News Update August 2020

Relocation to Ireland

We will be relocating to Wexford, Ireland from South Africa in the middle of August. It will take a few months to get our new premises established but this should not affect any of online activities. We are looking forward to being more centrally located and will be able to offer more direct services to our European clients. We are also looking at the possibility of taking the prototype cockpit over to the UK for the airshow season next year. Otherwise, visit us in Wexford for a cuppa and to experience the magic of flight first hand.

21 Licenses – We have come of age!

We have reached quite a milestone having issued Build License No.21

We have also shipped 8 canopies and seven metal, spring and moulding kits to various parts in the world. For those interested, a few kits remain available but anyone interested will have to wait until they have been shipped and unpacked in Ireland. Note too that it may take a while before I am able to restock given our relocation.

Kits ready for shipping

G-Force Seat Progress

The next step in the development is coming along nicely. We have elected to utilise air wedges instead of flaps/paddles for the g-force seat in order to prevent any pinch points. The four slave wedges will be inserts in the seat upholstery. The air will be pumped from four master air wedges which will be neatly located in the wing cradle. The setup will use SimTools to control electric actuators which compress the master air wedges at the appropriate moment to simulate g-forces. In addition there will be a belt tensioner which tensions and slackens the seatbelt. The effect is created when, for instance, you go into a loop; the two bottom slave wedges inflate while the seatbelt slackens, providing the feeling that you are being pressed down into your seat. In contrast to a motion simulator which can only provide this sensation for the briefest of moments (and costs megabucks), the pressure is sustained throughout the loop. The activation of the airwedges) whether inflating or deflating) and the seatbelt tension, also provide sensations of sway, acceleration, deceleration and roll.

Simple yet effective G-Force Seat solution – Air Wedges

We are also working on the development of a proper leather cutting pattern for the seat upholstery which will capture the look of the original while providing G-Force functionality.

Flying Veterans give thumbs up!

I was privileged to have two very experienced aviator friends come over to try out simulator. One of them is an RAF veteran with a huge diversity of aircraft in his logbook. I was very fortunate to have done my training on the Stampe under his expert tutelage. Each flew a mission in the new DCS World Channel Map. In addition to some expletives there were gasps of wonder and much fun was had. I think the pictures tell the story…

 

Fitment of Wing Fillet undersides

It’s been a while but I finally got around to fitting the undersides of the wing fillets. The very elegant shape is now complete (other than some paint required).

Elegance of the Spitfire Wing Fillet has been beautifully captured

My next post will hopefully be from the Emerald Isle.. Stay safe everyone!

Rev 1.5 of the HFS Spitfire Mk.IX Build Manual released!

I am pleased to announce the release of Rev 1.5 of the Build Manual. Thanks for everyone’s help in continuing to improve this product. As you know it is a significant piece of work and feedback is extremely important and much appreciated.

A significant change has been on the electronics side. I have much simplified this with the use of Leo Bodnar joystick cards which has the following advantages:

  • You can run any simulation program off it, the cockpit is simply a large (or in this case 2 large) joysticks as far as the computer can see.
  • There is no duplication of electronics for different simulators
  • There is no interference between electronics systems
  • The Leo Bodnar cards have their own push in terminals, so no more barrier terminal blocks required

The Force Feedback system still runs of DCS-BIOS and hence is limited to that simulation currently. We are however working on running this off SimTools which will make it available to X-Plane and IL2 as well, among others.

In addition, this will make the forthcoming G-Seat modification work on all those platforms too. That is the next exciting step in this development!

Spitfire Mk.IX Engine Start-up

So, I have been working on improving my video techniques, so hopefully this one is a little better than the previous video 🙂

Nevertheless, what I am trying to show is the fidelity of the HFS Cockpit systems and how beautifully they interact with the DCS World Spitfire Mk.IX. Here in the following video I demonstrate the start-up procedure for the Spit. It’s a little rough, I really need to work with a checklist off a kneeboard until I become really adept at the process and checks required. It’s enough to get the engine going however.

The Intro photos are from the Wally Brunton collection of the South African Air Force No.4 Squadron in Italy, 1945. Maj. M.V. ‘Wally’ Brunton was the OC. No.4 Squadron, Italy, 1945.

This year is the SAAF’s 100th anniversary!

Dedicated to all those brave South Africans who gave their all in the fight against tyranny. As you can see from the photos they came from all walks of life in South Africa. We shall remember them…

(Intro music from the Eagle Dynamics DCS World Spitfire Pre-release video.)

HFS Builders Feedback and Progress

I have received a few pictures from two of our HFS Spitfire MkIX builders. I think you will agree their work looks stunning! Their build quality is beautiful, truly pieces of art. I am quite humbled by what they are shaping from the HFS plans.

Having others do the build has also provided hugely valuable feedback, resulting in improvement of the product overall. Thus we are now at Rev1.4 which incorporates additional drawings, improvements and corrections for points I had missed.

Also most gratifying have been the compliments I have received from the builders.

“As it comes together, I am loving it, love how big it is, how well designed it is. It really becomes very solid.”

“I am honestly so impressed with how everything is fitting together, you need to be very proud of what you have done Roel.”

“Did I tell you that the Shapeways parts have arrived and are stunning.”

