FPV "Full scale" Cockpit Ground Station w/42'' TV. by galaxy engineer

Rating: 4.82      65 ratings
Posted: October 12, 2013  |  31,931 views
INFLUENCE 77%

Hello......This is the latest interrior picture of my Cockpit Ground Station.  Please read on to see the full story.

I will start you guys out with a couple of videos then you can read all about it below with as many pictures as I could find.

 

This is the lattest and best flight in the CGS yet.  It is a beautiful eavning flight out just over 4 miles and on the way back I buzz a friends house.  It was a great flight.  My buddy Dave was keeping the Circular Wireless helical antenna pointed in the right direction (BTW......these are awesome antennas).  Pay attention to the needle in the upper left gauge as I move the throttle.  The needle moves with throttle settings.....very usefull in throttle setting.  It is very noticeable during launch and climbout.

 

This is a video of me flying my quadcopter on a windy day.  The CGS can be used for both fixed wing as well as multicopters and, though I have yet to try, probably even a helicopter.

 

 

 

The CGS build by Brett Hays

This is a fun project I have been working on for about a year since I first thought about doing it.  It is basically a full scale cockpit that the FPV pilot sits in to fly his R/C aircraft.  It is along the line of a simulator experience with a 42 inch flat screen TV for visuals and a 9 inch 12v display for back up.  

I modified a typical computer gamming joystick, throttle and rudder pedals along with an older Futaba radio and built a full cockpit around them.  Flying FPV in it is truly a unique experience and a lot of fun.  It is very immersive.  

I started by building a large box out of plywood and 2x2's.  I built the side pannels, seat and dash into the box.  The box is about 60''Lx36''Wx20''H.  The Joystick system in these pictures are not the ones I ended up using.

 

I painted the interrior of the box flat black and the outside grey.  The dash and side panels are cut out of aluminum and drawer pulls added to each panel.  Each panel supports a different system in the cockpit not unlike a real aircraft cockpit.  This makes it a very modular design and has been quite easy for me to change things around or add new ideas that come to me.  The original dash configuration has the back up display (used incase the main TV display A/C power goes out) on the right and an Ipad, that is flush mounted, running ImersionRC's telematry app. This is also an early configuration and has since been changed which you will see latter in the artical.  The TV in this picture is NOT the one that is used in the finished cockpit.  I was only using this one in the pics as I waited on my 42 inch flat screen to arrive.  The Green gaurded switch in this picture is the EZUHF control panel.  I will show you that up close as well.  At this point it is starting to look pretty cool but I had no idea exactly how cool this would get.........lol

 This is a close up and a good example of how I built different control panels for the cockpit.  This first one is the LRS UHF control panel.  Of course I had to hack my EZUHF TX so that I could use this panel, however it is possible to plug just about any LRS radio into the Cockpit Ground Station (CGS) and work.  I do NOT need to go through this control panel but instead just velcro the TX to the top of the dash where I can reach the stock power and failsafe controls.  This panel just adds to the ''cool'' factor of the CGS.

The green gaurd protects the push on/push off button, the button to the right is a momentary bush button that is the bind/failsafe button.  The next three are mechanically connected and if you push one the other will pop out and change color from red yellow or gree to black.  Green indicates low power and yellow would indicate high power.  The red button is not used with the EZUHF but if it is accidently pushed the radio will revert to low power.

 

This is the control panel for the Eagletree Eagle Eyes video spliter and diversity controler.  I hacked it and moved control to push buttons and a on/off togle switch.   The pannel with the red gaurd is going to be the master switch.  It is red gaurded in the ''on'' position so when the gaurd is down the power is supplied to the CGS systems.  It is also a 4 pole switch.  

 

These are pictures of the wiring process of the system panels.  You can see how modular it is witch makes it easy to upgrade or add different systems to.

