Advice on Simpit Project w/Rift.

Shootingiron

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TLDR: Two things, what do you guys think of my concept, and where can I go to learn how to build switches, etc for my simpit project?

Hello!

Well, it’s official, I’m going to build a simulator. Unfortunately it’s going to be a Cessna 172 and not a DG-IV. This is because I want to use it primarily as an actual technical/procedures trainer to support getting my private pilot’s license … and also because it’s cool. =)

Because I’m learning to fly, and because a garage airplane is actually quite a bit different than a real airplane, I –must- make this simulator as immersive as possible. Unfortunately that standard meant buying or building this: http://www.fspilotshop.com/vrinisght-prop-cockpit-trainer-p-2561.html. And 7k USD before I even get the monitors built is ... unreasonable.

However I had an epiphany a few weeks ago … an Oculus Rift would be an excellent solution for a number of reasons; a 3D headset is about as visually immersive as anyone can get, it might even be cheaper than a multiple monitor set up and even though the headset restricts my real-world view, a C172 cockpit is simple enough to be able to operate by feel.

So … I don’t need to make a perfectly immersive cockpit anymore, I only need to make a physically immersive cockpit (all the switches/control items, not the gauges/visual items) and rely on the Rift for visual immersion.
I’m an electronics beginner, so the plan is to buy as much off the shelf as I can and build the rest.

I have: Saitek Pro Flight Yoke/rudder pedals and 3 lever throttle cluster, old but serviceable

Just bought: Saitek Pro Flight switch panel, throttle/prop/mixture panel and trim wheel.

Will buy: Occulus Rift and new computer to run it.

Might buy: Radio stack

Will build: obviously the cockpit framework, but also the important switches; Wing flap switch (a lever), Fuel Selector valve handle (dial), carb heat control knob (push/pull switch) and multiple rotary switches for altimeter, ADF, VOR, gyro, etc.

Might build: less important switches, static pressure alt. source valve (push/pull), panel and radio light dimming switches (rheostats), A/C, heat controls (for a cold garage), etc, etc …

So, the real bottle neck here is the long list of switches and dials that I have to build from scratch and the fact that I really don’t know where to start … any advice?

George
 

PhantomCruiser

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Maybe a 3D printer would be a decent investment/build?
 

thepenguin

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DISCLAIMER: I have never built a simpit, nor do I have plans to in the near future.

I know it's probably too late to go down this road, but for the level of cost you are talking about, it almost makes more sense to buy an old (potentially non-airworthy) plane and rewire the switches and controls. I would imagine that a plane (with engine/airframe issues) which was sufficiently old might cost less than than panel you linked to. I don't know how much the internal panels have changed over the years, but I have seen some reasonably old planes (even flightworthy ones) for ~$10,000-$15,000, and I would imagine that you could get non-flightworthy planes for much less (given that otherwise they would end up in a scrapyard)...

All of this may be completely wrong, but that's just my 2 cents on this matter. I don't see why you're trying to recreate the appearance of something when you can get the real thing (potentially for a lower price)...

This isn't just a question for you, but for simpit-builders in general. I could see having to go custom to build a DGIV simpit, but for a real production aircraft, I see very little reason not to go this route.
 

Hielor

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Using physical switches while wearing a VR headset sounds to me like it will be an exercise in frustration. Without the visual feedback of where your hand is going, precise targeting will be quite difficult...
 

Shootingiron

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Thepenguin: I intend only to build the instrument pannel and have the required switches mounted in the appropriate positions.

Heilor: I pretty much fly by feel now anyways and know where the switches are without looking (Flaps are below and left of the right yoke, Carb heat is to the left of the throttle, etc). Ultimately there is talk on getting the users hand to show up in the Rift. But I'll concede this fact in regards to the radio stack, a major reason, behind cost, why I might not be buying one.

PhantomCruiser: The CNC will have to come first. =)

I'm looking for input into how to build the extra switches and how to get them to speak to the computer, what's the best route?

Cheers, GS
 
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bhickcox

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There is a simpler solution

Hi - you might want to look at FlyInside FSX as a solution for your Oculus Rift based flight sim. They did a Kickstarter this summer, based on an early prototype. I believe the intent is to allow you to manipulate the controls inside the view by moving your hands, thus eliminating the need to have physical buttons.
 

Mulbin

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Apologies if this is considered a necro, but I've got some valid info to add!

I'm developing VR cockpits for my own game, and I am building simpit panels for fun. I had wondered if I could combine the two to make a "sit in" mercury capsule for future trade shows and conventions.

If you are using Oculus then I'd recommend taking a look at a product called "Leap Motion". It's about $40 and sits on the fron of the headset. What it does is amazing, by using built in cameras it scans and tracks the exact position of your hands and fingers allowing them to be synced to a 3D model so you can actually see your hands in VR. I believe it is supported by Fly Inside FSX (which is what I assume you will be using).
 
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