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Author Topic: Which 737 Panel to Make First  (Read 839 times)

Offline RPPerry3

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Which 737 Panel to Make First
« on: December 21, 2018, 10:15:34 AM »
As I ponder over the long nights and challenges to come building my 737-800 sim, I have already encountered my first major hurdle... which panel do I start with.  I thought I'd start with the MCP (autopilot) but maybe that is a big first bite and there is an easier instrument to start with to get my feet wet.  I'd appreciate if the more experienced members would kindly direct me to a good starting area for baptism.  I'm very proficient with electronics but this is my first experience at the basic level of breadboards and LEDs.  I've built automated machines and literally hundreds of custom computers but this is a whole new ball game.  I'm planning on using X-Plane 11 and interfacing with Arduino Mega cards through SimVim (formally ArdSim). 

Thanks,
Paul

Offline Trevor Hale

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2018, 10:44:52 AM »
If I was you, I would start with your Main Instrument Panel.  AKA (MIP) If you do a search you will find lots of information on that.  You can get a lot of Realism/Transformation and BIG BANG for your Buck by building the support structure and and setting the stage.  No point in making Panels when you have nowhere to put them. 

Mount your monitors and pull a chair up and you will already begin to feel the immersion.  After that, move on to your flight controls/Base etc.  Thenstart building from there.
Trev
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Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2018, 10:55:36 AM »
If I was you, I would start with your Main Instrument Panel.  AKA (MIP) If you do a search you will find lots of information on that.  You can get a lot of Realism/Transformation and BIG BANG for your Buck by building the support structure and and setting the stage.  No point in making Panels when you have nowhere to put them. 

Mount your monitors and pull a chair up and you will already begin to feel the immersion.  After that, move on to your flight controls/Base etc.  Thenstart building from there.
Trev

I agree with you Trevor, however the space in which I have to operate at the moment wont do for such a large item.  I have a small office in our home (10x12) and a large L shaped desk that my wife and I both use regularly.  The compromise was the garage is my domain, and I can do as I please with it, but I have a good month of cleaning to do *and wiring planned* to accommodate building my Fully Enclosed cockpit for climate controlled 8x10' cockpit. 

So, my focus at the moment is making an instrument that I can get my hands dirty with a little code and soldering etc. to learn more about the process of manufacturing the small bits I'll use later. Additionally it will be a real morale boost to have just one working instrument that i can even have at my gaming rig for the time being.  So with this info, could you recommend a "first instrument" to begin with?  I have no experience with ardunios so I bought a learning kit off amazon to start.

Thanks,
Paul

Offline Joe Lavery

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2018, 10:56:32 AM »
Oops I wrote the below while you had posted again, sorry for that.
Well if you ant to try something small how about a COM or NAV radio, that will give you a challenge, or perhaps a stepper driven Gauge,

------------------
Hi Paul,
I agree with Trev, start with the MIP... and certainly not the MCP, that's the most complex instrument in the whole aircraft, other than perhaps the CDU which is more challenging in terms of it's construction.

As Trev said get something working that you can use, that will keep the enthusiasm going. So many people start these projects, but lose heart when the time ticks on and all they have to show for it are some discordant pieces that actually don't do anything on their own.

You might have a look at Michael's YouTube videos on the structural side, he's done a fabulous job on the framing.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY6LAcEsfqeslCMi6isG6qA

Good building... and a good Christmas to all.

Joe.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2018, 11:10:02 AM by Joe Lavery »
'Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain!'

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Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2018, 11:10:07 AM »
Hi Joe,

Not sure if my reply to Trev was up by the time you posted.  Due to work area constraints and my garage not being ready to start that process, I'm VERY eager to have fun with the electronics and build my first small instrument to kick the project off.  Can you provide some guidance with that new info?

Thanks,
Paul

Offline Joe Lavery

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2018, 01:11:04 PM »
Just off to Dinner with my family, I will post later tonight.

Joe.
'Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain!'

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Offline KyleH

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2018, 01:33:50 PM »
I agree with the others. Start on the MIP or the pedestal. Doesn't have to be the whole MIP, start with just one panel. A radio or auto brake panel, just to get yourself going and learning how to do the interfacing. Get all your techniques and methods down before you start into the more complex components.

DO NOT start with the MCP. That is quite the beast to start with and needs to be built well. Keep in mind that the two most used components in your cockpit will be the MCP and the CDU's and you want them to be robust.
You may want to consider buying these two components where a manufacture has had the time and resources to making sure they are built well. 
I'm building all my own interface electronics, but do still use a CP Flight MCP in my sim.

Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2018, 01:58:06 PM »
Hi Kyle,

Thank you for the reply and I would love to make the panels right off the bat, It would be very easy with acrylic and my CNC but I need to sort out some more room in my garage before I get to that.  What about a radio panel, just a single one?  If you know a good resource to use in constructing (I'm guessing SimVim even) let me know.

