Friday, November 1, 2013

New Software Project

3 years silence and now two posts within an hours, well thats an improvement...
Last night I opened a new sourceforge project (Simulation Interconnect Bus) in order to have a repository for my code as it seems, what I've started a couple of days ago might take a bit more time and I can code while travelling as well. But what is what I've started? Lets go back a bit in time.

A long time ago I bought the Enemey Engaged: Apache vs Havoc and the Enemey Engaged: Comanche vs Hokum (EECH) helicopter simulators and spent quite some time with it. Over the years, although being a bit outdated from a technical perspective, a fine community extended the simulator with various options including exporting the MFDs to a second monitor and telemtry data over the DeviceLink protocol of IL-2 Stormovik.

Jumping to year 2013, where I was about to trashed my 8 years old notebook when I had the idea to take it apart and see what components I could use from it. I extracted the panel, bough a controler board on ebay to make a standalone monitor out of it.
Old laptop TFT panel with controler board as external display
Over some evenings in the basement, I build my first and simple homemade cockpit from the panel and the Thrustmaster Cougar MFD frames. With that panel I was able to use the old laptop panel as a second monitor to display the EECH MFDs.


A couple of weeks later I bought the Digital Combat Simulator series (DCS) and while learning how to fly I also tested varios community-build extensions. On of this extension was Helios, a tool to build your own virtual cockpits with gauges, panel lights and buttons that is able to connect to the DCS so that you have all you telemetry on a second or third screen. Of course my simple home-made cockpit was the major target for the exported gauges.

A couple of days ago I tested the Helios in combination with EECH. Although not natively supported, I was able to "label" the programmed MFD buttons as overlays on the screen (making it easier to remember what the buttons actually do) and mapped some actions of the programmable joystick to info-panel light of helios. The result was a much more comprehensive overview of the current flight situation and improved controls.


But I also wanted to have the telemetry data on the second screen. So I investigated a bit more and came across some supported interface in Helios called "EOS Bus". The EOS Bus and its protocol was intended to connect external electronic boards like Arduino via Serial Bus to Helios in order to map external switches, controls and indicator leds to event in Helios respectively the Simulation. So the idea came up to build a bridge between the UDP based DeviceLink protocol used by EECH (EECH CommServer) and the Serial Bus based communication of the EOS and Helios and this was the hour of birth of this project.
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