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Drzewiecki Design Drzewiecki Design Home Cockpit

Drzewiecki Design Home Cockpit Version 2

HISTORY OF BUILD

GALLERY/VIDEO

INFORMATION

Jump to: VERSION 1 | VERSION 2 | VERSION 3

 

After a long time flying on the finished Version 1 of the cockpit I decided to start upgrading the whole setup. The construction process started on October 2008 and lasted four months. I upgraded a lot of things in my cockpit including visual system, main panel, network configuration and much more. See the details below.

 

Drzewiecki Design Home Cockpit System Version 2

Construction start: October 2008

Construction finish: January 2009

 

Demolishing

Radio Stack

New PC, network config

Main Panel

Visual System

GoFlight modules

Glareshield and windshield

End of construction

 

 

After a really hot summer and really big problems with overheating the cabin I decided to invest into an effective air condition system. This was a great decision. I bought it in the Internet and it was quite cheap however its working parameters were good enough. Anyway, it changed the climate in my room completely. Usually there was two degrees more in the cockpit than in the rest of my room. Right now I have a stable temperature all the time - 21C and a temperature in the cockpit does not exceed 23C. This is good not only for a pilot but also for a computer. Later I will upgrade also the interior ventilation system as it got quite dirty and fans are turning slower than they should. All in all I would reccomend an air condition system for every cockpit builder!

 

For the whole last year I was thinking about a real FMC in my cabin. Of course getting it was not a problem however configuring everything to work with the rest of the cockpit was something I haven't been dreaming about. A hardware FMC is also very expensive and requires a special software (like Project Magenta). I am still using VasFMC as my glass cockpit displays and flight management computer (I am not planning to change that) so this seemed to be quite difficult. After couple of months someone told me a great idea. Using a touch screen designed as a car entertainment system would do the job. Yes, it really did! The screen works as a standard monitor, it is just small and thats why I can still get out of the cabin. I located it next to the throttle as it is usually there in the real world. Finger press work the same as a mouse click so instead of clicking buttons on a screen I can do the same by pressing them with my fingers on the touch screen. Besides that I finally got a pilot's shirt (captain version) so now I can be dressed properly when flying as you can see below!

 

 

Although it was not easy to do, I have finally deconstructed the main panel of the cockpit. It was fixed better than I thought so I had to cut and actually destroy more than was expected. Anyway, the center module and the one with a display were mounted together outside the cockpit and obviously they required some extra work to look normally. This is how tonight's hardcore looked like:

 

 

When the total demolish was completed I decided to put the whole main panel together and sell it as a standalone hardware. I have added some extra things like a light (right upper corner) and some switches. Finally everything was painted black and grey. The panel included a monitor as well as all required software.

 

 

After couple days I have fixed the ventilation system - two new fans did the job. As I was writing in the Version 1 description, a ventilation system is a very important thing for every cockpit builder. You really need to think about it during a construction. Remember that PCs as well as LCD monitors produce a lot of heat that can kill a processor, graphic card or other PC components during long flights. Even some problems with breathing may accur. Of course I am talking about a closed cabin where there is no fresh air from outside. The fan on the picture is actually used to bring out a warm air from the cockpit. There is one more fan for the same task and four bringing in a cold fresh air. Good air circulation makes even the longest flights comfortable.

 

Few days lapsed and my radio stack panel has been completed. I made it traditionally with a 3mm cardboard and painted it black. Two GF-46, GF-T8 and GF-166 were mounted (still waiting for another GF-166). The panel has been fixed in its position and wired to a new 7-port USB hub (I bought three of them to upgrade these connections as well). The radio stack panel includes two switches that will be used to turn on a MCP light and a backlight. There is also a place for my notepad. I use it ofted to copy clearances and position reports during oceanic flights. Before there was no place to put it in.

 

 

This picture was made when I finally cleaned the whole cabin and checked all wire connections. I realized that there were many unused cables that were left since the very beginning of construction process. My project changed couple times and I guess sometimes there was no point of taking those cables out of the cabin. Anyway, I used some of them now and the rest was trashed or just put somewhere outside the cabin. As you can see, I said goodbye to my old monitors as well. One of them was put on a roof of the cockpit to control the second PC (actually the PC on which Fligh Simulator has been running before), the second one was connected to my laptop and now I use it for some graphics designing.

 

As I mentioned above, I decided to downgrade my Flight Simulator PC to a Client PC role. Although it worked really good with a plain FS2004 it's technical specs were not enough for online flying with the whole cockpit connected. I have put my old PC behind new monitors and bought a new PC that was placed inside the cabin. Here is its basic specification:

 

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8600, 3.33GHz, 1333FSB, 6MB Cache

Graphic card: ASUS EAH4870 DK Radeon HD4870 1GB DDR5 (256bit)

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45T-DS3R

RAM: Corsair XMS3 DHX 2x2GB 1600MHZ DDR3

Power unit: 650W

 

I have tested this setup in the most heavy conditions and it seemed to keep a 25 FPS limit all the time, with all my add-ons installed plus full Ultimate Traffic in Chicago KORD. Of course a problem with cooling occur but it only concerned the graphic card. It is not solved yet (standard 59C, max 68C) but I guess I will just make a hole in a wall where this PC is standing and put another fan there. As soon as I do this I may think about some overclocking work. Why not?