“I am so impressed with the speed you provided me the files and your enthusiasm for details.”

“I got 1 set of 3D printed parts from SHAPEWAYS to day, It looks very good and top Quality”

I hope to be sharing many more of their pictures as their builds progress. Without further ado, here they are 🙂

 

Build License 005: Cradle and Seat
Build Licence 005 Spade Grip
Build License 005 Fuselage
Build License 001 Engine Quadrant

 

Build License 001 Rudder Bar

 

Build License 001 Spade Grip

 

Build License 001 Painted sheetmetal

 

Build License 001 IFF Panel

 

Build License 001 De-ice Pump

 

Build License 001 Compass

 

Build License 001 Carb Fuel Jettison

 

Exciting start to 2020!

The year has gotten off to a fantastic start!

We have had significant interest in the project and 9 Build Licences have been issued to date. Feedback from the purchasers has been overwhelmingly positive. The questions we receive are extremely valuable in refining the product and enhancing the ease of build.

Expansion of service

As a result of demand we will be making available kits for the aluminium and mild steel laser cut, engraved, profiled and machined components. This in addition to the plastic thermo moulded components and canopy currently available. Pricing will be published soon.

Relocation to Ireland

We can also announce that we are relocating to Ireland and should be ready to serve our customers from there from July onward. This naturally has tremendous benefits to our clients in the UK and EU where providing wood routed kits in addition to the above also becomes viable. Shipping of complete simulator builds and servicing of those units now becomes easy. The distance to North America is also significantly reduced. We are working with an Ohio based engineering and machine shop, who is also a build license holder, to set up a supply service for the Americas.

Completion of cabling on Prototype

The period since we issued the Build Licence and Plan set in November of last year has been pretty busy, with little time to sit and update the blog. Just catching our breaths now to reflect on what we’ve done. Because of the pressure to complete the prototype for exhibition at Aero SA in July of last year, a decision was made to complete the build without the cabling and to retrofit this after the show. That then had to wait while the Build Manual was being completed. So in December we pulled the controls apart again and did the cabling up.

The cabling process was interesting and very satisfying. It curiously brought the cockpit to life. Almost like laying the veins in place and changing it from a mere object to something with soul.. I wasn’t the only one that felt like this, receiving the same comment from others.

Getting into the heart of the matter – The Controllers!

This month we expanded the design to include an improved Instrument Shelf and have started doing the wiring from the connector blocks up to the controllers.

There are two sets of controllers, one for DCS World using DCS-BIOS and the other for X-Plane 11 using VatSim. Both systems share a joystick controller. I am testing a Teensy++2 for this task before going to a Leo Bodnar card. The potential advantage of the latter is that it is said to have built in signal filtering and it has individual connectors for earth and 5V. We will let you know how that pans out.

The joystick function is used for the primary flight axis. For these the response time for the Arduino’s would be insufficient. Hence the shared functionality. We couple it in this case to the elevator, rudder, aileron and wheel brakes. The Arduino’s are fine for all the other functions as their sensitivity is not critical.

For X-Plane 11 we use one Arduino Mega, two 16 channel multiplexer cards and the shared joystick card, controlled by SimVim. There are many other controller programs out there, and SimVim is for non-commercial use only. But you can use programs such as Air Manager commercially.

Starting connections to the 16 Channel Multiplexer

DCS-BIOS uses two Arduino Mega’s in conjunction with the joystick card.

For IL2 use you would only need the Leo Bodnar Joystick card as you are setting up the simulator as a giant joystick interface.

We cannot wait to finish this phase and start flying!

 

 

 

 

 

Shapeways Shop up, stocked and running!

We are pleased to announce that the Heritage Flight Simulation Shapeways Shop is up and running. Here you can purchase all the 203 components for inclusion in your HFS Spitfire Mk.IX Cockpit Simulator build. The total price of the components comes to US$3945.

They are printed in white SLS Nylon. We have found we can get a better result using acrylic model paints as opposed to the (expensive) Shapeways die colouring method.

You can find our shop here.

How’s it shaping…

As we are approaching my self imposed deadline of October pretty rapidly I thought it’s only fair to let you know where we are and what the current outlook is.

The Build Manual is progressing beautifully. We are up to Page 291 and working diligently through the build process. Since the last report we have added the detail on how to cover the fuselage frames, the door design has been significantly improved, the instrument panel assembly described, the seat construction made more robust, the canopy construction detailed, the rudder assembly, control column and elevator control assembly detailed and wonderfully illustrated.

Right now we are incorporating major simplifications to the Force Feedback design of the Rudder and Aileron assemblies. This without sacrificing any accuracy of in-flight representation. We have managed to build the full system into the fuselage rather than having it spill into the support cradle. This makes construction much easier and removal of the fuselage from the cradle very simple and fast.

So when will we publish? Well there are still all the auxiliary controls to describe. These are the components that run along the inside walls of the cockpit and below the instrument panel. Then there’s still  a description of the cabling and electronics and the commissioning process and setups for DSC World, X-Plane and IL2. And then proof reading and cross-referencing all referred to drawings, cutting patterns, bend diagrams, machine drawings and general arrangements. What that means is that I will miss my target of October but it also provides me with great confidence that we will be ready to publish during November.

So in the meantime, herewith a few extracts from the manual for your viewing pleasure….