O.k as things stood at the moment I can go on with my project (wasn't really clear if I could stay in my flat, cause my hirer passed away), so I decided to make an own thread for it now.
I'm working on this project since about two years now. The first prototype was built in 1998, but then many things in my live changed and I hadn't the time to pursue my hobby further. My only joy those years was collecting used stuff at ebay and putting it in the storage for a later rebirth of the project.
Two years ago I started the rebirth of the project. As I never had the time to fly all those simulations I collected over the years, I want to catch it up now. That's where the problem started!
As many of the old simulation (eg. Janes Series) are Windows 9X only, I have to make the whole pit backwards compatible. Not an easy thing at all. I really spent nearly the whole first year for a possibility to get Windows ME (ME cause it has some features 98 doesn't have - eg. compatibility with more RAM out of the box etc.) running at a moderate machine. The first plan, to use only one PC for old and new sims, died very quickly
. No chance to do so! Have really experimented weeks with virtual machines, nGlide and other tools or software, but you never get all running very stable. If one thing is running, the others wan't. You are also bound to less performant systems, cause modern mainboards lack the support of drivers for old W9X. On the other hand older systems have problems with Windows 7-10 drivers. For some simulations you are able to get patches like those Tackleberry made for USAF and IAF, but this is only limited to a very few.
After a while of testing, it was clear that my pit has to have two machines, one for the actually sims like Falcon BMS or DCS World and one for my still beloved old stuff. O.k. after fiddling arround a bit, I was able to get a relative performant machine for the old Windwows 9X. It has a dual core 3Ghz processor with 1GB RAM and an AGP Geforce 6800GT. It's also able to run a Voodoo II SLI system I still have. And, I think most of you didn't know, it's possible to run nGlide under Windows 9X. I have tested it and also informed the author about it, so he could add W9X to his OS compatibility list. He hasn't done it until now, don't know why?
Why use nGlide with a 9X machine and a Voodoo SLI? I only use the Voodoo system for stubbornly simulations, which didn't like nGlide or have graphical glitches with it. With a relatively fast 9X machine running 3DFX games with nGlide is absolutely fantastic! You have enough power to use all the benefits of nGlide, like much higher resolutions for the old games, but you hadn't to fiddle about compatibility problems with the rest! DirectX games are running too and have only a very few problems regarding the drivers you use. It's a bit of trial and error here to find the right ones (Janes USAF blue triangles at the wheels etc.)
If anyone is interested in getting old W9x stuff running again, here is what I used:
- ASRock AM2NF3-VSTA Mainboard ( an ASRock ALiveDual-eSATA2 is also possible, but only with an AGP-graphic-card - W9X doesn't really run with PCI express)
Don't believe those tales of the modded drivers for PCI-Express use! Nothing is running stable with old games!
- AMD Athlon II X2 250 3000Mhz (the board is also able to run a Phenom II X4, but W9X didn't like Quad Cores - many crashes and incompatibility)
W9X is really is faster with the dualcore! Have tried Single Core boards with Athlon XP 3200 MHz also. Don't know about Intel boards and processors, cause since the SLOTA K7 time I was always an AMD fan boy! They were even cheapper and less complex to get them running with unconventional stuff.
- 1GB of RAM (for W98 you have to run it with a fix, cause it wouldn't boot after setup with more than 768 or sometimes even 512 MB of Ram - there is also the possibility to fix it in the config.sys)
- Geforce AGP 6800GT (or anything before, like 5900 etc. - don't remember the exact drivers I used at the moment, it's a bit of experimenting)
Don't know about ATi cards, cause strange as I am
, I always loved NVidia graphic cards in combination with AMD systems. Never was a problem those early days, I know thats's not always the right way to do it today
(But I still use an NVidia SLI with an AMD system --> unteachable
- A extra PCI-Soundcard, cause the 7.1 surround onboard chip lacks W9X drivers. No chance to get a single beeb out of it
This system is also used for most of those very few simulations, which run under XP but don't like Windows 7. Dualbooting is the solution here.
