Boy has the world changed since I last did an update on the UFC… My problems in January of just sourcing parts from china seems so insignificant to the issues we are facing now. I’m sorry for judging you so hard January..
I am still of course having delays with shipments from China, but some parts have been dribbling in. Enough so that I am able to come up with 2nd beta of the F18 Hornet UFC with all displays.
You have already seen the scratchpad in action, now I have added the Comm displays and the Option displays. For the Comm Display I am only using a single digit.. Of course we can get 2 digit comms but sourcing a suitable display just was not possible. My solution is completely workable I feel and so you can tell when you are on a channel greater than 10 I am turning on the Decimal point. this should be enough of an indicator.
Now onto the Option displays, I have the displays, and I received my PCB board finally …. great lets solder this puppy in.. plug it in push some text and oh… this isn’t right. Turns out the suppliers datasheet is incorrect and one row of pins is around the wrong way. This means I get garbage text. This is easily overcome with a new PCB design but very dissapointing.
This Video below showcases the current state of the unit (with garbage text)
We are getting close, I am already contacting those who are after a VR only unit, they are ready to go (subscribe on my page https://www.tekcreations.space/product/f18-ufc-usb-controller/ , and I will contact you with a survey link)
All thats left is for me to work out what pins are what on the Option display, redesign the PCB for those, and then test. Once thats done I can start ordering in larger quantities of stock in preparation for assembly.
So things have been a little quiet, I have been promised that my suppliers will be able to start shipping in the next few weeks, they are starting to come back but at limited capacity.
I have taken this time to do some work on R&D, I have very rudimently prototyped the displays for the UFC, Designed the Circuit for the Left Aux for the F16 (will update post later), but I have just finished spitballing the Hornet Left Aux Panel.
So I have gone through and worked out what I am thinking, The unit I am aiming to keep the size of the Hornet Multi Controller as there is not as many controlas s the Viper, after a bit of thought I’ve come up with the below draft.
There is a little bit of “dead space” here, not entirely sure if I need to add anything else but if you have any feedback drop me a message I’d love to hear it!
So unfortunately UFC has been delayed and my stock running low due the Corona Virus running rampant in China. I have taken this time to start doing more design work and see what is next.
Something I think thats going to be next is the F16 left Aux and Misc Panel Controller
So I have gone through and worked out what I am thinking and after a bit of though and keeping the controls as close to a replica layout as possible to suit VR use whilst still mashing them into a single unit that can sit on your desk near your throttle, after a bit of work we come up with the below draft.
I have made the ADV Mode a momentar toggle but the Mer Stores jettison will so definitely be a big button. Also the DN Lock may be a button as well. The LG will be a toggle, but i am awaiting stock for a few things to see if I can jimmy together some kind of gear lever (No promises here as I feel it would mean I have to make the height of the unit a lot bigger)
Now Initially I want to keep the unit the same as the F18 Right panel this is 311mm x 152mm. as you can see this leaves us a bit of room at the top area.
Now an option I can do is just make the unit smaller, but it would be easier to keep the enclosure the same. Perhaps I could look at squeezing in 3 RWR controls somewhere? Maybe an F-ACK and master Caution reset instead?
Not entirely sure and I will keep procrastinating on it, but if you have any feedback drop me a message I’d love to hear it!
So I have now finished off the enclosure, I worked out that I would use a Vesa 100 pattern for screw holes, this would be compatible with the Monstertech MFD Mount which supports Vesa 100 and I’m sure many other options.
I have decided with the UFC I am not going to provide a mounting frame. The ICP has one, and it is only meant to be temporary to get people up and running, but with the size and slightly more weight of this, the simple frame would be even less use.
A pic of the bottom showing the mounting holes ( I could add more or custom holes upon request) The USB port is to the side to allow overhang from a mounting plate.
With the mounting in the enclosure, I Tried to get the top as flush as possible, but a few minor inconsistencies mean it is a bit over the top, so the final enclosure I will aim for a 1mm lip from the top of the enclosure sides to the top plate, just to reduce any light bleed.
The knobs I am showing aren’t my final decision, but the closest I am thinking so far, I will look for something else over the next few days, but these may be the default offering.
A quick video of it in DCSBIOS. As this unit is my beta build and has copped a hammering during the build process being pulled apart and reassembled, the buttons are a bit off, once the build process is finalised this will be less of a problem
Next steps I am awaiting some itty bitty parts to come in and I will start taking orders for a “base unit” which will be just the tactile controls with NO displays. The first few I sell I will stipulate as VR only, whilst they are capable I don’t have all the displays yet to verify they work, I only know the scratchpad does and I don’t want any disappointed people hoping for a future upgrade. At this stage, the price is looking ~500aud for the base unit. The scratchpad will be a simple upgrade its a module ~ 15au on top. The options and comm displays will be more for sure but currently an unknown.
More updates to come once I streamline the build process and have the parts in.
So now it is time to finish off what we started earlier,
I have now added on some bezels and finished off the bottom buttons, I’ve used MDF to fill in the spaces of future displays, For the initial and versions and those happy without I might just use some black acrylic as the placeholders.
