool, and after couple of sample searches, I entered my date of birth as the criteria, to see what, if any, aircraft were lost on that day.

Much to my surprise there was only the one loss, but it was a TA-4 Skyhawk, with the Tactical Callsign “PLAYBOY 45” and it was flying perhaps my favourite mission; Forward Air Control.
Why it’s spooky;
– The Skyhawk link is obvious, but even more so given that it is a TA-4, similar to my sim…
– The callsign “PLAYBOY 45”; “45” was my pilot number, which formed the basis of all my callsigns during my time with RAAFvirtual.
– The mission; FAC, my favourite, and one I’ve been working on lately in DCS!

If the Vietnam Air War is of interest, visit www.vietnamairlosses.com it is well worth a peruse.

737 Engine Display

After a bit of measuring, researching and pondering I have ordered an LCD panel for the Engine Displays. The range of sizes, aspect ratios and resolutions available is truely staggering, but I managed to find a screen which *should* be a near-perfect fit, a 10.1″, 1280×800 should do the trick…. watch this space!

I have been messing around with various versions of, and setting for Project Magenta’s EICAS display, and found an *old* version which will do just what I want…

This which is a compact 737NG upper-DU display, with a suitable bezel over the front, will work nicely as a substitute for a classic engine display.

Entebbe to Goma

Having a pilot seat in the sim is pretty cool… and a whole lot more ‘user friendly’. Tonight I flew one of the REFORGE flights down to Goma in the DRC.

I also took the opportunity to update the avionics software in the sim, which all worked perfectly.

The weather in Africa is challenging, with cloud and bad visibility appearing to be the standard.

Occasionally though, there were clear patches and the views were pretty spectacular!

After a low visibility RNAV arrival in to Goma I shut down for the night.

This ‘gap’ is the next to be filled. I have the software working for the engine displays, now I need to source an LCD panel which will fit the gap. I am only driving the left side display, the the right being a dummy. Once I have the dimensions sorted I’ll start rummaging around in my stash for a suitable monitor, or failing that it’ll be off to my favourite ‘Sim Supply’ store; AliExpress πŸ˜‰