Need some guide explaining how to build button box with leo bodnar card

So two years ago when i got my thrustmaster warthog stick and throttle i started to fly flightsims again. Xplane then il2 and i was planning on starting with dcs ever since i got the warthog stick but other games and simulators got in the way to be honest so i kind of put dcs on the waiting list haha… So after deciding during the halloween sale i was going to buy all the modules i could ever want and saving a god bit if many with the bulk purchase that compared to il2 and even most civil flightsims (becuse i mostly have flown GA airplanes there haha) there is a hole lot of more buttons and switches to interact with and you are also meant to do this during combat. In my now 20 hours of dcs flying time most have been spent trying to learn the handling of the f5 in non combat missions before i move on to other modules but i feel that using the mouse although doable is so much harder (and less immersive) than to physically have the buttons and switches on a nice box beside me on a lapstop flor stand i bought.

So 1.5 months ago i received my leobodnar BBi 32 bit button box interface with the pin connectors. I had planned to get started this month and build an easy universal box with interchangeable lables that i was thinking could contain all the different modules weapon and startup switches along with critical rotaries. The thing is i dont really know how to start. I have read ALOT of threads of suggestions and general guides but i dont feel there is an guide for total beginners like myself.

What i want to know is where i can find info or guides wich switch types i can use and what buttons and rotary encoders that works with this leo bodnar card i have bought. I have seen some custom made one from various shops that cater to the flightsim diy building community but what i am intrested in really is what switches and button types that work and are the easiest to solder. I keep seeing switches and phrases like spdt and searching through other button box build threads many mentions that in order to have a switch work as an on off switch for something in dcs you should always use an on-off-on switch so you can bind both on positions on the actual switch to a keybind in dcs. I havent fiddled that much with dcs key bindings becuse i am just trying my way around the f5 and viggen cockpit. But For an example a switch in the cockpit that have a on position and a off position in the keybindings would have to bee used with an on-off-on toggle switch so that i can bind one off the on positions to the off in keybindings right ? Sorry for that confusing question but just want to make sure so i dont buy the wrong kind of switch. Becuse it seems logical becuse what little i know is that a toggle switch can send a signal to the card only when it is in the on position so that i can bind it in dcs. Is this correct to assume

What are the push buttons that when you push them in

What type of wires should i use for the rotaries and the switches, One diy guide said awg 20 and another one said 24ga teflon coated.

How to solder without damaging the cables and the switches and what thickness should the tip of the soldering pen be, What kind of soldering wire should one use ?

is there a pre made guide that i can use as help on the way when i assamble this ?

Also what kind of plastic or metal boxes can i buy two use as the “box” for everything. I live in sweden but i dont really know where to find or what these plastic/metal boxes that i have seen people use for button boxes are called in english, nevertheless in swedish haha.

If all this goes well and i manage to make my first universal button box i hope that i will start making more advanced one, maybe the viggen daya panel or one with a 7 digit segment display. Although this is way into the future of my button box building process if anyone can link a thread or guide for it i would appreciate it so atleast have something to go on when the time comes for more advanced stuff :slight_smile:

Ps: found these switches in the image on a danish site that sells pre made button boxes. It says it have screw terminals. Does that mean no soldering is required ?

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Wow! What a great first post!
First, welcome to Mudspike @Oscar!
Second… I’ll be closely following this thread, you’ll receive a lot of great info. :smiley:
Take care.

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Hej @Oscar! :sweden:
Welcome to Mudspike! :mudspike:

I too started with a Bodnar card. They are very easy to work with, but there are limitations as to what they can do. A great place to start though.

Almost any…
A switch is just a means to connect a signal to ground.
Regular pushbuttons work well. A toggle switch, either on/off or on/off/on can also be used. For rotary encoders something like this works well.

Well… It depends. Some switches in DCS have different bindings for on or off while also having on/off toggle. This means you can bind one button to change between the on or off state. Another thing worth considering is using momentary toggle switches. These don’t stay on but spring back to off, effectively working like a push button. With such switches you don’t have do set the switches correctly before you start DCS.

There’s almost no current so you can use very thin wires if you like.

I like the aluminium boxes from RND or Hammond. You can find them at Elfa.

Yes.
But learning how solder is easy. Lots of great instructional videos on youtube.

Happy to be of any assistance. I’m swedish too so if you need help in your native language, just let me know. :slight_smile:

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Velkommen @Oscar

Han snakker også Norsk.

I did all that without Google Translate! :sunglasses:

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You just leveled up from Norwegian Wannabe to Gonnabe! :sunglasses:

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Hi @Oscar! As someone who just finished his first button box a few months ago (only took me 3 years from sketch to end lol), here are some things i found:

  • If you want to avoid soldering, use crimps. I use blade connectors to connect wires to buttons and switches with flat terminals. Makes it far easier to correct wrong connections.

