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Resource information for systems...

Started by kattz, July 07, 2020, 11:37:41 am

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kattz

Where are some good places to go to find info on instrument conversion, communication, wiring of OEM products and interfacing them with a PC?  Seems like most everything is geared towards doing this for X-Plane...

ame

I've had the same question, but only because I want to provide answers. I am quite enjoying building various things and publishing them, but I'm not sure how interesting they are to other people.

It seems to me there are a lot of people who are coming up with solutions for themselves, but aren't writing about them in forums or blogging about them. That's too bad. There are others who have come up with solutions, and mention them but don't publish any details. That's frustrating.

The problem is that a lot of these problems require bespoke solutions, but I think there is a common set of techniques that could be used in a lot of cases. It's useful to look at X-Plane solutions because I think the techniques used to implement them can be adapted for other sims. This only works if someone has published the details fully, so they can be generalised and then reapplied.

I suggest that if there is something specific you are looking for then post what you can here (what you need, what you've found, what you've tried). People here may be able to help, or it might start someone thinking about solutions. Thanks to the magic* of Google other people who are not members here will find your message and may feel motivated enough to subscribe and help.

Furthermore, if you are working on something then write about it. Successes, failures, half-finished work, anything. It's probably helpful to you to review what you've done as you write about it, and definitely helpful to the next guy or gal who comes along and can build on your successes and avoid your failures.

My first encounter with this forum was when I was thinking about building a simulated circuit breaker. A Google search brought me here where I found a message lamenting that there really wasn't much available. So, I sat down and designed and built one. It's pretty cool, and I've mentioned it here, but I haven't finished it quite how I'd like. If someone finds my post and asks me about it I might just get enough motivation to finish it.

Since then I have a half-finished FMC for a Bombardier Challenger 300. A number of switch panels for the Challenger and a hardware and software interface based on the HT16K33 chip to drive LEDs and read switch states.

I've also finished a design for 3D printing 60mm gauges, using speedometer stepper motors.

For Beechcraft King Air I've almost finished a Davtron MB-800 Chronometer, and a model of the Collins radio head units. And a prop-sync indicator (needs a redesign).

I'll finish these things as my muse dictates, or if someone decides they want my help to make one. And all the work will be published as Open Source on my Gitlab pages or somewhere.

All of this is also super-cheap and easy to do, thanks to the glut of cheap components from China and the magic* of 3D printing.

So, if you want something to happen- make it happen.

* There is no magic. Sorry.

n4208t

ame ... I can't speak for others, but I find your posts interesting and read them all.  I suspect others do as well.  Please DO keep posting about things you are building or completing and how you have figured out how to do certain things.

And if it helps to get you to finish your circuit breakers, I actually do have a question regarding circuit breakers.  I 3D printed a slew of them ... also for a King Air sim ... and they came out nice but I have been unable to figure out how to make or source some labels for the numbers indicating the amperage of the breaker. They need to be about 7mm and even online sources do not want to do labels smaller than 1 inch.

Ideas?

Steve (N4208T)

mickc

Speaking from experience.....

I have converted many OEM components, some of which have never been done in a home cockpit to my knowledge before.

These conversions/solutions are usually very involved and require months of trial and error. 
The first or second/third incarnations of these conversion can be very intricate and unstable, requiring a full understanding of the entire process from inception, to be able to sort out issues and troubleshoot.

To relay that to another builder, quite often with limited electronics knowledge or OEM parts experience, is not easy, and the resultant questions etc are very time consuming and not an easy process. \

Also due to model changes and year models etc, one conversion may be significantly different to others.

These are some reasons why builders don't just post up a step by step manual of how to convert instruments or components.

ame

Quote from: n4208t on July 08, 2020, 04:09:04 amAnd if it helps to get you to finish your circuit breakers, I actually do have a question regarding circuit breakers.  I 3D printed a slew of them ... also for a King Air sim ... and they came out nice but I have been unable to figure out how to make or source some labels for the numbers indicating the amperage of the breaker. They need to be about 7mm and even online sources do not want to do labels smaller than 1 inch.

