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  1. #1
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    Switch panels with integrated MCU & RS485 comms

    Hey all, I'm new here and although I've been interested in building a simulator for some time I now have the resources to start.

    I am an electronics designer and low volume manufacturer so I have some experience with the hardware required to complete the I/O.

    What I an wondering is why on earth everyone is using a generic I/O card, then wiring every single switch, pot, indicator etc back to them.
    Surely it would be far better to design basic PCB's for each panel, mount all the switches, pots, back-lights, 7 seg's etc to that and then drive that individual PCB with it's own on-board MCU. Data could then be daisy chained on a rs485 bus.

    With an added on-board 24v DC-DC PSU it could mean that 4 wires are all that is needed to chain around every board in an entire installation.

    Now there must be a reason. Could anyone de-rail me please?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    2000+ Poster - Never Leaves the Sim


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    Re: Switch panels with integrated MCU & RS485 comms

    Most probably because I/O cards are flexible and generic as you say.

    Not everyone has the knowledge to design and build a PCB...I certainly don't. Vendors such as CP Flight and Skalarki have PCB which daisy chain.
    Soarbywire - Airbus Flight Simulation and Engineering | Jeehell FMGS - Free professional A320 avionics software for the cockpit enthusiast.


  3. #3
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    Re: Switch panels with integrated MCU & RS485 comms

    I am very interested in doing this

    I have sketchup files for all the A320 panels and spent the last couple of months looking at and playing with Link2FS, Lua, Linda and MobiFlight - in an attempt to come up with a solution that will connect everything.

    It's very daunting, there are just so many connections!! The idea of making each panel with its own PCB and backlighting is very appealing.

    I would love to help out here, but don't have any experience in designing PCBs - I'm happy to share (and have shared) my sketchup files for panels and carcasses.

    I have access to an industrial laser cutter and CNC machine, if that helps

    J

  4. #4
    Our new friend needs to reach 10 posts to get to the next flight level
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    Re: Switch panels with integrated MCU & RS485 comms

    Well I can design all the pcb's. No problems there. What I need is panels that are ready so I can design the board around all the holes and shape of the panel.

    other than that, we need some info bout the protocol required to interface to something. I don't understand exactly how this works. Sim software talks to interface software like prosim, which talks to I/O hardware. Is that right?

    I'm keen on the a320 too. Hope we can work together.

  5. #5
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    Re: Switch panels with integrated MCU & RS485 comms

    Ok, so I did some learning. Think I will go in the direction of using link2fs and base the pcb's on atmel mcu's.
    So at this point I will take this discussion over to the arduino/link2fs topic.

    @Hypnorn, still keen to work with you on this project. Will PM you later.

  6. #6
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    Re: Switch panels with integrated MCU & RS485 comms

    I am new to the simulator build and found JimsNZ applications of the utmost help. I am struggling however with one aspect of my A320 build...

    I am using the Arduino Mega and JimsNZ expert rotary encoder INO, i cannot amend the code to add switches (Like the one for Gear&LED)

    Please, your assistance will be greatly appreciated

  7. #7
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    Re: Switch panels with integrated MCU & RS485 comms

    Have you tried MobiFlight? It seems relatively straight forward to implement and is compatible with FMGS.
    Soarbywire - Airbus Flight Simulation and Engineering | Jeehell FMGS - Free professional A320 avionics software for the cockpit enthusiast.


  8. #8
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    Re: Switch panels with integrated MCU & RS485 comms

    Mike Powell at mkiesflightdeck.com did a good job describing and designing aircraft instruments. Each instrument has PIC mcu to control it and communicates by RS485 network. Check him out.
    Tripacer

  9. #9
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    Re: Switch panels with integrated MCU & RS485 comms

    Good ideas, but cockpit builder's dreams and closets are full of great ideas. The issue usually ends up being long-term support. We hate getting invested in hardware and technology only to have it die on the vine, or end up unsupported. I myself am VERY guilty of designing such a thing, playing with it a bit, then moving on to something better or different like Mobiflight or Link2FS. My first 3 projects were Rabbit MCU and AVR based (MEGA8 and MEGA16), where are they now? In a box in the closet. I just designed my own A320 MCDU PCB, should have them in-hand in a few days. Support wont be an issue because it's dumb, traces, tactile switches, headers. Similar in all respects to the original OC units except that I designed and cut the panels, I designed the simple PCB and had it made. Link2FS and Mobilflight have both shown that they have legs in the support arena. Software too suffers from this. That's what makes something like JH's FMGS so awesome, not only is it fantastic software, it's all very, very well supported. FSUIPC comes to mind as well. The more generic, general purpose I/O hardware solutions also adapt well to different environments we have. A lot of times the dream of a dual-seat 737 sim ends up being a single-seat GA sim. Space, money, time, etc. all contribute to this. A single-purpose investment into A320 (my sim) specific systems limits that flexibility.
    All that being said, I love a new project! If you get this off the ground message me here and I will contribute in any way I can. I've built many a panel, have CNC, laser, and 3D printing experience. There are many other builders on this forum that have SERIOUS skills in these areas, far surpassing mine so there should be no shortage of input. A REALLY affordable A320 FCU/EFIS setup would be quite welcome if it's supportable. Same for the rest of the components I would assume. I'm more the roll-your-own kind of builder, I like to design and build more than flying to be sure, but lot's of folks just want to assemble functional components and fly. Like I said, great idea, let me know if I can help in any way.

    Buddym