 

So now for the hard part wich in therory is quite simple...........How to wire the Joystick, throttle, and rudder pedals (the ''flight system'').  The Flight system in the pictures above I decided not to use because it used a usb to ppm converter system that was good but not versital enough for what I wanted to do.  This system allowed me to use most of the buttons on the flight system to control the channels but I didnt want to use the controlls on the stick for things like the landing gear.  I wanted an actual landing gear lever like in a real cockpit.......same with the flaps.  I didnt want to take any control shortcuts so what I had to do was to take an old Futaba radio I had and hack it along with an off the shelf computer gaming flight system.  Since this was an experminent I decided to use second hand stuff incase it didnt work.

This is the flight system I used and you can see in the background the face of the now taken apart Futaba TX.  At this point I had not received the rudder pedals yet.

 

So in simple terms what I did was modified the flight system to replace the joysticks in the Futaba TX.  I had to replace the pots in the flight system with the same values as the ones in the stock TX gimbals and other channels on the Futaba as well as non proportional channels and extend the wires of those channels into the cockpit.  It is a 7 chanel radio with a gear chanel (#5) and one other proportional chanel and a non proportional channel (#'s 6 and 7).  I used a computer cable with enough wires to extend the wires from the stock gimbles (wich were removed) and into the flight system and, in the case of the gear channel, into the dash landing gear lever that I built.  

Modifying the TX

 

 

Back together after the modification.......note the plug hanging out of the antenna hole.  This plugs into the leads going into the CGS and the flight sustem.  Basically it is just extentions fo the wires that used to go to the stock gimbles and switches in the TX.

 

These pictures show me replacing the stock potentiometers (pots) of the joysticks with pots of the same value as the ones out of the TX so it will operate like the stock gimbles.  The stock Futaba uses 5k pots and I pulled 100k pots out of the flight system and replaced with 5k pots.  finding 5k pots for the flight system with the same dimentions as the 100k pots was easy off of ebay.

 

The Joystick

 

The throttle mods.  I used the two roll knobs you see in the pictures on the throttle handle for the pitch and roll trims by replacing them with the trim pots out of the TX.  I also put chanel 6 (non proportional chanel) on a micro switch that I liberated from the Futaba and put on the throttle just under my thumb.....you can see it in the post mod pictures.  The PCB boards and wires are removed and discarded.

 

All finished hacking, everything is painted flat black and ready for to install in the CGS.  The rudder pedals also make their apperance in these pics.

 

I put the rudder and throttle trim on the base of the throttle padastal.  I simply took the trim pot and lever assembleys out of the Futaba TX and put them here......

 

 

In the mean time the 42 inch flat screen TV arrived from an eBay purchase I made.  This was a damaged freight buy and it had a few scratches and dead pixels at the bottom but it was only 160 bucks and I dont even notice the dead pixels.  It was time to build the upper ''theater'' portion of the CGS.  This is a seperate box that fits over the CGS and hinges at the front so it can all be opened up for cleaning and maintenance.

Yes it looks like a dog house but its not.  Daisy thinks it is......

 

Built around the TV

 

I painted the inside of this flat black as well and the outside the same grey as the lower ''box'' and mounted everything together and hinged at the front like I said before.

 

My friend Bruce modeling it for me......lol

 

 

I mounted it to a trailer to make it easy to get to the flying field.....

 

So back to the dash construction.  I built this gear handle for the gear and plan on building something similar for the flaps proportional channel.

 

I didnt put to much work into the dash until I was able to get some test flying done on it with both quadcopters and fixed wing planes.  I lest some friends fly it as well as my 13 yearold son who did better than I did the first flight in the CGS.......LOL

 

Some of the things I did inside was to add three duel rate switches in front of the throttle so I could reach them easy.  The way I have the CGS set up there is no reason for me to touch the Futaba TX except to change programing but there is no reason once I have the aircraft set up.  Here are the duel rate switches.

