- Terry's 737NG Cockpit Project - Page 7
2012 - 2013 Move to FSX and Cockpit Upgrade
In preparation for the move to FSX, I purchased three PCs from UK Company Chillblast (www.chillblast.com).
I also purchased 2 x EFIS and an MCP from Sismo as my setup would now have the MIP, Overhead, EFIS and MCP from the same manufacturer.
I sold my CP Flight MCP and 2 EFIS to a club member.
Chillblast Fusion Superfortress:
Xigmatek Elysium Black Case.
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit.
Intel Core i7 3770K Processor overclocked to 4.7GHz.
Asus P8Z77-VPro Motherboard.
8GB Corsair PC3-12800 1600MHz DDR3 Memory (2 x 4BG sticks).
NVidia GeForce GTX 680 2048MB Graphics Card.
2 x 120GB Mushkin Chronos Solid State Drives (SSD) - One drive for Windows, one drive for FSX.
1 x 500GB Hard Drive - for install of Freeware Scenery, Downloads etc.
Corsair TX 750W V2 PSU.
Samsung Blu-Ray ROM/DVD-RW Combi Drive.
On Board High Definition Audio.
2 x Chillblast Fusion Chimera:
EZCool A200D Basic Case.
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit.
Intel Core i5 3570K Processor overclocked to 4.5GHz.
Asus P8Z77-V LE Motherboard.
8GB Corsair PC3-10666 1333MHz DDR3 Memory (2 x 4GB sticks).
NVidia GeForce GTS 450 1024MB Graphics Card.
120GB Corsair Force 3 Solid State Drive (SSD).
EZCool Basic 650W PSU.
Sony 24x DVD-RW Drive.
On Board High Definition Audio.
I flew my last flight on FS2004 in October 2012 and then started on the move to FSX. I first installed the Sismo MCP and two EFIS, with the help from club member Kieran Kavanagh. I then networked the three new Chillblast PCs, installed FSX, the iFly 737NG and the iFly 737NG Cockpit Builders Edition (CBE). The Pro Server goes of the CBE goes on the main FS PC and the Pro Client goes on the two client PCs. I found editing the panel config file to fit the gauges on the monitors very easy - thanks to a good manual. When I connecting my cockpit to the new PC, I discovered that Windows 7 did not recognise the cockpit USB connection - it showed it as an Unknown Device. Nothing on the cockpit DST worked except the monitors, the EFIS and MCP, which are Ethernet connected. I contacted Sismo about the problem and they realised that the Simboards in the cockpit were not compatible with Windows 64 bit. The only solution was to update the cockpit with new 64 bit boards, which would mean sending it back to them in Spain. Sismo sent me an estimate of the time it would take and of the cost of the Simboards etc. I also asked them to install the Lower EICAS monitor, which I had bought from them the previous Month.
I then set about preparing the cockpit for return to Sismo. A crate had to be made to ship it safely, so it was over to Michael's again where we made a suitable crate for the journey to and from Spain. It was made so the cockpit could be first secured onto the base by screws and straps, then the sides could be fitted and Sismo could dismantle it and easily reassemble it for the return journey. I spent two days dismantling the cockpit in preparation, and on Saturday 16th February 2013, Ian, Michael and I removed the cockpit from the shell, managed to get it down the stairs safely, secured it on the base of the crate and then lifted it into my van, where we screwed the sides and lid onto the base of the crate. On Monday I delivered it to the shipping company for its road trip to Spain.
While it was gone, Michael suggested that I take the opportunity to change the orientation of the cockpit and turn it to face the rear of the house and move it back, this would make space for a curved screen, which would be much better than the previous setup. I agreed to do this and set about removing the remaining wardrobe, painted the wall and replaced the carpet with carpet tiles. Michael worked out the size and curve of the screen (not wrap-around) and went to work on making it in sections - a top, a base, upright posts and three hardwood panels for the screen. We spent a day installing it; the screen panels were stuck to the posts using 'No More Nails' adhesive, then clamped and left for an hour - everything went without a hitch. During the following week, I filled the panel joints and painted the screen with three coats of white acrylic paint.
