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  1. #1
    150+ Forum Groupie cjellwood's Avatar
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    Mycockpit.org New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    Hi,

    I hope to start an interesting thread here about the development of a new interface board that is being developed specifically for cockpit builders. The first prototypes are hot out of the oven as I write this so will add pics and information over the coming days/weeks as it develops. Any criticism or help is appreciated at this stage so it may be as usefull and bug free as possible on first attempt.



    The concept is simple. On the board there are several dedicated I/O's for LED's, rotaries, potentiometers, switches and a 12v mosfet switch. On the software side there is an easy to use interface that allows the user to quickly associate each connector with an FSUIPC offset. The interface then has multiple options for telling the selected I/O how to behave on certain FSUIPC parameters.

    More about this soon, please subscribe to this post. There may be free baords available for field testing if you hang around long enough

    Chris

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  3. #2
    300+ Forum Addict Tom_G_2010's Avatar
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    Re: New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    There seem to be a plethora of I/O boards out there each with their own pros and cons. And, of course associated App's likewise with pros and cons. Sorting through the choices can sometimes be overwhelming to new builders. That's not to say there isn't room for new ideas, options, improvements, etc. so I'll be watching your work with interest as I am still early in my own pit build.

    In my humble opinion you'll need to be able to distinguish what makes your board stand out among the crowd for it to be successful. Why would people choose your I/O card over the others? What can it do that the others can't? What makes it easier to configure and/or customize? Will its price point make it more attractive, or it's capabilities make its price a non-issue? Will you have well written, up to date, and comprehensive documentation (an issue with some other I/O products out there)? And so on...

    From my tiny corner of the sim world though I find the biggest gap in I/O to be simple to administer and affordable solutions for rotary encoders and 7 segment LED displays. Most of the other I/O seems to be well covered. IF your board can address those two devices in simple and affordable way then it suddenly takes on great appeal.

    Another challenge with many of the sim products out there comes from the fact that many are produced by individuals or small home based businesses who either don't have a good grasp of real "customer service" or are simply overwhelmed by the demands placed on them by sim builders who parted with hard earned cash to purchase their products. I don't know the size of your operation, but consider how common it is to see builders posting their frustrations over the lack of support from small home based businesses, the slow, or inconsistent responses to e-mail or online queries, and the lack of communications related to ordering, shipping, minimal to non existent tech support, etc.

    Off my soapbox now and still very interested to see how this develops and if it has potential to help builders like myself. Looking forward to your updates!

  4. #3
    150+ Forum Groupie cjellwood's Avatar
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    Re: New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your reply. The concerns you mention are the main reason for building this board i.e. rotary and LED display interfacing. In the picture posted initially there are 4 RJ45 sockets that connect to expansion boards for expanded use such as LED display interface etc. Generally tho', the big bee in my bonnet is the over complication of many interfaces that is not necessary. So many times I have emailed suppliers for support and left to feel dumb by obnoctious replies or no replies at all. Really with the correct simple interface and good docs there should be no need to request support unless there is a fault.

    But not to knock other interfaces of course, they do their job and do it well. This is just a different flavour of interface that should encourage simplicity and compatibility by having OPEN SOURCE FIRMWARE. There you go, I said it lol. Yup, this board has JTAG connectors allowing access to the chips ROM and the firmware will be open source so allowing others to make their own expansion boards along a common protocol that will also be published.

    Do you think there will ever be a day when two different cockpit parts suppliers have cross compatible software/hardware? I hope so cos we are all getting old fast !

    Top view of main board


    Diagram of main board connectors


    First expansion board diagram (additional switches and LED's)


    At the end of the day the main board carries and distributes FSUIPC data for all offsets. That means any expansion board can be made to operate its specific functions once connected and even fixed modules such as radio units, flaps switches etc can be connected without the need for software configuration. This really is just an FSUIPC -> electronics bridge with some set I/O's to play with.

