Monthly Archives: October 2012

Installed my seconds GFX card, additional braces added to the MIP stand and MIP I/O distribution board started.

I had hoped that my MIP panels and hardware would have turned up by now especially as I have just had two days off work (to look after my two children as it is half-term week) so although I wouldn’t have gotten away with dedicating my entire couple of days off work to the project I certainly would have had a handful of exciting photo’s to show you as opposed to the random stuff I’ve done the last couple of days.

At the moment the project has stalled really… I am waiting on my panels and hardware to turn up now before any further significant updates can be posted but I was determined to get as much ‘odds and sods’ done these last two days as possible so a breif run down of what I have acheveved the last couple of days:-

  • Installed my second PCI-E GFX card (will be used to power the ECAM displays and MCDU screen)
  • Additional MIP stand braces and monitor rest.
  • Started work on the MIP I/O distribution board.

My I7 FS machine with second graphics card just installed into the 3rd PCI-E slot.

The new card that I installed into my FS machine is a ZOTAC nVidia GT210 64bit PCI-E graphics card, yeah… nothing special but as it will only be used to drive the ECAM displays and MCDU display this will do just fine. My external view and PFD/ND displays are running on my nVidia GTX560Ti which is perfect.

I decided to install the GFX card into the 3rd PCI-E slot as opposed to the 2nd slot to hopefully better improve the cooling on my main GTX560Ti card. – Although I’ve installed the GFX card and installed the drivers I have yet to connect it up to a couple of monitor to make sure all is working in harmony… so fingers crossed when I do!
Yesterday morning just needing something to do on the project I decided to add some additional supports to the MIP frame, I added a cross beam to add additional support and also act as a brace to hold the PFD/ND monitor once the MIP panels turn up.

Rear view of MIP stand showing new cross support and glare-shield base mounting battons.

I also cut some smaller battons and attached them to the upper part of the MIP stand to enable more surface area to securely screw down the glare-shield section as there will eventually be rather a lot of over-hanging weight once the FCU and EFIC is properly mounted. -I am just really getting excited to receive my MIP panels as this really will give me a lot more things to work on and will make the project really start moving.
Yesterday afternoon I ordered some components from Spiratronics these included some self-adhesive PCB mounting risers which I will use to securely mount my I/O cards as well as some stripboard and IDC connectors and ribbon cable as I have decided that my new panel hardware will all connect to a single I/O distribution card of which I will in turn be connected to a Leo Bodnar BBI-32 card and a USBOutputs card.

The MIP I/O distribution card.

This is how it currently looks, As you can see I have made up a few ribbon cables which will be used to connect to the back of the MIP Auto-brake and Audio panels which will then connect the inputs and outputs (buttons, switches, encoders and LED’s) to the MIP I/O distribution board which will be mounted in the lower ECAM part of the MIP stand and it’s main function to keep all the wiring tidy as soon the MIP stand will no doubt become a maze of various cables for the displays, korry switches, console lighting etc.
I still need to wire up the upper IDC socket to some equipment wire which will be crimped with some boot lace crimps and then will be routed to behind the main board and then connected to one of my USBOutput cards. The photo on the left currently only shows the inputs wired which still need to then be soldered to a BBI-32 card but this is how far I have got so far.
I will post more photo’s once I have finished all the wiring on this card and mounted it in the MIP stand – it will become more apparent as to how and why I have decided to build this card to better help with cable management etc.
Bed time now – back to work for me tomorrow!

Video demo of USBOutputs and my upper pedestal LED’s

Yesterday I decided to hook up my two OpenCockpit’s USBOutputs cards and test out my SIOC script.

Although I had all intentions of adding a full SIOC tutorial including how to install the software, configure the card device ID’s and import my SIOC script my desktop recording software decided that it didn’t want to work so instead I decided that I’d upload a quick demo of the USBOutputs card working with my SIOC script.

I apologise first and foremost for the many ‘umms’ and ‘uahh’ noises in the video – I hate recording my self and got nervous during the video so I am sorry – I hope that in my next video I can just relax a little and hopefully will be a better video!

Watch the video here: USBOutputs demonstation with the Wilco Airbus Evolution series.

Hopefully I will be able to get my desktop recording software sorted over the weekend and I will record a full tutorial for those that are building a Wilco Airbus home cockpit that wish to use my SIOC script.

MIP built, some nice trim added to the glare-shield and LCD screens ready!

Only spent a few hours on the cockpit today but things are moving along nicely, today I mainly relocated the painted MIP frame into my spare bedroom of where the cockpit will mainly be developed over winter as next year I’ll be looking to build a dedicated brick building for it in the garden.

So today to quickly summarise before I go into detail and post up some photo’s these are the main things that I achieved today:-

  • Constructed the MIP stand in the spare bedroom.
  • Mounted the seat on the newly constructed and painted seat stand.
  • Covered my glare-shield cover in faux leather.
  • Dismantled some monitors ready for the MIP panels.

