Three Years Later... The Staff at MyCockpit is proud to announce Brian Williamson Builder of the month October 2008 as selected by his Peers.[B][COLOR=blue]
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#1. Brian, almost three years have passed since we had an update from you,
perhaps you could refresh our memories with an update of what has changed
in your personal life, where you live, and what you have been up to.
Perhaps provide a bit of a Then and Now writeup that can help us figure
out what you and your simulator have been up to for the past 3 years.
Still in the same locale except that the 4 car garage seems to be getting smaller as time progresses. The room is just about large enough, except, if we need to increase the size of the projector setup.
I would certainly like another set of screens either side of the cockpit, but is it worth the extra??
I guess we have to draw the line somewhere, but who knows what will be available in the coming years. Just look back at what we were using for graphics with Sub Logic.
Not that long ago when you think about it. Just wait until the new laser projectors are cheap enough. They seem to be amazing from what I hear.
#2. Since your previous builder update located here
please tells us a little bit about what completion percentage your cockpit
would be at currently.
At last I would say it is 98 percent. There will always be small modifications to be made, especially as we add little bits here and there, and I suspect there will be the odd panel, bit of paint etc., that we are not happy with.
It keeps you off the street and keeps you from stealing hub caps…………….!!
#3. When I was learning all about simulators and watching Okan Sacli and
Matt Olieman building their simulators, I remember watching you create
your Circuit breaker panels, would you be able to tell us a little about
how you put these together?
It was a stroke of luck and also being a cheapskate, that I found some small push button switches that looked similar to aircraft fuses.
If you ever thought of buying real circuit breakers, that is what they would do……..break you……….with cost!!
These little switches could even be colour coded and if you have the time and inclination, even put the amperage on them. This is one of the little things that I do not find too important. I feel it is much more important to get the aircraft fully functional, and I realise that everyone will have different priorities in this regard.
One of the things when you start these types of projects is learning what you need, and then try to implement those set of parameters. But, they will change as you go along, so be prepared.
There are a lot of things that really are not essential and you can work around without degrading the end result. Remember it actually does not leave the ground!
Here is a simple explanation: when I started designing the FCU and the 2 EFIS panels I was going to make them 100 percent, just like the real thing!!
But as I progressed it was apparent that I would need another complete 7 segment board to do this. Well I then figured I do not need to have the Right Hand 7 segment display for the altimeter pressure fully operational, so I just paralleled those 4 segments with the Left Hand side , and the result is they both read the same and can only be altered from the Captains side.
No need to do otherwise! So take into account that not every button or light needs to be operational, and of course a lot of the logics to make some of these buttons and lights, are not available anyway. In other words do not go to extremes that jeopardize getting the aircraft flying. Getting it going is far more important in my view.
#4. Are you still using the same CNC Machine for your panels, or have you
managed to upgrade to something else?
Still the same CNC that I built in the first article.
The main addition to the machine was a very good motor and spindle from Sherline which helped with accuracy. This proved beneficial as far as breakages of very small bits that I use.
The run out on the spindle and collets are far superior than using a router or engraver.
All the bits to start building………………
Had to install I think about 50 ball bearings……………
Then had to build the power supply and drivers…………….
5. What software? And on how many computers are you running your
Now running 8 computers. Using complete suite of Project Magenta, with FSX,
Flightdeck Technology Simboards for the control of most of the lower half of the cockpit, (still some things to implement)
For the MCDU’s, USB key cards from IO cards (work perfectly for that job)
Interface IT, for the Overhead control…………….. Cannot get better.
6. Recently you had posted some pictures of your visual setup. would you
please be able to describe for everyone the process from where you started
3 years ago, until now, where your visuals are concerned, and maybe give
some of the newbies here some in site into what is involved to achieve
such incredible visuals.
First the need for as wide a vision as possible. My screens are 2400 mm. by 1460 mm. and the middle screen is about 2700 mm. from the Captains head. They are lightweight and fully moveable.
The frame is pine and the actual screens are 3mm. MDF. The paint is specifically designed to stop reflections off the other screens, which tend to wash out the colours.
Check out Black Widow Paint for details.
The projectors need to be as high a native resolution that you can afford.