    Chris

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  6. #4
    300+ Forum Addict Tom_G_2010's Avatar
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    Re: New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    That sounds very interesting. I'll watching this thread for updates and may be interested in beta testing.

  7. #5
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    Re: New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    This definitely looks interesting. As a rookie pit builder, still in my "initial design phase", I'm reading as much as possible about everything I can find. One of the areas that intimidates me is the I/O board stuff -- there seem to be so many options that I'm not even sure where to begin, and each of those options seem to have great support sites with a lot of forum stuff to read through... but, rather than being reassuring that support will be available, it's actually more intimidating because of all the back-and-forth between people who are trying to get these to work. As a guy who once touched a soldering gun 15 years ago, while "playing around" connecting two stands of 18 gauge wires together, I'm not the most adept at electronics. Mind you, I'm more than willing to role up my sleeves and get my hands dirty - just trying to figure out where to start seems to be keeping me from starting.

    My pit is starting out from a "bought it all", rather than a "build it all", standpoint... I have a whole bunch of Saitek crap all over a desk, and I'm going to start by organizing it into a "panel looking configuration". Since this will be a generic small-GA pit, all I'm really missing is a few rotary encoders to dial in the instruments. That will be my starting point, and this card looks like it might be simple enough that a "point and click" guy like myself can get his toes wet, maybe whet his appetite, and launch him down the path toward a "build it all" version 2.

    I'm definitely interested in watching the developments of this thread, and if you'd like a beta tester / writer-upper from a newb perspective, keep me in mind.

  8. #6
    2000+ Poster - Never Leaves the Sim kiek's Avatar
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    Re: New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    At the end of the day the main board carries and distributes FSUIPC data for all offsets. That means any expansion board can be made to operate its specific functions once connected and even fixed modules such as radio units, flaps switches etc can be connected without the need for software configuration. This really is just an FSUIPC -> electronics bridge with some set I/O's to play with.
    Hi,
    I admire your enthousiasm (!), but I have to agree with Tom_G: What are your unique selling points?
    There are already plenty of interface cards at the market. Imho hardware interface cards is not the problem, it is the programming system that comes with the board that makes the difference.

    Do note that for a lot of cockpit functions, especially for the add-on aircraft, there are no FSUIPC offsets available... You need software to add the missing cockpit logic. Just 1-1 clicking of an I/O port to an FSUIPC offset will not alway be possible. Your competitors (such as FSBUS and Opencockpits) fill that gap by offering programmability.

    Just my 2 cts.

    kind regards,
    Nico Kaan
    http://www.lekseecon.nl
    Last edited by kiek; 10-01-2011 at 02:59 AM.

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  10. #7
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    Re: New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    I am interested in building a black shark cockpit but I'm so confused to what interface hardware to buy. i see all these cards but i cant find information like how many switches i can put in. It looks like, from Australia, i will need to get it right before i buy because it will be near impossible to return any products around the world. Can anyone help me find the right hardware for me and a place to buy it from through the net.

  11. #8
    150+ Forum Groupie cjellwood's Avatar
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    Re: New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    Here is the main interface board fresh out of the oven. It would be hard work to explain how this works in one hit, so I will update this post with more info in the coming weeks.



    Chris

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  13. #9
    Have CNC-----will build.
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    Re: New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    This is very interesting. I have both FSBUS and OPENCOCKPITS that I have been working with. The first FSBUS was great. No programming, just tell it what you wanted it to do and it did it. I am not a programmer, a board that will work without any programming on my part would be sweet. Looking forward to this board coming out.

    Milt

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    500+ This must be a daytime job



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    Re: New Interface Board - FSUIPC Direct

    Chris,

    This is pretty neat, but the software interface is what will make or break it, imho.

    That being said, if you can find a way to drive steppers and/or servos for creating analog gauges (can't even afford those things secondhand from the plug and play manufacturers) that are easy to calibrate and interface you will be at the top of my list for King of the Sim World!
    http://juneaucessnasim.blogspot.com
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