SimpleINS - a X-plane/DCS INS/UFC

A month or two ago I came across a really neat unit on aliexpress:

It’s a TM1638! Though that is technically the name of the chip, these boards can be found online on more local hardware websites or the massive juggernauts for less then 2 euro’s!

The chip got my interest because I had been building a INS unit(still am) with a MAX7219 chip. This board had a whole 4x4 button matrix already integrated!
The QYF-TM1638 is the version with more buttons and less LED’s. There is also a 8 button and 8-LED version floating about that works almost the same.

So I ordered two of these and got to work. The idea is to get a cheap INS unit that requires no coding, just uploading on the users part and can be done by anyone that can read.

The TM1638 is controlled by an Arduino/python compatible board. Currently I am developing the code on my laptop with Pyfirmata/Pymata, a python implementation with the firmata protocol that runs on the Arduino, which itself is based on the well known MIDI protocol(yes the audio one).

The code I am developing is suitable for X-plane 10/11 and DCS(with a operational DCS-BIOS installation) and communicates over the UDP protocol. This means that you can run it locally on the same computer or networked over a computer.

For those of you playing along a home there is a Github repository at https://github.com/TheAlmightySnark/SimpleINS

I will not place direct buy links for products given that the hardware is easy to find locally or internationally if one so desires.

The Bill of Materials currently stands at:
QYF TM1638 (About 2 euro’s)
Arduino based board(Nano/Uno original/clone) (about 2 euro’s)
Laptop or computer with USB output and a cable that fits the Arduino board of choice. (yeah erm… you ough to have this already :wink: )
Python 3.7 installed with Pyfirmata. (free!)
3D printed enclosure(unknown price)

The end goal is to produce a small INS unit as cheap and easy as possible and have a relative accessible way for people to learn interface building for simulators!

Some ‘vanity’ shots to show that it is currently communicating with X-plane.

Happy to discuss/share/receive idea’s and input! Been working on this almost daily for about two months now and making some good progress.

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Fun project!
I’m following…

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It is! Happy to discuss any specific questions related to inputs and outputs! That’s question with myself kicked off this project

Viggen computer possibilities?

@outbaxx has done some work on that…

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Yes relatively easy too, it’s a matter of changing the commands the computer needs to send. For example pressing the UFC button 1 on the Harrier is a matter of sending a UDP command to the computer running DCS and DCS BIOS. It’s something like “command UFC_1 1\n”. Not quite sure, I already forgot exactly which one I used for testing. It’s easy, that’s what I am saying :wink:

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I’m looking at the video and I’m thinking how great that would be…and then remember that I couldn’t see it while using VR…quite the conundrum :thinking:

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I would like to try and build it and place it in real space, where my VR image tell me it should be, and see if I can use it. Wouldn’t need the display, if that works in VR.
Sorry for the hijack. @TheAlmightySnark :slight_smile:

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No worries, I am fully open to expand the conversation here. I just try and use off the shelf parts, but making an input panel that is viggen like suited for VR ough to fit right in!

@Hangar200 just checked, the UFC clear button on the harrier can be controlled by sending a UDP command “UFC_CLEAR 1\n”. Where by 1 is pressing it down and 0 letting go.

It’s quite easy making a simple input panel for DCS once you get DCS-BIOS functioning!

On another note, the TM1638 now fully works with X-plane. It’s not as fast as I’d like but let’s call it V0.1!

Now to finish the housing!

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