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Will Depart in...



interfacing real instruments.

Started by Mach7, July 12, 2022, 07:08:31 AM

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Right now I have LCD screens behind panels for my flight instrument information.

I have flirted with this idea the past about replcing this `system`with real world electro-mechanical instruments.and was wondering if technology has gotten up to the point where a novice like myself can do this interface without too much muss or fuss.

Some time ago V1 Avionics was looking at some type of ARINC429 `plug and play`solution, (for lack of a better term), and although i contributed to the kickstarter program with much enthusiasum, they seems to have failed their objective and are no longer pursuing that avenue of upgrade.

I purchased a number of instruments years ago...right now just sitting on my shelf gathering dust...

So my question is...on a scale of 1 to 10...how hard would it be to do this??

I am currently using FS9 as my platform...not sure if that makes a difference of not.




It's pretty much all "muss and fuss". It's not that's it's impossible, it's that it's a sequence of somewhat challenging steps.

A central challenge is the flight instruments in your picture use synchro signals as inputs. This is a handful for most people. Commerical synchro interfaces are expensive, and DIY approaches are infrequent enough that the technology doesn't seem to spread through the community. (There's a little info about DIY on my site, mikesflightdeck.com)

Even with a synchro interface there's the question of how a particular instrument should be connected. If you're not fortunate enough to have documentation of the instrument, you'll have some reverse engineering to do.

Then there's the step of extracting data from the simulation. One option is Sim Innovations Air Manager which I think will talk with FS9. If so, this provides a path to an Arduino which can talk to the synchro interface, or if you have lots of instruments, to a CanBus module if you want to limit the number of USB connections on the computer running Air Manager.

So, not impossible, but not trivial.

bernard S

having all real

my suggestion go with simulated


Thanks Mike and Bernard.

Good info for sure.

I might also reach out to Leo Bodnar  and see if he can work something out.


bernard S

Jim   i kinda think you missed the point of what Mike was so kindly letting you know in a most gentle way...my response was short and sweet  but allow me to expand on that just so you don't get confused as to how much grief you opening yourself up for

Grief  in biblical proportions

Expensive  ..you can purchase a luxury car  for the full cost of implementing  full set of real instruments

Time consuming...its going to add years not weeks or months to your build 8f airliner type

Maintenence   when it goes wrong and it blows up you need to replace like with like

as you said your flirting   flirting  is great   just dont marry it


Hey Jim, just ask Scott. Between him and Rob, they spent years on OEM interfacing. It's not for the faint of heart.

They got a lot of gauges working that were once unheard of doing, but in the end, both found the time spent versus actual flying was not feasible. Too much time getting it to work, as well as calibrated before each flight....

I'm not saying don't, just agreeing with everyone else, it's more of a long term love-hate prospect! Likely, Scott will chime in here and attest to all of this.

If I were you, stick with aftermarket simulated items, they're so realistic these days that you really won't notice the difference when "flying". And, that's the key too all of this...if you ain't flying...you ain't flying  ;D

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Thanks guys.. in hindsight you are 100 percent correct..I just needed a slap to wake me up..lol..I think I'll stick to what I have.

Thanks everyone for the clarity



Quote from: Mach7 on July 12, 2022, 07:08:31 AMSo my question is...on a scale of 1 to 10...how hard would it be to do this??

Something between 11 and 12.
Try just a simple fuel indicator (galvanometer style).
If you successfuly extract data from simulator, send it to microcontroller, make the electronics to drive the needle, and you get to move it synchro with simulator, then this is a very big first step.
To drive an unmodified HSI of your pic, it is a very big project in its own, and you can spend months, only for this gauge. And you should have some previous knowledge of electronics and coding.

It can be done. But it will take a lot of time, knownledge and effort (and money).

I would say...  try it with some easy gauge, and you will see if you want to continue that route.


Hi Jim,

Yes, I agree 100 percent with others here and of course I have first hand knowledge of the process and requirements for the gauges you have.   You can build mechanically driven synchro motors (driven by gearing and stepper motors) as Rob and I did or you can try to get hood of DSCs (digital to synchro) chips/boards but the later are hard to come by.  You also need a 400hz AC power supply for many of those and again not easy to come by not to mention dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.  You could burn down your house or end up electrocuting yourself or someone else if all your grounding is not correct.   Very complex stuff for a novice.  And in the end, like John mentioned, it will take a ton of time to build and you will lose out on the joy of flying like I did doing this for past years.   That is why I finally scrapped my -300 project and going back to an NG with software displays.  My strong advice...Don't go down he oem rabbit hole :-).


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