Now Unfortunately The Matte black acrylic doesn’t colour match with the top plate material, I spent a bit of time researching today but I just cannot get anything that is going to be a better match. It is just going to have to be unfortunately , but I think its a small sacrifice, and by the nature of them if anything does come up in the future its easy to replace.
I finished up the quick and dirty version of the code and we have a brief video below
So now I have a basic functioning UFC I’m going to finish off the enclosure design and do a bit of tidying on the PCB and tweak a few hole placements.
With this design it is just the UFC, but I have allowed for expandability of a unit for the Hud Controls, that will be able to be connected (I just need to figure out how first LOL)
Still awaiting some parts before I can work on the other displays, Slowly getting closer and closer.
So my F18 Hornet UFC PCB’s Arrived yesterday YAY! I made a few rookie mistakes, not allowing enough clearance for the pots with connectors but nothing to catastrophic as I can just solder the cables direct to the board. V2 will fix that.
I am a bit short on time at the moment, but I was keen to get this lit up.
I went through and put the top plate on, Next up was putting the buttons on (the bottom aren’t going on just yet as I need to work out the Bezel first before I commit to that) and lit it up, yep works a treat.
Next was some quick and dirty DCSBIOS coding to enable the scratchpad, voila
The 4 Option LED is just a placeholder to check the size, I am not doing anything with those until the base unit is fully up and running and Hopefully by then my stock of this will have arrived and I can begin desiging the boards.
For the channel Displays I have something in the works as well, but that one may come later than the options..
Next up I am working on the Bezels, and then the enclosure.
So after completing the Right Hornet Panel, and having the F16 ICP already complete it was only fair the Viper got some love with its own Right Panel.
I went through and made some design decisions, and based on the Practicality / use of some controls and the Size limitations (this bad boy was getting big quick) I decided to drop of some panels. The ones that didn’t make the Cut is the AirCond, KY58 and Oxygen Panels.
Even with this reduction of panels, the box came in at a hefty 375mm Long. The plate has a split in the top plate where the direction of the panels change, I tried and experimented with a full plate but it just wasn’t workable unfortunately.
Below are some shots of the finished product.
A video of the unit in action is available below
Currently there is an issue with the GPS toggle in DCSbios itself not the panel, but I am hoping it is able to be sorted out soon before I start releasing the unit into the world very soon.
So I have been quiet for a little while, I’ve been finishing off the F16 Right replica panels (Blog to finish up soon) but I have also been working out the LCD displays.
Well the units I have been waiting for finally arrived china and I have come up with what I am going to do.
I have decided firstly, the unit will be back-lit as per the F16 ICP, that is a definite go ahead on that one, the next thing with the scratch pad I have made a decision to go for a 6 digit display. The decimal point will be used for the frequency.
Now I thought I had a winner with the 16 Segment 4 digit displays, but unfortunately with them arriving, they are just too damn big. Using these would mean I would have to make the unit MUCH larger than the real thing which isn’t what I am looking at doing.
A picture below of the 6 digit Display lit up, and a picture of the 4 digits I got showing how big they are.
So now I have decided I am going full swing ahead with all units by default will come with back-lighting, and no displays (for the VR crowd), but the the 6 digit Scratchpad will be optional.
What I am doing though is with the failure of the larger displays, as I know exactly what size display I will use and how I want them to be implemented I will engineer the design for this. It will be an add in PCB that will be developed at a later stage and can be added into the earlier models.
Now I have that sorted and I have cut the top MDF for sizing, time to start working on the PCB and enclosure, More pics to come soon now Xmas is behind us I just have to survive New years and it will be hard at work 🙂
With the F16 ICP finished, the next step is to start working on the F18 Hornet UFC.
I have started to have a bit of a noodle, on it and started to make some design choices. Firstly I am going strictly 2.5D, For the bottom row of buttons and Comm select rotaries the extra effort involved to get them realistic is not worth it so everything will be on the same level. However I definitely am going to be doing the Bezels, this is important for going by feel and will add some depth to the unit.
The Measurements I have and are using is 183mm Wide, 157mm High. If anybody has an exact measurement for the panels I can use please pass them on 🙂
A rough render is below showing the look I will be going for.
I have been trying hard to source Decent 4 Digit 16 and 6 Digit 7 segment displays, but despite receiving some samples and testing, when it came to order the china suppliers became very problematic.
Based on the above, and the costs involved of working Displays I have decdied, at least initially to go for a Functional switch unit without displays. This will keep the price down, and me suitable for those in VR anyway.
As part of the design I will try and make it so that I could provide “add in” modules later for Displays, but I think this might be a bit more trouble than it is worth again, but it will still be in my mind.
With the lack of Displays and going for a Tacile only unit I am wondering if I even go to the bother of backlighting this version as well, I will see what impact it will have on the design as i go on.
next i am going to start looking at how I am going to do the enlosure for this, once thats done I will start cutting out in MDF for test fitting and go from there.