Space Shuttle Simulator

TheShuttleExperience

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Just another "little" Simpit. So this thread will represent my project which I call "The Shuttle Experience". Since I will use Orbiter and SSU I think this is the right place to go.

The Simulator will feature the Space Shuttle's Flight Deck as well as the Mid-Deck. Due to limited ceiling height it won't be one-to-one scale. Standing in it won't be possible. But there is no real necessity to do so (see later...). The goal is to recreate the environment a real Shuttle astronaut would experience visually and aurally. Most checklist procedures will work in this simulator. Event timers and mission timer will work. I did not yet figure out if an how to extract the MFDs of SSU to external monitors. But the plan is to use external MFDs on monitors/tablets behind the front panels.

I will post updates on a regular basis...
 

TheShuttleExperience

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While I am waiting for the DIY markets to be reopened again, I'm currently collecting all the no less important tiny things from the internet...

The PT1A event timer as being used by NASA for quite some time:

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Got two for the flight station, one for the aft station and one for the mid-deck. And a few more as spare parts.

Velcro, lots of velcro:

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Got 25 meters. Should be enough for now. Will be placed everywhere in a historical order as shown on NASA images.

And I already got a little bit for my ACES suit (and blue training overall) replica:

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The helmet might be a 3D print. I have a few concepts in my mind already...
 

cyph0r

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Sounds like an exciting and ambitious project! (y)

I did not yet figure out if an how to extract the MFDs of SSU to external monitors.

The easiest way of doing this is to use ExtMFD or VNCMFD, but I think you'll still need to modify SSU a little bit for it to work. This is because by default the externally created MFDs will not connect to the Orbiter's MDUs and hence show only a black screen. I solved this for my own simpit project a while ago by simply mapping the first created external MFD to the CDR1 MDU, the second one to CDR2, then CRT1 and so on. This is probably not the best way of doing it, but it works for me. Attached is a quick-and-dirty patch for the current development branch that might help you out there. No warranties :D
 

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TheShuttleExperience

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Sounds like an exciting and ambitious project! (y)



The easiest way of doing this is to use ExtMFD or VNCMFD, but I think you'll still need to modify SSU a little bit for it to work. This is because by default the externally created MFDs will not connect to the Orbiter's MDUs and hence show only a black screen. I solved this for my own simpit project a while ago by simply mapping the first created external MFD to the CDR1 MDU, the second one to CDR2, then CRT1 and so on. This is probably not the best way of doing it, but it works for me. Attached is a quick-and-dirty patch for the current development branch that might help you out there. No warranties :D

Yeah, it's indeed exciting and a little ambitious. But I just can't refuse. I grew up with the Shuttle like we all did. It became quite a part of my life more than two decades ago. And now there is a tiny "launch window" that just opened in my life in terms of available money, time, space and technology/software. So my brain is constantly shouting "Do it! Do it! Do it!". And so I have to 😄 I'm very curious what the outcome might look like and be like. But it seems very promising...

Thanks a lot for your file and hint! I'll have a look. I already got multiple TVs and Displays so I can do some nice stuff during the development process. If your solution works, no matter how, I'm already more than excited. I don't expect miracles, but just a nice flightdeck+mid-deck replica working somehow along with Orbiter+SSU (y)
 

TheShuttleExperience

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While I am waiting for the arrival of my 3D printer (Creality Ender 3 Pro), I got another tiny but important piece for the ACES suit...

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TheShuttleExperience

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I got the filament. The printer also arrived. The colour seems to be perfect for the switch guards. Even looks like metall...

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TheShuttleExperience

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I did the first 3D print. It's the switch tip. And I would say the result of that prototype is quite impressive:

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TheShuttleExperience

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Nothing big to report yet. I'm still testing, but with success. I printed the first switch guard, got the paint for the instrument panels and did some funny velcro testing...

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gattispilot

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Which shuttle cockpit are you doing? The one with 3 displays or 10?
 

TheShuttleExperience

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Which shuttle cockpit are you doing? The one with 3 displays or 10?
This is a very good question. I thought about it quite intensely. Personally I prefer the old CRT and analogue equipment. But my conclusion was and is that doing the AAVIs, AMIs, and FDAIs would be a lot of work. And I don't think that I have the capability to make them work with Orbiter yet. SSU offers very nice MFD displays so this will reduce efforts quite a lot for just building the MEDS version. I just have to 3D-print the MFD frames and put monitors/tablets behind them. But it might be a future option to make a replaceable version for the old instruments.

