some comments about done things...
Emergency on the ground! During system startup for a flight it happened. With a loud bang the power supply of "new" avionics pc said bye bye to me when I switched it on. Replacement ordered immediately, unfortunately today is sunday and in 2 days is christmas. Hopepully the replacement will arrive before that long break!
After I got 2 "old" computers from a replacement task inside my family I built one "new" machine with them. So a new system has born with an Intel E7300 processor, 2 graphic cards, doubled RAM (8GB) and a Win7 OS on it. That will be my new Avionics System PC for Cpt's PFD/ND, EWD/SD and F/O's PFD/ND and it will replace 3 slower ASUS barebone PC's in one. Advantage: Less PC's in the environment and no longer Windows XP systems in my sim. First tests in this month after setup seams to bring more performance and less network connetion troubles.
After last big investments I have to concentrate a bit more to cheaper parts to buy. As since starting to buy panels from FDS I always bougth the IBL (integrated back lighting) version, so from this side I always was ready to bring some light into the darkness. But with my poor knowledge about electronical things I was not able to get a realistic "look and feel" according to dimming the panels.
But after an announcment at the FDS homepage I found the IBL dimming module with a dimmed extension board for the IBL power distribution. Perfect solution! Just wiring the panels to the plugs on the board, supply the master and the extension board with power - done! Very easily I'm now able for dimming the integrated backlight of my panels. Looks really nice!
Yeah - a big dream comes true!!! After a long periode of saving money and having patience to wait, finally a big, wooden box with a real treasure in it arrived. Together with the metal frame for the pedestal and the thrust lever I got a RMP, XPNDR, and the PrkBrk panels. With the the already available hardware from older orders the result is a beautiful looking pedestal panel. FDS does a really nice job with this parts!!!
Shipping times at FDS seamed to be pretty high at the moment, I'm still waiting for the pedestal section. At this time I decided to add a real A320 Thrust Lever to my order.
To place my "sidestick" (ok, until now only a simple joystick) and the tiller (not existing right now) I started to build again a wooden structure to form the left section of the flight deck. The rearmost part I use for a not original, but very usefull power distribution panel with 18 on/off switches to control several power plugs on the back side of the structure. There all the system PS's, power electronic parts and transformers for power supply are plugged to. So the built structure became to the heart of power supply for the whole sim. Together with a correct Power up configuration in the BIOS I have now the possibility to start up all necessary systems and power distribution easily from a central place just with turning some switches. The result is really done to my full satisfaction!
Several trys and many months later I give up! I can't bring the own pedestal section to a quality that I am satisfied. For this section there is required a lot of precision in the components and somehow I can not bring that quiality with my machines I have. So I decided to order the full metal pedestal section that FDS offers since a short time on their web site.
After building the MIP section successfull on wood I decided to do the same with the pedestal section. For this I was looking for details measurements on the web and I ordered first additional hardware to implement into pedestal at FDS: Flaps lever, speed brakes and the MCDU. First try with wooden pedestal construction went wrong.
Time to bring some "life" into my MIP section of the prepared setup! After several recomendations I decided to bui the AST Glass Cockpit Software. Pretty easy to set up and see first results on my avionics screens. But like everywhere, the devil sits in details! As well the SW itselfe was everything else than without bugs. But lot of invested time in the following months and many SW updates later it runs stable!
Next step in my priority list of necessery modules is now the FCU/Glare. I got the full wired unit from FDS together with the glare wing panels. Built again a base on wood for that unit together with a stand to place my three 19" LCD screens for the main front window view.
The whole MIP building process brought further requirements to the daylight! To bring the MIP to a maximum of preparation for first usage I need 3 LCD Screens and the Gear lever from FDS. Only with this parts I can finish the current status of MIP without dismount everything again while ordering this parts at a later time. So I was looking for as slim LCD's as possible and I bought two 17" wide and one 19" 4:3 LCD screens. OK, everybody knows, that a normal screen does not fit behind the panels with all the plastic arround it. That was quite an adventure first time opening a screen and remove all the plastic parts around - but it works! Together with the Gear Lever MIP could be finished for my satisfaction.
Serious sim building starts - I got my first parts from FDS! MIP is my place to start the setup. Peter Cos supplied me the first parts for the Main Instrument Panel (MIP) and the covers for this panels and the screens. Holding the first parts in my hands I really felt a little bit lost. OK, now I had the parts, but how should I start? How do I connect what? How do I solder the LED's and switches together? What should be the base framework for the panels? How to connect switches and LED's to the PC? Questions, questings, questins...
No wonder that this first periode of development took a lot of time of "investigating", reading, trying, rebuild done things etc. Finally I guess it was the right dicission to go the hard way, brought me a lot in technical lmowledge (I learned a lot!) and finally I had a massive wooden base for the main part of my sim.
Decission done! Actually as a fan of SWISS International Airlines and a done flight in the real A330 sim of Swiss Aviation Training my decission has been done: It should be the A320. At this time I did not recongnize, that this decission to start the project will keep me busy for years. But this was good, otherwise maybe I would not start it.
During surfing trough the internet by accident I found a company called "Flight Deck Solutions" (FDS) from Canada. At this moment I did not know, that this company will change my future simulater totally and it will bring it a level never expectet at this time. But start from beginning: FDS offered on it's web page not that many, but very nice looking parts to build a home cockpit. Unfortunately prices where as well in an area which would make it impossible for me to buy a lot of parts. But the parts on that web site motivated me to start a pretty big process of thinking about my "Project". Until today I just had "some switches and buttons" and a yoke. If I would go to FDS products, I would change to a totally different "league" of cockpit building, a much higher level of component quality, technical challanges to bring them up and running and last but not least as well a new dimension of flying with the sim. Was it still a bit "playing" in the past, the new environment would we a huge challange to learn to understand all the systems and procedures in the aviation business... Also a big question I had to answer for me was: what type of aircraft do I want to build. Mainly I had two choices, the B373 or the A320. It took me several months, many e-mails and as well phone calls to other builders to find "my decission".
LCD screens are getting better and better in the last years and additional to that Matrox brought the "Tripple head2go" adapter to the market, a divice to connect the first time 3 screens to one PC with a moderate investment to the infrastructure. My first Multi-Screen setup is done! From now on my sim is runnion all the time with min. 3 screens - currently only for the main view.
OK, flying just with a joystick and the keyboard is funny, but for shure not enough! So I ordered some parts of a company called "GoFlight" with some switches, buttons and a gear lever. OK, looks not bad for the moment! For shure there must be a yoke as well in my "flight deck"! In this year first steps have been done to use a more details environment on my PC to fly with FS...
Ups - I'm infected by the flight simulation virus! After a visit including a 1 hour flight in an real full motion A330 simulator of Swiss Aviation Training at Zurich airport I have no other choice - virus got me!
For me a new part of hardware called "Joystick" appeard in from of my PC. A compleatly new way of flying my planes now - wow! Withing the next years products where improoving from simple joystick with just one button to more functions, further to joysticks with "force feedback" and as well to compleate combinations of joystick together with a real looking thorttle of a fighter jet. Of corse I had all of this this types have been a part of my simple setup to fly my planes.
But not only hardware changed during this time, as well some more modern Flight Simulator appeared from Microsoft, of corse I bot all the versions as well - always expecting "something better" as normal...
Somewhen this time I got my first computer. I did not take too long and I bought a software called "Microsoft Filght Simulator", actually I still do not know why, because at this thime I did not have anything to do with flying etc... But somehow I liked this very early version of the "game", even I'd to fly with the cursor keys on the keyboard, mostly a Cesna at Chicago's Meights Fileld.