Announcing open beta of new full 737 suite for cockpit builders
Some of you may already have heard of me and my Prosim737 package. During the last couple of month some mycockpit forum members have helped me tremendously with beta testing the product. I feel the product is now in a state that makes it useful to cockpit builders. While I continue to work on the software, it would be very helpful to get input from you on what you like to see changed. This helps me refine the goals for the initial release.
Before I describe the system, let me talk a little bit about the background of the project. As a hobby project I am involved in the building of a 737 simulator. We bought an uncompleted cockpit from another builder without an overhead panel. We later acquired an overhead panel and I started looking for software to drive it. I quickly came to the conclusion that there was simply no software that could do a complete 737 systems simulation with failure modeling and I started planning my own. The product I created (Prosim737) was released freeware to the public.
In February this year, we came to the conclusion that the current 737 suites were still lacking in detail and reliability. Being fed up with pricing schemes and support of commercial offerings, I started looking into doing the whole cockpit software from the ground up, but this time with builders in mind instead of profit. I contacted Capetonian from this forum to ask if he could help me draw panels and he has been working with me to provide the panel graphics. I made a list of things that were most important for this package and were lacking in other offerings. The list is:
- Accuracy. The software should do its best to model real life behavior of systems. This allows accurate failure modeling.
- Autopilot and Flight Director. An often neglected part of the autopilot system is a good Flight Director. The Flight Director is crucial in training and must be reliable. Autopilot functions should work like in the real aircraft.
- Reliability. Because of the complex nature of all components in use, it's easy to get lost in failures that are hard to track. The software should be fault tolerant and not rely on the operation of other components.
- Maintainability and configuration. Configuration must be straightforward without complex tasks. All navigation data should be in one place for easy updating.
- Usable for training. The instructor station must be usable from within the cockpit on a touchscreen and allow instant aircraft placement and other features without the need to use a keyboard. Preflight and route entry must be accessible from outside the cockpit.
- Friendly to cockpit builders. There should be no restrictive copy protection. Computers must be upgradable without loss of function and hardware bound keys.
- Modern technology. All data should be stored in XML and be editable. The main means of control should be via a web interface, so any web capable device can be used.
Having never done graphics programming, I carefully tried to create my first gauges and tested the feasibility of the project. I liked the outcome and went ahead with the autopilot system and CDU. The autopilot grew from the ability to keep a certain pitch to the full fledged 737 MCP that it is now. I contacted Navigraph and studied Arinc424 because I wanted true LNAV (which is really quite complex). I spent lots and lots of hours with instructors and pilots to talk about my implementation and to improve things.
This process is still continuing, and improvements are made daily. I'm trying to build a small business out of this project so I can work on it full time. The expected pricing will be not above 300 euro's for a full cockpit. The main systems simulation and instructor station remains free for non commercial use.
So what do we have today? The package consists of five modules that can be run over a network. The main program does systems simulations and hosts a webserver for the instructor station. Most major hardware is supported. A full list is on the website. I'm still talking to some vendors for support.
The target audience for this product is the cockpit builder who wants unrivaled realism without the need to edit configuration files or hack scripts.
During the current beta phase, the product does not have any licensing and is fully functional. It can be downloaded from http://www.prosim737.com
We are working on a new website with a forum, but until that is done, we are a bit restricted in communications. While most things are working pretty good, you will find things that are missing (VNAV not done yet). This is all being worked on. Feel free to discuss the product with anyone.
I'm really interested in hearing any findings!
Post Thanks / Like - 17 Thanks, 0 Likes, 0 Dislikes
, Michael S
thanked for this post
25+ Posting Member
Re: Announcing open beta of new full 737 suite for cockpit builders
Fantastic job Marty. Keep on with this generous mission.
I am thrilled with what you've reached till now.
Many thanks for that.