Thursday, February 16, 2012

OpenCockpits FMC

Few days ago I received the FMC from OpenCokpits and I am going to write down here my first impression.

The box was very well sealed and the FMC was packed with soft paper to protect from damages. 
When I saw the new toy I was surprised to find it much bigger then expected. The upper panel is 100% plastic and the keys move slightly in their holes. To be honest the first impression was not good. It really looks like a cheap toy for kids.

The sides of the FMC are not covered and show the electronics that drive the FMC. The bottom side, showed in the next picture has a connector for the power supply, in yellow, and for the USB (in white). Note that the connector of the power supply offers a socket in the rear side (in black at the right of the yellow inlet) that can be used to back light the device. The black cable is for the TV out.

The lateral view: the display is on the right side; the rear side of the FMC is on the left of the picture.

The keyboard is fixed to the electronic by means of screws so it is quite easy to remove the upper side and check how the keyboard is done internally.

The keys are simply put on top of micro switches and three brown plastics frames, one on top of the other, hold them in position. That's the reason why they moves slightly. However pressing the keys is smooth and they emit a nice sound of click.
There are 4 LEDS, 2 on the left side (on top in the picture) and 2 white at the right side (better visible in the next picture). They correspond to the 4 alerts that the FCM can show during a fly. I am particularly interested in the led on the right upper side of the device that lights when the FMC shows a message.
The EXEC button instead has no light and that's really a pity because we need that otherwise we have to remember when the FMC expects us to press EXEC. There is also no available place to fix a LED in the EXEC button. What I plan to do is to remove the BRT black plastic of the mask and put a LED there. Note that the BRT does not work in this version and the black plastic item is simple a place holder. I took this idea looking at Nico's pedestal.

The following picture shows the keyboard of the FMC with 2 of the three frames in position on top of the keys. You can hardly see a hole in the plexiglass on the right side of the EXEC key. It corresponds to the BRT black plastic pin. It really seems to have been planned for housing the LED for the EXEC after removing the BRT pin.

Before closing the the device I removed the BRT pin. Now I need to find the best way to fit a LED there and also the way to light the for LEDS in the green board.

After looking at the inside of the device I changed my opinion. I think it is well done and ready for being back lighted. There is the place for the LED of the EXEC and four LEDS ready for being lighted.
What I completely miss is the documentation on how to turn on/off the LEDS. Are they available already or do I have to connect them by myself to the master card?
Lekseecon provides variable to light the MSG and the EXEC. And I will ask Nico how he configured his device.

The connection to the PC has been easier then I thought. To avoid problems I bought from opencockpits the VGA to video converter. I guess it was overpriced but at least it worked immediately.
I needed to add a new screen to my PC and I could use the onboard video device of my ASUS P67 pro. I set the screen resolution to 800x600 and started the 767LD.
It took me quite some time to position the window inside the new screen. I had to hack the panel.cfg to find the right parameters. The trick has been that to set the size of the widget as fixed and then the classical trial and error procedure. It took me quite some time but finally I had the green written in the display in the right position.

To test the device I had initially to move my SIOC from one single file to multiple files configuration. I splitted my config file in 2 files, one for the light panel and one for the master switch. It worked immediately.
Finally I added the FMC config file provided by lekseecon after setting the opencockit device in the SIOC config file.
Unbelievable it worked immediately with no intervention from my side. I really did not touch Nico's config file and everything worked in the first shot.
It is really great to interact with this device. It is smooth and I like the click when I press a button.
I will add more picture the next time I connect the device to the 767LD.

Now I need to connect and light the 2 LEDS I mentioned before and build a wooden frame to suite the device. I will hold it in the wall at the left side of my home cockpit. As I said I have no room to replicate a real 767 cockpit so for the time being I have to arrange the devices where I can.

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