July-Aug
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     The Pit Newsletter 

Welcome to the Bi-monthly newsletter.

In this issue we will look at how switches and buttons are added to cockpits to replace the keyboard and mouse clicks.

The  newsletter will give you insight into the different types of flight simulation, technical articles, tips and reviews.

We will also look at the products, accessories, hardware, software and just about anything that makes the world of flight simulation more realistic and enjoyable.

The newsletter will also keep members abreast of what other enthusiast are doing in the community.

Your newsletter ....   We invite you to participate  and email any stories, interesting tips, events, announcements or any contributions you feel may be of  interest  to the flight simulation community. Please email any contributions to: newsletter@kwikpit.com

A Plug .........
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We hope you enjoy our unique line of cockpit products. We have strived to keep prices low as compared to anything else on the market.

Check out our products at www.kwikpit.com  thank you for your patronage.

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The KwikPit Team

 

 

Switches and Buttons

While you're surfing the internet looking at some of the sophisticated flight simulator cockpits you may have noticed the control panels with their vast amount of switches and buttons. These switches and buttons replace the keyboard and mouse for many of the functions of a flight simulator and add more realism to the simulation. You may have been thinking I'd sure like to add a small switch panel to my KwikPit that would be awesome (right?). Many of these switches or control panels are commercially made for simulator cockpits and can be quite expensive. You can see some of these units in the May-June-09 issue of the Newsletter. The great thing is that the technology is available for you to build a custom switch panel for use with your own simulator cockpit or desktop. So lets get on with it.

                    DIY Cockpit Switches

One popular device that has made it possible to use switches and buttons with simulations are the Keyboard emulators 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 are:

                              Open Cockpit's IO-Card               Xkeys

                                KEUSB108               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 additional details.

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).

 

  

Rocker and 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 emulator.

There are 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 http:www.simhq.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2942210/1.html



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