 

I changed out the original 7'' back up screen with a larger 9'' screen and moved it to the upper center of the dash.  I also modified and hacked an old aircraft Manifold Pressure gauge and mechanically connected it to the throttle so now the needle moves across the gage scale one revolution with the movement of the throttle.  It is the gauge on the upper left.  The gage below it is an old altimeter I had laying around from my ultralight days that functions as just that.........an altimeter.  I just threw it in there for the ''cool'' factor as well as the compass in the upper right.  The gauge below the compass is a Directional Gyro that I modified into a clock.  I used the orginal needles and face of the gauge and added some cheapo Walmart clockworks.

The whole CGS is powered by a 12v deep cycle RV type battery.  The gauges on the extreme right side of the dash and the forward side console are aircraft gauges that i bought off of ebay to monitor the electrics as well as keep time that the battery has been running.  The gauge to the right and slightly below the Directional Gyro clock gauge (not installed yet in picture below) is the hour gauge.  It runs off of AC power from the inverter that also powers the TV.  It can be reset to zero witch I do after I charge the deep cycle battery.  The gauge to the right of that is the 12v DC gauge and monitors the battery.  The gauge below those is the AC gauge and monitors the inverter power that powers the TV.

 

Here is the right rudder pedal the battery and the power inverter for the TV.  The inverter is hooked up (as well as every other system) through the master switch.

 

Then I added LED lighting so I wouldnt be sitting in a dark cockpit even though it is daytime out due to the fact that I am actually sitting in a box......lol......The LED lighting really adds a nice daylight type atmosphere to the interior and actually adds quite a bit of realisim to the immersion.  I also added red LEDs that can be turned on and the white LED's off if I am doing night flying.  I used only enough red LED's to dimly light the interior of the cockpit but enough to be able to see  whats going on.  All the LED lighting is indirect lighting and you really cant tell where the light is coming from.   The white LED's really make it feel like it is lit by sunlight.  Very nice and subtle

These are a couple of pics with the lights off and lights on without a flash on the camera.  The last picture I DID use a flash just so you can see the differance.  Of course the pictures do not do the effect justice.  I dont have a picture of the red LEDs because I couldnt get it to take a very good picture..........just not enough light for the camera.

Lights off!

 

Lights On!........ no camera flash

 

And with the lights on and camera flash!  You can see every speck of dirt......lol

 

 

I have been regurallry flying the CGS with my quadcopter and have a ball with it.  It actually takes me less time to set up, turn on and take off than it does with a standard ground station.  Im not kidding......it is very user friendly untill I have to get in or out of it........lol.  It is very comfortable and warm on a cold flying day.  I dont live in a very hot climate (N.E. Oregon) so I never get to hot even on a fairly hot day.  I can easily add a 12v heater or a fan if I need to.  

This has been a very fun project and even more fun to fly.  If you are ever in NE Oregon please dont hesitate to look me up and I will let you fly it.  If you have any questions you can contact me through this site.

I sincerly hope you enjoyed this article.  

Thanks for the chance to show it off!

Brett Hays

 

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Comments

bmsweb October 18, 2013
The only thing that comes to mind OMG!!!
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Gravitysucks October 18, 2013
That is waaaaaay cool !! Me want one. Me want one alot :)
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schumixmd October 18, 2013
Had the same idea from the day I started to fly FPV. You just overtaken me and deserve big respect for what you did. Looking forward for improvements.
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SpeedTorque October 18, 2013
Now that is a proper "Man Cave"
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Gryf October 18, 2013
And here I was, all ready to post pics of the FT Bloody Wonder I just finished. AMAZING! Seriously, I used to work in the Training department of McDonnell Douglas, and got to mess with simulators occasionally. They cost millions... and here you built a functional cockpit in your garage, and it actually flies real airplanes. Well, models... but still. You've set a new standard for FPV coolness. ;-)
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tomsun October 18, 2013
WOW... :D
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onemoreflite (John Michaels) October 18, 2013
Pure awesomeness! Flitetest should do another fpv ground station episode and feature this one as the best of the best highest end option.
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Skipp2Maloo October 18, 2013
Sweeeeeeet!
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zev October 18, 2013
oh my freaking god this is amazing...
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aviationrcfpv October 18, 2013
flite test please please please interview this guy please
this so sweet
dear santa
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lracnolip October 18, 2013
yes do a Flight test interview

