Multi purpose flight simulator hardware

Multi purpose flight simulator hardware

After the first test prototype, I was now ready for the second prototype for the Boeing 737 MCP. See the first prototype HERE.

Flight simulator PCB

For this prototype, I developed a multi-purpose flight simulator PCB. The goal was to make a standard PCB that could be used for many different parts of a flight simulator, no matter the type. Not that I saw it as the end product, but I needed to start somewhere, and get experience, to know what I really wanted.

flight simulaltor hardware

The multi-purpose flight simulator system consists of two different types of boards. A MASTER board and an I/O board.
Each MASTER board can control 4 different I/O boards (NOTE: rev2 can control 8 I/O boards), and each I/O board can drive the following hardware:

  • 32x switch inputs
  • 16x LED outputs
  • 2x LCD displays (1602)

I chose to use the LCD display instead of multiple 7-segment displays, cause it’s easier to build from. The LCD has 2 lines of 16 characters. So for the MCP for instance, I can show all the output data in one LCD display.

The following components are needed for the IO board:

  • 4x 74HC4051 – Input multiplexer
  • 1x DM13A – LED driver
  • 2x L7805CV – Voltage regulator
  • 2x 1uF electrolytic capacitor
  • 7x 100nF capacitor
  • 1x 1K resistor
  • 4x 10K resistor
  • 3x 10K trim potmeter
  • optional connecters

Desktop design

Another goal was to make the PCB desktop friendly. Meaning that it will fit inside a standard desktop case.

I found a box, with a tilted surface, that would look good on the desk. And designed the PCB to fit into several sizes of this box type.

Making the holes in the top wasn’t really fun. I was not satisfied with the result. This should be done on a CNC machine for sure, but it was a prototype after all. I am building a 3D printed frame in the near future.

Boeing 737 MCP

The first component of the Boeing 737 became the MCP, as I use it a lot. The MCP has 14 push buttons, with light. There are few parts on the internet for this purpose to select from, but I choose THIS button, as it can be mounted in a hole. For the toggle switches, I used THIS part. For the rotary switch, I used THIS encoder. For the display, I used THIS part.

Everything fitted nicely inside the box, and the MCP came to life.
Now, just the connection between the hardware and X-plane was remaining. Doing the mapping SimVim was pretty easy, and the MCP was done.

The multi-purpose IO board is discontinued and is now replaced by a modular system. Read more about it HERE.