31 August 2012

Overview of the Plan

While, I take notes only today. But, these are issues I have been thinking about for many months now. 

As time passes, many things could change. But, these are the initial 'decisions' I have made.

Of the many hobby pit builders, I have chosen Mark 'Wood' Stinson's as the primary guide. Wood is very accomplished with wood work (hence his call sign) and is a passionate aviator (both in real world and virtual). 
  1. I am going to take this project slow and not rush into taking hasty decisions or building it. 
  2. I anticipate, at my own pace, I should be able to complete the build in about an years time.
  3. The pit is going to be based on a Boeing F/A-18E (Super Bug), because this is the airplane I like to fly most and more than half of my 'virtual flying experience' is on this bird.
  4. Primary flight simulation software that I plan to use is Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) with Acceleration. Microsoft no longer support FSX (for many years now). The platform of the future is Lockheed Martin (LM) Prepar3D/ESP. For some reason, LM are not retailing P3D for hobby market right now. The only version available is for commercial use. If this changes in  future, I will shift over to P3D.
  5. The airplane I will use to model the pit is Vertical Reality Simulations (VRS) F/A-18E. Folks at VRS are the specialists on the Super Bug and have made the best fidelity airplane for FSX.
  6. The pit build will be a mix of wood & sheet metal construction.
  7. The pit will be modular in construction, so that, I can easily take it apart to carry it with me. This requirement is necessitated due to uncomfortably frequent changes in residence due to my present work profile.

It's planned to include the following in my pit:-

  • Support for upto three monitors for scenery display.
  • Support for one additional monitor for other miscellaneous displays (Plan G, TeamSpeak3 etc).
  • Touch screen UFCP.
  • Left DDI and Right DDI. I'm not planning for the MPCD right now. Maybe, will include it later.
  • Use my existing Saitek X52 Pro control stick with throttle along with Saitek Pro Rudder Pedals as primary controls. At a later stage consider adding support for dual throttles or replace the primary control system with Logitech G940 or Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog.
  • Use MFD Cougar pack or consider building the same using tactile buttons and a suitable interface.
  • Fabricate levers for Gear, Hook and Flaps. These are not readily available in India and will be difficult to source from elsewhere. I plan to build them with sheet metal work. Let's see how it goes.
  • In first stage, attach functioning switches for operation of hook, gear, flaps, battery, APU start, engine selector switches, both engine generator switches, anti skid switch, launch bar switch, nose wheel steering selector switch and FCS cool switch.
  • In second stage, progressively add support for all the remaining cockpit switches including rotary knobs.
  • In first stage get the cockpit ready for 'day VFR'.
  • In second stage modify all panels with night light (back lit illuminated panels).
  • In last stage add support for all advisory, caution lights including simulating the fire indication and suppression system.
  • As of this moment, I plan to use Leo Bodnar's BU0836X Universal Joystick Controller Board (three of them) to drive various cockpit controls. Might consider using Two BBI-32 Button Box Interface and one BU0836X also. Will take a call on it before ordering these. Mark has built his pit around X-keys matrix boards. These are significantly cheaper compared to the stuff Leo makes, but I might find it easier (and cheaper) to get hardware from UK than US. Will deliberate!

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