Ideas?

Steve (N4208T)
Thanks Steve. I'm full of ideas (or something :)).

Regarding the CB labels, I was basically going to print them on a laser printer (black circle with white numerals). My key insight was noting that a hole punch (for ring binders) makes a 6mm diameter hole (or maybe 1/4", which is 6.35mm). Craft stores also sell single-hole punches of various sizes.

So, having acquired a punch of the size that will fit the rebate in the top of the CB, print the decal on a laser printer, cover the top with a piece of transparent tape, then punch it out. Touch up the edges of the paper with a black Sharpie, then apply glue to the back and stick it in place. Alternatively, print onto a sheet of self-adhesive labels (any size or shape) and punch out ready-glued decals.

The tape over the top is to stop the label from wearing and accumulating dirt and stains. The decals can be printed with a larger black area so that lining up the punch is not so critical.

Andrew

ame

Quote from: mickc on July 08, 2020, 05:05:44 amSpeaking from experience.....

I have converted many OEM components, some of which have never been done in a home cockpit to my knowledge before.

These conversions/solutions are usually very involved and require months of trial and error. 
The first or second/third incarnations of these conversion can be very intricate and unstable, requiring a full understanding of the entire process from inception, to be able to sort out issues and troubleshoot.

To relay that to another builder, quite often with limited electronics knowledge or OEM parts experience, is not easy, and the resultant questions etc are very time consuming and not an easy process. \

Also due to model changes and year models etc, one conversion may be significantly different to others.

These are some reasons why builders don't just post up a step by step manual of how to convert instruments or components.

I agree that these are issues, but I'd like to see a post with "this is possible, and this is how I did it" with no further support offered, rather than nothing. Extrapolating from a working example is a lot easier than starting from scratch.

Joe Lavery

Steve, I made labels for the 737 circuit breakers on my laser. You can buy 2 layer acrylic, in this case black on white. So it's simply a matter of engraving them. which is quick to do.
There are plenty of companies that can cut them in this way. I made the breakers with a recess that the 1.6mm acrylic just drops into.

A desktop laser is a good investment for anyone building a sim. Panels, gears, gauges all easy to make with a laser.
The gauge faces and chart holder legend are all made with the same 2 layer acrylic.
'Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain!'
www.pcpilot.net

kattz

Quote from: ame on July 08, 2020, 02:50:14 pm... I'd like to see a post with "this is possible, and this is how I did it" with no further support offered, rather than nothing. Extrapolating from a working example is a lot easier than starting from scratch.

That's kind of what I'm looking for.

I have 9 OEM devices to convert; one is mV input, three are analog voltage, two must be converted to servo/stepper, one is a combo of servo/stepper and ARINC429, and one is almost completely ARINC429.  I don't want step-by-step instructions, but more of a "this is what I did, this is how I did it, and here are some pics/drawings and things to avoid or look out for".

Because I don't want to bring unwanted attention to them, I had this kind of help on one instrument from someone, and it was both helpful and a great learning experience.  I am very appreciative of the help.  However, interfacing the gauge on my own is something I'm having issues with, but I plan on giving it my all.

Looking for that level of help again, especially when it comes to ARINC429.  I did reach out to Rob, but his setup is completely proprietary, not off the shelf, and is for X-Plane, while I need to work with P3D.

Thanks.

ame

Ok, well my point of view is that 'electrons are electrons', and the instrument will respond to a bunch of electrons in a certain way. I think it's better to focus on the underlying principles and work up to the instrument than just wading in and trying to get it working.

There are some advantages to the latter approach: you can wade in and make it work quickly and you end up with something you can use immediately. However, you are stuck when the next item comes along, even if it's very similar.

