• Review: Flight Illusion Gauges

    GSA-80 F16 IAS And Mach Meter

    The third test was of the GSA-80 gauge which is a fairly new gauge within Flight Illusions product range. The GSA-80 is a replica of the airspeed and Mach meter found in the famous Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon. The reason for why I selected this IAS gauge and not a standard B737 gauge with a barber pole was, because I wanted a gauge that was able to also indicate the Mach speed and not just knots.

       

    The GSA-80 features two stepper motors, one for driving the IAS needle from 0-800 knots and the other for driving the secondary small faceplate within the gauge that shows the Mach number corresponding to the IAS at a given altitude / air pressure.

    The motion of the knots needle and the Mach faceplate is also super smooth and I noticed that even though I accelerate to speeds beyond 800 knots, the Mach meters faceplate still continues to turn and hereby it still provides the pilot with a reading.

    I also did the first test of this gauge without it being mounted and the sound level for this gauge resembles the altimeters 100% meaning that the sound was extremely low and when mounted into a frame and into my test rig, the sound was completely gone.

    Calibrating this gauge was however a bit tricky. You can twist the settings by using the software where you can put in values that equal to your IAS and then value pointers on the 360 degree rotation of the needle and faceplate but to do this I needed to measure the degree number for each IAS indication and do the calculation of degrees to software values. Below is an image of the Gauge Assignment and Setting together with the calibration table for the gauge.

    First I needed to select which indicator I wanted to calibrate as e.g. I wanted to calibrate the IAS needle and not the Mach meter, so I selected the corresponding needle and clicked the button Calibrate which opens up the calibration window.

    In the calibration window you see the Gauge Calibration area consisting of a "Value" input area to the left and the "needle position" area to the right. Furthermore it is stated that value 0 equals 0 degrees and value 1079 equals 360 degrees. By doing a little bit of math I calculated that one degree equals to value 2.997 which in my conversion would be 3.

    Next part I had to do was to measure the degrees for each IAS indication number, and times that number with 3 would equal the value for the needle position input in the right column. When looking at the gauge it is easy to see that the IAS indication numbers are not with the same degree proportion from e.g. 100 to 200 knots then e.g. from 400 - 500 knots, so therefore it was very important to measure the correct degree angle for each IAS indication number to get the needle to reach correctly. (The below numbers are not the 100% correct numbers, but instead one of my first tries before I did the calculation).

    The specifics for the gauge are height and width of 83 mm, depth is 27 mm and the weight is app. 230 gr. Power requirements are 5/12 volts as described earlier and the gauge features two LEDs for the backlight function. Connection is a daisy chain 10 pin on a flat cable.

    As the previous two gauges I was also very impressed with this gauge. It really does resemble the real F-16 gauge down to even the smallest details and it is very clear to me that Flight Illusion does not make compromises in the realism and quality of their gauges. The gauge is quite complex and very advance and truly adds a lot to the flightsim experience for sure.

         

    GSA-55PS Central Interface Board

    The GSA-55PS is the central interface board which is a PCB that connects the gauges or even modules to the computer. The CIB consists of a PCB with four connectors for the gauge/module strings, a USB connection for the connection between the PCB and the computer and a power supply connection that connects directly into a power convert which is connected directly into the wall socket using 220 volts.

    There is not that much to be said about the CIB other then it is a powerful PCB that can control a huge number of gauge/modules and that it is based on a daisy chain solution so that the wiring spaghetti is down to a minimum. Connection is easy and the PCB is ready to use as any plug and play module. The dimensions for the PCB are app. 82 mm x 82 mm and with a total height of 15 mm.

         

    Conclusion

    My conclusion for this set of gauges including the PCB is that these units certainly are some very professional units of a high level of quality. The design and realism is absolutely superb and the gauges feel very authentic and create a super realistic atmosphere in the home cockpit. After trying out these three gauges I cannot understand why I didn't purchase a VSI and some navigational instruments as well - that will for sure be something that I would invest in on a later point of time.

    Connecting and setting up the gauges and the PCB was super easy - it was almost just plug and play when the software was installed, except for the GSA-80 gauge which had to be calibrated manually. When all gauges was setup the software could save that setup so that it only had to be done once which is excellent.

    Using the gauges in FSX does not require a lot of additional starting up time. Just start up the Flight Illusion software which takes about 3 seconds before you start up FSX. The software will align with FSX automatically and I found no loss in frame rates when applying these gauges to my setup.

    The software looked quite difficult to use at the beginning, but after taking a closer look to it I discovered that it was actually quite simple and easy to use - it is built with a high level of logic and if you are in doubt there is of course also a downloadable manual from Flight Illusions web site together with an FAQ and Forum section on their web site as well.

    Building the frame(s) for the gauges is also very easy since Flight Illusion has created a download section on their web site with actual 1:1 scale drawings of the cut-outs.

    I rated these gauges individually but the rating was actually the same for each gauge which is a perfect 5/5-Star rating. The gauges are absolutely a great addition to the home cockpit and I would certainly recommend these gauge to my fellow simmers. I know the price tag is quite high, but in my opinion they are defiantly worth every cent.

    Flight Illusion

    Ray Anderson
    Rays Aviation
    [email protected]

    Learn More Here


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