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lracnolip October 18, 2013
Very nice
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tramsgar October 18, 2013
Sweet! Don't crash it!!!
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No love October 18, 2013
Just amazing, we need the FT crew to test your ground station
congrats
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earthsciteach October 18, 2013
My mind is blown. Poof!
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kah00na October 18, 2013
Since you have the setup already, you could add two more cameras pointing out to the sides of the quadcopter and add two more TVs on the sides in your simulator and you'd be able to "look around". Of course that would also require two more transmitters and drain your battery a little faster. Anyway, it would make your setup even more unique! I like it. Let us know when you get version 2.0 completed and this one is for sale!!
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galaxy engineer October 19, 2013
You should probably go over to my full build blog of the CGS. EVERY possible idea has been tossed around.......You cant believe the ideas that have come up....LOL. There are a lot of smart guys out there. Check it out
http://fpvlab.com/forums/showthread.php?16769-Full-Cockpit-Ground-Station-construction-blog
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Johan October 18, 2013
Wow!,

This is great, maybe a neat idea to add motion feedback with pneumatics :-)

Saw a guy on youtube that did something like that:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q08ftX7L8s


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galaxy engineer October 19, 2013
Now that would be neat but expensive. It actually doesn't really need to much in the way of motion. The way the motion sims work is they rely on our brains interpretation and anticipation of expected motion. The brain does a lot to convince you there is motion because of the environment. "It looks like it is moving therefore it must be" so you can actually get motion sickness even though it is not moving........Know what I mean? Dont get me wrong......I would love to have a full motion set up but then it would need a military budget just to keep it going let alone build it....haha!!
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Johan October 19, 2013
Yes, I can imagine that is too expensive for added value :),
It would also take the DIY aspect out of it and make it less transportable.

Respect! great job!
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sailorJohn October 18, 2013
WOW! Now connect it to a simulator as a teaching aid to take to schools. Good place to hide from my wife.
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galaxy engineer October 19, 2013
Or just keep flying RC planes with it......LOL.
It is a good place to hide from the wife but God help you if she finds you.....I got busted in it and was told that I was such a GEEK for months......LOL
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LordVader October 18, 2013
The Force is Strong with this One! WOW, that is totally awesome! Wish I could do some of that. I never thought about FPV until now. I think You just started something. Thanks so much for this, a lot of guys are going to be hounding you now to help them with a FPV system like this.:)
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galaxy engineer October 19, 2013
Thanks Lord Vader!!
There are a few guys starting to build their own already. One guy in Seattle area has already actually started on it. We hope to get together for the first ever CGS meeting.........should be fun to see what others come up with
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Driveandairsmash October 18, 2013
Oh WOW! that is all I can say is WOW!
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galaxy engineer October 19, 2013
LOL, Thanks!!
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mykaerod October 18, 2013
Amazing job! Did you trhow away your old Futaba FF7 sticks? I've broken mine so if I can take yours... ;)
Regards
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galaxy engineer October 19, 2013
I think I still have them......partially in parts but you are welcome to them if they can help you.
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galaxy engineer October 19, 2013
Thanks everyone for the nice comments. Glad I can share this with you.......It is a ton of fun to fly! I hope it sparks some of you to start coming up with your own creations. This was a year long off and on build and the components are not to expensive if you collect them over time like I did. It works to your advantage to do it a little at a time anyway. It gives you time to think about it and come up with ideas. I have a build blog of the entire process here. Please stop by the link and check it out......
http://fpvlab.com/forums/showthread.php?16769-Full-Cockpit-Ground-Station-construction-blog
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PabloJaime October 19, 2013
Welcome to the Lab!!!... Sorry to Flite Test!!!! :P
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galaxy engineer October 19, 2013
Are you stalking me Pablo......hahaha
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FPVFlyer October 20, 2013
Flitetest - please to do a review of this setup flying a flitetest model...also some info on the total costings (and time necessary to build it!) would be really great to see. My dream FPV station...one day!
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galaxy engineer October 20, 2013
Awww yes.....finally someone asked the question of how much......lol. To be honest with you I didn't really keep track. Like you, this is also my dream ground station also, always has been. I did a quick figure before I wrote the article because I figured someone would ask. I know I would have!!
I spent several months running back and forth to the hardware store and ordering stuff off line. It adds up but only if you keep track.....hahaha. I added it all u in my head and threw in a few bucks for the stuff I probably forgot. To replace what I have into it in just stuff, not counting time and effort I suppose 2000 to 2500 would cover it.......ish. It is really hard to say. Some stuff was given to me and other stuff I spent double on because I thought I needed it......lol.
To me it is almost priceless but if someone made me an offer I could not refuse then it would be sold I suppose. I hope that you get to build one some day......it is a total blast!!!!
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sailorJohn October 21, 2013
I can see david now ,inside where it's warm . Did you think to install a heater too?
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galaxy engineer October 21, 2013
yes I did
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casonjimmy October 22, 2013
Brett... You have inspired me to take the next step in my fpv hobby and start the planning stage for this awesome project... Now..where can I find the front part of an old F-16 fusalage and canopy?!!
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galaxy engineer October 22, 2013
Thanks casonJ. I am glad you took a look at the project and got some ideas. I have a build blog as well on FPVlab you should stop by and look at. There are other guys on there that have started building one as well and are blogging (or plan to blog) about it. Here is that link....

