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  1. #1
    150+ Forum Groupie Atomic_Sheep's Avatar
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    Airbus Decided to have a crack

    Hi guys, I've decided to have a crack at building an A320 cockpit. I wanted to ask something about getting started. The general building process is more or less clear in my head; I plan on designing in CAD, using CAM to make all the parts and then voila... stick all the pieces together and bobs your uncle.

    The thing I'm not sure about is how the cockpit will interact with FSX. The way I understand it, and I'm talking about the electronics part of the setup, the cockpit will essentially be a glorified plug and play game controller. In other words, you have the cockpit with all the buttons acting as the game controller and then all the commands get sent via some fancy I/O controller that basically binds the individual keys in the cockpit to the inputs in FSX. The thing I'm not sure about is this... lets take 2 planes in question... a standard FSX A320 which is pretty dismal and lets say an Airsimmer A320 which I'm hoping will eventually come out. If we use the standard A320, that means that we can only use the functionality of that aircraft (in other words not very much functionality) and if we take what Airsimmer if its ever released then we have a much more faithful reproduction of the A320? So I suppose what I'm asking is... is it the plane that you use in FSX, the limiting factor as to what your cockpit will be able to do?

  2. #2
    500+ This must be a daytime job



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    Re: Decided to have a crack

    Great qustion. You are correct in all of your assumptions. The I/O is pretty much as you describe, and the aircraft can indeed be a limiting factor, although there is much you can do with key trapping/mapping. FSUIPC is a fantastic addon, and it can be leveraged to help get the most from the aircraft you choose. The limiting factor is the degree of published and usable offsets for the aircraft in question. If the publisher of an aircraft will collaborate with Peter Dowson during development then we would end up with a very useful A320 addon.

    It sounds like you have done some reading, welcome to the fray. As of late the A320 (which I am building as well) has picked up steam as a popular platform to build. We're all here to help when we can, and we're anxious to see what you come up with!

    Buddy

  3. #3
    150+ Forum Groupie Atomic_Sheep's Avatar
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    Re: Decided to have a crack

    I'm aware of FSUIPC although I'm obviously totally unaware as to what it does exactly other than sending signals from FSX to other external devices. Will be investing in it soon enough I hope.

    I think I might as well state that for me, I think it's going to be more about the building rather than the flying. I don't fly that much to be honest, it's really making all the gadgets that interests me. Having said that, I do want to make a proper simulator at the end of it all... starting with a faithful reproduction of the A320 and ending with a 6DOF full motion platform. So in other words I'm planning on making a big cahuna.

    Now that I've got the giddy pubescent dreams out of the way, I'd like to get back earth and concentrate on this whole I/O issue. I've seen some rather impressive setups that people have done and in some of those setups it appears to me that they have way more functionality than what even the best FSX Airbus aircarft that I know have (that being Wilco).

    1.) Does that mean these guys are writing their own custom code that somehow interfaces with FSX/whatever they are using?

    The thing is... I can't see myself starting working on for example the TQ until I figure out how all the pieces will plug into the computer(s) because if I complete a throttle quadrant in some way that takes up all the inputs to the computer... well that would be rather annoying.

    So I guess what I'm trying to figure out is... lets take the humble autobreak function in two default FSX aircraft... the A320 and the 737. On the 737 the Autobreak has 5 settings... OFF, 1, 2, 3, 4/MAX and RTO. The first 4 are gradational whilst the RTO function is a little different I would imagine?

    The A320 obviously has 3 settings... Lo, medium, Max.

    I should have checked this myself, but my FSX needs to be reinstalled as it's crashing during start up at the moment so forgive me for asking something that I could have checked myself but...

    2.) Do the autobreak functions of the defualt aircraft have shortcuts? e.g. if I want to set Autobreak to 3 on the 737 then I could set the shortcut to whatever I wanted it to be and be done with it, or are they toggle switches only?

    3.) If the latter case is true... how does does the Airbus Autobreak function? They are after all three seperate buttons or is the airbus simply a clever toggle whereby pressing one toggles whatever one that was activated and toggles the newly pressed one? So pretty much the same thing as the 737 only looks different?

    4.) The next question is... flight simulator obviously has "click zones", is it somehow possible to simply translate a click zone to a key in the custom fancy cockpit?