Forget the advertising nonsense about what resolution the projector will utilize.
Only one thing matters (basically) and that is the native resolution of the projector. I am running 1280 by 720 NATIVE, (16x9 resolution) and I would not recommend anything less.
The closer you are to the screen the larger the dots you will see, so we need more dots, not a larger distance from the screen (therefore smaller looking dots). So as we see newer and better projectors hit the market, we will be blessed with much better graphics with higher native resolutions. By dots I refer to pixels………….the more the better.
If you look at this picture during setup, the cockpit is too far from the screens, therefore the screens do not fill the windscreen entirely, even though at that distance the graphics look a lot better because we are further away and it is harder to see individual pixels. So the only thing you can do is move the cockpit forward until you fill the windscreen. Then of course you can then see individual pixels. The answer to that problem is to have projectors with more pixels. More expense!!
Then it is a matter of placing the projectors as close to the top of the cockpit as possible, and then do the focusing. The cockpit can be moved in or out as needed.
7. What part of your project are you working on now?
SOFTWARE, SOFTWARE, SOFTWARE,
I will not elaborate on that too much. Suffice to say that if the software is not right then the sim loses much of its appeal. A lot of times we have ourselves to blame for not having our computers up to scratch. I see countless articles on how bad FSX is.
Most of the problems are in the computer set-up.
A lot of the problems lie with us. We have to learn to set up our computers, and believe me, that takes a bit of learning. One of the best bits of advice I can pass on, is to follow the instructions of the experts. Ok I know there are a lot of so-called experts!! Be aware of the people who pass on great tweaks that are unsubstantiated and will usually do more harm than good.
There is one chap who I would recommend following and that is Nick Needham. If you check what he recommends and you do clean up your computer as he suggests, I think you will be more than pleased. In my opinion he is an expert.
8. What would you say was the hardest piece of your Airbus to replicate,
and how did you get around it.
Probably the FCU and the Throttle
How to get 2 leds to show through on one tiny switch!
All those doubled sided PCB’s…………………
Cutting aluminium on the CNC was a long process………………
At least it won’t break……………..
9. Being quite hot in Queensland, how do you manage to keep the simulator
cool enough to use during the Hot summers?
Air conditioning is the only answer, especially with all the heat from components in the cockpit. Even using lots of LEDS there is still a lot of heat coming off the voltage regulators, and the lcd screens. Small aircons are now very cheap and reliable. I originally planned on using CRT’s in the MIP ! That would have made some heat.
10. If you could have a part from a real Airbus, that you could install in
your simulator what would it be and why?
Seats….. mine are from a Cessna 310 and are quite comfortable, even though access was bit tight and I had to move these slightly to the side. But there is nothing quite likes the real thing, and I have seen some amazing replica seats built.
11. What would you say would be the biggest advice you could give to
someone starting out in this hobby, and why.
Plan and study….take your time at the start. There unfortunately was no My Cockpits when I first started, so everyone now has the great advantage of this site to gain so much knowledge and advice on what and where to get everything needed.
Hopefully I can help where ever possible with advice to alleviate some of the problems that beset us when we first start building. I would also point out that most of the information is already here, so please study and search, and if you still have problems…ask.
12. Can you tell us what part of your simulator you are most proud of?
What piece do you look at every time and sigh knowing how perfect it
Overhead, as it was the last part constructed.
There is nothing like practice to get things right. I look at some of the first bits of plastic I cut up and then the last bits I cut and engraved and thankfully there is a difference. I guess if there had not been a difference I would have been disappointed………..
One of the hardest bits to get right on the overhead, were the switches which have 2 leds in them:
13. Is there any part of your simulator that you feel you want to redo at
some point because you are not happy with it, or you feel you may have
been able to do it better.
Some of the panels on the pedestal. Just to utilize the latest bits and pieces that look better, as sometimes the paint get scratched etc.
One of the problems using plastic is that it is not quite as tough as the real aircraft, and some people come into the sim and start pushing and pulling as if they are driving a D9 bulldozer! Give them a good checkout first………….
14. Out of all the people that you have met in your travels, in this
wonderful hobby, whom would you like to meet the most and why?