The cockpit won't be a fixed structure like most simpits by the way. It will be held together by nuts just like furniture. And I will build it in modules so I can just put them together or dismantle it in case I move in the future. Construction will start with the framework, floor and middeck first, and then later putting the flightdeck on top (just below the ceiling of the room). Instrument panels will be implemented at the end, except for the middeck. I will post drawings and start building soon... :)
 

TheShuttleExperience

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The first switches arrived yesterday. My initial thought was: uh, they might be a little small. But once put together it looks amazing...

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It's on/off/on switches. I won't get spring-loaded ones but I think I can live with that. I even found the switches used on the Shuttles (without guards). They're made by Honeywell and still sold. But buying a couple of hundreds would ruin my budget. So DIY is the way to go. I got these 10 switches for only 6 Euro/7 USD. So it's a 100 for only 60 Euro! And they're usable for up to 220 volts. I will connect a few things to them, like a real cabin fan (a pipe vent for keeping the air inside the sim fresh for 24-72 hours mission duration).
 

TheShuttleExperience

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Got my engraving machine today. I will run a few tests within the next few days. Meanwhile I'm experimenting with food and drinks. My simulator is supposed for missions ranging from 24 to 72 hours. So it's not just a simulator for piloting the Shuttle but actually for simulating the entire stay on the flightdeck and middeck from prelaunch until after wheels stop and postlanding procedures. It just will include everything, from personal hygiene, a working WCS, food and even a medical kit. I have so many ideas in my mind and I will just do all of it...

Sadly it's hard if not impossible to get the real drinking bags. They're made by Capri Sun but I guess not sold to private customers. So I got these as an alternative on ebay:

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The velcro even holds filled bags in almost any position:

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This is a nice way to create the illusion of weightlessness when there is none. The concept is to stick everything to walls/the roof via velcro, tape and elastic bands.
 

TheShuttleExperience

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The engraving machine works like a charm. Once configured correctly one can do almost anything with it. So in conjunction with the 3D printer it will be relatively easy to replicate the entire instrument panels of the Shuttle. It's just amazing what we can do with affordable tools these days. I will order the first bunch of materials next week, and start building.

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Phil Smith

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TheShuttleExperience,​

man, that's promising!:hailprobe: Yeah, 3d printer and 3018 router are your best friends during this endeavor :) I have Tevo Tornado with build volume of 300x300x400 mm and right now I've almost finished modifying my CNC3018 pro with new electronics and mechatronics to be more rigid and repeatable.
what deck height do you consider? About 1.2 m each? Do you have some kind of plans/sketches of pit structure to share please?

Cheers!
 
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TheShuttleExperience

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Thanks for your interest Phil :) It's great too see that I'm not the only freak on the planet. Well, the first tests with my printer and engraving machines were very promising so far. I can only print 220x220x250 but its perfectly fine for my project.

For now the project runs as expected. I'm still waiting for all the tools and further machines I ordered. My intention is to publish almost everything regarding documents, photos and videos. Right now I am working on the manual which I call "FCOMM" - Flight Crew Operations and Maintenance Manual. It includes a construction guide and informations and checklists for operations, maintenance and a condensed version of NASAs STS Flight Crew Operations Manual for future flight training. As soon as the first drawings are finished I will share them.

It turns out that my simulator will include almost the complete Crew Systems stuff, which is actually awesome. So in future, checklists will have a very different meaning compared to just running a desktop simulation. I am currently also experimenting with freeze-dried food and snacks, repack and vacuumize it and put lables on it to make it look as real as possible...

You are almost right about the deck height. That was the big compromise of the project. The other option would be not to build it, which is actually no option. When I first thought about it in detail, it turned out that there is no need for being able to stand in it. Since I will either sit in the commander or pilot seat, sit in the aft station for payload ops, or have a meal and take a nap on the middeck. And since I am retalively short (171) and sporty, I gave it a go. And there is this great idea in my mind of building a mission specialist seat for the middeck which can be quickly converted to a swivel chair, so that I can turn and pull and push myself through the middeck in a typically position easily, just like one would do in zero g except flips of course.

In general, the lower frame of the simulator and flight deck floor/middeck roof will consist of consctruction timber, something like 8x8cm. The flight deck on top will consist of roof battens to save weight. The entire outside will be covered with 5mm MDF panels, painted white and with sound insulation on the inner surface like in a car. The frame will also be covered with sound insulation. On the outside the sim will look like a giant white cube with two hatches in it (side hatch and airlock hatch for maintenance/loading) and three big TV screens attached each to windows 3&4, 7&8 and 9&10. Windows 1, 2, 5 and 6 will have no see-through capability. They will just look black behind the acrylic panes but like windows 3 and 4 they will include orange LED lighting to simulate the plasma glow during entry, which I hope will create a breath taking atmosphere inside the sim. The two aft overhead observation windows will include small white flashing LED stripes hidden in the edges to simulate the glowing/flashing rudder during entry. There will also be some cables and tubes going out/into the sim for the electronics and the venting system of course.

