Author Archives: ballen

New dedicated ‘loft’ space (conversion) for my simulator…

After a moment of madness last weekend, I decided to pop most of my flight simulator parts on eBay due to ¬†a number of reasons, the big and main reason being space… having two young daughters the only room I have ‘spare’ in the house is my office which has mean’t that I either have a nice desk setup and comfortable working area or having my full flight simulator setup.

After ‘umm-ing’ and ‘arrrhh-ing’ over the weekend about selling all my stuff I then thought… Why not convert the loft space!!! – so I quickly took off the auctions and this is now what I’m working towards, it’ll take a month or so and need to get my old back-boiler replaced with a new Combi-boiler so that I can gain the extra space in the loft so that I have enough room to build and host the full simulator ūüôā

We’re now back in business with a new ‘dedicated’ space for the simulator and my electronics stuff! ūüôā

Hopefully I’ll have some more updates for you soon and photographs too ūüôā

Its been a while but I’ve been busy… hopefully new stuff coming soon!

As the title describes, its been a while since I’ve done any work on the cockpit mainly due to¬†Christmas¬†and some important stuff that I’ve had to been spending my money on such as stuff around the house.

I’m hoping to start building again very soon, so stay tuned and hopefully I’ll have some news for you all soon ūüôā

MIP panels mounted, Auto-brake and Loudspeaker panel testing.

The delivery of the MIP, auto-brake, loudspeaker and landing gear lever has arrived!

This weekend I took delivery of my first order of panels and hardware, I spent saturday mounting the panels and making a few alterations to the MIP frame to ensure the ECAM monitor fitted correctly. I soon realised that the 19inch wide-screen is actually too narrow and actually longer than required so I will eventually switch this out for a standard 19inch monitor which should then mean I can make use of both of the upper left standby instrument windows.

Testing flight for the new panel’s and electronics.

After a whole day of soldering the Korry switches in the¬†auto-brake¬†and loudspeaker panel I managed to give them a ‘test-flight’ from Belfast (EGAA) to London Stansted (EGSS) with a greased landing rate of -131fpm ūüôā – I took various photo’s of the panels and korry LED’s in action which can be seen on the photo gallery page.

I’ve also posted a quick ‘test’ video on YouTube showing the panels and korry switches in action ūüôā – The video can be found here:¬†

The two PC setup running the flight simulator and flight deck.

I’ve now properly configured my second PC for off-loading some of the tasks of the main FSX PC (FS-MASTER) onto a new PC (FS-CTRL1) which now runs WideFS, ActiveSky, pmSounds SIOC (all USBOutput cards are connected to this PC). Now that the Auto-brake panel and Loudspeaker panel I also tested connecting the BBI-32 card to the remote PC and to my surprise I am extremely pleased to report that you can have BBI-32 and BU0836X cards connected to a remote PC using WideFS and it still registers button presses etc on the main FSX PC… which is awesome meaning that I will now connect both you input cards and output cards to the second PC all communication with the main FSX PC is then done over WideFS. Meaning that now the only thing my main FSX PC (FS-MASTER) does is run FSX, run the four displays (external view, PFD/ND, ECAM and standby instruments) and will have the side-stick, pedels and throttle levers leaving the other tasks (Weather Engine (ActiveSky 2012), ATC (FSInn), Flight deck sounds (pmSounds), Running the USBOutput cards (SIOC) and have all the BBI-32 cards to run the MIP panel switches and the OHP switches and rotaty encoders).

More updates soon! ūüôā


Working on the sound and vibration systems in the cockpit

Well I had really hoped that this weekend I would have¬†received¬†the MIP panels but¬†unfortunately¬†they still haven’t¬†arrived¬†as yet…

Yesterday evening I also added a new page to my site outlining how the cockpit sounds and vibration systems are going to be done, the software and hardware involved as well as some tweaks (as the Wilco Airbus does not fully separate the panel sounds from the spoiler, flaps and gear ‘drag’ noises.) more details can now be found on the ‘Sounds and Vibration systems‘ page.

The two bass shakers (tactile transducers) that I bought on eBay last week have arrived!

