• Rays Aviation Project Home Cockpit

    Before I connected the various cables I made a connection diagram so that I was sure that I had sufficient USB cables to support all functions. This diagram was actually quite complex and later in this article you will see the updated version (I had to make some changes due to some issues that came up).

    I had some modules such as the CP Flight MCP, the Opencockpits FMC v3, the ThrustMaster throttle and the Tracker IR5 which apparently needed a direct connection - furthermore I had the two TFTs which were to be connected through USBs (two USBs per TFT) and that took a whole lot of USB connections and power - and since I was only using one computer I was quite limited by the USB outputs available on the computer...

    That was however not my greatest concern - My computer only features two outputs on the video card but what I wanted was to use four independent screens on only two outputs. That at first seemed to be no problem since I could connect the TV to the HDMI and the FMC to the VGA and then the 2x TFTs through USBs - I found that I could do this and actually have four independent screens working. I was truly very excited and very happy because this issue had really been giving me some headaches.

       

    The reason for why you see connections for five screens in the control window is because my desktop screen is also connected to the computer using the second VGA connector - however this connector is only able to be used if either the primary VGA or the HDMI connector is disconnected (screen 2). However the four screens were all working perfectly ... well it seemed that they were...

    The problem did not show itself until I tried to load a flight in FSX - I could use the FSX normally when selecting aircraft, location, weather, etc. but when hitting the ALT+F keys and loading the scenery, FSX automatically converts to a full screen display and this terminated the idea of using the 2x USB TFTs because they just went black.

    I tried several times but I never could get this to work - the only solution I saw was to keep the flight within a re-sized window and that really killed the idea completely. I am no computer wizard and maybe there could be a solution for this that I am not aware of, but no matter what I tried the result was the same.

    This issue put me into a standstill and I didn't really know how to proceed. I thought about several solutions as to either purchase a new computer / videocard with additional outputs but this would be rather costly and I did not have that kind of funds to spend this late in the process - so what to do...

    The solution I came up with was to make a rather drastic change to the MiP - first I thought about excluding the FMC v3 and then adding a 20" monitor to the MiP which should be placed behind the MFDs but would still be able to function as a screen for both the MFDs. This idea seemed fair but on the other hand I didn't like to exclude the FMC v3 from the setup.

    I discharged that idea and instead went along with a second idea - adding an iPad as PFD/NG to the MiP. This however would mean a re-build of some parts of the MiP and also a compromise to my original idea about only one computer - but that I just had to do.

    Connecting Everything - Part 2 (Changing The MiP Layout)

    The reason for why I chose the second idea using the iPad was simply because I already had an iPad, meaning no additional investment, and I came to think about an app that I had previously tested. The IPObjects AirTrack v3.5 which is an app featuring both a PFD, NG, a combined PFD and NG together with EICAS, charts, MCP and much more - this is a very versatile piece of software that could run on the iPad, freeing up the video output for the FMC v3.

    The AirTrack is compatible with FSX and works on all aircraft as a stand-alone program that is fed with data from the aircraft within FSX. It features the PFD similar to the Boeing 737 style PFD and also a very good quality NG display. These could be shown independently or combined and the data transfer rate from FSX to AirTrack is superb providing a super smooth and perfectly aligned iPad PFD.

    Furthermore the App also features an MCP including standard functions of an MCP actually including the radios, etc. as well - however this was not my intention to use but the AirTrack also features a function to view airport charts, etc. and that combined with the fact that the iPad could be used as a touch screen, just made this solution very ideal.


    9 Comments
    1. aarmin's Avatar
      aarmin -
      Congratulations on a project well done and above all getting joy and fun out of it.
      Many happy landings!
      Aarmin
    1. henrystreet's Avatar
      henrystreet -
      Thanks for the in depth look. Will likely use some of your ideas
    1. dgsmith37's Avatar
      dgsmith37 -
      Awesome results. I can see your next project being a wrap-around screen. It's amazing how much you learn building a project that requires more knowledge than we start with. Thanks for the write up and pictures.
      ezFlyer
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Quote Originally Posted by sammonsb View Post
      Don't see a tailhook lever. Must be a softie pilot not able to land on a boat.
      Well - actually on the Rays Aviation light and mission panel on the left side console I have a switch on/off/on named HOK => that switch controls hook up/down ... I could only fit 3 letters in the legends when cutting the panel with the water cutting machine.

      But you are right - my skills for landing on a carrier are not excellent


      Merry Christmas All

      Ray
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Thanks for the feedback all - if you need guidance in a similar project or just has questions, I would very much like to help out and share my experience with home cockpit building.

      Ray
    1. jpgregg's Avatar
      jpgregg -
      This is fantastic! I love it. If you like, check out my setup (link below). It's very similar, although your interfaces are much more advanced. Do you have a website? I will be checking back with this article often as I upgrade my system. Thanks for posting!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcEbWS3_Vfg

      Happy New Year!

      Paul
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Quote Originally Posted by jpgregg View Post
      This is fantastic! I love it. If you like, check out my setup (link below). It's very similar, although your interfaces are much more advanced. Do you have a website? I will be checking back with this article often as I upgrade my system. Thanks for posting!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcEbWS3_Vfg

      Happy New Year!

      Paul

      Hi Paul,

      You have a really cool setup!

      3 projectors gives an awesome view - what specs do your projectors have?

      My website is www.RaysAviation.Mono.Net and you are very welcome to visit :-)


      Ray
    1. jpgregg's Avatar
      jpgregg -
      Thanks Ray. I will check out your website.

      I bought the projectors used, on Craigslist, for roughly $80 each (it's been a little time and I don't remember exactly). They are not identical. I have two 3M MP8670s, and one Panasonic. Also, my youtube vid says I'm running two 9800 GTs, but I upgraded a while ago, and am now running a single GTX660 (much better performance, as might be expected). Since I'm running 4 monitors off a single card, I run the projectors at XGA resolution, to keep frame rates in check. I also use megascenery, with autogen turned off - which also helps keep my frame rates in check. The projector screens are shower curtains purchased at k-mart, stapled and taped in the back, and stretched flat with a heat gun... works quite well.

      Thanks again for the link to your website, I'll be checking back often!

      Paul
    1. TheSchwartz's Avatar
      TheSchwartz -
      Absolutely fabulous. I have been toying with the idea of doing something like this, but maybe on a smaller scale. Is there a tutorial somewhere on interfacing hardware to flightsim programs (particularly X-Plane)?

      A link would be appreciated
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