Howto:Build your own Panel or Cockpit - Prototyping

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In order to build anything as complex as a simulator from scratch, you need to take things a step at a time. Before you can put the parts together, you'll need to be sure the parts you are going to build will work as expected. I've started to build prototypes for things I'm pretty sure will work. There will be a wiki page for each prototyping project.

About Prototyping Projects

A prototyping project should have a goal. It should demonstrate something specific that will be useful in constructing a cockpit . Putting goals into writing will help clarify why you are doing a prototype, rather than just building the thing to use in your cockpit. Useful things to put in a plan you want to publish or present it for others to use:

  • Goals. Be specific to what you are trying to do. Abstractions are distractions.
  • Parts Lists
  • Pictures - limit to just enough to convey what's happening
  • Specific tests you plan to do with outcomes that answer specific questions related to building your project.
  • A record of results

For hobby projects, keep the plan short. If its pages long, you've over thought it or it needs to be broken in to smaller pieces.

For this section of the wiki, prototype projects will be named like this: [[Howto:Build your own Panel or Cockpit - Prototype for {PrototypeName} ]]

List of Generic Prototyping Projects supporting Cockpit Building

Prototype Project Page Description Status
Howto:Build your own Panel or Cockpit - Prototype for Switch Banks using Microchip MCP23S17 A Switch Bank supporting 256 on/off switches can be constructed using two Microchip MCP23S17 devices and 16 resistors. Started
Howto:Build your own Panel or Cockpit - Prototype for Numeric Displays using Maxim MAX7219 Numeric displays are used in radios to display Frequency and in DME equipment to display distance or time. This prototype project demonstrates the use of the Maxim MAX7219 chip to display numeric data and explore power requirements for these displays. Started
Prototype for Alphabetic Displays A couple of radios include alphabetic displays integrated with led's illuminating single letters or codes. The letters are 1/4" and its difficult to find sixteen segment displays in that size. A custom led segment display may be needed. This prototype project would examine methods to produce such displays using CNC machinery and evaluate means for driving the display. Proposed
Prototype for Air Cores Air cores can provide continuous motion through and beyond 360 degrees. This prototype will examine alternative sources of air cores including purchased and hand built. It will explore driving circuits for them. The prototype projects aims are to find solutions that work in specific situations: moving a needle 0-90°, 0-270°, 0-355°, and continuous rotation, Moving an outer dial in an instrument such as the compass card in the ADF, CDI and Heading Indicator, or even rotating the display on the attitude indicator. Proposed
Prototype for Stepper Motors Stepper motors can provide rotary motion in small increments. This prototype will examine alternative sources of stepper motors, dual drive steppers; alternative driving circuits for them and suitability for Proposed
Prototype for ADC Circuits A number of Analog to digital conversions will be needed to support Volume controls and Engine controls such as the throttle. This prototype will examine options for rheostats of different resistances and magnetic encoders as an alternative to ADC Circuits. Proposed
Prototype for DAC Circuits A number of Digital to Analog conversions will be needed to support meter movements used for engine gauges and Course Deviation Indicators. Proposed
Prototype for Air Core driven Instrument Cards A number instruments include a rotating cards representing a compass, barometric pressure or Attitude. Air Cores are one solution to making the needle move. If air Cores are used, an Air Core providing more torque may be required. Proposed
Prototype for Stepper driven Instrument Cards A number instruments include a rotating cards representing a compass or barometric pressure or Attitude. Stepper motors are one solution to making instrument cards rotate or otherwise move. See the Air Core Prototype for alternatives. Proposed
Prototype for Instrument Rotation An Attitude Indicator includes an element that rotates the entire display independently of the inner card representing the forward and back pitch of the aircraft. This prototype would examine Air Cores, Steppers and other motors as a means of powering the rotation. This prototype might be addressed as a separate part of the and Air Core and Stepper Prototypes. Proposed
Prototype for Rotary Encoders A number radios have dual tuning knobs. Detented Rotary Encoders are ideal for this purpose. Proposed
Prototype for Magnetic Encoders A number instruments have adjusting knobs and a need to accurately determine the actual position of a rotating card. Magnetic encoders provide enough resolution to report position accurate to less than 1 degree. This prototype will examine rotary encoders as an alternative to Proposed
Prototype for GPIO Expanders for Outputs A number elements of instruments or radios elements have two states, on or off. An IO expander can provide a signal to drive the element directly or if needed, through an amplification circuit to provide more current. Most of these are LEDs, some may be solenoids moving a flag in an instrument Proposed
Prototype for Gears in the Altimiter. An altimiter has three hands like a clock. Unlike a clock, the gear ratios are 10:1. We will need a way to smoothly move the three hands of the alitmiter using a stepper or Air Core. This prototype project examines options for producing or selecting gears and whether an air core can provide the necessary power. Proposed
Prototype for Arduino to PI or Beagle Bone communication. In order to increase the number of available IO pins and to provide better real time processing, some functions will be handled by arduinos. This prototype will address how the communication of data between the PI and an arduino can be accomplished. Proposed
Prototype for Acquiring and delivering data to Flightgear. This prototype will use the PHI interface to communicate data between a Node process running on a PI or Beagle Bone and Flightgear. Testing will include cataloging the Flightgear Properties and addressing any that cannot be handled using a publish/subscribe model. Proposed
Prototype for Acquiring and Delivering data to Prepar3d. This prototype will use commercial software as an interface to Prepar3d Proposed
Prototype for Acquiring and Delivering data to X-Plane. Proposed
Prototype for Acquiring and Delivering data from attached external peripherals of a Pi or Beagle Bone. The prototype will address control of communication between the Node Process and external peripherals and controllers. There may be sub-projects for prototyping specific options for the communication path Proposed
Prototype for Solenoids Solenoids may be used to move flags in specific instruments. This prototyping project will address selection or construction of solenoids an how to drive one. Proposed
Prototype for Changing Data This prototype will examine changes in data and responses to such changes. I anticipate that an event might result in several other events, and the path of information may not just be two way between hardware and simulation program. Proposed
Prototype for Instrument Bezels and Dials The prototype will work out the production techniques needed to produce realistic and functional lighted bezels and dials for instruments. Proposed

Prototyping pages specific to an Aircraft