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Pete Dowson

Pete's Cockpit

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Link to a 720p video, less than 8 minutes:

Pete's Cockpit

For those who are interested, this video shows two of my best friends, Ray Proudfoot and Thomas Richter, flying my 737-800 from Manchester to Heathrow in FSX with UK2000 scenery. I’ve cut out the bits between take-off and landing, and I’m afraid you can’t hear the ATC parts which are only on their headsets. The ATC is supplied by John Dekker’s Radar Contact version 4.

The main cockpit is the PFC 737 from the Precision Flight Controls company based in Sacramento. The don’t supply it any more. The cockpit is narrower than the real 737, hence the omission of the lower display unit – the pilot and copilot CDU’s are adjacent. For the same reason the centre console isn’t fully realistic. But it does contain all that is needed. The motorised trim works well – especially with a recent upgrade by PFC, implemented by Thomas, which stops any slippage. The two yokes are linked as you should see. The overhead is a mixture. The forward section is by CockpitSonic, but with some modifications and a driver by yours truly. The aft section is by Sismo Solutions, again with a driver I’ve written. In fact all the hardware in the cockpit is driven by my programs, but the 737NG systems, the EICAS display and the PFD display is all enabled by software from Thomas. The rest of the displays – the NDs and the CDU’s, and the MCP/Autopilot and the associated logic is by Project Magenta.

The operation shown in the video is raw and unrehearsed. there are a few errors made, which I spotted on viewing rather than live as I filmed, but I’ll leave viewers to discover these. I hope you enjoy the results in any case and thank Ray and Thomas for permission to show it.

You can ask questions, criticise and mock (if that's your thing), in this thread. But I may or may not answer! ;-), But in any case, enjoy!

Best Regards

Pete Dowson

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Very nice Pete. Glad I'm not the only one who has a hard time keeping on the centerline but he did a good job. Good looking cockpit and great outside visuals from a projector.

Alan

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Alan,

Yes, it can be tricky because you start by steering using the tiller and then have to seamlessly switch to rudder control. And of course I don't get to fly on Pete's setup that often so I am always a bit rusty.

That take-off roll was on the slow side as you may have noticed but the Honiley SID out of EGCC involves negotiating around the town of Knutsford so speed has to be curtailed in order to negotiate the turns.

I'm not hugely impressed with my landing. Too low for too long! But my excuse is there was a lot going on and I got distracted! ;-)

It's a fantastic setup Pete has. It's always a pleasure to visit him and to enjoy his and June's company.

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Thanks for the insight Pete, it's nice to see a developers own interests within the hobby. And of course great to see a few of the known names of the sim-world getting together.

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thx for share! which 737 is ? (model and software house)

Just the default FSX 738 but with the figures adjusted to make the performance more exactly like the real thing.

Pete

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Great stuff, Pete! I'm engaged in design issues around the outside views for my 767, and would be grateful for some details re. your projector setup, and the view settings. I'm trying to maximise my field of view while minimising distortion, and was wondeing if one projector might be OK with VFR flight.

Alistair

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Great stuff, Pete! I'm engaged in design issues around the outside views for my 767, and would be grateful for some details re. your projector setup, and the view settings. I'm trying to maximise my field of view while minimising distortion, and was wondeing if one projector might be OK with VFR flight.

I had a bit of a job getting it accceptable, I must admit. I first adjusted the view zooms so that what could be seen matched what you should see based on the angle of vision, from one side of the screen to the other. I did that by using top-down view to start with to get the aircraft the right distance from a building (e.g terminal) so that the angle from both sides of the building to the aircraft's nose was the same as my seated viewing angle onto the complete screen width. Then, in normal forward view adjusted the zoom till the building just filled the width on screen. Repeated that for each of my EZCA views (forward, 60 degree left/right, and 120 degree left/right).

The distortion at the sides was then very noticeable on uprights when close up (like when taxiing or parking at airports). So I minimised that to just about acceptable by pointing the views slightly upwards and changing the projected image to a rhombus shape a but wider at the top than the bottom (or is it vice vera? I get confused). I also needed to get the horizon in the right place from my cockpit view (a little below eye level). All these things interact, of course so it took a whiile!

The screen is actually a 4:3 aspect screen and I'm projecting 16:9 (1920x1080p), so there's room to move the whole picture up and down a bit.