Thanks,
Paul

Offline Trevor Hale

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2018, 05:51:47 PM »
Most of the guys interfacing to X-Plane use what is called a Teensey Card, there are Arduino Datasets you can pull direct from X-Plane to call the functions.  Do some research on the teensy card and the x-plane datarefs.
You will find some examples on the Internet for this.
Most people Use the Zebo 737 with X-plane also.
Good Luck, Most of us old timers use FSX or Prepar3d.
Trev
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Offline navymustang

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2018, 06:10:12 PM »
Perry - how did you settle on X-Plane versus P3D?
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 KyleH

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2018, 06:33:06 PM »
Hi Paul,
I have no knowledge about interfacing to X-plane yet. Sorry.

I use FSX and PIC microcontrollers and an FTDI USP interface chip with custom protocol and software for my sim.

Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2018, 08:30:52 PM »
Perry - how did you settle on X-Plane versus P3D?

Hi NavyMustang,

I tried both XP11 and Prepar3D v4 and in terms of aesthetics, smoothness, and menus XP11 took the cake for what I'm looking for.  I understand that P3D is more study level and systems are more in line with real aircraft, but It's so choppy (with comparable settings to XP11) so I decided on sticking with XP11 and I have come to really like the Zibo 737-800 after 100 hours+ of use.  If L.M. would put more into optimizing how the SIM utilizes today's hardware I'd go for it.  32 Gigs DDR4, GTX 1080 TI, i7 7700K @ 4.8 GHZ I'd expect to get much better performance.  So for now, it's XP11 with many mods for scenery, weather, shaders etc. and runs smooth as butter.  I do keep an ear to the ground for updates for Prepar3d though.

Thanks,
Paul
« Last Edit: December 26, 2018, 12:24:10 AM by RPPerry3 »

Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2018, 08:50:11 PM »
At the moment, I'm frustrated enough to chunk my laptop at the wall and pull few remaining strands of hair from my balding head.  Watching videos and looking at pictures led me to believe this would be a long road and time consuming but I felt I had this.  Now I think this is a very hopeless "dream".  I've built (quite literally) hundreds of computers over the last 14 years and 2 CNC machines from scratch.  With either, there were tons of videos showing how to complete each part of a computer or CNC build Step by step.  Not so for cockpit building (at least in my 20 hours + just in the last 4 days of searching)  It looks like someone who has no experience with circuitry stands a chance.  How do you cockpit building pros know what wire to solder from a button to what pin on an arduino?  I can't even find that anywhere.  I swear, if I end up getting out of the mental pit I've fallen into I'm going to make sure I leave behind step by step instructions for others.  I need help/support... it's a real downer knowing I have some money saved to get started on this but not the knowledge. 

Maybe I'm expecting too much having no experience in this particular arena.  I ordered this from Amazon and it will arrive tomorrow https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01D8KOZF4/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Maybe I should step back from the visions of grandeur and use this kit to start with the basics.

For now I'll stay away from caffeine, wait for some words of wisdom from you all, and give it a rest for the night.

Thanks in advance,
Paul
« Last Edit: December 21, 2018, 09:12:54 PM by RPPerry3 »

Offline Garys

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2018, 11:35:20 PM »
Hi Paul,

I feel your frustration but don't give up just yet..it will come. I found this site helpful https://programmingelectronics.com/

I don't use Arduino cards but the interface I use is based off them so needed to try and learn the programming language. This site has a tonne of helpful info.

For the buttons, leds etc, its all done in the programming. Just keep a very good record of where your inputs and outputs from the boards are hardwired to the buttons etc and you do the functions of that button in the programming.

Gary
« Last Edit: December 21, 2018, 11:39:33 PM by Garys »

Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2018, 11:51:48 PM »
Thanks Gary,

I appreciate the advice and I've bookmarked the site and I'm starting to read the "Arduino Programming" page now (as I cruise on A/P from Atlanta to LaGuardia on VATSIM :-) .  Stepping away from the computer and spending a little time with the family (and some amazing hot chocolate) followed by doing what I love (Virtual Flying) helped cool my jets.  I also read some of the reviews on the arduino kit I'm expecting tomorrow and there was a lot of comments on how the material that comes with the kit helps you learn how to use many of the common programs and functions of the arduino cards (7 seg displays, switches, encoders, leds, etc) and I bet between that and the link you provided the gaps will begin to fill in.  Thanks again, hope I have some good follow up posts to share after Christmas on my progress :-) .  One exciting bit that I finalized: Wife has agreed to let me Frame, insulate and drywall off an 9x9ft section of the garage for my Cockpit. And further more a buddy of mine is an electrician and offered to run 2 dedicated lines on 20 amp breakers from the breakerbox to the room for power.  Really excited about getting this done, just a lot of work ahead.