Before the cockpit arrived back, I replaced the dummy EGT gauge in the Overhead with a working EGT Gauge, which I bought from Sismo. The cockpit arrived back safely in mid May. It took four of us to carry it up the stairs and place it the back into the Shell. Over the next few weeks I connected everything to the three PCs. I fed the colour coded Ethernet cables under the floor of the cockpit and connected them to a Netgear 8 Port Switch, which is sitting on the front of the cockpit floor base. All 8 Ports are labelled: Overhead, MCP, MIP (cockpit), four PCs, and an Internet connection. The fourth PC is my Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) PC, used for Squawkbox (networked), Navigraph Charts, and VATSpy. The Monitor for this PC is mounted on the side of the cockpit beside the FO seat. The USB cables from the GoFlight Modules on the Radio pedestal, Throttle Quadrant, Control Yoke and Rudder Pedals are connected to a 4 Port powered USB Hub, connected to the main FS PC. I now have two sets of speakers, one from the FS PC (for aircraft sounds) and one from the EFB PC. The FS PC speakers and sub-woofer are placed behind the seats and the EFB PC speakers (for ATC) are tucked in on each side of the MIP. The Projector was moved and aligned to the new screen - it's big picture! Power for all this is supplied by two different surge protected extension leads. As you can see, it's all much neater with the cables fed under the floor and using 'Cable Tidy'. Because the screen is curved, the picture is distorted, so I use Immersive Display Lite 2 by Fly Elise-ng (www.fly.elise-ng.net), a warping software which allows you to manually straighten the picture.
As all my Sismo hardware (Overhead, MCP/EFIS and MIP) now run on Ethernet, new script files were supplied by Sismo for them. An additional free file, iflytofsuipc is also required to make everything 'talk' to the iFly aircraft via FSUIPC. As I now had the Lower EICAS monitor installed, I set the Lower EICAS instruments up on that screen. One of the client PCs runs the Captain's Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Navigation Display (ND) and the other runs the First Officer's PFD and ND. While Sismo had the cockpit, they also added backlighting to the buttons on the MCP - it did not come with this, which made it impossible to see the buttons while flying, unless you add an LED lights strip. With the exception of the AFDS Flood Bright and DU Dimmers, all the knobs and buttons work on the MIP. I can now dim the backlighting on the EFIS, MCP and the Main Panel Bright on the Capt. side and the FO can separately dim his EFIS and Main Panel backlighting. The Displays (PFD, ND, Upper and Lower EICAS) can now be switched around, in case of any failure. The Overhead panel is also now fully functional and I can now do a full startup and shutdown.
I now have to start 5 programs on the FS PC to get the cockpit running: ifly2fsuipc, iFly Pro Server, Overhead script, MCP/EFIS script, MIP script iFly/Fly Engravity FMC CDU program, GoFlight modules and finally, my Panel State. Next I start the iFly Pro Client on the two client PCs.
My motorized throttle quadrant didn't work properly with the iFly, so Michael removed the card and replaced it with a Leo Bodner card (he did the same with his own TQ), which works fine now even though it is no longer motorized.
While the cockpit is much better in it's new position, Michael suggested that I build a partition around it. So, out came my measuring tape, followed by a trip to B&Q. A week later, the partition was finished, complete with a door on the left side.
I am delighted with the Sismo Cockpit - the quality is first class, as is the support I get. They reply immediately with a solution to any problem and with new scripts if needed. The iFly737NG is a terrific aircraft. The CBE is terrific and far cheaper than other cockpit builders software. The iFly support Forum is fantastic, Steve Masson in particular is always on hand to help with any problems.
Click here for a list of Hardware and Software that I use on my Cockpit.
Planned project (2014)
Awaiting arrival in mid-February of a non-motorized JetMax Throttle Quadrant from UK distributor Virtual-Aerospace.
A Sismo Radio Console.
More updates as I progress.