Flight Simulator

Instructions

this is a hack!

These are the instructions for operating and transporting the 6-screen X-Plane 11 based flight simulator built in April 2017 for the Geneva Aeroclub's Open Day.

Rationale

The idea was to make a set-up that could be used with normal tables and chairs in a reasonable room.

The simulator should be used on top of three standard tables (750mm high; 1600mmx800mm top). Use a normal chair, (seat at 450 to 500mm from the floor of the room). The head of the pilot is about at the vertical middle of the screens. The pedals, flap lever and trim wheel must then be higher up than the floor of the room, therefore they are mounted on a panel at the side of the "floor" plank. The floor plank allows adjustment of the distances between the pilot and the control panel and the pilot and the pedals, while using the weight of the pilot to prevent the pedals from shifting.

Terminology

cap cap: roof cap: vertical panels "floor" substrate plank screens 1 2 3 4 5 6 instrument panel computer

There are six main parts: the computer, the screens, the cap, the substrate plank, the instrument panel and the "floor" (which supports the pedals, flap lever, trim wheel, has room for a chair and normally lies on the floor of the room).  The "floor" is thus called because it corresponds to the floor in the plane.

The substrate plank carries the computer (hidden behind the screens in the above image), the screens and the instrument panel.

Each screen is fixed in a screen support.  The supports are numbered 1 to 6 from left to right. This numbering is important in the assembly/disassembly process.

The cap is composed of six vertical panels (that slot into the top of each screen support) and a horizontal roof.

Operation

Follow these steps:

  1. Switch on the main multiple.
  2. Switch on the computer by the button on top.  The screens should light up, each screen has a power button at its bottom right corner, but this button can only be reached from inside the support; the buttons should all be "on".
  3. Wait for all screens to show the Windows background.
  4. Click the wireless mouse button and make sure it can move all the way from screen 1 to screen 6.  If this is not the case, adjust the screen sequence in the Windows settings.
  5. Double-click the master version of XP11.  Choose Resume Flight or New Flight.  Wait until the plane's interior shows on screens 3 and 4.  Then double click the slave versions.  Choose "Resume Flight" only, which will connect them to the master instance.  Wait until screen pair 1 and 2 and pair 5 and 6 show the rest of the scenery (connecting and synchronising may take several seconds).
  6. Put the mouse in the main instance (screen 3 or 4), move it to the top in either screen until the menu bar appears there.  Choose settings at the right of the menu bar.  Choose joystick, and calibrate the controls (yoke, pedals, levers etc.).
  7. Move the position of the pilot's head to the right in the plane by pressing the left arrow on the keyboard three times.  This should put the compass closer to the middle of the view.  Use the hatswitch (top left arm of yoke) to turn the pilot's head so that the line of sight straight ahead runs through the middle of screen 3 (instead of between screen 3 and 4).  The compass should now be just to the right of the separation between screens 3 and 4.
  8. In the "Flight" menu, choose the conditions of the flight and the departure aerodrome.

These buttons are on the keyboard:

Disassembling for transport

Warning: during disassembly keep the screws in small labelled boxes.  Screw dimensions are given in mm, diameter followed by length: 4x20 means 4mm diameter and 20mm long.

Remove the cap: the cap is made of a roof which is a horizontal 3mm plate of MDF in two polygonal sections screwed to horizontal beams, and six vertical panels atop the screen supports.

The panels are numbered.  Those atop screens 1 and 6 have a vertical beam to better support the roof.

Remove the back panels of all six screen supports.  Those panels are identical and are not numbered.  They consist of a 3mm MDF plate with four bolts.  The bolts rest on screws fitted in the sides of the screen supports.  Their function is purely decorative.

Screen support 3 is special:  it has an opening at the front through which the USB cables for the controls are fed.  It also carries a mains multiple for the power of the screens and a mains powered USB hub.

The speakers are located in supports 3 and 4.

Make a note of how the cables are fed through the openings in the sides of the screen supports.  The pedals and throttle quadrant are connected to the USB outlets of the yoke;  the trim, flap quadrant, switches, radios and autopilot panel are connected to the powered USB hub; the instruments must be connected directly to the computer.  The cables are connected to the computer in this way:

GeForce 1080 motherboard instrument 3 keyboard (bluetooth dongle) USB powered hub instrument 2 instrument 1 Ethernet router SIM audio DP HDMI DVI DVI HDMI DP DP DP GeForce 1020 screen 1 screen 2 screen 3 screen 4 screen 5 screen 6 pedals & throttle quadrant → yoke → hub instruments → directly into computer trim, flap quadrant, switches, radios, autopilot → hub

There are two internet connections: a small black WiFi device on top of the computer and directly connected to a USB port, and a larger, white WiFi router with an Ethernet cable and a separate power supply.  The first one should be connected to available WiFi as XP11 checks the product code at startup.  The second one creates a local network with SSID SIM and password ????? which is used for the XP11 control app that runs on an iPad and the AirnavPro bridge that runs also on an iPad.

Remove all the USB cables for the controls.  Ensure no labels are damaged or lost.  There are two bundles:  one for the instruments, one for the floor.  The cables for the instruments can be unplugged from the instruments, but the cables of the panels (switches, radios, autopilot) cannot be unplugged from the panels.  The yoke feeds the USB of the pedals and the throttle quadrant.

Warning:  the "floor" can be easily damaged in transport because the flap lever may move up unexpectedly.  During transport, carry the floor vertically, make sure the pedals are at the bottom and make sure the USB cables at the end are not caught or crushed.

Remove the floor.  Note that all three of the controls fixed to the floor have USB cable extensions.  The pedals are connected to the yoke, the flaps and trim are connected to the powered hub.

Unscrew the instrument panel.  It is held to the substrate plank by two 3x10 screws.  Unscrew the yoke, it is held to the substrate plank with four 4x20 screws.

Unplug all cables from the back of the computer.  Displayport plugs hook into their sockets, press the button on the plug (it may be on the bottom side of the plug).  Remove the computer.

Remove all the video cables from the displays.  Remove all the power cables from the displays.

There now remain only the six screens in their supports.  They are screwed into the substrate plank by 4x20 screws, two for each support.  Detach the screen supports, leave the screens in their supports.  Under normal circumstances they cannot fall out.  Pick the supports up by their top.

Remove the substrate plank.

Assembling after transport

Follow the inverse sequence of disassembly.  There is a problem in positioning the screen supports exactly over the screw holes in the substrate plank before screwing them onto it.  Use a thin, long object such as a toothpick, or a very thin screwdriver, to feel through the holes in the bottom of each screen support for the screw holes in the substrate plank.  There are also pencil marks on the substrate plank for initial positioning.  Start with screens 3 and 4, then 2 and 5 and finally 1 and 6.

Block light coming through gaps with black paper on the outside, or strips of black foam.

Ensure that the sound level (button on the left speaker) is set high enough, control the real setting with the keys on the keyboard.