Archive for July, 2005

HOTAS covers

I’d better check my Paypal account – I need US$33 for a set of HOTAS covers. Thanks for the link GI_Jew.


Well, the day finally arrived. I took my first (short) flight in my ACESII. It was 0.2 HAVCAP in F4:AF Balkans 2010. I noticed a few things that I’ll need to fix: I’ve got the HOTAS propped up on some plastic crates at the moment and they’re a little too low for comfort, so I’ll raise them up a bit. Also I’ve mounted the screen on an IKEA drawer frame with a custom plywood top, but it is a little wobbly – which both freaks me out that my 21″ CRT is going to fall on me and, more importantly, makes the TrackIR wobble. Finally, I’m going to urgently need some dust covers for the screen, keyboard, hotas and the PC box as the garage gets a but dirty from all my handyman-type shenanigans.
I found a surplus aviation logbook lying around, so that will be both my pit logbook and my guestbook, if anyone comes around to fly it. It could be you!
get in, sit down, shut up and hang on
flyable (65k image)

62nd FF LAN

Had a great time this morning with the 62nd Fighting Falcons at their monthly LAN meet. I had to leave early, but seven of us flew an OCA mission in 3 flights in F4:AF Balkans campaign. We did well, largely getting success/excellent ratings. I put 2 bombs on target (high-drag MK-84s) and shot down 2 SU-25s (sorry Tonka) and a J-22.
The guys were great to fly with, obviously very experienced and friendly. As tail-end charlie in my 4-ship flight, I had a lot of smoke to contend with at the target because the 3 in front had truly flattened the target! F4:AF largely held up to the task, though the dedicated server AWACS view did suffer a CTD (which, surprisingly, didn’t affect the multiplayer). Overall a top morning.
2005-07-24_12_07_04 (46k image)


My latest skanky circuit for the pit is a non-standard warning light: SSOH FAIL. “What is the SSOH system” I hear you ask! Well, it is more commonly known as the “Spouse Sense Of Humour” system. The theory goes thusly: if I am in my pit in the garage and my dear wife needs me for something urgent, or has an emergency or some other sense of humour failure, she simply presses the button on a little wireless doorbell transmitter that I will give her, which will cause the SSOH FAIL warning light to illuminate and flash in my cockpit. By pressing the light (similar to the F-16 MASTER CAUTION light) I can cancel the flashing. At my peril :D
The circuit uses a latching power circuit triggered off the wireless doorbell receiver speaker wires, powering a pretty simple NE555-based LED flasher. The physical construction will probably be harder than the circuit – I’m using a 4×2 lego brick for the light enclosure and will wrap it in an aluminium casing to permit the pressing. Here is the circuit for starters (click for the big version):
{{popup pitblog0005v1.gif pitblog0005v1 979×735}}pitblog0005v1_sm (20k image)


I was pottering in my kitchen making a thai curry when I looked at the can of coconut cream I was tipping in the pan. A faraway look came into my eyes, one my wife knows all too well. “Oh no” she said, “what are you going to build out of that?”. SVETLANA – the Skanky Vision Enhancing Tactical Light And Night-vision Aid – was born.
This is what I remembered – tactical cockpit lights.
note red/white selector and focus knob – not currently a feature of SVETLANA Mk 1
Immediately after dinner (which was good and coconutty) I retreated to the workshop with my recently salvaged can.
before and after
spotlight_1 (32k image)
The idea was simple – a skanky cockpit light that kinda looked like a regular cockpit light. The red/white filter and focusing ring would probably have to wait for Mk 2, but I reckoned I could get a functional light from some high-power LEDs and my coconut can. To Livewire, my circuit software.
simple series LED circuit. Transistor-based master power switch optional – if you don’t have a master electrical switch, take the wire straight to ground.
circuit (5k image)
The circuit was simple and tested well with some high-power red LEDs I had lying around (RS Components part no 577-780 10mm red water-clear 3000mcd Vf=1.85V 20mA). They were about 0.73 each when I bought them. Hardly busting the budget. Together with a 220R 0.25W resistor, power connector and a simple SPDT switch, I was in business. I cut the board so it would be a snug fit inside and insulated the ends to prevent the can ending up live (I don’t even want 12V leaking into my pit thank you very much). The curly power cord came from a really old Nokia car charger which, if I looked at the price to replace it, I bet I’d sorta regret cutting up. So I won’t. Some cable ties, a rubber grommet and a molex plug, plus a pintle salvaged from an old “third hand” magnifying glass attachment, rounded out the parts list.
skanky bits and pieces.
spotlight_2 (34k image)
The can was spraypainted and drilled once in the end for the power cable and once in the side for the power switch…
nice grommet
spotlight_3 (31k image)
…The power lead was threaded through, screwed to the power header and cable tied to prevent stresses on the circuit board…
like so
spotlight_4 (28k image)
… the power switch was installed…
mmmm, switchy
spotlight_5 (41k image)
… the board was inserted and the power cable was again cable tied from the outside. Voila, skanky cockpit light.
I see you…
spotlight_6 (41k image)
I powered it up off my bench supply, being careful not to touch it until I’d thoroughly tested it for a live case with a multimeter, and here it is!
spotlight_7 (47k image)
It’s a really good light and pure red, so will be good in a night pit setup as it won’t bugger with my night vision. I switched off the workshop light and was able to use it as a decent torch. The beam is soft but fairly focused with no real artifacts to speak of. All in all, a good couple of hours’ work.
To finish it off, I need to attache the pintle and find something to cover the end with. Final photos to come… someday.

progress update

OK, this is what I’m currently working on:
- I’ve cleaned up the garage to create some space around the pit
- I’ve started work on a skanky pit spotlight for those dark nights, made out of a small 165g coconut cream can, a baby rear-view mirror and some LEDs. Skanky. (note to self: I need a grommet for the power lead)
- I have to finish the parachute box then sand and paint the seat. However, I may move the PC to the garage beforehand so I can finally have a flight in the pit and start thinking about integrating the PlasmaV2.
- Pallets! Old salvaged pallets are a great source of structural wood for the pit. I scored one for free from Freedom Furniture yesterday.
- I’m going to get a guest book and a logbook for my pit.

fix for irritating X52 DirectX button conflict in F4:AF

Hope this works long term. Seems to work now: my fix at Frugalsworld

first F4:AF mission

Well I’m happy with it. I’ll be writing a full(ish) analysis of it soon if I can, but it’s good enough for me and there’s NO MORE DANCE!
first mission: successful strike, though lost a wingie to a gung-ho escort :/
f4af01 (22k image)

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