technology

Repairing Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel with Arduino

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Switch

The Saitek Pro Flight Panels were awesome. I bought all of them years ago and they worked great… with Windows 7 and USB 2. Unfortunately when I upgraded my computer everything stopped working due to Windows 10 and all USB3 ports. I have followed every guide, every driver, every bios setting I could find and I can’t get any of the panels to function. I’ve been able to get the radio panel and multi panel working with Spad.NEXT but the switch panel refuses to function. I can only assume something on the circuit board has gone bad.  Now that Logitech has bought Saitek this thing is basically a brick with no support. Really without Spad.NEXT all three would be bricks as the Logitech software does not work at all. I really want my simulator to work again so I set off to figure out how to fix switch panel.

TL:DNR – Check out my video of it in action and view the code on github

Read on to see how I did this.

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Spirit Halloween Ghostbusters Proton Pack Lighting Upgrade and other mods…

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Spirit Halloween recently released a pretty nice proton pack replica for a really good price. There are a few issues that I have with it though. The lighting they included is not very good and there are some real issues with the way the wand is mounted. These issues needed to be fixed!

I had a bunch of extra components lying around from the full proton pack so I got to wiring. I wanted the standard powercell and cyclotron animations while I walk around. I kept the flashing light in the powercell when firing the wand but removed them on the cyclotron. The result can be seen here:

The full Arduino code, 3d models, and diagrams for this mod have been added to my github repo and you can find it here:

https://github.com/CountDeMonet/ArduinoProtonPack/

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3D Printing a Proton Pack! Plus Lights and Sounds

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What started as just the Neutrino Wand has turned into building a full pack for my son this Halloween. The goals were pretty simple. Replicate the movie pack as best as I could, keep it low weight, and give him some stuff to play with. Here is what I came up with…

The result is about 80% scale, around 8 pounds on the back, and completely mirrored as my son is left handed. The pack is 3D printed using a PVC backpack frame and some other odds and ends to finish it off. The lights and sounds are based off an Arduino Nano that is controlling a bunch of Neopixel LED’s and an Adafruit Audio FX Board. The entire code, models, and PC boards used can be found on github here:

https://github.com/CountDeMonet/ArduinoProtonPack

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One Year of FlightMap

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It’s hard to believe that one year ago today I was launching FlightMap for Android on the Google Play Store. It seems like yesterday. What started as a personal GPS app to fill out my flight simulator cockpit has turned into quite a nice little utility. That first version didn’t do much and only worked on 10 inch tablets which was all I had at the time. It basically followed the airplane from the simulator and allowed you to create adhoc flight plans over google maps and map the next waypoint in the active flight plan in the simulator. Two main modes but for me, the gauges were the big accomplishment even though most people at the time didn’t care much for them. I wrote the app for me to begin with and it just happened that a few people liked it as well and for that I’m very grateful. Looking back it’s hard to believe that there have been 10 major releases of FlightMap in the last year. That’s pretty impressive for any software project 🙂

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Over the next few months I was really able to perfect the flight plan management and display options as well as improve the overall look of the app. The basic design has not changed that much on the 10 inch tablets but it is more refined now with a lot more data on the screen. My beta testers at the time really know the struggle to get the display right. It took a lot of time but I think the outcome was worth it. My main goal has always been to keep the app simple and familiar to pilots and I think I have done that. That goal is the reason I have spent so much time making sure FlightConnect is as simple as it can possibly be and that FlightMap tries to be as smart as possible to require so little from the user to do what it does. Working with a primary simulator that has not been touched by the developer for almost 10 years certainly has made that challenging 🙂 Around this time I was able to add Prepar3D to the supported simulators and I am hoping some of the bugs I’ve run into with FSX will eventually be fixed :).

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About 4 months after the release of FlightMap I was able to release version 2.0. Google had just released the new Nexus 7 and I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase one and start work on supporting it. I didn’t realize at the time how challenging the design I had come up with for the app would be to support on various tablet sizes but I did ultimately figure out a way to do it. Now FlightMap supports all 7, 8, 9, and 10 inch tablets that I have run into. I’m working on fixing an issue with a 21 inch tablet now 🙂 That first 7 inch version was a real challenge though. Trying to fit all of the features in without sacrificing functionality on the smaller screen took a lot of design work. It was ironic to me that the one feature most people said they didn’t want on the 10 inch tablets, the gauges, became the most requested feature on the 7 inch tablets when I didn’t include it in the first release. I was able to find a way to bring the gauges to the 7 inch tablets within a month or so but it was tricky.

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I had a major surgery at the end of August which slowed things down a bit but I was able to continue work on FlightMap and even found time to release a new app called FlightGauge. The most recent release included a refresh of the graphics and new features for the major gauges as well as regional airport, ndb, and vor display. I’m really proud of where FlightMap has come and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes in the future.

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I am so thankful for all of the users of the software. I have learned so much about aviation from this project and I’m sure I have a ton yet to learn. Thank you for all of the support over the last year.

– Eric

FlightGauge 1.2 Released

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A few days ago FlightGauge 1.2 was released. This version improves the 10 inch tablet view to better utilize the screen space and improve the visibility of the gauges. FlightGauge is a real time second screen instrumentation view that works with Flight Simulator X and Prepar3D. FlightGauge supports 7 inch tablets and larger running Android 4.0+.

FlightGauge is available for purchase on the Android Play Store here:

Get FlightMap on Google Play

FlightGauge 1.1.2 Released

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FlightGauge is a second screen cockpit panel replacement for Flight Simulator aircraft. FlightGauge is designed for Android 4.0+ tablets works with Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) and Prepar3D.

This a quick update version that fixes one known issue and adds one new feature:
– Fixed a display issue with the main overlay on 8 inch tablets
– Added sensor rotation. Now supports either landscape orientation.

FlightGauge is available for purchase on the Android Play Store here:

Get FlightMap on Google Play

FlightMap 2.7 for Android Released

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Vine Ripe Software is pleased to announce the release of FlightMap 2.7 to the Google Play Store. This version includes many new features requested by users including regional airports, NDB’s, VOR’s, any many more. FlightMap is a second screen navigation utility for Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) and Lockheed Martin Prepar3D (P3D). Use FlightMap to plot your simulated location and flight plans on Google Maps in real time.

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FlightMap is available for purchase on the Android Play Store here:
Get FlightMap on Google Play

Here is the full change log:

* Changed: MAP selection button changed to a popup menu for easier selection
* Changed: APT selection button changed to DATA. It’s now a popup menu with more options
* New: DATA – Airports, VOR’s, or NDB’s within ~200 miles of aircraft via DATA menu.
* New: Airport markers now display ICAO
* New: In NAV or PLAN mode press VOR or NDB for info dialog, tap dialog to add station to adhoc flight plan.
* New: The overlay aircraft now scales with the zoom level
* New: Support for automatic switching of landscape orientations. Flip the tablet over…
* Updated: ASI – Updated graphics and added 240 and 280 knot options
* Updated: Direction Indicator – New graphics and added AP Heading bug
* Updated: 7 new overlay aircraft for total of 35
* Improved: Auto Zoom has more steps.
* Improved: More than doubled the hit area of the bottom buttons on 7 and 8 inch tablets

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