I have been tinkering with panel design for quite some time, since being introduced to the cheap-as-chips (ironically chips aren’t so cheap anymore) arduino clone pro-micro board & the shift register dev boards available on aliexpress, couple that with MMJoy & you have a very simple & easy to use framework, from which you can setup whatever you need.
You can daisy-chain the shift register boards together from 1 to 4 max, this is a limitation of the maximum windows button count, not on MMJoy
I have designed all the panels for
- UH-1H Huey
- AH-64D apache
- OH-58D Kiowa Warrior
- A-10C Warthog
- F/A-18C Hornet
All the panels are then mounted in frames of 15mm aluminium C-channel with 4mm rivnuts drilled into place.
this will allow entire panel sections to be mounted & removed in sections, reducing potential damage & strain on wire connections.
The technique of backlighting the panels is by the layering several acrylic panels of different colours & varying levels of opacity.
A standard panel is a triple layer (this illustration has 4, the additional layer houses the custom PCBs)
- the back layer is black, & is solid (non translucent/transparent), the backlighting LEDs are inserted in pre-cut holes, there is no light bleed because the layer is opaque
- the middle layer is clear, this allows all the light from the LEDs in the bottom layer to disseminate across the entire panel
- the top layer is a translucent white, which allows the light to further propogate with less hot spots. This top layer is then painted with black on the outward face, which can then be laser etched with the required panel text labels
Toggle Switches & Push buttons
(work in progress)
Arduinos & DCS-BIOS
(work in progress)
I have designed several custom PCBs including the following:
|AH64D – EUFD PCBs|
|AH-64D MFD PCB strips|
|AH-64D TEDAC PCB strips|
I am currently working on custom PCBs for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Multi-Function Keyboard as well as the MFD & CDU for the CH-47F Chinook.
MMJoy is limited to only running on the ATMEL32U4 chipset, where as Freejoy runs off the more feature rich STM32 chipset. These are used on the ‘Blue Pill’ boards, which are cheap & readily available, however they are renowned for bricking easily, this is design fault that allows power spikes to affect the chip.
I had started to design a MMJoy board, which was basically an arduino clone pro-micro board, with the shift register dev board on one simple board, no wiring required, only from the connectors to each switch.
As the design progress & with the discovery of Freejoy, we realised that a board running on the STM32 chipset would be far more efficient.
The design is nearing completion & hopefully production runs will begin soon.
The CPG MFDs & TADs screens are screens I found on Aliexpress, they are basically ipad screens;
- 9.7inch 2K Monitor*1
- mini HDMI Cable * 1
- MICRO USB CABLE*1
- mini Bracket *1
The EUFD utilses a 5.0 nextion display, these things are brilliant when interfaced with DCS-BIOS for things like CDUs , UFCs, etc. where there is simple text outpout required & not a heavy graphical requirement, as they are very configurable & far more flexible than a OLED screen
Similiarly the CMWS panel is also a nextion display , this will allow for not only the chaff & flare numbers, but also the threat direction indicators as well.
you guessed it, another mini project within a project….
Hopefully I can get a successful print or 2 for both PLT & CPG stations.
Indicators & Lights
outside of the panel switches, there isnt many indicators in the apache, other than the CB panels behind the PLT,
so i made 2 CB panels with pseudo fuses, purely for aesthetics.