I have been having withdrawal symptoms from not flying online recently so I did a couple of flights today (EGSS -EGAA) but afterwards I cleared out my spare room (what was my home-office) bought in the panels from the shed and using some newly acquired dry lining screws (black in colour) I then screwed the MIP frame together –  this is the first time since painting the panels that I have screwed it all together and I was really impressed with how it looked and one the MIP screen panels are mounted will look just fantastic! 🙂

The MIP frame constructed and seat fully mounted.

Next I went up into the loft and found the upper part of what is now my captain’s seat and then screwed and mounted the seat to the painted seat stand… things are now coming together nicely  – I have not yet re-located the centre pedestal from the shed into the house as yet as I’ll need the space when installing the new MIP panels, LCD screens, I/O hardware and electronics  for the MIP panels once they arrive – I’m hoping that the MIP panels, landing gear level and the other MIP panel’s will turn up this coming week so I can sort out the entire MIP next weekend as I’m now at a stage where I have done as much as I can until I get some more of my bits that I have ordered.

As I knew I was planning on covering the glare-sheild this weekend, I gave my mum a call during the week in the hope that she would have an upholstery stapler (a heavy duty staple gun) as being an artist she generally works with canvas and wooden frames and was happy to find that she did so that saved me spending yet more money and I was lucky enough to be able to borrow it…. So today came the time to cover the glare sheild sections in the faux leather to make it look like how the real aircraft does and I was extremely happy with the results.

Applying the Faux Leather over a layer of foam sheet to give a slight cushion effect to the glare-shield.

Since I first started building my Mk.1 cockpit I had been saving some sheet foam type of cloth which I finally managed to use by layering underneath the top glare-shield cover to give a padded feeling, see the photo on the right of how I achieved this by first stapling the foam layer and then applying the leather over the top… the end result is extremely authentic!

LCD screens removed and now bezel-less and ready for mounting into the MIP section.

Now that I had run out of staples and was unable to start the upper padded pedestal rim (that should be covered with faux leather too) I decided to take appart a couple of LCD monitors which I will be using inside my MIP frame (1x 17inch LCD monitor and 1x 19inch widescreen) I was surprised just how easy it was to remove the bezels and outer monitor housing – I’m now just waiting for the MIP monitor panels to arrieve so I can then ensure that when I mount the LCD screen’s they are in the required positions.

Plans for tomorrow then… I should probably spend the morning with the children (my two girls, Molly and Ruby) maybe take them to the park for a couple of hours if the weather is nice as I’ve neglected them a little the last couple of weekends! – Tomorrow afternoon though I’ll more than likely do another flight and then wire up my custom upper centre pedestal panel to a BBI-32 card and the USBOutputs card and do a video explaining how I utilise the USBOutputs card the BBI-32 as I know a friend of mine (Joerg) is interested in how the USBOutputs card works with the Wilco, so I’ll be demonstrating that 🙂

My achievement today.. Two bezel-less screens, MIP constructed and the glare-shield covered with faux leather!

So at the end of today this is what the MIP and glare-shield looks like – be aware that this is not where the actual MIP will be placed, this is just a temporary place so I can work on it over winter before moving to a larger room/building that I have planned for the back garden.

More updates tomorrow evening hopefully! – Thanks for reading! 🙂

First coat of Airbus ‘Structural Blue’ applied…

Another productive day yesterday – As planned I managed to sand down all the primed panels and pedestal sections as well as the seat mount and managed to give them their first coat of the Airbus structural blue colour (RAL5017) as well as roller-ing on the first layer of final colour I also sanded down the side-stick pedestal that  I started on earlier this year (still need to do some more work on this though!) and also made some holes for cable management in the MIP panels.

Started to prepare the side-stick pedestal

To start the day off I got all the panels and pedestal sections out of my shed and began to sand down the first layer of primer that I had previously painted onto my seat box/mount and then applied the second layer (to ensure it dried before the end of the day).


Next up I had to measure and precision drill holes for the wood screws into the main panels and connecting monitor shelves as I knew that drilling directly into MDF sheet without drilling pre-made holes would cause the MDF to split, by drilling it now before applying the
top coat of paint I was able to also counter-sink the screw heads making it look more professional once all screwed together, so I also counter-sunk the screw holes.

Making sure it all screws together and the screw holes all correctly align…

After I had counter-sunk the screw holes I then sealed the exposed MDF fibres once again with my spare emulsion (what I was using as primer) and then once that had dried decided to screw together the MIP to ensure all my measurements and precision drilled screw holes
lined up (which luckily they did ;))

Now that I had proven to myself that all should be ok once it was time to re-assemble in my spare room I then carefully unscrewed the structure and then lightly sanded down all the panels for the first layer of RAL5017.

