This hobby project arose out of the need for a convenient and powerful control interface for home cockpit simulator. Like many aviation enthusiasts, I became a fan of flight sims as soon as they appeared on the PC, then the home Internet became available, and of course I started looking for a suitable I/O interface for FS and trying solutions then available (early 2000s).
X-Plane: - After a few years of hiatus I bought X-Plane 9, which had a built-in UDP data exchange protocol. A few available at that time interface options did not satisfy me (and there weren't any on Arduino, especially for X-Plane), so I decided it was time to create the X-Plane interface given my experience.
DIY B58 Panel and first I/O program: - At the same time I started building a full-size Baron 58 panel simulator and used Arduino ( Mega1280 ) as a convenient and cheap platform to write input/output code for this panel that used UDP network protocol built into X-Plane. It was just standalone custom code for my panel.
Then, from the end of 2014, my son Roman took up this project, and without his extensive knowledge of programming this interface would not exist. He has created all the plugins, from the first ArdRef to the current HCSCI and the instrument panel program. My expertise is related to electronics/microcontrollers, scripting, web programming, I also do graphics and logic for instruments.
The goal was to create an interface that would be a powerful, flexible, yet easy-to-use tool for home flight simulator builders, without the need for programming skills and using complex electronics. Over the past 20 years I've seen quite many cockpit builders in the Internet, who started their home cockpits, but ended up stopping or building them for years. Of course, that doesn't mean it's just the interface, but if you need to become an expert in coding and electronics to get some LEDs and displays in your cockpit to work, that might stop many enthusiasts.
In the end, HCSCI can save you a lot of time and money by allowing you to focus on cockpit building process, not thinking about how to make it work with the simulator:
The HCSCI (SimVimCockpit) is the 6th generation of our input-output interface for X-Plane. At first, we spent a little time learning the in-built X-Plane UDP protocol, then there were a few “transitional” libraries, that grew up to become ARDref / ArdSim / ArdSimX with using the plugin as main part of the system:
|Baron 58 code developments||UDP tests, 2012-2013||The first test code to analize UDP packets from X-Plane to receive packets and send commands to X-Plane. Early programs for Baron 58 Panel (June 2012) using data receiving using X-Plane UDP DATA method only. Testing of data input-output methods, Arduino code development for encoders, analog inputs, program speed optimisation etc.|
|XPData Library for X-Plane data Input/Output||2014 to 2015||First convenient library created, used built-in X-Plane UDP communication protocol (Ethernet) to send input data to X-Plane. Had two different methods of receiving output data from X-Plane - one using X-Plane UDP protocol, and the other getting data from the early versions of ARDref plugin.|
|ARDref Library and Plugin||to July, 2015||The "transitional" library. Only worked with Ethernet, used several slave boards. Focused on using a plugin with config files instead of Arduino programming. Many of its ideas, such as plugin transmitting initial configuration to Arduino, have been reused later for HCSCI .|
|ArdSim Library and Plugin||v.1.2 late 2015 to v. 5.4 in 2017||The predecessor to ArdSimX. Main differences: ArdSim library has a set of functions that you had to use in Arduino code to setup input controls and assign specific action (switch, encoder, LED etc.) for any Arduino pin. Arduino programming (via use of ArdSim library functions) was required along with the configuration file. Needed to know the library functions and X-Plane datarefs/commands|
|since 2017 to v. 1.33 in July 2018||The predecessor of the SimVimCockpit/HCSCI . Configurable inputs/outputs (buttons, switches, encoders, analog axes, rotary switches, LEDs, 7-segment displays, few stepper motors and PWM-gauges) without any Arduino programming using online configurator.|
|since 2018 to present||The SimVimCockpit / HCSCIS interface has completely replaced ArdSimX and all previous projects, it provides much more capabilities and offers more control and output options, requiring significantly less effort and cost to use with a very flexible I/O configuration.|
HCSCI Interface is non-commercial hobby project, and any donations are highly appreciated! Thank you!
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The HCSCI project is always in a constant development state, it still has a lot of potential, and its functionality can be improved and changed during the development process.
If you are going to build a home cockpit (especially if you have never done so), you must understand that this can be a compplex and time-consuming process. If you plan to use HCSCI, please first carefully study the pages of this site (all information is presented in a form that is simple enough to understand).
While using the HCSCI system can greatly simplify the process of creating a home flight simulator, you should have sufficient technical knowledge, handicraft, wiring and soldering skills and study the related topic.