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  1. #1
    New Member AAmer's Avatar
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    Hello From Cairo

    Hello everyone,
    I'm privileged and glad to join your great forum hopping to be an active member.
    My name is Andy, I'm 60, grown up in London-UK till a year ago when I decided to try Cairo for a couple of years trying to enjoy the lovely sunny weather.
    I've been working for the computer industry in London since the 70's, my first encounter with the beasts was the ICL1903 – mainframe – then shifting along as the time goes by to the mid ranges, the Prime, the Data General then the DEC until the early 80's when I've decided to move to the microcomputer's arena.
    Most of my colleagues called me crazy in doing such a move, even my wife was about to divorce me for doing such a stupid thing – as she saw it then, later she loved me even more .
    The potential was there for PCs, the market was crying out loud for an intermediate solution to bridge the big gap, so we – the Microcomputer's lovers – put our heads down and continued our work, knowing the shape of things to come, struggling to get a few North Star Horizon (a PC company based in Ireland) equipments to network, man , no TCP/IP , IPX/SPX or even NETBIOS, but we did it with everything we can get our hands on during the days of black magic computing and sleepless nights, ATNX/RTNX propitiatory network cards, dumb terminals running ALTOS Unix on Altos and Victors, NEC's APC's, 286/386's with multi serial ports and a like, massive 10 MB Seagate HD's and 8” floppies . Well, the wife was getting happier day after day, after all, she had a much bigger house to enjoy .

    OK, enough of that, now you all know my love and passion for computers. Being 60, you should all realize that my aviation dream has started with the Spectrum 48 FS, the Apple MAC FS, then SubLogic flight sim appeared on the commodore 64, soon MS acquired SubLogic and the revolution started.

    All at a sudden, simmers started to move beyond the dazzling colorful high res. VDU's and the fabulous Joysticks, yokes and rudders, another era in virtual reality was about to born, we pushed the hardware to the limits, yet asking for more faster machines and display cards, I really believe that the hardware we have at the moment is more than adequate to run a super flight sim, the problem is the Operating system, why not have a FLIGHT SIM OPERATING SYSTEM ??, well it sounds crazy but think about it, may be one day I'll write an FS OS . For many years I wanted to build a cockpit, but the time constraints were never on my side.

    Knowing that we cannot always do what we love to do, or to be, that's life , I never had a chance to build my dream cockpit. But now, having the time to spare, I've started to get serious about it, got out my blue prints and I'm ready to go.

    Visiting the wonderful Ian Sisson the founder of www.737ng.co.uk - long drive though from London + 3 points for speeding and reading while driving the cops said so , thanks IAN for the warm receiving and hospitality, – I was really amazed with his awesome cockpit.
    Since then, I was digging into the PIC micro-controller’s world, learning electronics – remember...I'm a software engineer -, then how to design and develop a working circuit board, program the Pic and get it to talk to the MS Flight simulator. So far I haven't done bad, and the results are promising.

    In the next week or so I'll start to build the cockpit, based on the (B777) for many reasons, in spite the fact that I love the 737ng, which I fly most of the time, but the main reason was getting the materials locally. Getting the basic pits and pieces are much harder, you have to shop a round like a yo-yo, I really miss the wonderful days in London, going to B&Q or Wickes – one stop shop – to get your materials and tools, well this luxury does not exist here just yet .
    Deciding to build the 777 was also due to the all digital cockpit, and also the simplicity to build the overhead (mainly push buttons), remember this is my first project and all the parts has to be built locally. I'm also looking seriously into buying an entry level CNC - any suggestions ?? - mainly for cutting and engraving the panels.

    For all my tests and developments I'm using windows 7/x64, C/C++, FSX Simconnect SDK for controlling the aircraft's subsystems with the prototype controller hardware which is similar to the FSBUS, but the software is based on the PIC18F4550 and the Microchip's CDC firmware stack (USB ↔ RS232c), which makes the PC software-side talks to the USB port as a virtual Comm3 port, also the communication protocol is fast, simple with no overhead impact on FSX.