There's also the software interface to consider, but again, my opinion is that it's a distraction. If someone has something working with X-Plane that is gold! It means it works. You should be able to break into the signal path and insert your own data somehow.

Picking an (almost) random example from your list- three devices need an analog voltage to drive them. I'll assume it's a gauge with an analog needle.

1) What is the relationship between analog voltage and instrument output?
2) Do you want to keep this interface or replace it with something else to drive the needle?
3) Assuming you want to keep the original interface, how can you generate an analog voltage across the range that the instrument expects?
4) What is the relationship between simulator data and the instrument output?
5) Therefore what is the relationship between the simulator data and the analog voltage?

So... *if* you can get the simulator data for this instrument *and* you can generate a variable voltage proportional to it *then* you're all set.

All of these aspects can be tackled independently, but you have to keep the overall picture in mind to join them up when each piece is working.

n4208t

Thanks Joe.  Good idea.  I have been toying with the idea of getting a laser / cnc for a while.  Maybe this will get me going.  I did make the breakers with the recess you are describing as well.

In the interim, will look and see if there are any local companies offering those services.

Thanks again.

PS - beautiful work

ame

Quote from: kattz on July 08, 2020, 06:06:59 pmBecause I don't want to bring unwanted attention to them, I had this kind of help on one instrument from someone, and it was both helpful and a great learning experience.  I am very appreciative of the help.  However, interfacing the gauge on my own is something I'm having issues with, but I plan on giving it my all.
Just highlighting this part of your message. Without mentioning who helped you (in case they get swamped with more requests for help) did you write about what you did?

If you got something going then write about it, even if it's not complete. The work you did might help someone else get un-stuck. It might even help future-you when you forget what you did or how you did it.

kattz


ame

Quote from: kattz on July 10, 2020, 07:22:57 pmI'm keeping a record!
That's great, but are you going to post the details somewhere? If you do, the next guy or gal will be grateful, I'm sure.

bernard S

ARINC .. is s painpoint ... it adds another level of complexity to the sim   the questions one needs to be asking is

A...Am i building a simulator or am i rebuilding the aircraft & am i prepared for the extra maintenance costs (instruments/panels  do fail) so you need to replace like with like

B...what is the value add ..will this instrument allow me to side step the FMC

C...what if it is a multi channel intrument

D...am i using high speed and low speeds or will i use one speed

E...who is supplying the ARINC  interface etc etc and is my arinc a vanity project

kattz

Quote from: ame on July 10, 2020, 10:16:36 pm
Quote from: kattz on July 10, 2020, 07:22:57 pmI'm keeping a record!
That's great, but are you going to post the details somewhere? If you do, the next guy or gal will be grateful, I'm sure.

Yes, I will, but with the caveat that "your results may vary".

kattz

Quote from: bernard S on July 11, 2020, 06:11:51 amARINC .. is s painpoint ... it adds another level of complexity to the sim   the questions one needs to be asking is

A...Am i building a simulator or am i rebuilding the aircraft & am i prepared for the extra maintenance costs (instruments/panels  do fail) so you need to replace like with like

B...what is the value add ..will this instrument allow me to side step the FMC

C...what if it is a multi channel intrument

D...am i using high speed and low speeds or will i use one speed

E...who is supplying the ARINC  interface etc etc and is my arinc a vanity project

I only have 14 addresses of ARINC, Bernard - the whole cockpit will mostly Ethernet.  Not a vanity project, just want what's in there to work and not be a dummy panel.

bernard S

i was not having a go ..

 ah  14 channels not too many then  how are they broken down into rx and tx    so lets say radio by way example     how many chanbels you using there .. or are you going to battle with mcp.. ..ethernet   only way to attack this in all honesty and each situation is different

kattz

RMI - 9 addresses all rx
ADI deviation bars and flags - 4 addresses all rx
IRDU - not sure, I think 6 addresses 3 tx 3 rx
Chrono x 2 each - 1 address tx

No radios or CDU's... let's not go crazy.

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