Some of the programmers! ……….no I should not say that …only joking………….
There are some brilliant programmers out there for whom I have the greatest admiration.
I absolutely hate trying to even think about emulating what they do. By the same token it is absolutely frustrating buying software/hardware that states it will do certain things and it does not. My advice to programmers, state only what is proved to work, and write decent instructions.
I recall some years back when I had my first Commodore 64 and a good friend of mine, who also flew with me, was pestering me, that he had a book that guaranteed to win him a lot of money at the Casino playing roulette (OH ..YEAAAHHH…..I have heard this one before…………….).
So after listening to this in between flights for a couple of weeks, I suggested that perhaps I could prove its worth by doing the spins on my computer, as I had read somewhere that the C64 would produce random numbers …..
…………well he gave me the Book of details and I proceeded to do my first program, having absolutely no idea what in the **** it was all about….like….. If this does that…. then this equals something else. ……….Blah..Blah…blah…
Eventually….. After, I think a page and a half of programming, it actually worked.. ( The program that is ! ) Any way, I set it running to do 250,000 spins, which was pretty slow on that computer and to get the results, if it lost, it had to print them out.
Away it went, and at about 1.30 in the early hours of the morning, I awoke to hear the printer start up……I raced out to look at the results…………….It had just lost over half a million dollars!!
I do not think he has been back near a Casino again !
He does not look like a gambler does he ??
15. Is there any particular vendor that you think deserves honorable
mention for the efforts they have placed into this Hobby?
Peter Cos who was one of the early pioneers and is still producing, from all reports very high quality goods. I can only speak of the system interface IT card that I use on the overhead and you will not get a better piece of gear.
The software is absolutely checked out and works without a problem.
This is one of the factors with all of our building……….you need software and hardware that works.
I know there are many other people producing extremely high quality stuff, all too numerous to mention, and it would be misleading of me to comment, if I had not actually tested their items out.
16. Out of all the builders’ projects that you have seen over the years, is
there anyone in particular that sticks out in your mind, that you believe
exceeded your expectation, and really has blown you away with what they
Matthew Sheil for his great work on the 747 in Sydney. He was an early pioneer in this regard and the size and scale of his work is staggering to say the least. I suggest you all have a look at his site:
17. Where do you see your project over the next three years?
With wheel chair access…….and a nurse (maybe young and blonde) !
Not sure at this stage. I guess it will be an ongoing project of upgrading, and as I said earlier, the visuals should only get better as the years pass.
18. Have you ever thought about switching aircraft?
No. I think one is enough! I have spent nearly 10 years on this one, so perhaps I should quit while I am in front.
19. Please give us your thoughts on the possibility of adding Motion to
No way. Matthew Shiel has gone down this path, I know, but I think the reward to risk and cost ratio is too high.
A very complex and expensive piece of gear to implement, and again room is so important. You then have to think about having the screens attached and moveable as well. I do not think the extra sensation is probably worth the time and effort. I would suggest the 2 basics that we can all achieve a lot easier, are sound and visuals, so I think we are probably better off by concentrating on those 2 features.
Just installed Buttkicker…..well worth it.
20. I have noticed that the Airbus is very close to your heart, is there a
particular reason why this aircraft is so special to you?
Because of the modern character of this aircraft. I know this will draw flak from some, but the 737, which is by far the most popular aircraft, it is really an older style aircraft that has been upgraded, but I believe it has not really gone with modern technology to the same extent that Airbus have.
Now that does not mean everyone should abandon the 737 ! It is just my opinion that I feel the Airbus is in the next generation of aircraft.
I recall flying the PBY Catalina one day and I look back and think how antiquated it was. You needed the biggest pair of hob-nailed boots to just move the rudder.
Hopefully all the above will help in some small way to all who care to read, that it will also give some insight into what path one needs to look for, and enjoy the great friendship and comradery of those who are insane enough to even contemplate taking on this great hobby and I must say, extremely complex venture.
My best wishes to all………………Brian Williamson
GOLD COAST. AUSTRALIA.
Thanks a billion for taking the time to update the community at MyCockpit,
of your progress. You really are a talented individual with much
experience. I appreciate all that you are, and thank you for being a part
of our community.