Interfacing Print E-mail
Written by Vidar Fagerjord   
Tuesday, 11 May 2010 19:55
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Okay, so it's been a LONG time since last update. But we've had a beautiful autumn this year, and I've been pretty busy with my other hobby (yes, I do have more than one! Shocking, I know...): Photography. I got a Canon EOS 400D this summer, and has bought a couple of "addons" since then. But enough about that.


Today was a really great day simwise. I mounted my overhead onto a stand and mounted some LED's onto a couple of annunciators - and I got light!

But there was some work to be done first. Namely making small PCB's where I soldered two LED's. This will make interfacing a lot easier, and will clean up the whole contrapment.

The small PCB's was made out of an experiment PCB I bought at ELFA. It has a lot of copper rows with holes in them, and all I had to do was to chop it up:

I mounted the PCB between two MDF scraps to make it easy to cut. I used a standard metal saw. As you might notice, I cut every three rows. Be gentle, or you will break the part you're cutting off...

After a lot of chopping and vacuum-cleaning, I could start soldering LED's. Here's a shot on the final product:

Pretty easy. I used flash-glue to mount the PCB. A small drop in each hole will secure the LED's good enough, and it will still be possible to remove them should the need present itself.
Another thing I did, was to measure how to mount the SYS cards. FDS does make great products, but they couldv'e included longer wires (5-10 cm / 2-3 inches would do it).

The PCB is placed in the middle. The image shows how I plan to run the wires.

IMPORTANT: I do not care about being consistent with how I run my wires. The InterfaceIT software does not demand that - all I have to do is to let the program identify LED no. XX by flashing it for me, or to show me which input is being acivated when I move a switch. And then I just have to assign pre-made XML files to that function. This is as close to PnP as you can get! This is why I allways recommend the SYS cards from FDS!

And since I am the impatient type, I had to run a quick test:

Here's a shot of the back of the fuel pump panel. The PCB and the white plastic piece will be painted with black liquid tape (stops lightbleeding from the backlighting and will insulate the PCB's). And here's the reward! 4 beautifully lighted annunciators! Now all I have to do is to wire up the rest of'em.101 annunciators to go. Yipee.......

More to come in the near future!

Update 01. november 2007

Okay, not much has happened - but here's a couple of images of the process:

Here's an image of the progress so far. A lot of work still remains, but most of the annunciators on the left side of the overhead (right side in the picture) are done.

Some of the blue annunciators has two stages: Bright for "in transit state", and dim for "on state". A good example is the crossfeed valve, where the annunciator is bright when the valve is in transit, and dim when the valve is open (extinguished if the valve is closed). To cope with this, I need to use two outputs where one output is connected to the annunciator via a resistor.

To the left, I've just finished preparing some wire bundles. Each bundle of wires has 9 wires; 1 black (common ground) and 8 white. Each wire needs to be stripped for insulation (about 5mm will do nicely). Then I apply solder to the wire ends to make it easier to connect them to the annunciator PCB's I made. I highly recommend using a wire stripper like this one. There are cheaper ones on the market, but that type is THE best. It is adjustable for different wire gauges, and you can sharpen it should you need it.

Some annunciators in the picture hasn't been fitted with LED PCB's yet - I ran out of prototype PCB thingy's.

The printed image is a GREAT reference when you navigate the backside. You only need to remember that everything is mirrored.


Update 02. november 2007

Soldering. I am TIRED of that now! Anyway, here's a couple of images showing the latest progress:

I made a holder for the two SYS cards (SYS1 + SYS2) I am going to use for the overhead. In the picture, the SYS1 card is mounted.

Here's the SYS card holder mounted at the back. I hooked up the wire bundles to the SYS1 card to get a feel of how it's going to be. Turns out I will have to do some adjustment later on, as the blue LED's barely light up. Will have to investigate that a bit...

So - here's some images of the progress so far:

Click on each image to see a larger version.

Now I have to wait for some more prototype PCB's and some other stuff, and I'll be ready to move on with it. The next step will be to finish off all annunciators and wire them up. Then
I will make and mount the dummy instruments, mount the working instruments and move on to the backlighting. Meanwhile I will finish mounting hardware (knobs, switch heads).

MAN, this is a lot of work! But it is FUN! And in the end I will have the coolest toy in the local community.

I would like to use this opportunity to send a BIG thank you to Peter Cos at Flighteck Solutions for making the SYS cards! They make the interfacing bit VERY easy. And you will save a lot of work by using the FDS SYS cards in your setup! As I have mentioned, I don't care too much about how I connect the different annunciators and switches. I simply connect the closest items, and then use the InterfaceIT software to create order in the mess. For instance, I choose (right click) output #45 (LED 45) and select "identify output" - and the LED connected to output 45 start to blink. Then I just assign the correct XML file (which is downloaded from the FDS servers) to that output, and everything works. It is EXTREMELY simple!

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