The system architecture includes only one master board as a central control unit, to which numerous low cost input/output expansion boards and LED drivers are connected. Also, additional "slave" controllers for servo, stepper motors, LCDs and key matrix input can be used.
One of the Mega 2560 based controller boards available on the market can be used as the master board. The HCSCI firmware is loaded into it directly from the plugin, as described in the "Software" section. All pins that are available in the CONFIGURATOR can be assigned for inputs/outputs. But 8 pins (# 22 ... 29) are not selectable and used as 4 address lines for input/output extension boards and 4 control lines for output devices:
This architecture allows you to extend the number of inputs/outputs to several hundreds (using simple input extension boards and output drivers) and create a flexible modular system. You can make a full set of input controls for any complex cockpit and easily expand it by adding more extension modules at any time.
Potentially, you may have (depended on inputs/outputs combination):
- up to 800 digital inputs ( 540 with 32 axis inputs or 1000 LEDs);
- 176 buttons on key-matrix slave board;
- more than 10 LCDs (up to 11 on the slave HCSCI LCD board + several direct;
- at least 32 7-segment displays (can be as many as you want);
- up to 32 servo (18-20 with HCSCI servo driver, or 16-32 with WIT-motion driver);
- up to 19 stepper motor gauges (from 8 to 19, that can be extended in future)
- 24 PWM-driven moving-coil gauges.
These signal lines are for outputs only - LCD, 7-segment displays and LED drivers, see more in the related sections:
NOTE: The +5V output pin can be used as a source for all multiplexers connected to HCSCI bus and also it can be used to power some low-current output devices. See more detail about system powering here.
Note: These 8 pins are configured as outputs, so you may think about common precautions not allowing outputs overload when you mistakenly short the pin to the GND. You can add serial safety resistors (30 - 100 ohm to each signal line) for current limiting, but in HCSCI firmware these outputs are always in "low level" and for only a very short period of program time they can be in a high level state, so it's unlikely you will overload the address line.
Several pins (#14-19) can be used for serial communication with slave driver boards, or reserved (10, 50-53) for Ethernet module (in LAN version).
Though the main input/output connection options mostly stay intact, the configuration protocol and hardware connections can be changed, sometimes drastically.
Please don't rush to make some kind of complex PCBs, modules for yourself (and especially proposing them to the community).
Besides, the HCSCI architecture is specially designed the way when anyone can simply buy ready-to-use, cheap modules and breakout boards listed on this website and in the "Components" page, connect them as described on our pages, that's all.
There are many others manufacturers and sellers of various controller boards with this atmega2560 controller. In the photo you can see three mini controller boards that are tested with HCSCI/SimVimCockpit, the firmware was uploaded to every of these boards from HCSCI plugin menu without any problems.
There are some other atmega2560 controller boards on the market like "Crumbuino-Mega", various "core" modules. You can find them yourself using such keywords as "2560 core", "atmega2560 mini", etc.