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  1. #1
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    100% Mac X-plane 373 flight deck

    I have been planing my Boeing 737 flight deck for the past year but haven't really done much until about a month ago. I realized early that there would be some major obstacles I would encounter, mainly money and time. Another area of frustration that developed early was the lack of support for Mac OS X. It's hard enough to to find products that support x-plane let alone the Mac. I knew this project would require a lot of home made solutions and hopefully, as I and time progressed, someone out there might see the need to expanded their support they offer for x-plane and extend it to the Mac community as well. I have been incredibly lucky to find Leo's USB joystick emulator and Thank you Sandy for the Go-Flight plugins. Between those two solutions, I had the confidence to get started on this project.

    I am a die hard Mac user and this project would have to be 100% Mac. I currently enjoy X-plane with a CH products yoke,rudder and throttle. With this project, I wanted to incorporate my current setup with parts of the completed flight deck in stages until I was ready for enclosing the complete setup. I decided to build the flight deck in 5 sections. Section 1 is the overhead. When completed, I will be able to use it as a stand - alone unit until it is ready to mount in the cockpit shell. Section 2 is the Pedestal. I figured this too would be a way to gain functionality to my existing setup. Section 3 will be the control column and throttle assembly. I figure if I can afford them and if I made it this far, these 3 pieces Captain / FO yokes and Throttle, will be the last equipment required before closing it all in the shell. Section 4 is the cockpit shell. with a raised floor to provide clearance for the linked yokes, I am expecting this box to be about 7ft by 7ft . Once I have a floor, I can move to Section 5, the MIPS. and then bolt it all together. Thats the plan.

    As I stated, I am currently working on the overhead. I looked online and found that this hobby is well loved in Europe but not so much here in the States. I was a little reluctant to spend $1500 for an Overhead kit that would not work with my mac. I had found Leo's USB card and figured I could just build one from scratch and that way I know what I can and can't support. I found a great site, http://www.737ng.co.uk/ , this guy has build an incredible overhead with a powered bus that operates like the real thing. I created a base panel in Adobe Illustrator as well as sub panels to go on top to give the look of the bolted panels used on the overhead. I had the panels CNC'ed out of grey polycarbanite. This was the first time I had ever done anything like this on the computer so I made some alignment mistakes, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. I plane to use false DZSU screws to complete the illusion when the electrical portion of the overhead is complete. So far, its coming alone nicely. I have about 50% wired up and operation with working power distribution for APU, Ground and Eng. Gen's. Lots of lights and toggles! The next step is to complete the electrical and remove everything for painting and finishing. The panel will not be back lit due to cost, I have dumped about $200 so far, back lighting would be beyond my pay grade. If what I learned with CNC'ing the panels from Illustrator can be used for the Pedestal and MIPS, I think I have found a way to afford this hobby with out getting a night job.
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  2. #2
    500+ This must be a daytime job BHawthorne's Avatar
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    Re: 100% Mac X-plane 373 flight deck

    If the simpit is a simpit 100% of the time the OS underneith is merely a destration to the goal. You could run it on Linux, Windows or MacOS and it shouldn't make much difference.

    I think you need to sit down and think this through though. I suggest using the most cost efficient and funtional setup to meet your needs. While on the desktop, that is probably MacOS X for you, but while in a simpit MacOS X isn't exactly the best fit.

    I have no issue with Macs and was a production artist and pre-press graphic designer for a decade before switching to being a manufacturing engineer, so I have zero bias against the MacOS X platform itself. My problem is exactly what you stated. The tools simply aren't there yet to efficiently pull it off using MacOS X yet. While I applaud the idea that you are interested in working through those issues somehow, I think you really need to step back a bit and evaluate if you'll have the programming resources and knowledgebase to do it? If not, will you be willing to pick those skills up along the way? I'd hate to see a bias towards MacOS X be an impediment towards getting you the most functional simpit options possible.

    I think it's an error in limiting yourself just to MacOS X as a basis for the project. It's hard enough as is to see a project through to completion without putting up impediments and roadblocks to your goal like this.

