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  1. #1
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    Looking for Multi-Control for Autopilot functions

    In a number of videos I've seen lately, I've seen several users with a gadget in their cockpit that seems to be exactly what I've been looking for. They might be home-brewed, but I suspect there's a commercial version (maybe in kit form).

    The control is a "combo" control - you use a switch to identify the function (HDG, ALT, V/S, etc) and then the rotary knob selects the actual number. A few I've seen can be used to control just about anything that needs to be "dialed-in" whether it's an altitude setting or a radio.

    A google search found tons of things I'm *not* looking for. Can someone steer me to the kind of gadget I'm looking for?
    It's possible I may have to buy an Arduino and "roll my own," but I'll bet there's something semi-commercial already out there.

    Thanks.

    Art - N4PJ
    Leesburg, FL

  2. #2
    300+ Forum Addict skino's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for Multi-Control for Autopilot functions

    The only thing that comes to mind http://www.saitek.com/uk/prod/multi.html


  3. #3
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    Re: Looking for Multi-Control for Autopilot functions

    What I saw wasn't as fancy as that, but in many ways, it's very similar. I'll check it out.

    If you're familiar with Amateur Radio, you would be very familiar with MFJ, an electronics company headquartered in Starkville, MS. They make tons of stuff (and bought several other big companies over the years) but they suffer from a reputation that, if you buy one of their products, you often have to fix it before you can use it! Unfortunately, I feel like I've seen a lot of that with Saitek. YouTube seems to be full of stuff showing people "fixing" Saitek stuff. But it still might fill my personal bill.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Art - N4PJ
    Leesburg, FL

  4. #4
    300+ Forum Addict skino's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for Multi-Control for Autopilot functions

    VR Insight M-Panel ? http://www.vrinsightshop.com/shop/step1.php?number=7



    or Combo Panel?


  5. #5
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    Re: Looking for Multi-Control for Autopilot functions

    Definitely isn't the combo panel! That thing is huge!

    I looked carefully last night at the Saitek multi panel you linked. That may be what I was seeing. I think the guy's arm in the video was blocking the extreme right side of the device and I just didn't see it. I see they also make one the same size and shape that does all the radio stuff. And the total cost for the multi panel and the radio panel is less than what I was looking at with GoFlight equipment.

    Part of my personal problem is that I'm not going "standard" with what I want for my cockpit. My favorite plane is the Flight 1 Pilatus PC-12. Unlike many other planes I've seen in FSX (both default and add-on) the altitude setup is different.

    The Pilatus has an "altitude alerter" instead of the conventional UP/DN stuff you see in lots of autopilots. I've got some rotary knobs coming that I may be able to "program" into my setup to do the job. I've thus far been able to use FSUIPC mouse macros to "hard-wire" switches into numerous functions, but the altitude alerter problem still eludes me. You have to click in several different places to set altitude up/down and v/s up/down. I need to wait until my parts show up and see if I can program at least one of the rotary encoders to do the job.

    Between a keyboard encoder, a button encoder, some rotary encoders and some imagination.....

    Last, but not least, an Arduino approach might well work also. I just hate the thought of having to get back into programming anything!

    Looks like if I were content to fly a 737 or a C172 there are a host of possibilities out there. I've been mostly flying the Pilatus, a DC-3, a Grumman Gulfstream and the default Learjet 45. I've made templates to fit over my switches/buttons for my keyboard encoder. I'm reluctant to build a single cockpit to accommodate only one plane. Decisions, decisions, decisions!

    Thanks for your help. In the process I've discovered at least three more web sites that cater to what we're all trying to do!

    Art - N4PJ
    Leesburg, FL

  6. #6
    300+ Forum Addict skino's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for Multi-Control for Autopilot functions

    https://spad501.wordpress.com/spad/ or http://secure.simmarket.com/spad.next-(de_9546).phtml expands the functions of the panel considerably.

    For the PMDG 777, I have a driver written for the Saitek MCP http://www.file-upload.net/download-...DG777.rar.html

  7. #7
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    Re: Looking for Multi-Control for Autopilot functions

    There's a host of videos on YouTube by a guy who built a DeHaviland Otter cockpit. He must have 20 or 30 videos - and there's a lot of good information in many of them. I accidentally encountered one where he talked specifically about the Saitek Multi Radio panel. He mentioned both SPAD and motivemods.com. The "fix" at MotiveMods doesn't look cheap (unless you buy the rotary encoders and do the unsoldering/soldering on your own), but it's nice to know that if I go that route there are options!

    Apparently there have been lots of problems with those two panels and Saitek (according to him) has never really acknowledged there's a problem with the equipment. I ordered some rotary encoders - I may try to cobble something together on my own before I resort to buying something commercial, i.e., "ready made."

    Almost wish I had gone the 737 route. There's an enormous amount of great hardware (and software to make it work) if you're flying for a virtual airline. I just don't have the room to build a cockpit to handle everything. What used to be a garage is now the ham shack and it's full of radio equipment!

    Art - N4PJ
    Leesburg, FL

  8. #8
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    Re: Looking for Multi-Control for Autopilot functions

    Well I bit the bullet - with some slow but effective cooperation from Amazon. I ordered both the Saitek Multi Panel and the Saitek Multi Radio Panel. Amazon sent me two of the Multi-Panel! I sent one back and they replaced it - with the same one again!! Finally got it all straightened out.

    An ideal setup would have altitude, vertical speed and heading all available separately, but....

    Considering the overall cost and overall effectiveness - and the number of total instruments the two units represent, I think it's a worthwhile investment. With a little Rube Goldberg innovation, they're a nice addition to my pseudo-cockpit - which now includes the two Saitek devices, a pair of 4-pack rotary encoders (from Desktop Aviation) and a Hagstrom keyboard encoder (KE-108USB). Having more fun than the law ought to allow!

    Art - N4PJ
    Leesburg, FL