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Author Topic: Memphis 727 Build  (Read 437 times)

Offline skyline223

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  • First Name: Will Tucker
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Memphis 727 Build
« on: August 11, 2018, 12:52:13 AM »
Greetings to all!

Following up on my introduction, this will be the proper build thread for my Boeing 727 home simulator. I'll give a more thorough history here. Without further ado, here's the story:

I was bitten by the flight sim bug early in life. My first copy was Flight Simulator 2000 at the age of 7. While I likely did a lot more stalling than flying, I was hooked. As I grew older, my interest grew respectively. As a high school student, I was exploring every possibility to make my desktop flight sim setup more immersive and complex. I came to the conclusion that the next step for me was to build a cockpit enclosure of some kind. With the help of a high school friend, we drew up some initial plans for a generic sim pit that would roughly resemble a 727/737 cockpit. I was very fortunate to have a mother who was a 35 year employee at Fedex. With that connection, we were able to arrange a tour of the FedEx simulator facility here in Memphis. This is where the story gets good.

The purpose of the visit was to spend some time in one of the company's 727-200 level D sims - taking measurements of every nook and cranny of the cockpit. These measurements were to serve us in building our generic sim pit. Of course, I had explained everything to our sim tour guide that I have just explained to you. As we were sitting in the level D sim, a light bulb went off in his head. He said to me and my buddy - "Guys, if y'all are serious about building a 727 sim, I think I have something that you are going to want to see."

He led us down a hallway with a couple burned out fluorescent bulbs, and we turned to a door with dust on the knob. Creaking it open, inside the room sat a Boeing 727-100 Cockpit Procedures Trainer (CPT). Our tour turned to us and said "I can't make you a guarantee yet, but I'll talk to the boss, and I bet you guys can have this thing. You would be doing us a favor if you could dismantle it and get it out the door for us. No one comes in here to use this box anymore."

The CPT just as I saw it when we opened the door


A few days later we got good news. "Come get it!" Armed with a toolbox and a UHaul truck, we spent three days dismantling the CPT and moving it across town into my parents house (bless them!)

The interior of the CPT just before we started dismantling it


Here's what we knew of the CPT as it sat:
-It was most likely originally delivered to American Airlines sometime in the late 70's.
-The manufacturer is unknown.
-The shell is all fiberglass and appears to be a one-off construction.
-The CPT had little to no actual functionality. All gauges were faux and the windows were opaque. The trainer was mostly used by new hire flight engineers to learn flows.

As I began to piece the sim back together, my goal was to get it flyable as soon as possible. I built a three projector setup using very basic 4:3 projectors and flat screens. This worked quite well for some time. For the MIP, I used the CPT original panels and fitted LCD screens behind them to display virtual gauges. This also worked pretty well, but certainly left something to be desired in terms of realism. The overhead was interfaced to FSX using FDS InterfaceIT cards. This was a good solution since no avionics suite was available for the 727 in FSX. The F/E station was left alone since again, the software logic did not exist to interface it anyway.

FedEx came through again and helped me out obtaining a set of Ipeco pilot seats, as well as F/E and forward observer seats. Other parts were collected through APHS. The initial build lasted about 6 months before the sim could fly full flights start-up to shutdown without keyboard intervention. (Circa 2010)

The build circa 2010 at my parent's house


I flew and enjoyed the sim for a few years until a local flight school became interested in using it for Crew Resource Management training. I moved the sim from my parent's house down to the local flight school. Since minimum downtime was a priority, I didn't have any time to make upgrades or improvements. I disassembled the sim, moved it 15 miles, and reassembled it all in a week's time. (Circa 2013)

The sim circa 2012


The school ran a program for foreign pilots who would go from zero flight experience to multi-commercial in a couple years. The 727 sim became the the last step after completing their commercial in a Beech Duchess. It aided them in learning how to work in a multi-crew environment before heading back to Asia to obtain their type ratings. The sim worked great for this, but after a few years of usage, the school made the decision to invest in a FDS A320 sim that has served them well. Since most of the students would go on to fly the A320, it was a great choice. (Circa 2016)

Alas, the 727 was back in my hands for home use. The problem was, during the time it was at the flight school, I got married and moved into my own house. For a certain period, I couldn't come up with a place to put the sim. The only room in my house where it would possibly fit was a upstairs room with a vaulted ceiling. Every time I looked at the room, I convinced myself that the sim, and better yet a visual system, would not fit. Setting up the sim at a different location was really not an option to me. I knew that the next time I built the sim, I would really take my time and make improvements I always dreamed of. With that said, I knew that if the sim was away from home (perhaps a hangar, for example) that I would struggle to find the time to make special trips out to work on it. For this project to succeed, it had to be at home.