Despite not feeling well at all today I made the most the day and since my tactile transducers¬†arrived¬†earlier in the week I was determined to get some ‘rumble’ in my cockpit

So I cut and screwed down some old chipboard to the seat box of where I have now mounted the two 25watt tactile transducers, I took apart an old Logitech 2.1 speaker system in the hope that the built in amplifier would power the two tactile transducers.

Original set-up, mounted underneath the seat the Tactile transducers are powered from the amp PCB that I salvaged from the old Logitech 2.1 sound system and 12v ATX power supply.

Originally when I dismantled the Logitech speaker system I left the transformer inside as I caught a glimpse that the output voltage was 12 volts of which I thought ‘great – I’ll connect the amplifier PCB up to my external ATX¬†power suppliers¬†which will be providing power to other parts of the¬†cockpit’ of which I did do in the first place (photo on the left shows the original setup making use of the 12 volt DC power from my ATX power supply)

Once I did a quick flight test, I noticed that the bass and centre speaker from my Creative Inspire 5.1 sound system (or which is¬†connected to the main FSX machine to a ‘splitter’ with the separate amplifier that was running the tactile transducers) started to get some feedback so I soon figured that there was something wrong… Double checking the transformer I found that it was¬†in fact¬†12v AC so I dismounted the captains seat from the lower box and changed the wiring back so that the AC transformer was driving the¬†amplifier¬†PCB this then worked fantastic and stopped causing feedback that I had previously experienced.

Second attempt… Transformer fitted!

So, I decided to then connect my iPhone up to the 2.5mm splitter (to test the sound through both the tactile transducers and centre/bass speaker) it was awesome!!! – I played a couple of songs while sitting in the captains seat and the vibration was awesome and that was without any EQ tuning too I was extremely happy with the results until…. I decided to check the¬†temperature¬†of the heat sink/transformer ¬† that was running the tactile transformers, both where extremely hot so I’ve now disconnected it until I can get my hands on a 100 watt+ dedicated amplifier as I figure the small amplifier PCB is just isn’t up to the job¬†unfortunately.

Bass shakers (Tactile transducers) mounted in the seat box.

Despite the issues with needing to obtain a powerful amplifier I’m happy that the two tactile transducer are mounted and are giving good results so as soon as I have sorted the dedicated 100+ watt power amplifier the captain’s seat will be all sorted ūüôā – I’ll been keeping my eye out on eBay for some more tactile transducers as ideally I’d like to have one running inside the pedestal (to generate vibration so when holding the thrust levers it feels realistic on take-off etc.) and maybe one in the MIP structure/side-stick¬†pedestal just to give more realistic vibration to the controls of which I will be in contact with so it really does feel like I’m flying an aircraft with some beefy engines behind me.

I really hope that tomorrow I’ll feel much, much better and if that is the case I will certainly re-build my old Intel Core2 Duo machine with Windows 7 64bit and prepare it as the sounds, WX, USBOuputs and comm’s (ATC) machine.. This machine will be running WideFS, pmSounds, SIOC, ActiveSky 2012, BlueSky (ACARS tracking software that I use ) and FSInn.

Adding the leather trim to the centre pedestal and new FSX build

I’ve been rather busy recently so have not done much else on the cockpit but to be honest even if I hadn’t have been busy I wouldn’t have been able to do all that much anyway as the weather in England has been pretty drab the last four weeks meaning that I wouldn’t have been able to get out in the garden to cut and work on the remaining bits of my centre pedestal and a few other bits and peices.

Earlier this week however I did a clean FSX build on my main flight simulator PC as I wanted to incorporate all my latest software and ensure that both of my graphics cards are installed and configured as part of the build. Well it took a couple of days of solid work to install a fresh copy of Windows 7 Professional (64bit), configure FSX, tweak it and install all my various scenery add-ons etc. I have¬†literally¬†just finished taking a full system image of both of my HDD’s using Acronis TrueImage 2012¬†(my main machine is running 1x 500GB 7200RPM mechanical HDD for Windows and a single 128GB SSD for FSX and all my add-ons) .