Panel having its first coat of RAL5017

As you can see from the picture the first layer sits nicely on top of the primer layer and is starting to look much better 🙂

Once all panels were painted I left them out to dry, luckily as rain clouds started forming above the paint had dried within 30 minutes and I then stored them carefully in my shed to allow them to ‘fully harden’ over the working week so that come next weekend I can apply the two top coats and then hopefully start adding some of the faux leather trim to the glare shield and centre pedestal rim.

First layer of blue applied!

I still obviously need to prime, paint and add trim to the side-stick pedestal too of which I will do hopefully next weekend as I mainly concentrated on the MIP, Centre pedestal and seat mount this weekend.

Roll on next weekend!! – If I’m lucky I may even be able to re-locate the MIP frame inside the house,a assemble and maybe even mount the glare shield which should then add extra stability to the MIP frame.

Paint and materials arrived and a busy day with more panel priming and seat box building

During the week the faux leather turned up which I mentioned about ordering in my previous blog post and for £14 from eBay I was well impressed… I now have a 200cm (2m) by 131cm (1.3m) cut of fire resistant faux leather of which I will be using to cover my glare shield with, top-part of my side-stick pedestal and of-course the rim around the top of the centre pedestal… hopefully it will do the job and make the cockpit look great!

All the bits and pieces ready to go..

On my lunch break at work yesterday I took a trip across town to B&Q and purchased a small roller set for a couple of pounds, two extra foam roller head’s (I plan on using one for each coat in case they go funny after each coat – when they dry out etc.), some Evostick IMPACT glue which I will use to stick the faux leather to the MDF and of-course the specially mixed Airbus structural paint colour (RAL5017 in a Matt Emulsion finish) – In total the bits that I purchased from B&Q yesterday cost me £32 which I cannot really complain at 🙂

All sanded down and smooth… ready for its second coat of primer.

After applying the first coat of primer (Spare emulsion that I had in the shed) to my MDF panels and the pedestal last weekend, I was keen to wake up early this morning and get out in the garden to sand down the panels ready for their second coat of primer.

I was lucky with the weather and all day it remained generally sunny so I was able to fully apply the second coats of primer to all the panels including pedestals sections and then they all dried happily in the sun allowing me to the start on the seat box of which I would mount my BMW seat on top of…

Primed panels and pedestal sections drying nicely in the sun!

So having found some 2×4 timber in the shed and doing some research online (watching a few YouTube video’s of Airbus cockpits) I soon came to the decision that using one length on its side and one laying down raised the seat adequately – The seat I am using has some fancy controls on the side also allowing me to lower or raise the seat within a range of about 100mm (10cm) which is also pretty cool so I have some room at-least of errors 😉

So once I was happy with the general height of the seat – I worked this out mainly by comparing my seating position (my knee location against the upper pedestal compared to that of the first officers in this YouTube video) I then attached the seat runners to the wood with two large woodscrews and two pieces of cut out aluminium plate that I used as a washer for the rear holes as the woodscrew’s head passed through the rear holes.

The new seat-box/raiser unit in its raw, unpainted form…

Once mounted, the seat was very stable and I then screwed the lower piece of 4×2 on its flat side to the upper piece of 4×2 which the seat was mounted to, to strengthen up the two runners I then used some 12mm MDF cut to size (140mm high by 540mm wide) and then screwed across the two new raiser blocks to create a box like structure.

As you can see from the image, I also used a hole cutting drill piece to drill a hole in the front of the seat box in case I later wanted to install some foot well lighting or had  a need to feed some cables through.

Now that the seat-box/stand was ready to be primed I found another tin of surplus emulsion from the shed (as I had used up the other tin on the panels and pedestals earlier today) and then primed that too and is now drying in the garden as we speak (well as I type this blog entry!)… Once its dry I’ll pop out and just pop some wood filler in the counter sunk wood screws so that hopefully tomorrow when I get back on with the project I’ll be able to sand it down and have a full smooth surface ready for the second coat of primer.

Seat box in with it’s first coat of primer on

So as its getting on now and I’m due to head off out this evening I’ll be calling it a night until tomorrow morning, where and when hopefully it will be nice weather again all day and I can then get on with the bits and pieces that I hope to achieve tomorrow which are:-

  • Sand down and apply second primer layer to the seat-box/stand.
  • Lightly sand down all the panels and the pedestal and apply the first coat of RAL 5017 (…exciting!)
  • Start work on the side-stick pedestal.

Fingers crossed the weather will be as good tomorrow 🙂


New MIP parts just been ordered and Faux leather on its way!

The last 24 hours I’ve been thinking seriously about how I can achieve a really well finished MIP including the landing gear, auto-brake panel etc. I decided that it was time to go and order some bits from Marcin over at Skalarki (again)

I’ve just purchased the following items of which I should hopefully receive very soon seems as the MIP and pedestal is coming along really well I’ll soon need to add the MIP panels on to the framework.

