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egntpilot

Integrating Alpha-Jet Flight Simulator with MS-FSX

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I have a client who recently purchased a full motion Alpha-Jet military flight simulator built by CAE back in ~1980. To give you an idea of how old this unit is, it's software is a mixture of COBOL and ASM running on a couple of old Texas Instrument computers. This flight simulator has no visial systems, it's purely for instrument training, however it is a full military flight deck simulator used by the German military. I'm puting together a feasibility study to determine the following:1. Is it possible to replace the old TI computers with a few new servers for the purpose of integrating the Alpha-Jet flight simulator with Microsoft FlightSim-X? 2. Is there an off-the-shelf hardware solution that will handle the I/O translation between the Alpha-Jet sim and the PC Server?3. Can Microsoft Flightsim-X provide the necesary I/O for driving a motion platform?This project will be a huge undertaking, since there is a massive amount of I/O coming from the Alpha-Jet flight simulator. Anyone have any good sources I could check out? Thanks in advance!

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At this point I would rule out FSX. Simconnect should be the solution, but it isn't even working properly yet within the sim, so adding outside stuff? Probably hellish!But I would recommend checking out the previous version of Flight Sim - FS9 (or Flight Simulator - A Century of Flight FSACOF as it is also called).Being an established version with a history spanning several years, many of the early difficulties you would face integrating something even we simmers can't get right yet might be avoided, and there are software houses already extant who would welcome the challenge. Your first port of call should be:http://www.schiratti.com/where you will find integration utilities and a wealth of exxperience in just the kind of project you are interested in. I also recommend you follow the links on their site and establish early communnication with Pete Dowson, who for many years has been developing FSUIPC - Flight Simulator Universal Interface for PC, which could be exactly the interface you need to get the disparate electro-mechanical bits talking to the digital bytes.I'm sure others will come up with other suggestions, and I suspect a few may also recommend sticking with FSX as it is the future.Good luck, and can we forum members bagsy first play when its finished!? :)Allcott

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Thanks for the reply. After reading some of the info on FSX, it sounds like FS9 is the most stable platform to use.The simulator in question will eventually be used by the owner as a training tool for pilots. He also has a small fleet of Alpha Jets for training pilots to get their LOA. The simulator would just be another tool, however it's just so old! I thought it would be great if we could integrate it with MS FS so we could then put up a large screen so the training pilots would have some nice visuals to go along with their instruments. :()- Ron

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You might also want to hook up with Eaglesoft as they have been involved in crossing the GameSim-to-RealSim divide with Cirrus.http://www.eaglesoftdg.com/Who knows, there might be some synergies worth exploring in commercial opportunities! :)On the visual representation front, I think a modified FS9 installation, with appropriate aftermarket textures or even phot-scenery, might be a better way to go. Personally, I think at this point that FSX in its default state still looks a bit cartoon-like. No doubt in time better textures will be developed - and photoscenery can already give you a realistic real-world environment in some areas, in both sims, but if you want a fully-developed visual representation then FS9 would be the way to go - if you check out the Avsim screenshot forum you can see what stunning visuals have emerged for the earlier sim version, and many of us have both, but prefer the visuals of FS9 at this point, although the potential of the new version remains to be explored.Allcott

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Thanks for the info, every thing helps! Tracking down the correct interface tools (both SW and HW) can be tough sometimes. I think FS9 will be the FS of choice. Getting this old Sim converted from an old COBOL based instrument trainer, into a more modern flight training tool will be daunting. I really want to retain the original flight instruments and radio stack, etc. I have all of the wiring diagrams, schematics, code books, flowcharts, etc., so I will be able to know what drives each element within the cockpit. What I hope to be able to do is use the #### as an extended keyboard and joystick. If necesary I'll hire a developer to work out a slick motion algorythm to drive the motion system, but that's one of the last items on the list.The wire bundle coming off the Sim is easily 13 inches in dia. :)Fortunately, all cables and canon plugs are labled and referenced in the wiring diagrams. I've read a little about EPIC HW interface, that may work out for handling simple I/O like switches (cockpit lighting, gear up/down, fule select, etc.). I'm still trying to find the right HW and software to handle flight control input. I can pretty much translate any data coming from the flight Sim to meet whatever criteria is needed for the PC HW side. But less conversion the better, plug and play solutions are whats needed to make it work.I'm also checking into Project majenta, not sure if it works only with their HW though.I've included a couple of pics of the simulator. Hard to get an idea of it's size. Thanks again for the info!

