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Keyboard question

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I'm using Windows XP and was thinking about building a keyboard emulator to control some switches for the planes (Lights, engine starts, avionics, pitot heat) My question is... Can, or is there a way for flightsim to recognize that 2 keyboards are attached? One being my default typing keyboard (PS2 port) and the other being the emulator with the switches attached most likely will be USB 2 possibilities I can think of are :1) Run the USB keyboard ... it should recognize the PS2 and the USB shouldn't it??2) How about a switch box? Or is this only for using multiple computers with a single keyboard??I'm waiting for an answer in the cockpit design forum as well, but this one gets more traffic so I thought I'd try here.Chris

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You can purchase keyboards that go in series with your existing keyboard. Each button is programmable to output a series of keystrokes that you can set up as desired. Some come with keycap labels.The advantage is that meta-keys such as CTRL and SHIFT are included now in the keyboard macros so one key does all the combo and keystrokes necessary to accomplish a function.This beats taking both hands off your controller to use combo keys to accomplish tasks such as adjusting trim, pilot seat elevation, and other things the FS will recognise as keystroke combinations while you are manually flying an approach or take-off. As an example, you may need to trim elevator and simultaneously adjust your stick/yoke so the net effect is null during adjustment allowing the yoke/stick to get to its neutral position.One relatively huge device is advertised in Computer Pilot, but you can search for these macro keyboards in specialized computer suppliers.Is this what you have in mind?

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Hi Ronzie,What I actually had in mind was disassembling the keyboard and wiring toggle switches or rocker switches... flipping the switch sends a pulse to the keyboard which in turn sends the key to the simulator.The problem is I still want access to my regular keyboard for vatsim or similar... but with the keyboard emulator being plugged in, it is still a keyboard, so I don't know if the two will interfere, or if flightsim will even recognize its presence!Basically I want to build something similar to GoFlight T8s that run through a keyboard instead of direct interface with the simulator.Chris

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For what you want to do, I would suspect a special driver might be necessary for a USB device. The other alternative would be to modify a serialized keyboard as described.As an experiment, see if you can borrow a USB KB to add while your PS/2 KB is connected. If both work, you can modify a USB KB with switches.The other consideration is how FS handles repeated KB strokes. Note the REPEAT slider on the KB assignment settings. This will determine whether you must use only momentary contact switches. which is probably the case.On my older (2 year) PC, I'm not sure it would recognize a USB KB before Win drivers are loaded, such as when working with the BIOS. You may wish to retain a PS/2 standard KB for this purpose.I have switched KBs hot for troubleshooting, but I can only recommend regular use of hardware switching in this manner with reservation.

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Hi,You probably can't do what you are suggesting here. If you use the card from your keyboard, you would only be able to use momentary switches as a keyboard does i.e. off-on-off. If you use for eg, a toggle switch, the action is off-on and you'll simply get key repeat.I did something similar using momentary switches only and attached the keyboard and my emulator to my system via a switch box. You may well find that, instead of using a keyboard card, a much better way to go is to use a keyboard encoder - this simulates a keyboard but can be run alongside your normal keyboard. Bit pricey tho'Bud

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Hi Bud,The toggle/Rocker switch thing can be done using circuits! You need a relay and a capacitor in the circuit though to make it work. There is an excellent article on building a home cockpit in the file library by Roland VanRoy which explains how to do this.

http://ftp.avsim.com/library/sendfile.php?DownloadID=13666

What I really need to know is by using a switch box, can I switch keyboards on the fly... So I want to start my engines up on my emulator, but then I want to be able to use Vatsim and type... Can I switch keyboards by using the switcher and XP now use my typing keyboard?? Or do I need to reboot for the change to be recognized?Thanks,Chris

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Hi Chris,I hadn't seen this article before - looks interesting I'll have a delve. I was being simplistic - you're quite right, you can use a circuit to enable toggle switches. There is also a mechanical way to do it which involves more or less mating a rotary switch with a push switch. I'm afraid I much prefer the less 'fiddly' approach.If you go down the road of the circuit, you'll also probably need to introduce power to your emulator which adds a bit more complexity. I've used a keyboard card and a keyboard encoder in two 'generations' of module and by a street I prefer the latter. If you take into account the cost of construction time, as well as materials, you may find only marginal cost differences between the two methods.With regard to your original question, when I had the keyboard card module, I never tried to use it in the way you suggest. I only kept the keyboard for mundane tasks such as work etc. However, I can't really see any reason why it would not work as you wish.Bud

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Bud,After reading about the encoder idea, it seems like that is the way to go... The Hagstrom is a little pricey initially, but it sure saves alot of time wiring relays and such.I have a question then using the encoder...1) Can I still use my typing keyboard for VATSIM with it?2) How does the emulator communicate with flightsim? I take it I set up a toggle/rocker/push switch to the emulator, and then tell the emulator what key I want it to be... but how do i send that key to flightsim? Via FSUIPC??Thanks,Chris

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Chris,Generally, you can plug in as many keyboards as you want. Windows merges them into a single "system keyboard" and any application will see keys typed on any of the keyboards. You don't really need to switch them at all. The only thing you can't do is to tell which keyboard sent the key, they lose their identity during the merge.- BobThe StickWorkshttp://www.stickworks.com

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Hi Chris,Hagstrom really is the business. The answer to 1) is yes. 2) Yep - you set up the switch and program the key to the emulator. Very easy to do. So far as flightsim is concerned you are actually using a standard keyboard. So, for eg if you want to program a switch with the letter 'g' and you want that switch to activate Auto throttle, you would simply go to FS keyboard assignments and change A/Th to keyboard letter 'g'.It's a bit more complicated for the add on planes - PIC 767 has an extensive list of keyboard actions. These are the ones you would program into the emulator. DF 737 only operates thro' mouse clicks as do others. In these cases you would need to use a program like Key2Mouse which converts mouse clicks to keyboard strokes which you would then program in to the emulator.You'll want to make an emulator file for each plane you use regularly and write the file to the emulator as part of your preparation.Obviously you'll be making sure that your key selections don't cut across key assignments from FS or other add ons. There are so many these days it's becoming tricky. One of my earlier efforts was a switch which actually cut off the engines in flight. Not recommended.Good luck with your project.Bud

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