The main idea of this project is to control the flight simulator from external elements, and in addition, to show the information generated by the simulator via external elements.
Nowdays, the ones who want to build their own cockpit have to buy different elements to achieve this goal: EPIC type cards, keyboard emulators... or use elements as joysticks, keyboards, etc. by modifying them.
This project will control the flight simulator from external elements and will show the information generated by the simulator via external elements by using specific electronic circuits.
COMMUNICATION WITH THE COMPUTER AND GENERAL ARRANGEMENT
IOCards system is designed to solve any request from anyone that wants to build a home cockpit, panels or more simple accesories. The design is based on simplicity and modularity.
IOCard system is based on what we called MASTER card. This main card is the one who transmits commands from the computer to the different circuits and elements. In addition, this card has 72 digital inputs and 64 digital outputs to be used directly by external elements (leds, switches...) or by additional circuits that control more complicated elements (motors, relays...). MASTER card lets to connect up to 4 specific cards called DISPLAYS cards. Each displays card manages up to 16 7-segments displays.
One MASTER card can be connected to the parallel port; 4 displays cards can be connected to one MASTER card, and as many additional circuits as free required outputs. We will describe these specific circuits later.
We also have the possibility of connecting what we call EXPANSION card to the PC. This way up to 4 MASTER cards can be connected to only 1 computer.
There are two version for this EXPANSION card: one is for parallel port and the other for USB port. The last one adds the advantage of decreasing the number of instructions to be made by the PC proccessor and, in addition, lets to directly connect new 5 additional axles). Of course, only one MASTER card can be conected to this ESXPANSION if we want to use the USB port instead of the parallel one.
Not only one computer can be used. The system can be used on a network. For example, we can use one computer for the MCP and radios, other for CDUs and overhead... Software will manage the data through the network.
As you can see, the system lets to manage from a simgle panel to a complete cockpit (100% of the cockpit systems).
There are another USB cards available: keyboard emulator, analogue axles, servo motors, stepper motors, etc...
The cards are controlled via a specific software, easy to learn by newbies users.
For advanced users there's another powerful software. With this software any system on the plane can be simulated (the systems not implemented in the flight simulator too).
COMMUNICATION WITH THE COMPUTER AND GENERAL ARRANGEMENT
In first place, it's important to say that IOCards project is FREE (the author only allows a NON COMMERCIAL use of it).
All the circuit diagrams (printed circuits included) can be downloaded from this site in order to build the hardware we need. All the related software can be free downloaded from here too (including development libraries DLLs).
A group of spanish cockpit builders started the IOCards project. These builders also offers the cards industrial building process coordination as an additional service to anyone interested in the cards. Only managing and delivery expenses are charged to the elements net prices.
There are 3 ways of getting IOCards:
1) Downloading the diagrams, building the hardware from the information on them and buying the components at any electronics shop.
2) Placing an order for a KIT thorough Opencockpits website. You will receive the printed circuit and the needed components. You will mount and weld all these elements on the card.
3) Placing an order for the card, completely finished and tested
To place your order you can FOLLOW THIS LINK
|Philosophy||Open, simple and modular|
|Availabylity||All the systems already developed. USB and parallel port connection.|
|Prices||Basic elements prices|
|Technology||Standard ICs, PIC controllers for USB modules|
Independent circuit available. It needs 8 digital inputs and as many axles as available inputs can be used.
Additional analogue axles included on USB expansion, USB servos and USB stepper cards.
|DAC||Circuit not available yet.|
|Digital inputs||72 per Master card (288 per USB expansion card with 4 master cards connected).|
|Total system capacity||Not limited, as it can be used on a network.|
Encoders card available (for up to 4 encoders) that connects to master card. It needs 2 digital inputs per encoder. As many encoders/cards as available inputs can be used.
Gray type encoders (Gray code for each detent) can be directly connected to master card inputs.
|Simulated encoders (by using rotary switches)||They need 3 digital inputs. They are directly connected and as many switches as available inputs can be used.|
|Servos (PWM)||Two circuits available: one that connects to master card (8 digital outputs needed; as many servos as available outputs can be used); the other one is the USB-servos that can manage up to 6 servo motors and connects directly to the USB port.|
|Digital outputs||64 per card (256 per USB expansion card with 4 master cards connected).|
|Step by step motors||Two circuits available: one that connects to master card (4 digital outputs needed; as many servos as available outputs can be used); the other one is the USB-stepper that can manage up to 3 stepper motors and connects directly to the USB port.|
|7-segments displays||Max. 256 per USB expansion card with 4 master cards connected.|
|Leds||They need one digital output. They are directly connected and as many leds as available outputs can be used.|
|LCD displays||They need 6 digital outputs. They are directly connected to master card and as many displays as available outputs can be used. (Not supported today)|
|Relays||Circuit available. It needs 1 digital outputs and as many relays as available outputs can be used .|
|Platform||Windows and XP (soon).|
|Supported simulators||MS Flight Simulator and X-plane.|
|Communication with simulator||By FSUIPC or IOCP (with other elements).|
|Support||Via specific forums, e-mail and groups.|
|Manuals||Manuals and tutorials available in Spanish, English and French.|
|Software||System control and test, system configuration and main program. Controller for each card|
|Computer connection||Parallel port / USB|
|Scriptable/Programable||Powerful events oriented language (SIOC) for advanced users.|
Software de las IOCards
IOCards software lets us to configure the hardware to work with FSimulator 2000, 2002 y 2004. A version for X-Plane is available too.
The IOCards suite consists on several programs: the controller-tester software, the configuration software and the main program.
The suite also includes: a hardware simulator to run tests without any hardware connected, a keyboard emulator and a development library (DLL).
IOCards system can be connected to FSUIPC protocol (used by FSimulator) and the newer and quicker IOCP protocol, able to work with real time full movement cockpits.
For more details, please download the manuals and tutorials located at our download area.