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F18 Hornet UFC Part 5

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.

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F18 Hornet UFC Part 4

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.

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F18 Hornet UFC Part 3

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.

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F16 Right Panel Controller

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.

The detailed link to the product is here  however orders are not open just yet whilst I finalise a few things. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

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F18 Hornet UFC Part 2

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 🙂

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F18 Hornet UFC Part 1

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.

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DCS F18 Hornet Cockpit Right Panel Part 4

I have gone through and finalised the design and the DCS F18 Hronet Right Cockpit Panel is finalised.

A video of the unit in action is available to see below.

As we had the INTR LT panel the INST PNL potentiometer is what is used to dim the backlighting.

There are a few hotspots and dim spots but this is just something that can’t be helped with LED backlighting but overall it does look rather nice

Some pictures of the Final product and it is available for order Here. I have also got a smaller more compact Multi Version still available as well here

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DCS F18 Hornet Cockpit Panel Toggle Box Part 3

So the First incarnation of the F18 Hornet USB Controller was designed as a “multi box” combining elements from both the left and right panel.

Now the next step is making a Right Replica panel. This will mean the 3 Elect Panel Switches, Environmental Panel, Interior Lights panel and the Sensor Panel.

The layout of these will be replicas of the real right panel, so the positioning will be perfect for those relying on Muscle memory, IE VR Cockpit Pilots.

After some work this expanded the size of the Panel Box out to 310mm high, and still keeping the standard 152mm wide.

Went through an did a dry fit of the toggles and Potentiometers (currently awaiting more rotary switches)

Then I throw the Top engraved panel on, this still has masking tape on at this stage to help keep it protected from my grubby fingers, but you can still see quite clearly the layout.

Seems a bit more work to do as a few leds aren’t shining in the right spot. I will also be raising the plate 3 mm, this will help diffuse the backlight more and reduce the hotspots.

Once I get the rotaries in I will be able to get back to it and finish this bad boy off.

In the mean time I’m starting mock up an idea for a F18 UFC panel to complement this next.

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F16 ICP Project Log Part 3

Whilst awaiting some parts I went back to the drawing board on my original design

Firstly the Design has been modified so the USB Port is at the back. this presents a much cleaner option.

Also based small change was added where the keys were rounded as seen here

Lastly I have made a change that no longer requires a Potentiometer to adjust the brightness.
This is shown here by holding the WX Key and using the dobber up and down to change the brightness in stages.

Some of the latest orders and all Future orders for the ICP will include this feature.

As you can see in the pictures, the positioning of the text is sometimes a little wonky, I do the best I can, but this stage I have not found a better way to get it aligned. Overall it still looks great, but one of the foibles I have yet to overcome.

I will update on that once I have a noodle on it hopefully.

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F16 ICP Project Log Part 2

Had limited time at the moment, but managed to make more progress on the F16 ICP Controller

First thing was to make some amendments to the buttons! correctiong the 5 “CRUS” button, and also making the ENTR key a bit higher to match the real world F16 ICP.

Next I twas time to have a look at the thumb-wheels and see what I wanted to do there, I decided for the moment at least to go White Acrylic, and I went for a COG Design which will allow the thumb to easily get traction to turn the wheel. I am using DShaft potentiometers so this make it easier to mount. This is made to be 6mm thick.

Then Looking at the DCS toggle I figured I’d go for 20mm High and will align with the toggles (unsure on the real world, but this works for me)

Putting the unit into its enclosure, after prototyping in MDF the final product shown is Matt Black Acrylic.Below is a pic of the guts, I of course needed a Pot to control the backlighting and an arduino for controlling.

Once we mount the plate in,I am not “Bolting” it in, I using a friction fit with the top plate, it holds it well enough while making it easier and less stress on any acrylic parts when physically screwing it.

Most people may not want this just sitting flat on their desk like this, so I went for a keyhole mounting at the back plate so it can be affixed to any surface with 4 M4 screws and slotted onto them.

The default mounting for me will be a MDF frame it sits in, and can use the 4 keyholes as well.. I worked on it sitting at 70 Degrees, this is what I found optimal.

Now I get it all plugged in and lit up!

I am going to be working on the light leakage to the sides of the wheels, (although it does look cool to me) with perhaps some thick reflective tape and next is some software coding.. Now that DCS Viper is released, I’ll look at HID as well as DCSBIOS.