The main part of this interface is the HCSCI plugin, which does the following:
Plugin Installation: add the HCSCI plugin to your X-Plane as any other plugin. Just extract the HCSCI zip file as-is to X-Plane's "Resources/plugins" folder. The new menu item “HCSCI” will appear in X-Plane's Plugins menu. Supported systems: Linux, Windows, OSX.
Plugin Update: Extract the new HCSCI zip file as-is to the X-Plane plugins folder and confirm the files replacement. Don't delete anything from the HCSCI plugins folder before update, as it contains your created data.cfg file and the devices.prf file that keep all configuration and settings! Note: if you have the older vesrion in the "SimVim" folder, delete that folder (or you can extract the new HCSCI version to that folder and then rename it to "HCSCI")
Download HCSCI on the Configurator page. The newest beta versions can be appeared in the Patreon blog first for testing.
The second piece of software is the firmware code loaded onto the "master board" (any Atmega2560 board as Arduino Mega and similar - See details here). The firmware is a program written from scratch (without using third-party Arduino libraries) to handle a large number of inputs, control multiple output devices, and exchange data between plugin and “slave” boards.
The HCSCI firmware is included in the plugin and needs to be uploaded to the master board from the plugin menu by the user just once. Don’t re-upload it on configuration change or plugin update! You don't need to know Arduino coding or install Arduino IDE.
Note: in some systems you may need to wait until the onboard Rx LED stops blinking before proceeding to the next step #5, this may take a few seconds with certain serial port drivers.
If you need to upload the Ethernet firmware version set the "Ethernet" checkbox before pressing "Upload".
On successful connection you will see the messages "Master Board: Connected (USB/LAN)" and "Configured: 1 Input, 1 Output"
This means your board is working correctly, and you can start wiring all input controls and output devices to the controller and use the Configuration tool to assign all of them, but before you can run a simple test to make sure:
Reload Config button reloads all HCSCI configuration, it should be used when you have saved a new or edited data configuration file.
The plugin checks the currently used firmware version on connection, and if it needs updating, the program uploads the new firmware to the board and then establishes connection. There's nothing more for you to do for the serial USB version.
The HCSCI firmware is a heavily optimized program code that synchronizes control of a large number of different input/output devices. HCSCI interface doesn't allow to use the controller board as a "usual" Arduino and users can't add any custom code, as there is no Arduino sketch, and the plugin uploads firmware directly to the board. At this moment we are using Atmega2560 as a convenient and easily available controller platform for HCSCI firmware.
HCSCI Panel is an additional, standalone program providing a set of realistic, fully-functional aircraft instrument panels to be displayed on a computer that is connected by network to the main computer with X-Plane. The program doesn't require a powerful system - any old PC with processor frequency of about 1000 Mhz can be used, or any mini-PC with a compatible OS currently available on market. Rasbberry Pi is fully supported and can be used for any HCSCI panel.