Custom Homemade Flight Simulator (DCS) Control Switchboard

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by Paragonnova, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. Paragonnova

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 3, 2016
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    I am in the early stages of theorizing the construction of my own switchboard that i can map commands to on the flight simulator game DCS: World. I have put some hours of research into methods of connecting 30-75 different switches to a circuit that will connect to a PC via a USB connection. I have run into some issues surrounding my own lack of experience in doing anything above a GCSE education level (A* Level qualification in electronics). The following problems that i am facing, any help would be extremely appreciated.

    1)Connecting 30-75 different switches to a single circuit that would successfully enable me to map them to a command on DCS and function correctly.

    2)Having certain switches such as "weapons being armed" and "landing gear being either up or down" displayed via the use of red and green LED's. so using a SPST switch, the downwards position would mean green LED active and the same switch in the up position being gear up and the red LED active.

    3) I am surely going to be running into more problems and am already aware of a few others. That being said, i am reluctant to write all of them because this is my first post on AAC and do not know whether the help with be all that beneficial (Sorry XD). But i am ready to be proven wrong.
     
  2. ISB123

    Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2014
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    You will need to use HID capable IC to be able to communicate with PC and the MCU.After you figure that out you are going to have to multiplex the buttons since cheap MCU's don't have that much IO pins.To make this possible you will need extensive knowledge of programing in C and understanding of how OS interfaces with HID devices.

    It would be easier to hack cheap keyboard as switchboard than to design the whole thing from scratch.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2016
  3. Paragonnova

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 3, 2016
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    This was one of the ideas I as thinking of, though I would have to use an older keyboard as they often used actual PCB's with tracks and all rather than the more modern keyboards and their film like circuitry
     
  4. Paragonnova

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 3, 2016
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    Anyone have an idea of how i would mod the keyboard to effectively use flip switches and perhaps even potentiometers for things like gun pods and auto pilot etc
     
  5. John P

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 14, 2008
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    You've posted in the embedded systems and microcontrollers section, so that's what you should expect to hear about.

    It's entirely possible to create your panel by wiring each switch in series with a diode, and then making up a grid (10x10, say) of rows and columns, each connected to a pin of a microcontroller, with a switch at each crosspoint. Then the whole array can be scanned fast enough that a human won't detect any delay. (The diodes wouldn't be needed if the switches were pushbuttons and you didn't need to have arbitrary combinations of them operated at once.)

    For LED outputs, the MAX7219 driver chip can operate 64 of them in any combination, again using a matrix wiring scheme.

    Then you connect the serial port of the processor to a USB-to-UART converter--very cheap on eBay--and when it's connected up, the whole thing will look like a serial port to the computer. The microcontroller needs to be programmed to do the scanning and driving and send/receive data over the USB line.
     
  6. ronnietucker

    New Member

    Dec 31, 2015
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    I made a simple switch box (for X-Plane) using an old USB gamepad. I stripped it down to the circuit board and soldered wires to switches and then, in the game, mapped the appropriate command to the gamepad button. It worked OK, but not fantastic.

    You can get small USB boards that are purposely for making flight sim control boards. The boards have little clips for each wire (coming from a switch) and have a couple of clips specifically for rotary dials. Those are mainly for dual dials for things like radio tuning.

    I'm no expert, but if you need more info I can dig out a USB board I have (but never used) and get you links to them.
     
  7. Paragonnova

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 3, 2016
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    That would be great, if its not too much trouble. Need all of the help that I can get really.
     
  8. ronnietucker

    New Member

    Dec 31, 2015
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    These boards from Leo Bodnar are probably what you're after:
    http://www.leobodnar.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=94
    [​IMG]
    From the page:
    A USB joystick interface board with simple push in wire connectors to connect buttons, rotary encoders and switches to a PC or Mac.

    Build your own gaming device, whether it be a flight panel, button box, joystick, robot controls and more......the list is limited by your imagination.

    Also suitable for converting gameport devices or connecting real life controls to turn them into a USB device suitable to be used by almost any simulation or game software without the need of installing any drivers.

    Inputs
    32 button / 16 rotary encoder / 11 BBI-32 rotary switch inputs
     
  9. Paragonnova

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 3, 2016
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    This looks really promising, however i fear that i may be using more controls than the controller allows. I have read of the information that the page presents on the board and could not for the life of me find out whether i could mount two of theses boards is any combination, being that they each have thier own USB connection slot. In addition to this, i am still pondering on the following

    Having certain switches such as "weapons being armed" and "landing gear being either up or down" displayed via the use of red and green LED's. so using a SPST switch, the downwards position would mean green LED active and the same switch in the up position being gear up and the red LED active.
     
  10. ronnietucker

    New Member

    Dec 31, 2015
    6
    0
    I think you can use multiple boards as, from what I read, each board has a unique ID so that your PC can recognise which board is which.

    You can attach LEDs to switches. They have a diagram for it on the site there.
     
  11. Paragonnova

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 3, 2016
    6
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    I could not see this diagram that you speak of, mind linking the image directly?
     
  12. ronnietucker

    New Member

    Dec 31, 2015
    6
    0
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