The second machine is a more modern one, but still far away from any todays high end system. Will upgrade it later if the rest of my homepit is running. There is a third machine in, only for the displaying of the instruments and the gauges for those few simulators you could do this with a software over LAN (Falcon BMS, FS9 & FSX, EECH Allmods).The top 2 MFD's and the main gauges are displayed with a 19'' TFT sitting behind the center panel. The third MFD's uses an extra 5,25'' TFT and is only useable in very very few sims. I'm still experimenting with it. The engine gauges at the right side are displayed at a 7'' TFT I made a frame to imitate analog instruments for.
I want to use my cockpit with any kind of aircraft and have a nearly "correct" HOTAS
for most of them. No exact replicas, but as near as possible with the limited options I have. That was the main goal of my homecockpit. I always wanted to be able to use it for fighters, attack helos, or even airlines if I have the desire for doing so (the reason the "micro" overhead panel is there). Why making a homecockpit, investing many hundreds of hours in building it, just to use it with one single aircraft in one single simulation?!? That's what I asked myself and tried to find a solution for it. It's a not typical homecockpit and it's far, far away from a perfect state. My extremly low budget is the matter of fact here. Sometimes it's even not possible for me to buy the needed parts, so I have to find a way for building things by myself. There are parts in my pit some people throw in the trash. Every piece of any kind of things or materials I have my hands on, I ask myself: Could I use this for my cockpit in any case? What does it look like, is there something of near shape in an aircraft? If I use a piece of this and another piece of that I could built a ... That's the way I built my pit
A real challange was to get an electronic for my HOTAS
-system running with the old and the new simulations. First I tried to use all the old Thrustmaster electronics from my sticks I had laying around. I got it running, but it was to complex for use. You had to boot to plain DOS for programming the HOTAS
itself (all the grips only - sticks and throttles), then back to Windows for programming the switches in the throttle bases, which are individual and running with Pokeys cards (those cards also used for all the panels in the pit). This way it never would be possible to switch to another aircraft if the system is running. So I decided to redo all again and make it USB only. Long story and some of my experiments could be found here in the forum
I really would like to have those old electronics running, cause of it's impressive functionality to configure different buttons with it (pinky button, I/O codes, toggle function programable pots etc.), but in regards to usability its not possible at all. Only way to get this with USB and changeable if the system is running, is the use of HOTAS
Cougar electronics and as I use many changeable controls, one Cougar wouldn't be enough. A used Cougar with electronics which aren't broken costs about 200-350€. As I had to buy four Cougars for my project, only to canabalize them, it's out of discussion. This is far beyond my budget! The Warthog lacks the ability to run under W9X, isn't downloadable anymore and is even much more expensive.
O.k so I reworked my electronics completely to use Pokeys USB cards only. They are downloadable like the Cougar, could still run with W9X systems once they are programmed and have I the ability to change my HOTAS
even if the system is running. I only have to switch the USB off, for changing the stick or throttle grip and switch on again after doing so. No recalibration most of the time needed. This was one of the main reasons I decided to resign my original plans. Drawback here is that I must use an external software to program my antenna pots etc. for use with old simulations which do not support analog axis for such functions. Haven't found a software yet, which could do what Thrustmaster was able to do back in 1995. Joystick gremlin was my favorite, but I'm still not able to run it. It always crashes. So I have to stay with my selfprogrammed Autohotkey files for now, which are far from perfect. That's the price I had to pay for converting to USB.
As I also want to use the pit with ARMA2 and 3 I have made a pull-out version of the old Saitek
GM2 (only the pad without the mouse - the four way coolie of the mouse is integrated in the pad now - for the mouse I use my Logitech
trackball at the right side) which is in the left side-wall. This way you could fly your helo or aircraft, land, jump out, pull it out of the wall and play as a soldier.
O.k, enough bla, bla! here are some pictures of this "Franken"-Cockpit. There is still a lot to do on it, only thing nearly finished is the 4 lever throttle at the moment. All other things still need sanding and painting. The pit is only coated at the moment. The workdesk which also acts as a small WSO cockpit is a step further, but also not finished.