  3. #3
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    Re: 100% Mac X-plane 373 flight deck

    Thank you for your observation about supported OS's. There are many reasons one would want to want to use a mac for a simpit. Stability, ease of use and performance are a few. In my particular situation, I have a large collection of macs on a really fast network that I use for rendering. I will be building these machine into the simpit while retaining their ability to perform their rendering functions when called upon. So in response to your first statement, the simpit will not be a simpit 100% of the time. While I understand that the OS I chose may not be the best suited for the commercial simpit builder, The purpose of this thread was to share my experiences in building a 100% Mac X-plane 737 flight deck and hopefully attract others with similar ideas and plans.

  4. #4
    500+ This must be a daytime job BHawthorne's Avatar
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    Re: 100% Mac X-plane 373 flight deck

    Quote Originally Posted by macisaac View Post
    Thank you for your observation about supported OS's. There are many reasons one would want to want to use a mac for a simpit. Stability, ease of use and performance are a few. In my particular situation, I have a large collection of macs on a really fast network that I use for rendering. I will be building these machine into the simpit while retaining their ability to perform their rendering functions when called upon. So in response to your first statement, the simpit will not be a simpit 100% of the time. While I understand that the OS I chose may not be the best suited for the commercial simpit builder, The purpose of this thread was to share my experiences in building a 100% Mac X-plane 737 flight deck and hopefully attract others with similar ideas and plans.
    Ah, makes a bit more sense when you mention you already have the hardware is it's working double duty. That changes the context for thigns a bit. It still leaves compatibility issues in the forefront though. My suggestion would be to make friends with a MacOS X programmer and see if he can help out.

  5. #5
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    Re: 100% Mac X-plane 373 flight deck

    Macisaac,
    As an avid Mac user as well, (and a US-based 777 builder) I'm very interested in following your progress. Running X-Plane for Mac and PC, I honestly have to say that my 2007-era iMac is my best performing flight simulation machine- bar none. None of my 7 Windows-based sim PCs can match the smoothness of the Mac. On the other hand, I can't replace any of the 7 PCs with Macs, either- they won't run my SimBoard software. Not trying to start a Windows/Mac war at all, just saying what I've found.

    I'm interested to see the Mac become a viable platform for home sims- I could foresee someday a handful of Mac Minis running my virtually silent, very cool-running, multi-CPU sim system, if the interface hardware can be made to work under OS X.

    I've tried the XPUIPC plugin for X-Plane on Mac to no avail (didn't really think it would work anyway), but without Cocoa programming experience, I'm not able to advance the state of affairs on interfacing hardware and Mac software. Keep up the good work and keep posting your progress!

    Steve
    Steve Becker
    777-200ER Builder
    http://home.roadrunner.com/~mbecker/Home.html

  6. #6
    Our new friend needs to reach 10 posts to get to the next flight level
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    Re: 100% Mac X-plane 373 flight deck

    Glad to see more people pushing the Mac envelope. I too am an avid Mac user. Chuckled about the Mac minis too. Was thinking the same thing!

    Check out Revolution Simproducts if your doing the 737. I spoke with them via e-mail just last week. They have an awesome Throttle Quadrant that they say is not only X-plane compatible but Mac also. The whole thing runs off of joystick commands via USB so it will work with MSFS or X-plane and any operating system ( so they say ).