    This is going to be a very lengthy process as I'm not a lot of a woodwork man, also whenever I get stuck, I'll be asking many questions to our pioneer veterans in this forum.
    Please accept my apologies for such a lengthy introduction, and I wish you all the best of luck and happy simming.
    Best regards
    Andy

  2. #2
    500+ This must be a daytime job ian@737ng.co.uk's Avatar
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    Re: Hello From Cairo

    hello andy.........
    i wondered where you'd got to. welcome aboard. and thanks for the compliments.
    good luck with your project and keep in touch captain.......

    ian...

    p.s. here's andy http://www.737ng.co.uk/andy2.jpg
    Mr. Ian. P. Sissons is hereby recognised as an Honorary Flight Sim Captain following his passing in February 2016. This is in recognition for his commitment to Flight Simulation.

    www.mycockpit.org Featured Builder August 2008 www.737ng.co.uk
    FS9/PROSIM737/CPFLIGHT/Lots of BU0836X's and a Beer Fridge

  3. #3
    New Member AAmer's Avatar
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    Re: Hello From Cairo

    Hi Ian, thank you for your reply, nice to hear from you, hope your Pit is going well. I'll be in touch very soon, need your expertise for this project. BTW did you get to Cairo last year, if u did I'll be very disappointed that you did not call me. Talk to you soon.
    Andy

    PS. I lost a lot of weight since that photo was taken

  4. #4
    300+ Forum Addict BlackWidow's Avatar
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    Re: Hello From Cairo

    Andy

    Welcome aboard It sounds like we have another guru joining us in the virtual sky. I look forward to seeing what come's out of your very talented mind. Have a great build.
    Mike G.

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  6. #5
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    Re: Hello From Cairo

    Welcome, Andy! A fellow software engineer here. Though you have a few years on me in the industry (I'm a mere stripling of 40) much of what you say about micros rings very true for me. Though I never did touch a Victor. The Spectrum, though, that was my platform of choice back in the day. Z80 assembly was lovely stuff!

    I was similarly inspired by Ian's fantastic project, though my own (which is a very generic light-jet pit) is going very very slowly. Best of luck with yours. The electronics stuff isn't so hard once you learn how to solder worth a damn. Which I still haven't.

    NH

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  8. #6
    New Member AAmer's Avatar
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    Re: Hello From Cairo

    Hi Mike,
    thank you for your flying by and kind words that helps in supporting a new comer to this very professional forum, hopping to be an active member, contributing whatever I can to help fellow simmers. I should be starting the build as soon as I get the rest of the needed materials.
    Andy

  9. #7
    New Member AAmer's Avatar
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    Re: Hello From Cairo

    Hello Neil,
    Thank you for stopping by, you know you are right about learning electronics, it is much easter than system's methodology, quantitative methods and discrete math. I always looked at the hardware guys as the untouchables , they talked about mosfets, triacs, servos and stepper motors in such a way that makes me feel ignorant. But I always had in the back of my mind studying electronics. What I've learned (self thought) since the past year was phenomenal, geared with software engineering mind I could get a PIC micro-controller to do some wonderful stuff. If you remember the Spectrum QL, it was based on the M68000, and how we use to program the beast, that was much harder than getting a PIC to switch on an LED, or adjust a 7 Segment reading in a cockpit. I must admit that learning electronics is much easier than learning how to program and implement an RDBM system. I'm glad to have you on board with us, and we'll be chatting a lot.
    Andy

  10. #8
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    Re: Hello From Cairo

    Ah, the old Motorola 68K. Loved that processor. A true 16/32-bit hybrid. 16-bit data bus, 8 32-bit data registers, 8 32-bit address registers, multiple addressing modes for all instructions, proper orthogonality - what more could you want. Oh, and a 24-bit address bus so you could address 16MB of RAM directly (which in those days was a lot) without segmentation. In the days when Intel chips were resolutely 16-bit, the 68K was a joy to program to. In fact, if you wrote your code properly you could just run it directly on the later 32-bit versions of the chip, no emulation required. Take that, Intel

    The QL IIRC used the 68008, which was a variant that had an 8-bit data bus and a 20-bit address bus. This fitted in much easier with the rest of the hardware design which was resolutely 8-bit, although it didn't stop them trying to sell the QL as a sort-of 32-bit machine. I played with one for a few days but I never bought one. I moved on to the Atari ST (with a proper 68000 chip in it) instead. My highlight there was getting the ST to display Cyrillic characters and use a Cyrillic keyboard map (I was going to University to study Russian). In those days home computers tended to have zero international functionlity - if the machine got sold into an overseas market it was simply re-engineered for that market. I had to build a TSR under Digital's GEM GUI layer, which was itself not the easiest thing in the world, and have it wait for a keypress combo as a singnal to swap out the keyboard map, while re-writing the character set on the fly. Adding a printer driver which would then print the Cyrillic letters on a dot-matrix printer was the coup de grace. After that, I gave up assembler programming for C - it was just easier on the brain

    For me, the hardest thing about getting to know electronics again (I used to do a lot of hobby electronics when I was younger) is re-learning the resistor colour code. Sounds trivial, and it is, but my brain isn't as flexible as it once was That and learning how to point-solder properly again. I'm still not there yet!

    Look forward to seeing more about your project as you get going. I really need to get mind back on the rails, too!

    NH

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