  • A320 CS MIP Panels
  • A320 Landing gear panel & leaver
  • A320 Auto-brake panel
  • A320 CS Loud speaker panel.

I’ve also just purchased some faux leather on eBay this evening, expecting it to be here by Wednesday so I should now have everything I need to finish off the MIP stand, side-stick stand and pedestal (minus the top coat of paint which I plain to sort out at the weekend).

Very productive weekend… Priming, sanding and ECAM/Throttle/Engine panel

I had a very active weekend on my project this weekend, here is a quick summary of what I achieved this weekend:-

  • Primed my pedestal (that I constructed last weekend).
  • Primed my MIP frame and glare-shield casing.
  • Screwed and glued the glareshield housing together.
  • Confirmed that B&Q will mix RAL codes.
  • Designed and printed the upper centre panels for my pedestal (ECAM brightness, ECAM mode switches and LED indicators as well as Engine starter panel), mounted and soldered in all the electronics.

So a little more in-depth now then…

From my last post that I made about last weekend, I found some old emulsion paint (a creamy colour that I had previously used to decorate a room in my house) of which was surplus to requirements and perfect for priming my MDF pedestal, the reason for priming the MDF is two reasons really firstly to seal the MDF, as you may know MDF is terrible for absorbing moisture and after cutting and sanding my panels the MDF fibres are left very exposed by coating the MDF in emulsion you are sealing the MDF and will be less prone to swelling due to moisture etc. in the future the other reason is to provide a good surface to paint the final layer(s) on later 🙂

I also had a nice surprise yesterday when I came across my MIP stand components which I had previously cut out last year (I had completely forgotten I had done that :)) so on Saturday I gave my pedestal a good coat ensuring the outer/visible walls and all cut  edges had a good coat of emulsion, I left to dry overnight and then lightly sanded down with sandpaper to remove the brush strokes etc and generally give a smooth even feel and then applied a second coat and is now back in the shed… ready for next weekend along with my MIP frame of which I also primed!

The next step once all items have been primed, sanded, a second primer layer applied and sanded once more will then be to apply several layers of the final colour, as mentioned above B&Q have confirmed they can mix colours based on a RAL colour code which I am extremely happy to hear 🙂 – Weather permitting I’ll make a trip to B&Q this weekend to get the colour mixed for the pedestal and MIP frame – I have heard that prices for custom paint mix starts at £22.

Sorry to be working backward but on Saturday I concentrated on getting my upper pedestal panel complete (well started and complete) as I am using a customised Saitek Throttle I needed to incorporate that into a panel, currently the cheapest Airbus Throttle and Engine Starter panel is over £1,500 (well out of my price range when I have many more important things to sort out for now) so I decided to incorporate the ECAM panel, throttle and engine starter panel on a single panel but made to look as if it was three (photos to come). All the momentary switches, toggle switches, encoders and rotary switches are now mounted and spent many hours yesterday soldering LED’s, resistors and switches together…. all of which seem to be working OK but still need to do the final test if FSX later on.

The upper centre pedestal panels was designed by myself in Adobe Illustrator (a great vector design tool) and then printed off, laminated then then carefully cut out with a Stanley knife (I should probably use a Scalpel knife but I didn’t have one to hand) the holes for the switches and LED’s etc then marked the 3mm PVC foamex before drilling the holes…. the Foam-ex is semi ridged and gives the switches a sturdy   mounting plate. After that was ready and confirmed that the PVC holes lined up with the laminated panel holes I then used double sided tape to stick the laminated panel design to the PVC panel and then finally mounted all the switches and LED’s and the Saitek Custom Throttle.

All-in-all a VERY productive weekend… lets see what next weekend brings although on my ‘to-do’ list of which I hope to achieve is as follows:-

  • Get the side-stick stand out of the loft, get that finished – a whole needs cutting for my Logitech Attack3, sanded down, primed… ideally want to elevate the left side of the stick and provide a slanted look stick (using some precision cut and sanded MDF)
  • Apply the second coat of primer to the MIP frame panels.
  • Give a final sand to the pedestal now that it has had both of it’s primer layers applied.
  • Get some PVC Faux leather cloth ordered from eBay (during the week hopefully to have in time for the weekend)
  • Get the Airbus blue colour mixed by B&Q.
  • All going well and I do manage to get the Airbus blue paint from B&Q, I will then apply a total of three layers using a foam roller to the Pedestal and MIP stand… After leaving for a week to dry etc I will then aim to upholster the glare-shield top and pedestal rim using the Faux leather to complete the pedestal and glare-shield 🙂

Really good progress (in my opinion) so far, still loads more to do but I am looking forward to it and gives me stuff to do 🙂