popular device that has made it
possible to use switches and buttons with simulations are the
Microsoft Flight Simulator are usually
given by a single keystroke or a combination of keystrokes. The
emulator is able to convert a switch or button push into a
flight simulator command. the emulator usually has a circuit
built in so that you won't get a continuous keypress when the
switch is turned from the on to off or off to on position.
Some examples of these keyboard emulators
Cockpit's IO-Card Xkeys
Leo Bodnar's BU0836X
Click on the
pictures to find out more about the boards. All of the following
examples are taken from some of the flight sim forums are based
on these boards from the simple to the complex.
Types of Switches
There are many
types of switches.
Sim forums are a great place for this information. By the way
it’s a great idea to join some of the forums if you enjoy flight
simulation and want to see what others are up to. They’re a
great place to get your questions answered too.
Here is a excerpt from "Build Your Own Sim Cockpit" by
Herman Lenferink which is a great overview on switches.
"Within a cockpit there is a wide range
of switches. When you begin to explore the options, you will
soon discover that switches have a lot of variation in
characteristics, such as the number of pins, whether they are
non-shorting, etc. Following is a brief overview of the various
types of switches. A search on the Internet and information
provided by simulator cockpit suppliers will provide you with
A large number of switches are used to
make a selection, such as lights (on/off) or fuel tanks. The
most common group includes toggle switches, rocker switches, and
push-button switches. These switches are typically used
to switch a device (e.g., a light) on or off. The toggle
switches have a more classic style, while the rocker and
push-button switches are more modern. With respect to the toggle
and rocker types of switches, it is important to be aware that
there are many variations: on-off, on-off-on, and (on)-off
(where the indication '(on)' means 'momentary'; pressing the
switch to the left side makes contact, but when released the
switch goes back into the 'off' position).
push-button types of switches are available with built-in
lights. It is also possible to make a selection by turning the
knob on a rotary switch. These are called rotary select switches
and allow you to select from two or more positions. Each
position has its own contact pins and represents a specific
selection. A special version of the rotary switch is the thumb
wheel switch, used in classic radio stacks and older fighter
planes. Within an average cockpit there are a considerable
number of rotary-type knobs (rotary switches) to tune
instruments, radio equipment, and navigation equipment. In a
simulator cockpit, this type of tuning is often processed by
generating pulses that in turn drive, for example, a keyboard
basically three types of rotary switches that generate pulses.
The most practical in use are the rotary pulse switches. The
basic principle of these switches is that they have four pins
(A, B, C, D). If you turn the switch clockwise, a pulse
(contact) is made on the pins 'A' and 'B.' If you turn it
counterclockwise, a pulse is made on pins 'C' and 'D.' For many
applications related to digital control, these switches are very
useful and practical. The other variants are incremental rotary
encoders and absolute rotary encoders. A search on the Internet
will provide you with all the details you need."
If this article
has peaked your interest and you're thinking about giving it a
try go to this tutorial that shows step by step how someone
built a simple panel and what is required. Check it out at
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