Thanks,
Paul

Offline iwik

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2018, 01:20:11 AM »
Paul,
I would suggest you go to  Mikes Flightdeck.com and he has written a book titled
" Building recreational flight simulators". It may help you understand the wiring of switches and how it interfaces with Flightsim. There is a description of each chapter which may help you decide if a book like this would help.
Les

Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2018, 01:31:02 AM »
Thank you for the reference Les, I'm checking it out now, *as soon as I get in the air out of LAX to PHX on VATSIM ;-)

Thanks,
Paul

Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2018, 12:30:15 AM »
Most of the guys interfacing to X-Plane use what is called a Teensey Card, there are Arduino Datasets you can pull direct from X-Plane to call the functions.  Do some research on the teensy card and the x-plane datarefs.
You will find some examples on the Internet for this.
Most people Use the Zebo 737 with X-plane also.
Good Luck, Most of us old timers use FSX or Prepar3d.
Trev

Thanks Trev,  Very helpful!  I plan on using the Arduino Mega 2560 R3 for the number of connections and it seems to be the go to for a lot of Arduino cockpit builders currently.  The datarefs you mentioned from the Teensey Card will be extremely useful as I'd wager it's applicable to any Arduino micro controllers.  I'm definitely going to keep my first project small and manageable for now.  I completed the 230+ page introduction that came with my Arduino kit from ELEGOO and learned a LOT about the programming syntax and functions of the card.  Looking forward to posting a How-To for others in the coming weeks hopefully. 

Thanks,
Paul 

Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2018, 12:41:59 AM »
Thanks Gary,

I appreciate the advice and I've bookmarked the site and I'm starting to read the "Arduino Programming" page now (as I cruise on A/P from Atlanta to LaGuardia on VATSIM :-) .  Stepping away from the computer and spending a little time with the family (and some amazing hot chocolate) followed by doing what I love (Virtual Flying) helped cool my jets.  I also read some of the reviews on the arduino kit I'm expecting tomorrow and there was a lot of comments on how the material that comes with the kit helps you learn how to use many of the common programs and functions of the arduino cards (7 seg displays, switches, encoders, leds, etc) and I bet between that and the link you provided the gaps will begin to fill in.  Thanks again, hope I have some good follow up posts to share after Christmas on my progress :-) .  One exciting bit that I finalized: Wife has agreed to let me Frame, insulate and drywall off an 9x9ft section of the garage for my Cockpit. And further more a buddy of mine is an electrician and offered to run 2 dedicated lines on 20 amp breakers from the breakerbox to the room for power.  Really excited about getting this done, just a lot of work ahead.

Thanks,
Paul



UPDATE: I spent about 8 hours going through the Lessons included with my Elegoo Arduino Uno R3 Starter Kit and completed every project from using a button that turns an LED on or off, building a thermometer, and using seven-segment displays with shift registers.  While I've learned a great deal more about Arduino, I'm still a ways off from really knowing what I need to.  I'll keep working at it and hope by the end of January I have a working prototype setup on the breadboard (with video). 

Thanks,
Paul

Offline fsaviator

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2018, 08:29:10 AM »
Paul,
I started where you started many years ago.  Let me way in with an option that might save you some money in the long run.

Find someone fairly close with a build and see if you can swing by and look at their setup to get an idea of the scope.  Pay particular attention to the panels and how they are made.  They are more complex than they look depending on the level or realism you want to attain.  Figure out what skills you need to attain that level (electronics, 3D design, soldering, programming, carpentry etc).

Then...  spend the time you have getting your hanger ready experimenting with those skills and learning the programming.  Build whatever you want on a breadboard - don't worry about aesthetics yet - testing it and working out the kinks outside a sim environment where it is comfortable.  Take notes. Shoot videos. post progress here to use as for a record.

When your garage is ready...  then build your MIP.

Why does my advice differ?  I built everything for my first build (build 1.0).  It was awesome but lacked the aesthetic and visual realism I was striving for.  Learned some skills though.  My second build was a mashup of self-built parts, lower-end commercial parts, OEM, and outdated high-end parts.  I cut some corners in price I shouldn't have (visuals), while splurging on nice-to-have's like seats.  Build 2.0 was fantastic but the miss-match of all the vendors and interfaces was a nightmare to keep straight.  I'm now wrapping up build 3.0 (sure I am, HA HA HA HA) and most of it is two vendors.  If I could do it all over again, I would have bought most everything outright from one vendor and saved a couple thousand dollars and months of my time to actually fly more.

I'm taking the skills I learned to (programming, soldering, CNC, 3d design) and applying them to a GA cockpit though.  For some reason I find aesthetic realism less important in a GA sim.

 :2cw:

Warren "MTN385"
Florida

http://www.B737NG-SIM.com and https://www.facebook.com/fsaviator on facebook
FSX, Prosim737 Suite, FDS DSTD 2.0 MIP, RevSim Proline TQ, ACE Dual-linked Yokes, Intel 3.5GHz i7-3770K, MSI Z77A-G45, 16GB G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2400, Galaxy GTX670 GC 4GB, OCZ 60GB Vertex 3

Offline RPPerry3

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Re: Which 737 Panel to Make First
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2018, 12:35:04 PM »
UPDATE:  After trying out a few different options for interfacing hardware with XP11, I decided SimVim fills my needs but that doesn't mean I wont use Arduino IDE at a later time.  I was as giddy as a school girl after getting my first toggle switch working and it was very simple.  I appreciate everyone's feedback and I am very excited to make continued progress. 

 ;D ;D ;D ;D

Thanks,
Paul

 

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