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hidon't know if you've checked it out but there is an active home cockpit builders forum on this site. The contributors on there should be able to assist with both hardware and software. Some of the cockpits the participants gave built are unbelievable.Steve

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That is sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet :)Whats the goal? Air experience flights as part of the Alpha sales operation? Or actual flight training? You could be the one who proves that the difference between gaming and simulation is getting smaller by the day!Allcott

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It will be used as part of the pilot training program. The simulator was originally used for instrument training back late 70's, early 80's. Since computers have become so much more powerful, I thought we could give it a facelift and add visuals to the simulator experience. Honestly, I had no idea that there were so many people building their own cockpits until I stumbled upon someones website! That embolded me to dig deeper and got me thinking it could be pulled off.

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>At this point I would rule out FSX. Simconnect should be the>solution, but it isn't even working properly yet within the>sim, so adding outside stuff? Probably hellish!>>But I would recommend checking out the previous version of>Flight Sim - FS9 (or Flight Simulator - A Century of Flight>FSACOF as it is also called).>>Being an established version with a history spanning several>years, many of the early difficulties you would face>integrating something even we simmers can't get right yet>might be avoided, and there are software houses already extant>who would welcome the challenge. >>Your first port of call should be:>>http://www.schiratti.com/>>where you will find integration utilities and a wealth of>exxperience in just the kind of project you are interested in.>I also recommend you follow the links on their site and>establish early communnication with Pete Dowson, who for many>years has been developing FSUIPC - Flight Simulator Universal>Interface for PC, which could be exactly the interface you>need to get the disparate electro-mechanical bits talking to>the digital bytes.>>I'm sure others will come up with other suggestions, and I>suspect a few may also recommend sticking with FSX as it is>the future.>>Good luck, and can we forum members bagsy first play when its>finished!? :)>>>AllcottI know your position on FSX, but I'm very curious about your comment on SimConnect. I haven't failed to incorporate anything I've tried. I know there have been some logged bugs in regards to weather, but what exactly makes it "not working properly" within the sim?

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I'm not sure if this is feasible but... How 'bout:- retain all of the existing IFR-capable hardware/software bits, and use FS-X or FS9 or whatever (X-Plane?) purely to generate the out-of-window graphics views.It seems to me that if you can get lat/long/altitude coordinates out of the hardware, which I would think would be trivial if it's capable of simulating real-world instrument approaches, then you could drive any of the sims I listed to generate visuals - even if you have to do clever things to parse/process the data that the sim hardware generates to drive the simulated instruments.In other words, KISS (Keep It Simple) and leverage what someone probably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to make all of the hardware your client has "work". I would think that writing everything from the ground up would be very expensive.Dave Blevins

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The reason we're going with FS2004 is not just the visuals, but also because the probability of getting the old TI-980 up and running is slim-to-none. It's been exposed to some elements and it's very likely it would never "boot". In addition to the ancient HW, it erquires a trained technician to operate the system. Everyone who was trained on this simulator has long since retired. :)- Ronhttp://home.comcast.net/~bimmer4011/

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>Pete Dowson has written pretty extensively on some of the>bugs he has found.>>Thomas>>[a href=http://www.flyingscool.com]>http://www.flyingscool.com/images/Signature.jpg [/a]>>I like using VC's :-)>N15802 KASH '73 Piper Cherokee Challenger 180Oh, Peter has certainly uncovered some things. I thought he was saying that it was completely unusable, in which case I wanted to know what he was trying to do so I could give it a crack myself.In other news, I got my TrackIR, and like my CH Yoke, I can't imagine how I ever flew without it.

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Just got the track IR yesterday and CH yoke and pedals 2 weeks ago. What a difference it all makes. Now if one could purchase a home built cockpit like th OP's for around 200 bucks ....... I'd be divorced again.Ian.

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