Building the Boeing 737 MCP
After building the MCP prototype and later the multi-purpose MCP hardware solution, it was time for a 1:1 approach for the MCP.
What I aimed for, was a “black box”-solution, where the MCP only has one connection cable, and a solution that could be built in a cockpit as well as stand freely on a desktop.
That called for 3 things:
– a MCP front panel
– a MCP case
– a PCB hardware solution
I already designed the SimulConn flight simulator hardware, so I needed an approach for the case and the front panel.
737 MCP front panel
I have been following Karl on 737diysim.com for a while and was inspired by his professionalism and pursuit of the inexpensive alternative in flight simulation, so I bought the CAD/CAM drawings of his project. I can really encourage you to take a look at his work.
Karl already made the Boeing 737 MCP panel, so why not use his good work, instead of spending a huge amount of time to try to make it myself.
I made some changes to Karl’s MCP, which include:
- assemble panel with M3 screws
- mountable in desktop case
- support for stand alone 7-segment display
- minor additional changes
737 MCP case
The next step was the case for the 737 MCP, to hold both the MCP front panel and the SimulConn hardware.
The MCP needs 38 x inputs, 17 x LED’s and 6 x 7-segment displays. With SimulConn the I/O-Input board supports 16 inputs, so 3 input boards will be needed. The I/O-Led board supports 64 LEDs, so a single board is needed. And the I/O-7s board supports 8 displays, so one board is also sufficient here. To connect all the boards together, an Extension board is needed.
The case need to hold all boards nescesary for the electronics, and at the same time be as small as possible. There is not much room for cables inside, but its sufficient.
The panel just behind the front, is a surface to mount an LED strip or similar to backlight the front panel.
On the backside of the case there are 3 holes:
- Power for backlight
- Power for SimulConn (optional. System is powered through the ribbon cable)
- Ribbon cable for connection to the Master board
Connection to X-plane
Inside the MCP box there are 6 PCB boards:
- Extension board
- 7-segment board
- LED board
- Input board 1
- Input board 2
- Input board 3 (currently missing on the picture)
The MCP uses one external connection, between the Extension board inside the PCB and the Master board placed outside the MCP.
The Master board has the connection to the PC’s USB port, and has an onboard Arduino Mega 2560.
Get more info here: Setting up X-plane hardware.
One of the more easy tasks in building the flight simulator is to do the SimVim configuration mapping.
You can go to the configurator on the SimVim website and build it up step by step.
Click the control you want to use, and assign it to the board/port it must control.
Use SimVim’s Input Option to test whether you have mapped the hardware to the correct function in the simulator.
You can also edit the daa.cfg file in the folder X-Plane 11\Resources\plugins\SimVim.
Click HERE to get the SimVim configuration i am using.