I’ve also been very interested in looking into merging the Wilco Airbus with the Project Airbus model for various reasons… firstly is that most people know that the Wilco external model is rather rubbish when compared with the Project Airbus model, another really cool feature of the Project Airbus model is the Wing flex! – I successfully merged my Wilco with the Project Airbus model and have now included this as part of the build and is the aircraft I will be flying in my flight sim!

Centre pedestal with leather trim

So this afternoon, it was surprisingly nice and sunny (despite being still rather chilly outside) so I decided to make the most of it and as I’ve borrowed my mums upholstery stapler I thought I’d add the leather trim and edging to the centre pedestal the results of which look pretty good in my opinion ūüôā

So first of all I started off by cutting some 6mm MDF that I had left over and was surplus to requirements, the 6mm MDF was actually a perfect width for what I needed and now that the pedestal leather trim has been added looks great!

The 6mm MDF rim

So taking measurements from the website, I found that the height of the pedestal rim was 7cm, so I cut a 7cm rim for the entire pedestal and then using 1.0 inch wood screws initally screwed them into the pedestal as a ‘dry run’ as shown in the photo on the left.

Showing the faux leather stapled to the pedestal and then the wooden rim screwed back in over the top.

I figured that to make a decent job of it I need to securly attach the leather to the pedestal and then wrap it around the pedestal rim and then strech and staple down on the inside of the pedestal.

I have not yet added the internal panel rails as yet but this will be the final bit to do to the pedestal but so far I am extremely happy with the results. I’ll aim to add the panel mounting rails in a few weeks time but obviously that is dependent on weather and my next order that will be¬†arriving¬†is for my MIP so I’ll be working hard on that before I need to do anything else on the centre pedestal.

Folding and stapling down the faux leather… starting to take shape!

It was rather tricky to then pull the leather back up and over the 6mm MDF but luckily the leather is stretchy and once I had worked the corners a bit it folded over nicely and I managed to staple it down and it started to really look good (in my opinion anyway).

More photo’s of today can be found over at my Photo’s section.

Some more good news…. apparently I should be recieving my first order (being the MIP panels and hardware) this week so I should then have some more photos and blog updates very soon! – I can’t wait to get the MIP panels all fastened to the MIP frame and the hardware connected to my I/O.

Stay tuned… more updates very soon ūüôā

MIP I/O board complete!

The completed MIP I/O distribution board

Following on from my last blog post when I started working on my MIP I/O distribution board, after a couple of days at Legoland with Nikki and the children I got home last night and decided that this morning I would complete the MIP I/O board.

So the MIP I/O card now has the Leo Bodnar BBI-32 card soldered to the inputs and mounted on the reverse of the MIP I/O¬†distribution¬†board, as a temporary measure I’ve used some self adhesive PCB mounts.

Back of the MIP I/O board.. wires soldered on to the reverse of the BBI-32.

While I was away on Friday the USB Socket B order turned up which enabled me to solder the socket on to the dedicated Leo Bodnar BBI-32 card which worked great.

So today I had to solder all the output wires to the board and the other end of the wires I crimped with bootlace crimps the same way that I did for my temporary ECAM switch panel as these crimps work great with the OpenCockpits USBOutputs card.

MIP I/O distribution card connected to my PC and me testing and configuring the encoders inputs.

Once all was ready I connected the BBI32 up to my flight simulator PC and ran the BBI-32 configuration software to configure inputs 1 – 2 and 3 – 4 as encoders, the remaining 9 inputs will be used as standard switches so no further configuration was needed.

The BBI-32 card that is now attached to the back of the MIP I/O card is dedicated to the MIP I/O board – I don’t intend on using the other unused 19 inputs as I ideally want to keep this I/O card fully dedicated to the MIP.

I have another 2 BBI-32 cards of which I will be using for my overhead panel once I am ready to start that.

I hope everyone that went to FSWeekend had a great time, I would have absolutely love to have gone but we had already pre-booked a trip to Legoland in Windsor (London), maybe next year for me! ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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 Рbe 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! ūüôā

First coat of Airbus ‘Structural Blue’ applied…

Another productive day yesterday РAs 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 ūüôā

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.