http://fpvlab.com/forums/showthread.php?16769-Full-Cockpit-Ground-Station-construction-blog


Also, I cant help you with an F-16 front end but there is this......I would have started with something like this myself if I had the bucks.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/F-101-VOODOO-COCKPIT-W-BEAUTIFUL-INSTRUMENT-PANEL-RADAR-INDICATOR-A-C-60031-/200903157958?pt=Motors_Aviation_Parts_Gear&hash=item2ec6c2e8c6&vxp=mtr


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Zatoichi October 23, 2013
A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Long time fan. Thank you for all the lovely pictures and great work. Red and I hope to build one in a spare closet!
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galaxy engineer October 23, 2013
Cheers!! Cant wait to see what you come up with. Start a CGS thread when you do on the lab. I would love to follow it. Thanks for your kind words.
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Juandre October 28, 2013
This is Beyond Awsome!! I love your station! All I want to know is do you have plans? I would love to build myself one like this.
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galaxy engineer October 28, 2013
Thank you very much!
I am sorry I do not have plans for it. The only plans I drew out on graph paper were for the wooden box that it is all built in........the rest was made up as I went along with the building process.
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AndrewT28 January 2, 2014
I'm inspired to build one if you don't mind. All credit of one that anyone builds should go to galexy engineer!

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galaxy engineer January 2, 2014
Thanks Andrew. I am happy to inspire but credit is not mine. Every person that has picked up a R/C transmitter and flown or drove something by a radio link has had a grandiose dream of having a cockpit around them. I am just one of the guys that took it out of my head and made it a reality. There are others that are currently building Cockpits. One friend of mine is building something similar to mine on a trailer and another guy I have talked with a lot has actually built one out of a crashed R-22 helicopter fuselage. It took him a bit to straighten it all up, fit his radio control system in it and mount it in the back of his truck. Now it is a very nice Cockpit Ground Station (CGS).

I hope you build one to. Please keep me informed of your progress and take lots of pictures. This is the link to by CGS build blog.......(copy and paste them to your browser)

http://fpvlab.com/forums/showthread.php?16769-Full-Cockpit-Ground-Station-construction-blog


And these are the links to my friends CGS build blogs that I was telling you about......

http://fpvlab.com/forums/showthread.php?19517-Airtruksrus-trailer-ground-station-buildup

http://fpvlab.com/forums/showthread.php?21589-R22-COCKPIT-GROUND-STATION-BUILD

Thanks for the very nice compliment Andrew and good luck with your build!!