    5.) Speaking of click zones... is what we are trying to inevitably do with the custom cockpit is create buttons that generate the same signals to FSX as the click zones? i.e. if I rotate an Autobreak in a 737 to the right form OFF to MAX, then all I'm doing is pressing the Autobreak 3 times in which case, in a simplistic sense, I'm sending 4 pulses or something to FSX from the switch to FSX and then somehow it's meant to (whether through FSUIPC or whatever) to recognise that you are basically clicking on the Autobkreak clickzone?

    Sorry if any of that sounds stupid (I love rereading my old posts to see how ignorant I was), but all this electronics is my weakest side. I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to draw up a cad of all this, transfer to cam... press go and get all the pieces... it's getting the interaction part happening that is making my head spin a little.

  4. #4
    500+ This must be a daytime job



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    Re: Decided to have a crack

    Not stupid at all, we all start at zero, sounds like you are past that already. I will say that there are plenty of functions on the A320 addons that are not supported with FSUIPC offsets, and mouse trapping the clicks in the 'click zones' as you call it is the only way to reproduce the desired control action. Do a search on Nigel's excellent tutorial on that exact function.

    FSUIPC is the interface for external programs to access the internals of FS. Peter provides us with hex offsets that represent all of the various aircraft parameters, from airspeed to seeting the parking break. You read from an offset to get a status of a control, and write to an offset to set the state of a control. Some cannot be written to, some are numbers, some are on/off states, and some are bit-levels status indicators. Look at the FSUIPC SDK and the FSUIPC for programmers docs ALOT. Other folks will chime here to comment and help you as well.....

    Buddy

  5. #5
    150+ Forum Groupie Atomic_Sheep's Avatar
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    Re: Decided to have a crack

    Had a look for Nigels tutorial and it explained things beautifully. Had a look at a few other of his videos and it's all starting to make sense. I feel like I'm nearing the CAD/CAM stage a lot sooner than I was expecting. Also, thanks for the FSUIPC explanation, I think I get it.

  6. #6
    150+ Forum Groupie Atomic_Sheep's Avatar
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    Re: Decided to have a crack

    Hi guys, finally have some progress with the cockpit but I've struck a problem. Let's say I want to have a monitor which displays various guages (pfd?), if I connect another monitor up to my computer, are the only guages that are able to be viewed the ones that have a window that opens up? i.e. if I press shift+7 or whatever and it opens the main attitude indicator or something, is that what can be shown on the second screen by simply dragging and dropping it to the other screen? or can display guages by opening up .gau files somehow?

    I've basically started making drawings of the various components of the cockpit and then realised that I had no idea whether I was going to be able to display guages on a screen. So just to make my question clearer... let's say you have a plane that has a VC but doesn't have pop up 2D guages for some of the instruments, will I be able to display those indstruments by using a .GAU files as opposed to opening and rearanging windows of guages which the cockpit of the plane that I have, don't have.

  7. #7
    150+ Forum Groupie Atomic_Sheep's Avatar
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    Re: Decided to have a crack

    Hi guys, I asked on the Avsim forum in the PMDG section about the J41 to see whether they have 2D panels and it seems like it doesn't come with 2D panels so does that mean it's impossible to create a cockpit for it? As I was saying in the previous post, is it possible to use .GAU files or something (do virtual cockpits come with GAU files?). I've been tossing up between getting the J41 as the Airsimmer A320 is a long way off if not postponed for good but if the PMDG J41 doesn't come with 2D I don't know whether that will make that project impossible. I wanted to try the J41 just to wet my appetite before jumping into a much more full on build of an A320 when good quality software comes out for it for FSX. Any comments would be much appreciated.

  8. #8
    Generic GA Sim Builder Jordan Farmer's Avatar
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    Re: Decided to have a crack

    You can buy or download custom gauge files from various companies etc, i recommend RealityXP, they have produced some super gauges. As far as i know, you run these as a seperate .exe and it grabs all the data it needs from FS and translates it back into a gauge. I personally want to go for real solid gauges as backup systems, but i am considering buying the Reality XP EFIS and weather radar etc for my cockpit. Anyway, good luck, hope ive helped!

    Jordan

  9. #9
    150+ Forum Groupie Atomic_Sheep's Avatar
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    Re: Decided to have a crack

    Thanks Jordan, definitely opened a new can of worms for me, looks like some research in this area is in order for me.

  10. #10
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    Re: Decided to have a crack

    Take a look at jeehellware A320fmgs. does EVERYTHING and can interface to anything with FSUIPC offsets. creates the whole a320 systems on multiple machines with the default FSX as the base a320. And the price can not be beat...FREE

    Andy

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