Regards

Pete

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I had a bit of a job getting it accceptable, I must admit. I first adjusted the view zooms so that what could be seen matched what you should see based on the angle of vision, from one side of the screen to the other. I did that by using top-down view to start with to get the aircraft the right distance from a building (e.g terminal) so that the angle from both sides of the building to the aircraft's nose was the same as my seated viewing angle onto the complete screen width. Then, in normal forward view adjusted the zoom till the building just filled the width on screen. Repeated that for each of my EZCA views (forward, 60 degree left/right, and 120 degree left/right).

Thanks. I modelled a kind of solid protractor with "stations" at 30 degree intervals to do the same thing. I found that a 60 degree offset was excellent for field of view but really bad regarding distortion, like you did!
The distortion at the sides was then very noticeable on uprights when close up (like when taxiing or parking at airports). So I minimised that to just about acceptable by pointing the views slightly upwards and changing the projected image to a rhombus shape a but wider at the top than the bottom (or is it vice vera? I get confused). I also needed to get the horizon in the right place from my cockpit view (a little below eye level). All these things interact, of course so it took a whiile!
Interesting! I'll try that.
The screen is actually a 4:3 aspect screen and I'm projecting 16:9 (1920x1080p), so there's room to move the whole picture up and down a bit.
I don't follow that part. I'd have thought that projecting at 4:3 onto a 16:9 screen would allow more vertical adjustability, not the other way around. What am I missing?

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I don't follow that part. I'd have thought that projecting at 4:3 onto a 16:9 screen would allow more vertical adjustability, not the other way around. What am I missing?

The SCREEN is 4:3, the PROJECTION is 16:9, so there's lots of room to shift the whole picture up and down to get the horizon in the right place! That's what i actually said if you read it again. ;-)

If I tried projecting 4:3 onto a 16:9 screen I'd have lots of horizontal adjustabilty but no vertical adjustability!

Regards

Pete

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The SCREEN is 4:3, the PROJECTION is 16:9, so there's lots of room to shift the whole picture up and down to get the horizon in the right place! That's what i actually said if you read it again. ;-)

If I tried projecting 4:3 onto a 16:9 screen I'd have lots of horizontal adjustabilty but no vertical adjustability!

Regards

Pete

Ah. I thought you were filling the screen horizontally with the 4:3 image on the 16:9 screen, and accepting the loss of view area. I get it now! :oops:

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Ah. I thought you were filling the screen horizontally with the 4:3 image on the 16:9 screen, and accepting the loss of view area. I get it now! :oops:

Well, i wouldn't really lose any view area in that case -- the excess would spread over my ceiling and, worse, over the shiny top of the cockpit, causing unwanted reflections and distractions all over the place!

I think I did say somewhere I was projecting at 1080P, which is 1920 x 1080 resolution. Things would be really distorted if Isqueezed that down to 4:3! ;-)

Pete

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I loved the video and cockpit, Pete, these always make you feel motivated again!

Btw, re your lack of space, why don't you try 2 LCDs on either side?.I have 2 projectors for the front view connected via Matrox DualHead2Go and my video card handles the extension to 2 LCDs on either side. If this is too much for your video card/CPU you can do this with Wideview too, but I tried that and I found it more fiddly, better to invest in a good CPU and GPU than 2 extra PCs...around Gatwick with UK2000 scenery I am still pumping fps of 40. This 220 deg view gives you so much more immersion and you don't have to use that hat switch anymore, which was the only bit of the video that was not so good

Other thing re the plane, have you tried the Project Opensky 737?....its flight dynamics and feel are very close to the real thing I am told and they have an awesome sound package to go with it. I use it with PM software, there is no difficulty making it work with PM like PMDG and ifly and the models are very well painted (file here http://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/fslib.php?searchid=10491781)

Now I have praised you can you help with my dll issue on loading FSX!?

Best Charles

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Btw, re your lack of space, why don't you try 2 LCDs on either side?

It's something i may consider if I ever remove the shelving I have on one side. I need space down that side to reach the cockpit nose because of all the works hidden under the nose cone. And I need space the other side to reach the Windows! ;-)

It isn't a priority for me in any case. My severe tunnel vision means I don't really see even all of the projected screen. I only need to switch to side views on that occasionally -- i.e. when taxiing.

