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Guest luckas

beginner interface questions ...

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Greetings,I'm in the process of contemplating a small hardware project to gain a better understanding of how all the pieces fit together. I'm thinking an EFIS panel or some of the MCP functions might be a good start - interfacing with, say, the PMDG 737NG in FS9. At this stage I want to keep things relativley simple and inexpensive - so I find myself steering away from the EPIC-style solutions (for the moment).I've had a bit of look at the various web resources (wow !) and would appreciate a sanity check on the following:1. Keyboard encoder. I need one of these to stick between the switches and the PC ? Essentially it mimics the actions of a keyboard (ie, can assign functions to buttons). My existing QWERTY keyboard can be plugged into most commonly available encoders to allow it to be used in parallel.2. A standard keyboard encoder only allows for on/off-style switch functionality. For rotary outputs I need a rotary encoder which attaches via a standard keyboard encoder to the PC.A couple of last questions:1. Any preferences for simple, inexpensive encoder hardware to get me going ? (I think you can get a feel for what I'm trying to do here.)2. Is it possible for my current keyboard to be plugged directly into my PC with the keyboard encoder plugged into a spare USB port - or must the QWERTY keyboard go via the encoder to the PC.3. In the first instance, I'm simply trying to model some of the on/off switches (e.g. CMD, VNAV etc.) I presume simple toggle switches will work with these encoders ?4. Do the encoders come with software - or more precisely, how does one assign codes to the buttons (addresses) once it is all plugged in.Anything else I should be aware of ?Thanks kindly for your time.Paul L.

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Paul,Welcome.You can indeed use keyboard encoders as you describe. However, before committing to that route, take a look at Beta Innovations. www.betainnovations.com It's owned by Leo Lacava, a fellow simpit enthusiast. He has been developing USB I/O with flight simulation in mind. He has posted both information and software. Check out GammaRay-256 and Keyboard Studio.Mikewww.mikesflightdeck.com

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>>1. Keyboard encoder. I need one of these to stick between the >>switches and the PC ? Essentially it mimics the actions of a >>keyboard (ie, can assign functions to buttons). My existing QWERTY >>keyboard can be plugged into most commonly available encoders to >>allow it to be used in parallel.Correct>>2. A standard keyboard encoder only allows for on/off-style switch >>functionality. For rotary outputs I need a rotary encoder which >>attaches via a standard keyboard encoder to the PC.If you use a rotary ENCODER, then you need to attach that to a rotary DECODER to turn its output into something the computer can recognize as a regular button push. The alternative is to either use a Knitter switch, which is a rotary switch that gives a single plse in each direction, or attach the rotary encoder in such a way that it sends SHIFT-a in one direction and a-SHIFT in the other.>>1. Any preferences for simple, inexpensive encoder hardware to get >>me going ? (I think you can get a feel for what I'm trying to do >>here.)I'd suggest going to www.betainnovations.com and looking at his USB stuff.>>2. Is it possible for my current keyboard to be plugged directly >>into my PC with the keyboard encoder plugged into a spare USB port ->>or must the QWERTY keyboard go via the encoder to the PC.You can use a PS2 keyboard and a USB keyboard emulator, or the other way round, but you can't use two of the same type.>>3. In the first instance, I'm simply trying to model some of the >>on/off switches (e.g. CMD, VNAV etc.) I presume simple toggle >>switches will work with these encoders ?Yes - push button or toggles are fine. You can also use a rotary switch and assign a different key to each position of the rotary.>>4. Do the encoders come with software - or more precisely, how does >>one assign codes to the buttons (addresses) once it is all plugged >>in.It depends. A traditional keyboard emulator or hacked keyboard is hardware - closing a certain pair of contacts sends a certain keystroke. Other boards - like a Hagstrom or the BetaInnovations boards - come with software that lets you assign a keystroke, or actually a series of keystrokes, to a certain switch. Alternatively, you can do what I did which is delete all of MSFS' keyboard commands, then just wire up my switches to whichever input was most convenient, then use FSUIPC to assign that switch to the function I wanted it to have. Richard

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Thank you both so much for the excellent information which I'm in the process of following up. I'm learning that there is a great deal of useful information in the archives as well, although no doubt I'll have the odd question or two as the weeks progress. This seems like the place to be for friendly answers to beginner's questions.Thanks again ! :-)Paul

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I would presume you've come across the two pre-built MCP modules that are available (one from Aerosoft Australia; I forget the other company's name)... If not, they each provide a very realistic big-iron MCP panel with the requisite knobs, switches, and readouts. But better - those modules have additional connections for other inputs and outputs (switches/LEDs/displays). I have no experience with either one but they seem like a good place to start.Dave Blevins

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Yes, thanks Dave I have. The Aerosoft one looks quite nice - but I'm hoping to save quite a bit of money by building my own - and learn a heap in the process.Thanks for the reply.Paul

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