In the time that the sim sat in storage, the second stroke of luck graced upon me. I came into an opportunity where I acquired a real loaded MIP, overhead, and many parts of the F/E station. (I recently discovered that these parts once belonged to Scott, XOrionFE.) Suddenly this project was setup to be taken to a new level. I would now have the chance to build it with all real gauges! This is where I will be doing the most learning. The goal is to start with interfacing the engine gauges and move outwards from there. I can't tell you how excited I am just to have backlighting! (CPT panels were not backlit)

The complete MIP and overhead



Back to the sim: the 727 sat in storage for almost two years while I brainstormed on where it would go. Finally I got the urge to actually take some measurements of that upstairs room. Amazingly, I realized the sim would fit. Just barely. I wasn't sure of the visuals, if I had to go the flatscreen route to make it work, I would. Though, the dream has always been a curved projector screen.

Now here we are - phase 2 (maybe 3) of my 727 project and I have high hopes for it to be better than ever. I have been working to get all the parts moved over to my place bit by bit, but have also started to focus on building a curved screen. I'll be starting with a fresh floor build, a fresh computer build, and all new visuals. The current plan is to run the sim on X-Plane 11 with the FlyJSim 727 v3. This time around, the priority is to get as much functionality out of the systems as possible. I believe the sky is the limit!

The front half only of the CPT shell after being rinsing off the dust in my driveway!


If you survived that long read - thank you! Time to get building!

-Will

A bit about me
I'm a long-time local musician active in the Memphis music scene. My current full-time job is flying Learjet 31a's for a Part 135 on-demand charter. I also enjoy R/C model aviation, putting around on a Saturday afternoon in my Super Cub, and spending time with my wife, Shelby.

« Last Edit: August 11, 2018, 01:01:56 AM by skyline223 »

Offline skyline223

  • CockpitBuilder
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    • 727simulator.com
  • First Name: Will Tucker
  • Home Location: Memphis, TN
Re: Memphis 727 Build
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2018, 01:10:15 AM »
Here we are as of today. I have built a fresh floor from high density MDF. It had to be low profile for the sim to fit in the room, so an elevated platform was not an option. I have moved the front section of the shell up into the room and have it zip-tied together for now. It will get final fasteners once the visuals are complete. Note that the interior liners are not yet installed, and the back half of the shell will come down the road when as well when I am satisfied with visuals. I am leaving flexibility to move shell sections around as needed to work on the screen and mount projectors.



Here are the early stages of my curved screen build. I am really working off the seat of my pants here since I have VERY limited space and working around the awkward vaulted ceiling. This is a coat of primer as I continue to work and smooth out the screen surface. Final coat will be an even bright white. Due to the space constraints I am still prepared for this screen NOT to work out, but I had to give it a good run for my money! I will have some short throw HD projectors to play with in the next few days so we will see how it goes. Again, once I get the visuals to the point where I am happy with them, I'll be able to button up the shell and really hit the ground running on getting the cockpit put back together!



That's it for today, stay tuned.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2018, 01:12:36 AM by skyline223 »

Offline skyline223

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    • 727simulator.com
  • First Name: Will Tucker
  • Home Location: Memphis, TN
Re: Memphis 727 Build
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2018, 12:58:20 AM »
Time for an update.

I have been working on various projects related to the sim the past few days as much as I can after work. The biggest progress to report is in the visual system. I have mounted all three of my new HD projectors and therefore am making some progress on the visual. Now for what might be the most challenging part yet, warping and blending.

Can any of you recommend a good warp/blend software that is affordable and functional?

Before this project the only software I knew of was NTHUSIM. I see they are no longer offering the software which seems a shame, but I remember is certainly was not cheap. I am looking for recommendations here!

Here's the visual as it sits now with no warp/blending.


Three BenQ TH671ST mounted up nice and cozy


Forward view looking pretty nice out of the F/O window


Other things I have been working on but no pics yet.
-I built a fresh computer for the sim. Intel i7-8700k, MSI RX 560 GPU, liquid cooled, in a rack mounted case. Very pleased with the performance I am getting out of this PC!

