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 )
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.