1. Quick Basic Question

I've often heard there were people who built crazy flight sim cockpits, but after looking around recently I never knew some of them got so detailed. These rigs are incredible.

I'm in school for electrical and mechanical engineering, so I've got a pretty good idea of how these things probably work (it also makes me really want to build one). Except for one thing I can't figure out.

Take the primary overhead package for the 747 offered by Flight Deck Solutions. Is every button/knob/light on that operable? Does the flight sim software (or add-on) have inputs and outputs for every control on that panel?

How close can the sim get to incorporating every flight deck control in a real plane? Or are the majority of the controls on those replica panels just dummies, there to light up and look pretty?

Or the motion base. Does the flight sim provide motion data, or is the motion data derived from some other source?

It'll be years before I ever have the money or space to do a project like this, but in the meantime it is intriguing.

2. Re: Quick Basic Question

Originally Posted by sectrix
Or the motion base. Does the flight sim provide motion data, or is the motion data derived from some other source?

The goal of motion base is to give the occupant the force cues that resemble the force cues that the pilot's would experience in an actual aircraft. A motion base is very limited in its travel, and therefore it uses clever tricks within its movement range to mimick such forces. For more info, see http://www.simprojects.nl/Motion_cues.rtf

From Flightsimulator you can extract several useful parameters, such as forward, lateral and vertical acellerations, as well as rotation in all three axis, and more. It takes a fair amount of mathematics to translate all these parameters into actual platform actuator positions in such a way that it feels (kind-of) realistic.

To summarize:
FS produces airplane movement parameters.
Useful parameters can be extracted by means of addon modules like FSUIPC
A motion program mixes these parameters, adds filters and sometimes adds some extra force clues, and then calculates & outputs the position of each actuator (leg) that moves the platform.

Platforms complexity can also vary: from simple 2DoF (two degrees of movement freedom) to 6DoF (includes all possible movements: Pitch, Roll, heave, yaw, sway, surge) Ofcourse the more movement freedoms, the more complex the software and mechanics.

Thanks to the hard work of some fellow hobbyists, the software and interface hardware to build your own motion base is now available, for example see http://buggies.builtforfun.co.uk/Sim/index.html

It is not a simple task, but with some determination you can build your own full motion flightsimulator.

As you say, it's intriguing.

3. Re: Quick Basic Question

I can tell you something about all flight deck controls:

When looking at the internals of a computer simulator product like FSX or X-Plane, you see that they are basically generic simulation platforms. They are usually a combination of a scenery engine, a weather engine and a flight model system. The main focus of these products is not to simulate an aircraft in details.

When using the simulator platform for exactly what they are (not an aircraft simulator but a generic platform), we are free to program our own side-simulation next to it. This means that once we can control the basic operations of FS (throttle, yoke, rudder, engine start, fuel configuration, etc), we can do the rest in the side-simulation of the actual aircraft.

So this leaves us with an extra simulator that is in charge of the actual cockpit elements. This can go as detailed as you wish. The aim is usually to simulate all controls and systems in the aircraft, which is currently possible for some aircraft types.

4. Re: Quick Basic Question

Very good, thank you. That is what I wanted to know.

I wound up buying PMDG's 737-800/900 sim. Even though it makes my FSX crash pretty often, I'm having a blast. Just did a cold and dark startup yesterday by the 'book'. Followed by my first ever ILS flight.

If sims are already this detailed now, I'm sure I'll be more than happy with them when I can actually do this.