I've been working on building a fully enclosed, lights out, full Immersion fight simulator that resembles an A10-C WartHog.
This instructable will not include the forward cockpit panel nor the simulation software.
This is a rather big project and will require construction equipment such as a forklift or possibly a crane.
One of the main components is an enclosure that once closed allows no light to enter. I would like to point out that wile no light should enter oxygen should, please don't make your simulator air tight. Oxygen deprivation is not a component that should be included in any flight simulator in this manner. If one wishes to simulate high G black outs one should look to the usage of a flight presser suit and an air compressor.
Step 1: Find Your Self a Good Box
I spent a lot time in one of these boxes wile I was in the Signal Core, sometimes days at a time, you could always get out and stretch and stuff but It was always somewhat of an odd sensation hour after hour. I use to think to myself, man if I could pull all this crap out I could really do something cool with one of these boxes.
years latter I was getting back into flight simulators or SimPits as there sometimes called and the two projects fit perfectly together.
There are a few other options but I've always have a fondness for my little S250 shelter.
Ramim's S-250/G shelter, is a lightweight, high strength, insulated, all weather, general purpose, mobile shelter for housing various communications and other types of equipment. Ramim's S-250/G Shelters meets the requirement of specification ASTM E 1974 (MIL-S-55541-H).
There are a lot of perks to using a full enclosure that is located out side of your house. This approach is much more appealing to my wife who eventually got tired of GUB-97 Cluster Bombs going off at insanely loud levels, and me continues screaming "MayDay, MayDay, Im going down" really warmed her up to my purchase of the S250 shelter for my flight simulator and the use of a small patch of our back yard.
Step 2: The Order
EBay of course.!
I got mine from the east coast and had to have it shipped. It was around $800. I got it from this guy.
but there is a new seller as well,
There are a number of other options you could go with such as a shipping container or small out door shed you might get from AceHardware or the like.
I've already explained why I went with an S250 shelter, however I should add that shipping containers are not made for human occupation or electric devices. These Army shelters are designed to be maned and so you tend to see better doors, ventilation, and grounding options
Step 3: So When It Shows Up,
I was told by the shippers that they would call a week before it shipped, then a day before it arrived then another once the driver was heading into town.
A week or two go by and I'm expecting a call any day about it's shipping then
I ended up getting a call at 6 am from the driver saying i had three hours to off load.
I had plan to hire someone to off load it for me but that was not an option.
I had to rent a forklift and have it delivered to the house within hours. Options are you can rent an RV spot at a RV and boat store it facility if you were in a bind to off load it at a moments notice. Then you have a bit of time to figure out how to get it to your house.
Step 4: Time to Play With the Constitution Equipment.!
I swear, just look up an equipment rental, call them up, tell them what you want and give them you credit card and within hours a big old flatbed truck will show up with it, drop it off and toss you the keys.
I used the time to read Ehowto on forklift-operator http://www.ehow.com/forklift-operator/
Then watched a few YouTube videos of the "Epic Fails" involving forklifts. Well worth the time.
Also be sure to use your seat belt, also the parking brake every time. Might sound a bit too parental but I had lacked to do them both in one of the many drives I did with it wile getting the box to it's final location. I don't like to admit it but I could have been another epic forklift fail, not an uncommon thing for me.
side note: I have to pay the credit to my awesome wife who at 6:30 AM found me wakeing her and casualing asking if she could get me a construction grade 6K lbs 20 foot Reach forklift before she heads off to the office and as I said within hours it just showed up.
Step 5: Clean Up and Preparation of the Enclosure.
These pic's are after a few days worth of cleaning it out.
Most likely there are going to be a number of things your going to want to rip out, save all the screws and parts they come in handy.
If you take a screw out to remove something put the screw back in the hole it was in, this is a grate way to keep all the screws together.
The one I use to sit in had a table / desk setup, when I got this one, it was setup for satellite equipment and was what we called an unMamed shelter, you setup the gear and then go to another rig to operate the equipment.
I pulled out the lower rack and had to used two hydrolic jacks to lift the lower cross beam and hold it in place. Then i mounted it in the maned shelter configuration were there were already screw holes and grounding straps.
Step 6: Pulling Out the Junk,
I got a number of good quality radio cables, some RF ban bypass filters (really big ones) and a pretty decent air compressor in my favorite color.
There was also the lower large container on the floor. Perfect for another project later.
Step 7: Configure to Your Needs
Note how there is now a table, also this adds some extra storage space under the desk.
I now have an 18 inch rack for the power supply stuff, a table up front and a bench seat on the opposite side.
Step 8: Power
These rigs are designed to be grounded due to all the radio equipment typical used inside. You will find that everything, all the tables shelves even the four walls have heavy duty grounding straps connecting to each other. Wile you may need to remove them will you reconfigure your shelter be sure to put them back as there there for a reason.
The grounding rod used to ground the shelter should go down at least three feet, and youll find two or three grounding nuts located around the out side. these connect to the inside and as mentioned above there designed to ground the complete inside. So dont just try and hook on to a radio cable plug on the out side, most times there isolated and the other end is just cut off (note the wall shoot). Find the grounding nuts and use them.
A small 18 inch rack mount APC UPS makes for a grate power conditioner can help avoid spikes and can also be used to power up the simulator in stages so you don't trip the breaker turning everything on at once. The one I use also displays the total amp's used.
From the local thrift store I picked up a bunch of switched power strips from the 90's.
Step 9: Lighting
The main light I used was a halogen three lamp light. This I have hooked up to one of the power bars.
It produces a lot of light and heat. mount it up high and to the back of the shelter.