-I have been working on building a new MIP support frame. My original frame had three issues
1. It was pretty ragged from many years of being moved around and modified
2. It does not accept real panels very well since it was built for the CPT
3. It is sized to accommodate 727-100 panels. The 727-200 has shorter Capt. and FO panels. The new frame will be to the correct dimensions to accommodate the real MIP.

So the next step now that the projectors are mounted is to start piecing together the shell, finish the MIP support, and really start to see the sim take shape. After that, the real nitty gritty comes as I'll focus back on the interfacing project.


Offline navymustang

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Re: Memphis 727 Build
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2018, 01:55:07 AM »
I highly recommend Fly Elise and their Immersive Display Pro product line for you. I use it at home and on my professional builds.
Building a full scale 737-800 AATD for home use. Majority of hardware is from Sismo Solutions, software is Prosim under P3D. An AOPA member and LifeTime member of National Association of Flight Instructors
Please note that I am a self-employed professional cockpit builder that provides consulting to defense contractors and civilian schools and airlines.

Offline skyline223

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    • 727simulator.com
  • First Name: Will Tucker
  • Home Location: Memphis, TN
Re: Memphis 727 Build
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2018, 04:23:22 PM »
I highly recommend Fly Elise and their Immersive Display Pro product line for you. I use it at home and on my professional builds.

WONDERFUL! Thank you for the recommendation. I downloaded the demo and am having great success already. I am going to purchase a license now. Thank you!!

Offline Nat Crea

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Re: Memphis 727 Build
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2018, 11:08:33 PM »
Quote
Can any of you recommend a good warp/blend software that is affordable and functional?


Will you forgot about my Air-Venture A320 Visual System???
I would've looked after you... :o

Nat
« Last Edit: August 17, 2018, 11:10:27 PM by Nat Crea »

Offline skyline223

  • CockpitBuilder
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  • Posts: 8
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  • Aviation Enthusiast
    • 727simulator.com
  • First Name: Will Tucker
  • Home Location: Memphis, TN
Re: Memphis 727 Build
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2018, 11:39:56 PM »
Quote
Can any of you recommend a good warp/blend software that is affordable and functional?


Will you forgot about my Air-Venture A320 Visual System???
I would've looked after you... :o

Nat

Hey Nat,

I didn't forget about the visual on the A320, it is marvelous! I had no doubt you would take good care of me! I just knew I didn't have the budget (or space) for that screen, and as for the software - I didn't want to call you up and ask you just for the software - I know you make your living selling complete visual solutions! I hope you understand and no hard feelings. The day the sim moves into a bigger room you are getting my first call.  :)

Offline Nat Crea

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Re: Memphis 727 Build
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2018, 11:54:11 PM »
No worries Will!
You're right I generally only supply complete kits for FDS, but for friends don't be shy, email me :)
Ive used FlyElise many times so I can help you with that too, but I know you're a very smart cookie!

Nat

Offline skyline223

  • CockpitBuilder
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  • Posts: 8
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Aviation Enthusiast
    • 727simulator.com
  • First Name: Will Tucker
  • Home Location: Memphis, TN
Re: Memphis 727 Build
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2018, 11:02:50 PM »
No worries Will!
You're right I generally only supply complete kits for FDS, but for friends don't be shy, email me :)
Ive used FlyElise many times so I can help you with that too, but I know you're a very smart cookie!

Nat

I appreciate the kind words, Nat, it is no surprise I could use a little help!

First an update on progress of the last couple days.

First order of business was to finish off the outer sections of the screen. Lots of sanding, painting, sanding, until the finish was satisfactory.



Very happy with the end result of the screen. It is far from pro quality, but for a low budget (entire screen cost around $50 to build) and very tight space constraints, I am satisfied.



After working with Immersive Display Pro, I achieved an initial warp and blend that I was satisfied with. Here I am showing the result using just a sample image on the screen.


The issue I am having is that Immersive Display Pro is VERY finicky about running X-Plane or Prepar3D in fullscreen mode. Whenever either piece of software is run in fullscreen, the warp and blend is suddenly no longer applied. I try to toggle the warp on and off but no change occurs. Very frustrating! Somehow I managed to get it to run X-Plane with warping for a little while, but it would flicker on and off every minute or so.  :o
I have exhausted working with different setting combinations with little success so I'm going to call it a night on this one. Any advice or help is appreciated.

Finally with the physical work finished on the visual I was able to move the back half of the shell in and get all the outer shell pieces bolted together. This shell is simply massive, especially in this small room!


 

 

COUNTDOWN TO WF2018


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