  • If you start more complicated projects, look into custom made circuit boards. jlcpcb.com is really cheap and they offer a intuitive editor. I used to make everything myself with prototype boards, and ruined a lot of components with my bad soldering :sweat_smile:

  • Plan ahead what type and length of cable you need, so it doesn’t look like this

  • Wait before you drill mounting holes for parts you ordered and measure them yourself, datasheets can lie

  • Always check push button types, what you probably want are normally open momentary push buttons.

I never used bodnar boards so I can’t comment on that, but from what I heard they are pretty much plug and play?

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Veldig Bra!
:norway:

That said, it will still be a while before I can switch from “Yeg snakker ikke Norsk.” to “Yeg snakker litt Norsk.” (“I do not speak Norwegian” to “I speak little Norwegian.”) Babel.com is getting me there.

:thinking: Hmmmm…is this the first bilingual thread derailment for Mudspike?

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Kan vi har en “Troll erklærer norsk fly vokabularet” thread? :grin:

i hope i didnt butcher that sentence too badly

I don’t know? What were you trying to say…? :rofl:

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You’re still doing better than me. I learned my Swedish from Swedish Chef University,

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I tried to ask for a thread with aviation related norwegian vocabulary, seems like my Norwegian is even worse than I thought :sweat_smile:

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Since that was also perfect Danish, You can now consider yourself a Honorary Danish Maybe! :sunglasses:

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Welcome to Mudspike Oscar.

And congratulations on taking your first steps into a larger world.

I would recommend that you tackle your project in smaller bites. As you gain experience and learn from your successes and failures, the courage to do evermore complex stuff grows.

How to get your switches to talk with DCS depends on the interface boards that you are using and the firmware that they have or you load into them.

To get your box to talk with Windows there are at least 4 possibilities

  • Arduino joystick library (I have not touched this at all so I can’t talk about it.)
  • MMJoy2 by mega_mozg (As I understand it he has abandoned it after he started working at Virpil. I could be wrong.)
  • I cannot remember the name of the last one, but it uses the STM32F103C8T6 board. I think that it is mentioned somewhere in these forums, but right now I can’t find it.
  • Leo Bodnar (I have not looked into these so I can’t say anything)

About switches.
I have gotten most of my switches from Aliexpress as they where a lot cheaper than I could find in the EU. Since I only have to pay Moms (Wat) for goods in package above 80,- DKkr (That’s about 11$) and Tull and Moms (Customs) for goods in package above 1150,- Dkkr (That’s about 187$) I try to keep my shopping below 80 Dkkr. By keeping it below 80,- Dkkr I don’t get to pay any Customs handling fees.

From a quick look I gather that you will have to pay Moms and the attending Customs handling fees for everything in Sweden.

Here is an explanation about switch types including SPST, SPDT, DPST, DPDT.

Determine what functions that you want for your switches.
Should they be push or toggle, latching or momentary.
ON = Latching Stay Closed (Current is flowing.)
OFF = Latching Stay Open (Current is not flowing)
(ON) = Momentary Closed while held (Current is flowing.)
(OFF) = Momentary Open while held (Current is not flowing)

Some of the Switch Functions I have.
ON OFF
(ON) OFF
ON (OFF)
ON ON
ON ON lockable (Pull the pin to toggle.)
ON OFF ON
ON OFF (ON)

I quickly decided to use DPST switches as they can toggle 2 circuits at the same time. It could be the function and a separate LED circuit with a LED showing the switch position.

I would also recommend that you get some 230V rated switches for turning on and off the power to Your boxes.

About materials
I mostly work in plywood and plastic as I do not have the tools for working with aluminium.
Do not use MDF or any other type of fiberboard for anything that will get prolonged skin contact! It will slowly crumble away.

Boxes
I couldn’t find any Swedish sites but here is a Danish supplier for inspiration.
https://elektronik-lavpris.dk/c5622/bokse-kasser-skabe/

I have just bought 2 each of the following.

I had a P3 version I am using for some of the electronics for my 3D Printer mod project.

About Soldering
I would recommend an adjustable soldering iron where you can get different kinds of replacement tips. The tips will break down over time with use.
I don’t have any direct recommendations for solder, but it should contain build in flux, have a low melting point and preferably without lead.
A place to look and ask is a model train shop or model train enthusiast site. They do much of the same type of soldering that is needed for button boxes.

Feel free to ask questions. If you think that the answer could benefit others, it may be worth considering opening a new Topic about it. Makes it easier to find it.

That’s it from me now.

Happy DIY and Simming.

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Im so sorry i haven’t replied yet :confused: I have this account on my second email which i use for acounts and forgot to check back here becuse its hard to keep track of all the forums and communites you are part of on the internet haha. But i will try to better next time I ask a question.

I will read all of your advices and reply back to your comments in a day or two :slight_smile: And i really want to say that this forum seems really nice based on the support you guys seem to give eachother regarding questions like my own :slight_smile:

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That happens to all of us.

I have found out the utility that I couldn’t remember last time. It is FreeJoy:

I have yet to dive into it, but that will happen. I have gotten the boards and programmer, now I just need to find the time.

Yeah, it is a really good bunch of people in here that understand how to respect and help others.

I wish that this behavior was more widespread on the internet.

Happy Simming

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