Other thing re the plane, have you tried the Project Opensky 737?....its flight dynamics and feel are very close to the real thing I am told and they have an awesome sound package to go with it.

I do have it installed, and also PM's own, the iFly and the Jetstream one from Prosim737. But the one I use is good, modelled to be very faithful to the real thing and used on at least two professional simulators that I know of. It isn't generally available though due to agreements with those folks, having been made "to order" for them.

Regards

Pete

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Thanks for letting us use your home jumpseat, mr. Dowson ...

Glad to feel those same sensations when friends gather: that's what home cockpits were built for ...

Hard work until you taxi to the active, then you allow yourself "how about the kids ? And your wife ?"

Back to chatting during the cruise, maybe some coffee if you aren't already short of miles before the TOD ...

Holding your breath until you feel the touchdown ...

Et voilà: on blocks exactly when you were supposed to get there !

:razz:

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Very nice Pete, I always wondered if you were a flier or just a software genius. Now I know you are both and a hardware master.

 

Thanks ... I am actually a frustrated real world flier, having done the training to the point of needing a medical certaificate to go solo only to discover I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, causing deteriorating tunnel vision and preventing that ambition going any further. Hence the simulation instead.

 

But I've been a programmer since leaving uni in 1963.

 

Regards

Pete

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Thank for sharing, it was something I ask you sometime ago.

Nice game room, many of us would be like kids, and don't see the sun for days.LOL

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Hi Pete,

 

Great job! I have a question for you, i read about you use the forward overhead from cockpitsonic with another driver and some modifications, could you explain me which is this driver and what are the modifications you made in the overhead? thanks

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i read about you use the forward overhead from cockpitsonic with another driver and some modifications, could you explain me which is this driver and what are the modifications you made in the overhead? thanks

 

The driver I wrote replaces all the software CS supply. It allows me to do additional things with some of the switches which CS didn't bother to program because Project Magenta's pmSystems doesn't use them -- like most of the toggles and 3 way switches in the left hand column, and the pressurisation control bottmo right.  I'm not using pmSystems but other software not available generally. The modifications included wiring up some of the lights and switches not actually wired by CS and routing them through Leo Bodnar control boards, again to my own driver.

 

The complete set of changes is too numerous for me to list and I won't try -- I'd have to open it up again and look at them all again because it dates over three or four years now. Some of the original changes were actually done by the UK reseller of CS hardware, who has since completely discontinued his relationship with that company. I really have never had direct dealings with the original firm in Germany.

 

Oh, I also made my own driver for the aft overhead from Sismo, and of course all of the other cockpit hardware from PFC. I simply like to have full control over every switch, gauge and inidicator! ;-). But all my software works together. It isn't something which could apply piecemeal to other folks' installations. In fact even most of the main PFC parts are unique, a combination of modified original parts and one-offs they did for me.

 

The only modifications I really still need to do at some time are:

 

1. Replacment of the duct pressure gauge with a dual needle one

2. Replacement of the cabin pressurisation gauge with a dual needle ne

3. Hinging the front nose cover (under which I have several controller boards and 4 mini PCs) to make access a bit easier

 

The first two are very difficult as the CS gauges are effectively parts of boards doing other things -- and also because the only dual needle gauges available (eg Flight Illusion) to replace them are too large for the space and cutout available. In both cases, CockpitSomic had promised these as enhancements to be available later, and these promises, which I believed, were part of the reason I went with CS. Very disappointing!

 

The third is something I may do soon with help of a friend who is more practical than I!

 

Regards

Pete

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I have just watched the video for the first time last night. What can I say Pete, other than "Fantastic!". You are clearly a very clever engineer of both software and hardware. It looks as comprehensive a set-up as the real 737 sim I flew in may years ago at Luton with Britannia on their 737 sim....analogue instruments back then and a black and white display of the world - very basic. How things advance!

 

I'm interested in your comment that you managed to tweak the 737-8 model to make it more realsitic. Presumably you manged to obtain some real world specification / data of the flight model and apply it FSX ? Very clever indeed.

 

Are those Engravity CDUs you are using Pete?

 

Ray - If you thought that wasn't a good landing, you should see some of mine - looks like you all had a great time!

 

Regards,

Graham.

Edited by grnicol

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