Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cockpit light

If you fly by night you know that it is very dificult to see the landscape outside of the windows. You can trick the monitor but the result is always bad looking. To enhance the situation you can think of turning off all the light and fly in a dark room. This strategy works of course but it is very difficult to find the keys of the keyboard or, even worst, you can't write down notes while flying online. Well, I don't know you but I have to write down al least metars, radio frequencies and take off clearances.
I agree that the problem of the lighting is temporary because when all the controls will be implemented at hardware it will not be needed anymore to find the keys of the keyboard. But what until then?
I thought about this problem for a long time and arrived to the following conclusion. I need a light that can be turned on and off independently of the simulator and maybe later on integrated with the 767 light switch. The light should be strong enough to allow writing notes and reading the keyboard but not too strong to reduce the visibility of landscape details flying by night.
I bought a couple of blue led strips and positioned in the upper right and left side of the closet. They are turned on and off by an apposite switch positioned below the table.
The following picture shows the environment while flying:
You might easily find it kitsch but for me the final effect is quite good: no artificial light reflected in the two screens, lightning is soft and relaxing but strong enough to read the keyboard or write down notes.
A possible next step could be that of integrating the lighting to the 767 cockpit. The two 24 leds strips needs 12V power that I already have in the power supply. The SIOC software already catch the events of the cabin light switch but up to now it only sends the command to the simulator. It would be possible to close a 5V output line that in turn powers on the leds with the help of a raleigh or something like that. It is something I will think about...
Last but not least the price. I payed the two strips of 24 blueleds, a 12V dedicated power supply, cables and the switch around 50 EUR. Half an afternon was the time to mount the hardware in the closet.

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