Hjem 737 Cockpit project Cockpit related Main instrument panel
Main instrument panel Print E-mail
Written by Vidar Fagerjord   
Tuesday, 11 May 2010 19:25

I've been back and forth between the MIP from FlyEngravity and FDS. The FlyEngravity MIP has the greatest level of realism and was my initial choice. After a rather long process, I decided that I wanted the FDS MIP because of the Integrated Backlighting (IBL)*. This will make the build of the MIP a LOT easier, and that was ultimately what made me go for FDS for my MIP. In addition, I'll get a pristine piece of equipment, based on the new and improved version of the FDS MIP.

I also ordered the gear lever from FDS. All in all, this setup wil be a true gem! I plan to use the FDS-SYS3 card for the MIP/pedestal area. Also be sure to check out the glareshield section. I've ordered the glare panels with IBL from FDS as well.

*IBL: FDS patent pending backlighting technology, recreating the realistic look of real light plates.

Update 06.05.08

WOW! This has taken a long time! But finally, my MIP has arrived. I ordered the MIP last summer from FDS, but became aware that a new version was under development. Therefore I decided to wait for the new one - better to get the latest and best! When Peter released the first images to the public, I knew I did the right thing. The new and improved MIP looked kick-ass!

And today it arrived (flown to Norway from Canada by Martinair, so I guess it was a MD-11 Cargo. Nice bird too!).

To the left, I'm hiding from the camera behind the box the MIP came in! The new MIP feature a one-piece backpanel, so no bad seams there.

The package includes a lot of stuff - the backpanel, the lightplates, support for the backpanel, stickers, frames and glass for the instruments - and a lot of bits and pieces of different kind.

NB!! Let me point out that FDS doesn't normally take so long time to deliver, and this was a very special case. I got all the info I needed from Peter Cos, and he kept me up to date. Sometimes it's just worth waiting, and this was definitely one of those times!

Here's a shot of all the parts when I removed the packaging (I believe FDS went over-budget on tape...), all laid out in my studio (I do hardware reviews for a computer hardware review website, and all product images in those reviews are shot in my studio).

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a MIP to attend to...

Couple of hours later:

This starts to look GOOD!

The gear lever looks good too. Some paint wear, but that makes it look even more
real in my mind. Just ned something to seal off the opening to stop dust.

I am a VERY happy kid tonight! This was truly a "small step for a simbuilder, but a giant leap for my simulator". Won't be long before I am flying this puppy!

Update 09.05.08

Small update today - as it turns out, several components was missing and a lot of the holes that should've been tapped had no threads. That's the price one have to pay for purchasing a brand new product. Small hickups can occur sometimes. But not to worry - the well-known FDS service level kicked in, and they are going to send me the few pieces I am missing. In addition, I'll get the threading bits needed as I only have millimeter-taps in my tapping set. Ladies and germs - that is what I call VERY good customer service!

In the meantime, I've placed an order at Simknobs. Nihad makes amazing stuff, and I ordered some boeing-style knobs with backlighting capability, a new fuel crossfeed knob and another knob for the cabin pressurization panel. The effect of backlighting a knob can be seen on the image to the right:


The fuel crossfeed knob looks awesome - FAR better than what I could've made myself. And I can't wait to see the effect when I place the simknobs boeing style knobs on my FDS IBL panels! It's going to be fantastic!

Oh - by the way, did I mention that the IBL panels looks STUNNING when you apply 5 volts to them? Images will follow, my friend! Just need to do some wiring and soldering first...

Update 25.05.08

Since last update, lots of things have happened! I got some spare parts from FDS, and have been soldering my ass off! WOW what a load of wires! Check this out:

  • 22 wires for the IBL panels (2 wires per panel)
  • 32 wires for the annunciators (8 annunciators per group, in two groups. The common ground is daisy-chained within each group)
  • about 32 wires for all the switches

The total is about 86 different wires! And since the connectors you get from FDS have rather short wires, you have to extend them (not a big problem, really - if FDS included long enough wires, the SYS card would be a lot more expensive, and you'll just be throwing the exess wire away anyway).

