Pitbuilders?

Do we have any pitbuilders here? Or electrical engineers? Or hobbyists? I am electrically stupid, especially when it comes to integrating stuff like switches and dials into a digital interface. (ie how do you make a toggle switch output (constant ‘ON’) into a button press for a simulator? Warthog HOTAS I’m looking at you!)

I’m asking because I was mulling over making an armament switch panel for the F-5E. Got tired of going heads down after every bombing run :D. Planning on using Leo Bodnar’s button box board for the USB interface but the mechanics of hooking up switches and rotaries elude me.

ps I know SimHQ has a pretty extensive pitbuilders section but I always feel lost in the mix over there.

You called?

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You build a trigger that reacts to the positive flank and then falls off back to 0 after a predetermined amount of time. You can do this in hardware, but it would be much easier if you could do it in software.

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Get a cheap Arduino clone, The web is littered with examples on how to use it. Not quite sure how many switches you need but otherwise a cheap breakout board for a 595 or 165 shift-y register is quite cheap as well. Then hook up some switches and bob’s your uncle!

You could do it purely with passive components and some hackery to get it to work in the computer, but damn these ready made solutions make you lazy.

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I dont know if the Bodnar boards do that, or how tweakable their software/driver is (unless its just a universal controller driver) but I’ll look into it. I have a little arduino board I bought sometime back but I’ll have to look up some tutorials on how to set it up.

As far as this panel goes, I think im going to go with ease of building vs authenticity and not try to find a 4-direction switch for the bomb arm switch (Because you know thats mil-spec and probably costs $200/switch), I’ll probably just use a rotary dial. So, next question, would you just use a rotary switch for that function or an encoder? If understand right an encoder is used to replace an analog potentiometer (or similar) when a digital output is needed but you still need the ability to increase/decrease a value. So to me a switch is the correct choice but I figured I’d check.

A rotary switch is probably a lot easier, I have no idea what exactly you want to make, but I’ve made a ABRIS AMMS control panel with a Raspberry PI and have a few other instruments in the work. Let me know what you want exactly(Video, screenshot) and I can probably tell you what works best. DCS-BIOS is a must though, make sure you realize that :wink:

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I definitely recommend Leo Bodnars controllers.

I’ve built a small panel with around 20 switches and two rotary encoders. The former were sourced from cheap electronics store. The latter from Leo’s website. I’ve springloaded momentary switches and permanent switches that stay in position.

I do all my mappings (I have 6 game controllers hooked on for DCS) with one external software called XPadder. It’s from some small independent developer, has a nice GUI but costs a few bucks. You can define different virtual keyboard combination for hold and release action. By this you can configure that even when you keep one switch in permanent postion, the simulation only receives a short pulse/key press.

You can achieve the same result using free autohotkey software or even lua in DCS, but usability can be a hassle.

Regarding the F-5’s weapon panel, I have found another solution: I use one of my Thrustmaster MFD controllers. Works like a charm :slight_smile:

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I’m SOOO subscribing to this thread… :kissing_heart:

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Re the MFD…thats what i’ve been doing, but was looking for a little project for fun. Thought about doing the same thing with the A-10s armament control panel, but never got around to it.

I’ve heard good things about Xpadder, I’ll have to look into that. I would love to do more panel building stuff but I’m a stickler for accuracy (little details bug me) so having lame looking switches or ones that don’t operate right (safety-pull toggles, 4-way switches like the bomb arm switch on the F-5, etc) don’t cut it :slight_smile: and the only solution I’ve found are spending 200+bucks on legit Honeywell switches or building or buying a mill/lathe/etc to manufacture your own switch caps. Both of which would be fun, but financially insane.

I hear you.

I’ve given up on such specific projects. Besides you valid financial sanity argument, It would probably take me longer to finish such a panel than my interest in the current flight module lasted.

The past revealed that I spent less and less time at the stick of one specific aircraft. There’s so much to fly and too little time.

Thus I moved to a more generic homepit layout which allows me to reuse the same hardware for different aircraft and even different simulators.

This also leads to another problem: When trying to emulate on speciic panel or even the whole cockpit of an aircraft, you can use existing documentation (e.g. from that DCS module) to see which switch triggers what action.

When using a generic panel you run into the same dilemma that you face when using “fantasy” sticks like Saitek or Logitech. You need to map functions to keys/switches and remember this configuration.

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Yeah the more I think about it the more I want to make a generic panel that sort of spans the modules (for DCS at least) and covers high use switches in all planes. Hmm…some planning is in order. …