So After some tinkering I have assembled the first beta Unit of the F18 Left Panel Controller.
I have decided I will be doing 2 versions of this unit, the first one shown here is the “WinWing Version”. There is no point having the Ext Fuel Controls if you have the F18 Hornet WinWing Taurus Throttle as you are doubling up, so this is a shorter version minus that.
Video Below showing the Beta WinWing Unit in Action.
One thing I will never be able to replicate is the “reset” of the Rud Trim, this is an encoder with 360 rotation when pushed it will obviously stay where it is, not much can be done with that. but you could push and rotate yourself back to centre.
Now the gain switch is guarded, and I’m not going to go that route, simply because If I did I would have to worry about a “switch” for it, which I’m not about to do at this stage. What I am thinking of doing whenever the switch is toggled it will auto toggle the guard if it is down.
ILS Channel needs to be “set” before loading the game but will mimic the in game positioning ok, but if you turn past 20 or 1 it will “lose its spot”.
This unit is the same dimensions as the Right panel but Oops I put the cable on the Right side! that will be fixed in the final version putting it on the left :):)
Now to finalise a bit of code for this and I’ll put up for subscription of interest. The full left panel is done, just currently working on a way to secure the APU addon panel to the Main Unit.
Next up on the block we have the first Prototype of the F18 Hud.
The shape of this panel has a profile on it thats not rectangle. Now I did have a swing at this shape but after much cursing I determined this was just not going to be feasible to do at any kind of speed. So we have the nice stock standard rectangle.
Now that meant we had a bit of spare space in the corners, the logical choice was to utilise this to add in our HDG and CRS toggles.
The height of the UFC is 50mm, for the HUD Enclosure I have gone 40mm to give it the difference in depth. As always it will be backlit and controlled by the in game controls.
I did originally envision being able to daisychain the HUD off the UFC Panels Controller but I unfortunatley ran out of pins and this just wasn’t feasible at the time. So this unit has its own USB Port.
With this panel I don’t know how I am going to do the DCSBIOS/HID mode shift as I have controls that are likely to be used in flight. I’ll come back to that.
I am currently awaiting a final PCB for this unit to arrive and I will be able to start production. See below a video of the Prototype in Action.
As far as the UFC for those who are interested, I am releasing the full units in the wild now, but it is a bit of trickle at the moment, one of the IC’s is in limited supply so it is taking time sourcing it plus these units do take more time to assemble vs the others.
I am working my way through the subscribed list notifying as their time comes up.
So Subscribe to register your interest for the UFC to get in the queue.
Sat down last night and knocked out an easy one. the “first” for the F18 Hornet Left panel Controllers.
This is the model for those after the replica to match the right replica. It has the Fuel. FCS VOL and OBOGS Controls. Nothing you wouldn’t expect but a pic below.
This will come in at 371mm x 152mm the same size as the F16 Right Panel Unit.
First challenge is the Manual ILS Chanel. I don’t have a 20 position rotary switch. What I am thinking here is I will use a Rotary Encoder. This means you won’t Truly “know” where the switch is at without setting it prior to loading the game to the game default and it may not line up exactly. For how often it gets used I think thats ok IMO..
Second Challenge is the Rud Trim. Again to be able to PUSH i need that to be a rotary encoder, but it won’t give the right feel or setting, a Potentiometer will be best for that purpose, but a Rotary Encoder will give the push button ability but it will have the same issues above with aligning on launch and remembering position.
The real condundrum now is for the replica version what do I do with the other panels?? Ant Sel, APU, Formation GND PWR etc.. I feel like perhaps they may just not warrant making the cut in a working left replica panel. Also as peoples throttles are quite different there is no one size fits all replica lay out option.
One thing I am thinking Maybe I will integrate the APU Ext Lights and GND PWR into the bottom of a box with the Left Aux panel?
I would love to hear the thoughts of anybody that might be interested in a left “close to replica” panel and hear what they had to say.
Next up is I am working on the Left “Multi panel” this will capture more of the common controls from the left side into a single box without a replica layout. Keep an eye out, and again if you have any thoughts on what you think must (and must not) make it into a multi Left box
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.