And this is how it looks behind the EICAS panel

I've used a LOT of zip-ties to keep the wiring neat and tidy (still some cleaning up to do, but that will have to wait until the monitor is in place)

Another great asset when working on wiring, is shrink-tube. It is a plastic tube that shrinks when you heat it up with a heatgun or a lighter:

This shows one of the wire-extensions. By using shrink-tube there will be no short-cirquits. Here's a compilation of images on how to use shrink-tubing:

  1. Solder the wires together, then bend the soldering point backwards (the wires I use is pretty stiff, making this very easy)
  2. Slide a piece of shrink-tube over the bent wires. Remember to use a slightly LARGER piece than you need. This is shrinktube!
  3. Heat the shrink-tube with a lighter or a heatgun. A lighter works just fine, just be careful! Do not heat for too long, and make sure that there's nothing above the flame! Especially expensive IBL panels...
  4. When the shrink-tube has cooled, the job is done. You can roll the thingy between your fingers while it is hot (be careful!) to aid the forming of the plastic around the wires.

The IBL panels look VERY good. Here's a few juicy shots:

I've wired the panels so that I can adjust the brightness on them later - and I wired them according to how the real deal works. Meaning that the F/O side can be adjusted separately from the rest. For now, however, all the panels is connected directly to 5 volt from a powersupply.

Let me take a moment to praise the simplicity of the SYS cards: I did not care about which annunciator was connected to what output. I tried to connect them in groups, but I did not plan that the green "nose gear" annunciator should go to output #12. I simply wired them all up to the SYS cards. Then I started InterfaceIT, and used the "locate output" feature that makes the selected output to start flashing. Within 5 minutes, the whole MIP was ready to use - every single annunciator got the correct assignment. And to those not familiar to the InterfaceIT software and the SYS cards: You can download ready-made XML files that you can import to each in- or output. That means that you simply hit "identify output" on LED #1, and look for a flashing annunciator. Let's say that means "LE DEVICES EXTENDED". You right-click LED #1 in the software, and select "import setup overwriting name". Done! Now the software is set up so that the annunciator lights up whenever your LE DEVICES (the flaps at the front - Leading Edge - of the wings) is extended, or you hit the "LIGHT TEST" switch. Talk a bout plug and play!

I started InterfaceIT, Project Magenta and Flight Simulator to give this a test. And boy did it work! The LE DEVICES annunciators worked beautifully, the landing gear lights changed from extinguished to all red and finally to all green in the correct sequence! Once the wiring is completed, it is simply a matter of minutes to set up everything - and it works like clockwork! How friggin' cool is that???

The project has really picked up speed. During the next months I will make a stand for the MIP, including the FMC bay, finish the wiring (still a few switches to connect), making a temporary glareshield to hold the MCP and EFIS and finally setting up Project Magenta in a network. I've been witing over two and a half years for this! I am VERY close to fly this thing now. If you haven't read the "overhead part 1", this might be a good time for you to do so if you are in the planning stage. Believe me!

That's all for this time. More to come soon!

Update 01.06.08

I got a package from Simknobs yesterday, with a bunch of backlightable knobs. Perfect for my MIP! The quality of Simknobs' products are just amazing! They are an exact replica of the real knobs - even on the back side! The hole is D-shaped, which could be a problem in some areas. If you use round shafted rotary selectors, you will have to file a flat side on the shaft, opposite of where the indicator line on the knob will point. Not an issue, really - just be awae of that. I used a sanding disc on my Dremel Stylus and got the knobs mounted in a few minutes. The knobs has fastening screws on BOTH sides, which makes it very easy to fasten the knobs thoroughly.

Here's a couple of images of the knobs mounted on the beautiful IBL panels from FDS:

The backlighting doesn't light up the knob very well, but in fact it is more than enough
when you have a dark cockpit environment. The knobs has a hole at the back, so I
will consider putting a warm white LED in there if I can make it work. Haven't decided yet.

The light control panels doesn't have backlighting capabilities for some reason, so
I will look into a solution there. I don't know if the panels have backlightable knobs
in a real aircraft anyway. Nothing I am too concerned about really...

Within a week or so, the monitors for my MIP will arrive. And I have a package on its way from FlyEngravity - I ordered the glare wings. But that's a story for the glareshield section, which I will update whenn the goodies arrives.

The MIP is now interfaced and works flawlessly. I really have to thank FDS for the SYS cards - once the wiring was done, I set upt the whole MIP in about 10 minutes! That is as close you can come to Plug and Play, unless you chicken out and order a completely finished dual seater training device (DSTD).

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 19:34
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