Graphic Design

While sitting on a plane recently I thought of a great gift for a couple of my plane-nut mates…. I thought about making a custom boarding pass, and having it printed on a coffee mug….

I started off by scanning my boarding pass from a recent flight for the layout, then replacing all the text with custom text boxes for easy customization, and finally adding some snazzy logos and a secret barcode. The barcode was generated using an online tool, and if anyone ever scans it, well… there is a message there 🙂

This was a proof of concept, and I am really pleased with the result! Now the question is: What next?!

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….

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.

ManCave Inspiration

During a recent visit to the Air Force Museum at Wigram, Nathan and I looked at the ‘mock’ C-130 they have as an interactive display, and talked about things which would be cool to incorporate into the upstairs part of the ManCave.

‘Dummy’ Door, and cool non-slip floor
Very simple window frame, but very effective

The interior of the C-130 was pretty simple, grey vinyl material, with suitable stencils and very basic window frames made for a really cool effect. This may be the theme for the area at the top of the stairs where the 737 passenger seat is located. The plan for the seat was to have a window with a side-view from the 737 sim…. maybe an austere ‘military’ interior will fit in well…

While we were wandering around the museum we had a wee look at the Mosquito sim. Despite it being quite simple, it looks impressive, and works well… more motivation to switch the Skyhawk to a combat sim…

More Decorating, TACOPS Update, and a Mission Clock

There hasn’t been a whole lot going on in the ManCave lately, but over the weekend I did add some more stickers to the wall and fix a bug in TACOPS (for those playing along at home I’m up to v1.02….) 

Most of the new stickers have come from a trip down memory lane as I dug through some old boxes of photos.  The 29Sqn RAF sticker was from the son of my 5th form Tech Drawing teacher who was a Phantom pilot…

Part of ‘nostalgia’ trip involved framing a picture for Nathan, which got me thinking….  I have been wanting to frame my Air Training Corps Solo Certificate since I received it in 1989. So a cheap A3 frame from The Warehouse, an old NZCH VTC as a background, and my Certificate is ready to be hung somewhere in the ManCave.

I have been wanting to frame this since I first received it.  Finally it’s done!

With all my recent messing around with my TACOPS programming, I have been thinking about how I could set up the ‘Mission Commander’ station in the ManCave.  Using the big TV with either Google Earth, or MSFS with a tower/radar view, and an old (small) laptop running my TACOPS software I could make something pretty cool… But it needed more…. and I was thinking about a “Mission Clock”, or a sim-driven Zulu/Local clock. 
With this in mind, I did some messing around with an Arduino and some 7-Segment displays, working with MobiFlight.

And it works!

Spring Time Means Spring Cleaning

A quiet, Spring weekend and I finally got had the time to have a bit of a clean-out in the ManCave.  I got some old, redundant PC’s out of the way, moved CAMALUS (my main server) into it’s proper place in the PC ‘stack’, and even vacuumed the carpet!

Woah!  I can see the carpet!

Anyone who has visited lately will know what a complete state the place was.  It is now quite pleasant walking in… rather than having to watch your step so as not to step on or fall over something!
One down-side of my tidying was that one of my ‘Ship Drone’ PC’s departed for Computer heaven….   leaving my fleet one-down.  To alleviate this I dug out yet-another-old-laptop and got FS running on that too…

3 Laptops, 3 different missions;  Frigate (escort), Liberty Ship (Transport) and Control Tower (basically just watching)

So now, with the great PC reshuffle I have more players in my multiplayer adventures than ever before!  I even re-tasked my old “gaming” machine running as a 707 Tanker…..  

Another wall in the ManCAVE

After having the second plywood ‘wall’ panel sitting in the middle of the mancave for ages, Nathan and I finally got it in place.  Doesn’t look much but it fills in the wall behind the sim-case (like a bookcase, but filled with sims…) and will help with insulation once summer arrives.

Not a lot to look at really.  Still, once I get some pink bats in behind it, and the last bit of ceiling lined it should make it a bit more comfortable come summer time!

And now a Panoramic view of the Upper ManCave, with the 737 at the far end.  It’s a ‘snug’ space, but I really like it.  Please excuse the mess.. the room is in a bit of a state at the moment!

The good news is that I have sourced enough matching ceiling tiles to do the complete ceiling in the ‘lounge’ section of the space, so it will all look the same….   I need to figure what I will do to line the ceiling above the sim, possibly 3mm MDF, just to hold the insulation in place.

Decorating update

One keen-eyed follower spotted the Boeing graphic sitting on the shelf, and questioned why it wasn’t stuck on anything… So tonight I applied it to the wall above the “airliner” shelf

In other, quite exciting news; the Skyhawk Sim has scored a new 1080p HD projector!  Hopefully this will mean a much better visual, and more readable HUD.  Unfortunately it has a much longer throw ratio, meaning it will have to be mounted much further from the screen than the old one.  This may lead to some modifications to the ManCave to accommodate it.

ManCave decorating update

I was never really that happy with the “Boarding Pass Collage” so I have re-jigged it, and now I am much happier with the result.  I remade the Boarding pass one, and made up a new “events” collage, with concert and event tickets.  Most will probably think it’s a bit naff, but I like it… it makes me smile!

For some time I’ve thought about adding a New Zealand flag to the ManCave, being a good patriotic kiwi and all, so I bought a good sized flag, not exactly sure where i was going to put it.  It arrived, and I hung it on the wall as if it’s on a staff (which I may add later) and I think it looks pretty damn good.

Friday Night is ‘Flight Night’

Andy visited the cave tonight to sample VR for the first time.  He flew a variety of aircraft in FSX/Fly Inside before switching to DCS:World.

For a final giggle, being that he rolls his eyes when I talk about my various sims, I put him in a Kenworth in American Truck Simulator!  Never shall he scorn me again!  I suspect I’m in trouble when Andy goes home and tells his wife he’s buying a VR headset 🙂

While Andy was flying I fired up the Arrow for another flight around Korea.  The weather was still pretty awful, so it ended up being an IFR return to Osan.  It was nice flying over unfamiliar scenery, having to use charts and navaids to navigate.

After Andy left for the night I did a little VR flying; taking the Bell 206 from Christchurch over to Okains Bay on the Peninsula for a great night-flight.  VR in FSX is amazing at night, with really vibrant lighting effects.  The moon reflecting off the Pacific Ocean looked fantastic, and the moonlight bathing the cockpit as a really cool effect.  I look forward to more helicopter flying in VR!