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SimVimCockpit Interface

SimVimCockpit© Interface is a powerful but very easy-to-use, free input/output control tool for home cockpit builders. It will drastically ease the building process and save your time, because you don't need to have any programming/scripting skills and use any complex specific electronic components, it's a "Plug-And-Fly" system.

The fact is that over the past 20 years you could see a lot of home-made cockpit projects on the Internet, but many of them just started and then eventually stopped, or became "never finished" money-eating projects, stretched for 10 years. This is not to say that this is only due to the lack of a good interface, but if you need to become a programmer and an electronics specialist just for the need to make a few LEDs and displays work in your cockpit, this could frustrate and stop many enthusiast.

The idea of this project grew out of the need to finally have a convenient and easy-to-use interface that will allow each home cockpit builder to concentrate on building the cockpit itself, not thinking about how to get the data from the simulator and how to make it work in your cockpit.

This is the 6th generation of our input-output interface for X-Plane. All history of development you can find here.

Note: if you are going to start building your cockpit for the first time you should realize that it could be a complex and very long process. You should have quite enough knowledge about aircraft systems, have some handwork, wiring and soldering skills. Some knowledge about data structure of X-Plane would be useful if you plan to use some custom aircraft models (to know how it work with "DataRefs" and controlled with "Commands").

Hardware

SimVimCockpit interface architecture doesn't require some specialized electronics components, it has "modular" structure based on cheap, easily accesible, ready-to-use breakout boards and modules listed in the "Components" page.

So, in most cases, all you need is to buy these cheap components (and all needed common switches and buttons) and connect them as described on our website. Some components, LED drivers or stepper drivers may need basic soldering skills (like this breakout board)


Unlike our previous interfaces, SimVimCockpit includes an "address bus*" architecture that allows you to extend the number of inputs and outputs for hundreds of toggle switches, buttons, encoders, dozens of numeric displays and gauges, and guarantees that you can make a full set of input controls for any complex cockpit.

* The term "bus" is related to a set of unified wires which can be used by multiple components in the system to receive or send data.



Download SimVimCockpit© free on our Patreon blog: http://www.patreon.com/simvim


Getting Started - Install and Test SimVimCockpit

What you need to start:

  • Get one micro-controller board built on Atmega2560 (See details here.)
  • Download SimVimCockpit software (plugin) and install it to X-Plane.
  • Follow the "Getting Started" steps (below on this page) to upload SimVim firmware and test communication.
  • Wire correctly all nput control and output devices to the controller and use SimVim Configuration tool to assign all of them.
  • Note: You will need to get one Ethernet module if you plan to use Ethernet for communication, not USB.

    (supported systems: Linux, Windows, OSX with any version of X-Plane)

After downloading the SimVimCockpit_v##.zip file, unpack as-is into X-Plane ../plugins folder (as any other plugins for X-Plane). The new menu item "SimVimCockpit" will appear in the X-Plane plugins menu. Then, from the plugin menu you need to upload SimVim firmware to the master controller board.

First start and Input/Output test

If you have no previously uploaded SimVim firmware, follow the steps below. If you plan to use LAN version, attach an Ethernet module to you controller board before and connect it to your router. hr>
  • Open the "Firmware Upload" window from SimVim plugin menu.
  • Follow the steps displayed in that window
  • When USB port is detected select correct controller type from the list
  • and set the "Ethernet" checkbox if you will use Ethernet module.
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  • Click "UPLOAD". Wait until firmware upload is completed (about 5-8 s)
  • After upload the plugin will connect to this controller automatically.
  • The connected board will appear in SimVim Status window.
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  • Load some default aircraft (e.g. Cessna) in X-Plane
  • Connect a toggle switch to pin #5, GND and throw it on/off
  • The Pitot switch state will changing accordingly with your switch position
  • The on-board LED on the controller board will change its state (Pitot Heat is on/off).
  • --------------------------------------------------------------------

Firmware Update

When you update the SimVimCockpit to a next version, the plugin will inform you about need to update firmware (if there is new firmware) and present you the Upload window with the options already filled in.

  • For USB connection, just be sure that all options are correct and click "Upload".
  • For LAN connection, connect your master board to USB (or disconnect and connect it again) and click "Connect". After that, check the options and click "Upload".

SimVim Connection, notes

- You never need to upload the firmware to change I/O configuration, all you need to do is create new configuration file.

- If you have changed the data.cfg file while X-Plane is running, just click the "Reload Configuration" button in the Status window.

- With firmware uploaded you no longer need to unplug your controller board USB cable before X-Plane launch. If you use Ethernet firmware you don't need USB cable to be connected until you will need to upload new version of firmware.

After successfull first test you can be sure that SimVim plugin communicates with your controller, and you can start configuring it in the Configurator.


Plugin should always establish connection automatically every time X-Plane is started, no matter how many times you did this and how many changes you made in the data config file.


SimVim Plugin Reconnection options:

  • 1. [Reload Configuration] button in the "Status" window reloads all SimVim configuration, it should be used when you saved new data configuration file
  • 2. [Hardware Reconnect] menu item resets everything inside the plugin and reopens all ports and reloads all SimVim configuration. Use it only if you have reconnected your board USB cable while X-Plane is running.
  • 3. [Reload Plugins] menu item will restart the SimVim plugin (and other plugins in your system). Use it when you have updated the plugin while X-Plane is running.< /li>
  • Restarting X-Plane is never required, since using "Reload Plugins" will do the same thing as a clean restart.
  • If the USB device (Arduino) has NOT appeared in the status window too long this is because of virtual serial driver problem, or physical connection issues.



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