I will post drawings soon...
 
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Phil Smith

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Yeah, I'm a freak indeed LOL If i had enough space I'd like to build full raven star cabin with 2 axes 360 DOF :D

If you plan building fully enclosed pit as I do, you need to work out ECS (environmental control system), including CO2 absorption. I've been designing the system with multiple sensors to display on MFD real parameters of cabin pressure, temperature, O2 and CO2 concentration, humidity, etc. Hint - a lot of this hardware can be acquired from hardware and automotive stores easily and cheap.

For now the project runs as expected. I'm still waiting for all the tools and further machines I ordered. My intention is to publish almost everything regarding documents, photos and videos. Right now I am working on the manual which I call "FCOMM" - Flight Crew Operations and Maintenance Manual. It includes a construction guide and informations and checklists for operations, maintenance and a condensed version of NASAs STS Flight Crew Operations Manual for future flight training. As soon as the first drawings are finished I will share them.
Documentation is paramount in this kinda projects. Complexity of the systems will add up and you'll find yourself lost in all changes and design decisions made off the cuff.. :D
I create all my mechanical stuff in Inventor and all my electronics in Altium to keep on track.

PS. If you have a space - buy a lathe, even a chinese benchtop one - it will be your best friend
 
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TheShuttleExperience

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Building a working ECLSS would be really freaky. But the philosophy of my project is to keep it as simple as possible with a minimum of electronics.

The simulator will basically be enclosed. The idea is to get fresh air in and used air out by one pipe fan respectively. I am thinking about something like this:

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It is capable of exchanging the air in the entire cabin (flightdeck and middeck) within only 3 minutes on speed 1 (or within 2,5 minutes on speed 2). I might connect the fans to the two cabin fan switches on panel L1 on the flightdeck...

Since the lower deck access panels will be just a painting on light grey PVC on the middeck floor (due to space limitations), the two "cabin fans" will be installed inside avionics bay 3A (entirely sound insulated on the inside). Access will be possible by simply putting the cabin wall of Avionics Bay 3 (just next the airlock hatch) on hinges and holding it in place by velcro (or screws; I'll have to figure it out). So it can be accessed quickly and easily during a mission without leaving the simulator (same applies to the PC running Orbiter and the multi-plug connectors for the electrical stuff).

One fan will pull the cabin air out by a flexible duct through a grille on the middeck's roof (between panel MO42F and MO58F) and in the Waste Collection System (very useful...). The air then flows through a 125mm flexible pipe into an already existing pipe vent in a wall of the kitchen (but I'll leave that one off). So the used air is completely removed I think. The other fan will pull fresh air from the room into the sim through two ducts on the front instrument panel, the thermal control outlets above the two aft observation windows, and the duct located between the side hatch and WCS on the middeck. I sadly can't find any information about the exact airflow and ducts/outlets/inlets in the Shuttle's cabin. Neither on the internet nor in the Shuttle Crew Operations Manual. So I have to improvise. But that way there should be a good and constant airflow from the flightdeck through the interdeck acces into the middeck and then out. I'll measure the air quality by two measuring devices. One on the middeck and one on the flightdeck. They can be attached everywhere by velcro.

Yeah, I'll document everything, and every change. On what project are you working on?

PS: I sadly don't have space for a lathe.
 

Phil Smith

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Hah, those inline duct fans can really move some air!
I used centrifugal one for my DIY solder fume extractor.
Definitely subscribed to your project!

My project is called simply "The universal flight simulator" :D
You can find the thread here - https://www.orbiter-forum.com/threads/the-universal-flight-simulator.37819/
And also the flickr album (WiP) - https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157714576729466 (pic of a velcro roll included lol )
Main challenge - it's not a specific spacecraft - I plan to hook up Revenstar addon to do orbit, lunar and planet missions as well - so all real life systems and physical cockpit should be designed from ground up
 

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You probably wouldn’t need both fans. If you use one on the exhaust side, when it removes air, air gotta come in somewhere, so you could just provide openings where you intended, you won’t need a fan on it. People breathing even doing labor only use about 2.5 cu meters per hour (equivalent to 1.5 cu ft per minute). You fane moves 145 cu m/ hr, more than plenty, even with ducting losses. You could save that expense. Or conversely, use on the supply side, the air’s still gotta go out somewhere.
 
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