  7. #7
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    Re: 100% Mac X-plane 373 flight deck

    it's been a while but things are moving along. I had a feeling this would be a slow moving project and it is. The overhead is 95% complete. I am having the final panels CNC'ed this week. I am very excited because these panels, my third attempt, will be back lit. I have learned a lot in the past few months about what USB HID devices play nice with Mac's and X-Plane and what don't. I have made some new friends like Steve over at Desktop Aviator, with their 2160 board that seems to be the perfect mate for X-Plane and the Mac. I have acquired more GoFlight gear and more headless MacBook Pro's and a projector. One thing I have learned with this hobby is the sooner you can get something up and flying, it makes the labor more rewarding. So as of now I have a fully wired and functional overhead, the start of a radio bay, flight controls for the captain, separate MIPs displays for captain, first officer and EIS. The only other system I have left to put together is some kind of FMC. Besides that, my goal of not having to use the mouse had been achieved. Right now everything is just kind of slapped together , but it flies. I am looking in to a couple options for a frame so my overhead is over my head. I understand that the level of commitment to this project will explode when I decide to box everything in. So I am taking my time and making sure I plan everything out. I have included some photos of my progress, It's not much to look at, but then again, Its not the destination, but the getting there.

    Cheers








  8. Thanks Matt Olieman, W9XE/Project777 thanked for this post
  9. #8
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    Re: 100% Mac X-plane 373 flight deck

    macisaac

    Just came across the update. Anytime I see something about a Mac I want to check it out.

    I am a PC converted to a Mac user. I have many years experience with the PC every since the early 386 and DOS 3.0. Was always interested in a Mac but never seemed to find the right time to try. Used to be a corporate tech support for Gateway for 3 years. Hi stress job back in the Win95 days to Win98. I always knew graphics was better on a Mac verse's a PC as well as audio.

    When I started my sim PC's came cheap and had many hanging around. I have both Project Magenta complete Boeing Suite and Sim-Avionic's so I pretty much need to stay with the PC for flight sim.

    I decided to dabble in music so I purchase a Mac Pro to manage my studio using Apple Logic 9. This was my first entrance into a Mac. I could not believe how easy it was to learn and the quality under the case beats any PC I have ever seen. My main PC and FS PC started giving me issues. Sim PC started overheating and it seemed like I was constantly upgrading hardware on both units. After talking with Steve Becker about Mac's he recommended trying VMFusion 3 for the Mac. This allows windows to run simultaneously with the Mac OSX. Now I ditched the PC for a second Mac Pro running VMFusion 3 on a 2 monitor system. PC on the left and Mac on the right. Has worked out great. The PC image created run's great. I now slowly am moving PC software to the Mac side. Dropped Outlook Express for Mac Mail. Was able to import years of data and does everything I want it to do. Switching now from MS Office to iWork 09.

    Soon the only thing to run on PC's will be the FS because of the investment. I have tried X-Plane on the Mac in demo. Haven't really had much time to get used to it. Ran pretty smooth when I had the opportunity. Just too much to try learning right now. I have been following a lot of new support for X-Plane through the FSBreak Podcast. Have learned quite a lot for both X-Plane and FS.

    It may be worth trying the VMFusion 3 route with FS on the Mac. I too would like to se a surge in Mac user's and idea's.

    Just my 2 cents, well maybe 4 cents, kind of got carried away.

  10. #9
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    Re: 100% Mac X-plane 737 flight deck

    It's been a while and the overhead is about 99% complete. It is fully wired and brings me hours of enjoyment. I finished cutting the light panels and painted them last week. I was able to use clear acrylic for the panels and I placed an order for "warm" white LED's. It looks like I am going to try to back light it after all. I am waiting on the center panel and the landing light panel and then it's on to annunciators and gauges. I have found a plug in for simkit's USB gauges and X-Plane, but I have to contact them to see if a Mac Plugin is on the horizon. Here are some photos of the progress so far.

    IMG_0191..jpgIMG_0195..jpgIMG_0192..jpgIMG_0190..jpg

    Cheers

  11. Thanks Matt Olieman, W9XE/Project777 thanked for this post
  12. #10
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    Re: 100% Mac X-plane 737 flight deck

    macisaac
    Very useful info indeed. Do you have a website where you have documented events in more details? ( diagrams, instructions, etc). I am in the process of starting to build and have been gathering bits and pieces here and there. Problem is I only have access to x-plane on mac and I think that your efforts are making a huge contribution for those of us on mac. Any pointers to other resources you are using will be very useful.
    Thanks
    Anthony

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