 

I probably spent the most time configuring the network. I have never done this before as my setup was always running on one PC. Now I know that advantages of putting all stand-alone applications on Client PC are really huge and very comfortable in the same time. My whole cockpit setup starts on "one click" (actually two clicks, I need to start two computers). Power switch for the Client PC is placed on the main panel so I don't need to go out of the cabin. After Windows is loaded, batch files on both computers are automatically started from Autostart folder. These files open all required applications in a specific order with programmed delays if needed. From FS computer only FS, Fuel Planner, ScreenShooter and obviously FSUIPC are launched. Client PC starts WideFS, VasFMC, FreeFD, Active Sky, GFKey, GFdisplay, pmSounds and FSInn. All applications start working automatically, I don't need to do anything more except for opening ATC, chat and WX windows in FSInn and clicking on VATSIM to connect to the network. Even Flight Simulator loads a default flight itself (I need to load a default flight first to have front views properly alligned). Afterward I just need to fill in a flightplan and I am ready to fly. This makes actually three steps to complete to be prepared for an online flight and just one step for an offline flight - both PCs starters on. Easy, yep?

 

Here is a short story about the main panel I constructed. Its very simple, made from 3mm cardboard. I think the photos below are clear enough - there are 2 layers, base and top for frames. Two 16" panoramic LCDs are used. I have put a glass in front of the monitors like it is in the real world. At least I think so - "glass cockpit displays" should have some glass elements, right?. I like the final effect a lot - displays seem to show more contrast and sharper shapes. Its just a test on the pictures below so don't worry about this green background. As the main displays VasFMC is used and FreeFD as the standby panel. This is actually very usefull too - if one software crash there are still another instruments to read. I have put all important information from FSInn on the very right screen - it is not visible when you sit normally on a seat but clearly visible if you get closer to the main panel. This is how I wanted it to be.

 

 

A lot of my cockpit guests suggested me to enlagre my front view. I was kind of sceptic at the beginning as I actually didn't need any larger front view - I used it only for ground operations and visual approaches. Finally I decided to buy a new 26" Iyama monitor (1900x1200 resolution) and connect it with a standart 20" (?) monitor put vertically. I didn't expect anything wonderful but now I can feel a huge difference - it is more like sitting insite a moving object. Especially during turns, take-offs, landings and taxiing this feeling is very big. Large monitor helps a lot during visual approaches too. Anyway, as you can compare yourself, my current view is more then two times bigger then it was before.

 

Here is a picture I made after connecting and configuring all GoFlight modules I have. As you can see there is no glareshield yet however all avionics work fine. Five panels are conected to the Client PC, rest to the FS PC. Besides GFconfig I have used GFKey, GFdisplay and obviously FSUIPC and WideFS. It took me a long time to understand the rule but now I am happy because everything works as I expected and I can already make some in-flight tests. I need to say that using EFIS to control glass cockpit display is kind of swank! Especially when you imagine, how long way the electronic signal need to cross and how many times this signal is being converted to another format by various software. :) Right now I am using:

GF-MCP Pro

GF-EFIS

GF-LGT

GF-46 x2 (XPDR, ALTM, ADF, DME)

GF-166 x2 (COM 1, COM2, NAV1, NAV2)

GF-P8

GF-T8 x3 (lights, audio, fuel, power, de-ice)

 

Building my glareshield was a bit weird as it required a lot of measuring, calculating, trying and trashing bad parts. Let photos below tell the story of how it was built. I can just add that I used only 3mm cardboard for the main construction. Behind my yoke there is a keyboard and a trackball that controls the Client PC (it helps me espacially while communicating on text during online flying).

 

 

I have decided to order two 5mm glass windows for my windshield because I expected some better visual effects. I have made an exact shape from a cardboard which was later used as a pattern to cut a glass precisely. Of course it wasn't perfectly alligned but I was able to fix it the way I have planned. The left photo shows the exact way of fixing my glass windows to the glareshield and the overhead (both pieces of glass were just "blocked", no glue was used). The right photo shows... well... guess whom!

 

 

After some "cosmetic" work the second version of my cabin was finally finished on 17th January 2009. This makes three and a half years from the very beginning of my cockpit construction. To look at the "finished product" pictures and movies please go to Gallery / Video section. To find some more technical specs of my cabin check the Information section. You may also visit my virtual airline's website.