The backup light is an LED bar light, that is hooked up to an always on power supply. This allows for everything to be powered down but still always have one low power light that will always work.
You may also want to add some cheep USB LED lights, in Red.
Step 10: Start Throwing in Some Gear LCD
if you have to do this as well just be sure to throw on some silicon to keep the water out.
Then mount a 37 in LCD monitor.
Add a mount to the table so that you can mount a 23' LCD display. I have another instructables piece for that, but we should put the mount in at this point.
Step 11: Left and Right Hand Pedestals
i get a lot of stuff at my local thrift store.
to increase overall command control surface, we want to take a couple of the old CRT monitor desk stands. $5 each.
They make the grate base for building something on.
Step 12: Left Hand
So starting with any kind of monitor stand, build a larger base.
An old overly large mouse pad with wrist pad.
Add a big track ball or other type of non movement mouse. Make sure it feels good and hasa good writs brace.
I had a Saitek Cyborg Command Unit so I used that as well.
Any type of joystick or micro keyboard will due, most times you can remap the keys into what you need.
Step 13: Right Hand
Drilled a few holes and then sacred it to the base, this gave it a nice raised wall box like shape.
Then with a metal clipboard, a crappy document holder for typing and a red LED usb light, all strapped together we end up with a nice useable surface
Also these CRT stands have a metal bar that pulls out for a key board holder, I use a red back lit keyboard.
There is a lot of documentation, charts, and quick reference material and this allows for easy access. The two I continually need are Armament description and hostel object identification.
And in a full lights out environment we need the RED light readable charts and lamps.
Step 14: ThrustMaster HOTAS Warthog
However it cost almost as much as the S250/G shelter. (I literally had to go out and get a second job to fund this purchase, Glad I got some skills)
If you can, it's worth the price, you plug it in and it just works. Every key is mapped as it should be and just works flawlessly, and for the price it dam well better.!
The HOTAS Warthog, a full replica of the joystick, dual throttle system and dual throttle control panel of the U.S. Air Force A-10C attack aircraft. Weighing in at more than 6kg, the joystick, throttle handles and bases are constructed mostly of metal. With 55 fully programmable action buttons and 2 four-direction hat switches, each with a built-in push button (the first joystick in the world to incorporate such a feature), the HOTAS Warthog is the result of an intense collaboration between Thrustmaster’s development teams and members of the flight sim community.
There are four buttons, an 8-way hat, and three four-way hats (including one with a push-down action). For those familiar with the Cougar, the S2 fire button has been redesigned, the paddle switch now is a replica F-16 paddle, and HAT 4 has a push-down action. Since there is no paddle switch in the A-10C stick, the paddle switch is removable in order to create a true replica. Thrustmaster has gone to great lengths to not only replicate the look of an A-10C HOTAS, but also the feel; for example, the trigger is designed for a 7 N/mm spring constant until the first stage activates, then 22 N/mm for 4.5mm until the second stage activates.
Step 15: The Throttle Panel
To mount the throttle I found that two tall plastic ammo cans i got from Big5 worked just right.
In the bottom ammo can I placed four red bricks for weight, then drilled two holes and screwed them together.
I used velcro to hold the throttle to the top ammo can and then just closed the lid.
Step 16: VR INSIGHT - CDU I PANEL
The CDU panel of VRinsight features a Control Display Unit for Flight Management Computer (FMC).
It supports various types of commercial add-on aircraft (PMDG B737,744, Level-D B767 and PSS A319,320). It works as an input device of alpha-numeric keys and/or user defined control functions.
Again using an ammo can as a base to mount it on.
I have an alternate mounting location for the CDU, up on the right hand pedestal.
Step 17: UFC / Scanner
I will at some point created one that works in the simulator. However until then i have chosen to use one of my many scanners as a place holder.
Not only for looks but also for real radio chatter, I've tuned the scanner to the local aviation frequency's and this adds a nice bit of real world chatter.
Step 18: Sound
I found an old cheep four channel tape deck mixer at (yep you guessed it) the local thrift store.
Now we can't have an old school tape deck in our simpit, so we will need to cover up the tape deck.
The four channel mixer is of grate vale in this project.
So first we need to cover up the tape deck, so grabbing into the boxes of old stuff all I need to do is find something not quit as old as a tape deck.
low and behold I put out an old pocket PC, with hardened shell. With a few holes drilled and a few screws to hold it into place.
I've loaded the SD card with a number of airport charts and LSI frequency list.
Now we need to hook up an Crank AMP to channel one, and set the low frequency to max. Also set the low frequency to max on the AMP as well. All other values should be set to minimum. This will allow us to simulate the firing of the GAU-8/A Avenger gun.
Once this is set right, and you fire the GAU-8/A Avenger gun in the game you should hear real world sheet metal shake directly in front of you.
To ensure your getting a realistic noise of the GAU-8/A Avenger gun wile firing use a sound meter to set the level at the correct level. (also picked up a the thrift store.)
Step 19: IR Tracker
Hyper accurate, fully adjustable, and only three square inches in size.
TrackIR 5 is the one piece of kit that discriminating gamers crave.
Take advantage of 6 DOF head tracking technology, which links your actual movement in three-dimensional space to your in-game view!
This increases situational 10 fold, a must have.!
Step 20: Blower
The blower fan and motor that came with the shelter, I took it out and threw it way.
One the first hot day of gaming I suddenly know the gravity of my mistake.
I have replaced the them with a Vornado fan that is hooked up to one of the switched power supplies.
I also have added a 14 inch box fan as well.
Step 21: Porch / Mud Trap.
So I dug up a three by three square and dropped on in place, this allow water and mud to fall down into the trap.