Brett Hays
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rtones February 3, 2014
This is awesome. I don't know if there is a way to PM on here. I'm from Walla Walla but fly into NE Oregon from time to time (GA aircraft). I'd love to see this action!
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galaxy engineer February 3, 2014
I belong the the Wallowa County Aero Club (full scale flying) You ever get into Joseph?
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rtones February 3, 2014
Sure do! I do backcountry flight training with students and one of our trips takes us through Hell's Canyon. We always hop out of the canyon at Memaloose and stop in at Joseph for a cinnamon roll at the Cheyenne. Do you know Brian Adelhardt? He's my only contact at the airport down there. Would love to see your CGS sometime. I might just have to plan a weekend to come down there.
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galaxy engineer February 3, 2014
Yea.....Brian knows my email. Have him give it to you or have him send me yours. We are having a flyin some time this summer or spring (cant remember when exactly but the plan is that I will have the CGS there. Brian likes it....lol
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rtones February 3, 2014
Very cool. I'll drop a line to Brian tomorrow. Funny meeting you here on the boards. If I'm here still (I work in AK in the summers) I'll definitely try to make it to the fly in. Happy flying!
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galaxy engineer February 3, 2014
Cool......I hope to meet you sometime!!
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Timebom February 3, 2014
Very nice work. I really like the portability of that system. I am just starting in all this and I also live in Walla Walla. Would like to meet people and check out ideas around here. Just finishing up my first KFm3 wing and hope to try it out soon.
I dont have the FPV gear yet, but have done a couple things with what I have. https://www.youtube.com/user/MrTimebom/videos
Hope to see your trailer around here sometime Galaxy. Hope to meet rtones too.

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galaxy engineer February 3, 2014
It would be great to meet you and get together for some flying sometime. If you go to FPVlab.com I am c5galaxy engineer there and you can PM me a message. I will give you my email there. Rtones.....if you read this you can do the same.
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Jake Wells February 10, 2014
Soooooo awesome. It brought me back to my childhood.

Way back before I was able to fly models I flew simulators all day everyday during the summer and til bed time during the school year (homework was never a priority). I actually started flying Microsoft Flight simulator 1.0 and Chuck Yeager's flight simulator. My favorite aircraft at the time was the F-16. Back to the reason this takes me back. We had some plywood and 2x4's in the back yard and I got the idea one day to make my own cockpit. I only had a flight stick, No throttle or pedals. (I wished). But since I loved the F-16 I mounted my flight stick on the left side of me. The keyboard on the dash and a 15in monitor out the front. I had a working canopy(which I crushed my fingers numerous times with). It also came with the occasional rusty nail prick. I even took my baseball catchers helmet apart and matched it up with an old respirator mask. I probably had 1000 hours in that thing.

You did a great job on this. Thank you for taking the many hours to share this.

Jake
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galaxy engineer February 10, 2014
Glad you like it Jake! I'm actually in the process of upgrading the stick and throttle now to a less toy like stick for one that looks a bit more scale. The throttle is getting a duel throttle like what a F-15 or A-10 would have. I am also fitting the cockpit with a Turnigy 9XR radio. When I am done upgrading it should be about as cool as can be.
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Scruffy March 12, 2014
LOL I just remembered I built a similar cockpit for my "commodore 64" flight simulators 20 years ago :) All I had, though, was my Commodore 64 keyboard, some old flight joystick and a 14.5in diagonal color TV. My childhood was changed forever :)
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galaxy engineer March 12, 2014
LOL @ commodore 64.......I remember those.....LOL.
This could be used as a simulator as well with a PPM to USB converter.......witch I just happen to have......and a VGA cord. The 42 inch TV has VGA input. I haven't really done this yet but I intend to use a R/C simulator program (especially one with FPV options) with this for training and flying fixes. A friend of mine is building another CGS and hasn't fully finished it yet but is already using it as a simulator. Any popular simulator program should be able to be used with this.........!.
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