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Guest 2002cbr600f4i

Need some help

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Hey gang...I'm working on designing a custom control panel for use with FSX. Basically, I want something that will allow me (in conjuction with my CH Yoke/Rudder/multi engine Throttle Quad) to avoid having to use the keyboard at all.To do this, I'm going to tear apart a Belkin Nostromo N50 and and N52 speedpads. These are fully programmable devices with a large number of controls and 4 different assignment modes per control. I'm 100% confident I can make that part work. I bought a large number of pushbuttons to wire up to the circuitry on the speedpads. Now I'm in the process of laying out the panel.To lay out the panel, I went through the list of all control options in the FSX control configuration menu (not just the default key list since it's not complete...) Several functions will be performed by the CH stuff:On the Yoke:rudder + pitch trim, view select cycles, gear up/dn, flaps up/dn, multiplayer cockpit xmit on/off+all xmit on/off.On the throttle quad: 4 buttons in the up position to select that # engine.4 buttons in the down position to work the starter for that engine1 button up/down for Cowl flaps1 button up/down for spoiler arm/engageI'm attaching the file with the eMachineShop.com panel layout I've designed as well (feel free to steal/copy! as well as a AutoCad version of it.)What I need help with:First off, are the "Auxillary Pump" and the "Backup Pump" the same thing? I suspect that the first deals with fuel pumping, the 2nd deals with the barometric altimeter, but I could be wrong.Second, I noticed there were controls for "Radios Cycle Forward" and "Radios Cycle Backward". Are those just the controls to cycle the frequency (as if I had clicked the +- on the radio panel) ??Likewise, there's a set of controls (mainly in the autopilot) that seem to have a "select" button and then a pair of "adjust" controls. I'm planning to use the Nostromo n52's mouse wheel control to be my universal "up/down" adjustment control. So, do I need to make seperate buttons for those "adjust" controls, or should I just set the adjusts to the same keystroke as I'm assigning to the wheel and the fact that I've engaged whichever select is the thing that assigns the motion of the wheel to that item's ajustments?Just looking to see if I can reduce down the needed # of controls, etc.Any help is appreciated!(BTW, if you look at the diagrams, only the inner circle should be drilled out, the outter just indicates the boundaries of the pushbuttons I'm using and are there only for layout purposes.)--Mike

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Ok, did some refinements to the layout (attached). Converted the file to a PDF using some demo version of some program I found online. Took the PDF over to Staples and had them print it out on their huge printer to real size.Gave the template to dad today (up at the 'rents visiting for Xmas). We went out in the garage, grabbed some scrap 1/4" plywood and some 3/4" and made the panel and the box for it.Now I just need to paint it, insert all the buttons, and start wiring!Check it out...--Mike

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Ok, in case anyone is interested, here are a couple more pictures with some of my progress.Since these were taken, I've also painted the rest of the box a nice glossy black, and we've managed to wire up 1 of the 14 key Nostromo n52 keypads. I have 1 more keypad to go and then the secondary control interfaces to go still. Then I have a LOT of wiring to do to the buttons on the panel...Anyhow, here's my current setup... The smaller screen is a 10.2" portable DVD player that I'll drive from the S-Video out on my video cards to use as either a GPS or Radio stack view.--Mike

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Mike, I've got to give you *********** for ingenuity. I'm VERY impressed. Builders like you are an inspiration to our fellow hobbiest.I love it when I see projects like yours, from scratch, make your own cockpit.Thanks for sharing.Matt Oliemanwww.a340project.uswww.MyCockpit.org

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Thanks man!I was starting to wonder if anyone gave a poo since I saw lots of views but no comments...Granted, this isn't a "realistic" panel setup, so the purists probably don't care about this, but for the tinkerers who kinda sit somewhere in-between the purists and the casual folks, I think this is quite do-able for most people.I turns out that the Nostromos will work with up to 5 n52's plugged in at the same time, so I'm using 2 N52's for the guts (plugged into a 7 port powered USB hub that I've put inside the box) and I have the option to add a few more if I wanted to built a box to put "soft buttons" around the sides of the smaller screen for the GPS, or if I wanted to build a semi-realistic FMC.The biggest hassle is wiring onto the Nostromo - it's mostly surface mount stuff and VERY small traces. I'm having a buddy who's a lot better at soldering than me do that. He's having to unwire and re-wire the secondary boards (so I can wire them to a breadboard that I'm using as a patch panel where needed) and for 3 common lines using wire wrap wire for the main keypads. He's already complaining about the way we're doing it and wants to build a custom circuit board that matches all the circuitry in the n52's guys. So, I might end up redoing all the internals of this thing down the line, but for now we're using the N52's guts.I'll post pictures in a couple days showing how I wired up the main keypads (we had to do some serious BS-engineering on that to make it work :-) )Anyhow. I'm hoping to get this all done in time for use in the Around the World competition next month...--Mike

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You're welcome Mike. There's some folks who have posted pictures in the "Gallery" and shared similar projects like yours at www.mycockpit.org Would love to see your work there :)Matt Oliemanwww.a340project.uswww.mycockpit.org

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Ah, cool...When I get farther along in construction (or finish) I'll go ahead and post over there, along with full instructions on how I did it for anyone else to copy...--Mike

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Nice job!Speedpads are indeed useful, do you use the sliders for controls such as flaps or gear? I used a speedpad for simming for a while, but got lazy and didn't take it apart. I have zero experience with electronics and I was afraid I would damage it somehow.

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>Nice job!>Speedpads are indeed useful, do you use the sliders for>controls such as flaps or gear? >I used a speedpad for simming for a while, but got lazy and>didn't take it apart. I have zero experience with electronics>and I was afraid I would damage it somehow.I'm using the "mouse wheel" control on the n52 to be the control for increasing/decreasing things like radio frequencies and AP altitudes and such (basically, one of the buttons on the panel selects the radio and then I use the wheel to adjust the values for that radio). I'm not using the "push" function on the wheel. From what I've seen of the internals, the older n50 is easier to solder onto, but the circuits are MUCH more complicated so I gave up using that. The N52's keypads are much more straightforward (basically each button connects to a common line (1 per row of buttons)and a buttons specific line. The D-pad is just 6 lines (a common ground, and then 4 lines for each of the major D-pad directions and 1 for the Orange button). The Shift-mode button + mode LEDs are on a daughter board and it's really the only other one that's kind of a pain to connect to because it has a diode in the circuit that you have to connect between.Basically, it's all doable stuff provided you're good with a soldering iron and REALLY REALLY small components.As I said, my buddy is seriously considering tracing out the circuit on the N52 and designing a custom board to simplify the whole thing. If we end up going that way I'll be sure to post the layout which would make the construction a LOT easier.--Mike

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Ah, yes, I've seen your stuff. Not bad. I just wanted a LOT more functions. I HATE having to remember keyboard commands for all the different stuff, especially when on some planes you have to know some esoteric keystroke that is specific to that plane. I have a strategic commander in a box somewhere as well. Never really used it for anything (although that might change when Supreme Commander comes out ;-) )Yeah, the n52's internals are MUCH more complicated than the Strategic Commander's internals. I was amazed how different the n50 and n52 are internally.--Mike

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I prefer to work without dismantling controllers whenever possible.I'm building a throttle/flap/gear panel froma gamepad, I'd better start takig pictures to document it before it gets hard to see details.I love messing around with this stuff, even though I don't have much time for flying.

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Ok, i've made a lot more progress on the wiring for this thing, but I've run into a bit of a problem that I was hoping the more EE-types here could help me with...The D-Pad circuit board is composed of 4 contact switches for the Up/Down/Left/Right, an additional switch for the Orange button, and then the common ground line. Normally when you press any of the diagonal directions, two of the contacts are closed to complete the circuit.I, on the other hand have a discrete button (switch) for each of the 8 directions. I need a way to do something like this electrically:Button || Lines Closed1 || 12 || 1+23 || 24 || 2+35 || 36 || 3+47 || 48 || 4+1I thought I could maybe do this using a 74LS147 chip, except it appears that the inputs and outputs are reverse what I need them to be. Assuming I can just throw an inverter (74LS04) on all of the inputs and outputs and get the desired effect, then I think that will work. Also, looking through the Function table of the 147 shows that one of the states I need is missing.However, I have no idea if the nostromo's circuitry puts out signals at levels that TTL chips would be able to detect as being a H vs an L (since that stuff normally works at +5V/0V.)Anyone have any other ideas of how I could make this work?I'm kinda stuck until I can figure this out, and it's the last thing I need to get this all working...If I can't find a solution within the next month or two I may just scrap the whole thing and invest in the CH Products MFPs (2 or 3 of them).

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I know this post is really old, but your approach to building a panel is the same as mine, in that I don't want a realistic panel, I just want to make controlling the avionics and other 'stuff' easier, and more intuitive. In fact, my project will more than likely be some custom input controllers just for flight simulator, rather than full cockpit, or even a full panel.If you haven't discovered it yet, check out Leo Bodner's USB joystick controller board (easily googleable). No, I'm not affiliated! It's a tiny little board that supports 8 analogue inputs and 32 buttons. I've tried it with 4x 64mm travel slider type potentiometers in a small electronics project box, for Throttle, Prop Pitch and Mixture, and a fourth I may use for flaps (ok, so it won't have detents, but I can mark a scale on the box I mount it in, and the flap extention sound provides good feedback)It also supports rotary encoders - and you can get packs of 10 on ebay very cheaply - either with or without the center click button. At the price of the encoders, you could easily wire up 2x encoders per tunable radio. One encoder for MHz up/down, the other for KHz up/down. 8x for all the NAV/COM radios.For a minimalist setup, using the 'Radios (cycle)' and 'Radios (cycle backwards)', mentioned in your original post, you can scroll through every tunable element of the entire radio stack (and the OBS) with one encoder, and do the actual tuning with the other encoder. It may not be realistic, but it beats the keyboard or virtual cockpit!Other uses for rotary encoders are trim wheels which don't need calibrating (though the purists won't like it) - G1000 contols, and probably many more uses.If using FSX, the .....AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\FSX\Controls\Standard.xml file maps all your saved control mappings (it is saved when FSX is quit) - but there are many more 'events' that are available if you check out the FSX SDK Help file, under 'Core Utilities Kit - Variables - Event IDs' (though stranglely, it doesn't list the 2 'radios (cycle)' events - which I wanted to use). Using the events in here, you could for example use a 2 way toggle switch for landing gear. Instead of mapping one momentary button to GEAR_TOGGLE, you map two buttons (the toggle switch needs to be wired up as 2 buttons) to the GEAR_UP and GEAR_DOWN events. No more switching to external view, or looking round the cockpit to double check the gear is down - you just glance at the position of your switch.Anyway, that ended up being a bit of a braindump, and probably should have had it's own post. I hope your flight simming is still going well, and hope my own controller building helps others.

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