A little while back, Sebastian, the founder of Mobiflight, reached out to me on WhatsApp to extend an invitation to attend the 10th anniversary celebration of Mobiflight. For those unfamiliar, Mobiflight is a hardware-to-software interface for MSFS & X-plane. I personally started using Mobiflight in 2015 for my first sim and quickly came to appreciate its capabilities and user-friendly hardware programming.
As I expanded to a full-size 737 cockpit running on 23 Arduino Megas with Prosim/prepar3d/MSFS, Sebastian and I often collaborated on testing new versions and addressing bugs. We remained in touch, and I felt incredibly honoured to receive an invitation to this special event.
I embarked on a 1300 Km journey on Wednesday, driving from Cornwall, UK to Backnang, Germany. After a 28-hour journey, which included a channel ferry crossing, I arrived in the beautiful German town of Backnang. As soon as I arrived, I saw the familiar face of Marek, followed by Tuomas, and the party began. We arrived a day earlier than Sebastian had anticipated, but we didn't mind exploring the town's sights in the sunny weather, with temperatures in the mid-20s.
We sent a message to Sebastian, and he invited us straight to his airfield, where the fun began. He had a personalised tour of his club airfield, with outstanding facilities and the aircraft to match. The private airfield houses many Hangars, a fully fitted aircraft workshop, a bar and a stunning viewing area. The club's selection of aircraft was terrific, and the way they were housed was ingenious! One of the engineering highlights has to be the aircraft turntable. A fully motorised rotating platform that housed six aircraft. You pressed the button to move the desired aircraft to the front and push it out!
Sebastian, the awesome dude and host, invited us up in one of his private planes (a Piper Arrow), to enjoy the stunning views of the airfield and surrounding areas as the sunset. It was a chance for Marek to grab the controls and see how a real aircraft felt and flew. It was a remarkable experience, yet again, one felt honoured to be invited.
The following day was the much-anticipated event and the day everyone would finally meet up. An array of sim builders, ranging from young to old, brought unique projects to showcase. It was an incredible experience to witness what these individuals were able to create at home. I personally found it fascinating to observe the various ways others approach their designs. The display of personalized PCBs was exceptional, and it was evident that a significant amount of thought, time, and effort went into each piece. I must give special recognition to Joachim for his prototype force feedback yoke. The engineering behind this cover was awe-inspiring yet straightforward. In his dossier, he explained the control loading and forces at each point of flight and how the yoke was compared to the real aircraft. He even added a yoke flutter if you rev the engine while on the ground. This was one of my favourite moments from the weekend.
I understand that you may be curious why I didn't take a picture of the fantastic design's interior or showcase others' work in my blog. However, I decided to ask Joachim to put the cover back on before taking the photo. These are individuals' intelligent concepts and solutions that are still in their developmental stages, and many ideas have yet to be made commercially available. I do not wish to exploit the creators by posting detailed images of their work for others to copy. Mobiflight boasts a fantastic open-source community with solid support from Tuomas. When these products are ready, you will see them as the inventors intended.
The Club has a full VR, SIAI-Marchetti S.211 Jet simulator. What makes this outstanding is that the owner has the real aircraft! The sim is used to train others and to ensure good reliable airshow displays, and of course for others to play and test. This sim is compact, perfectly built, and comes with a supercomputer and a Varjo XR3 headset.
Our aim was to convert the sim from VR to mixed reality. With the brain power at that event, I'm glad to say it was achieved and the results were mind-boggling! Being able to interact with the actual cockpit while having full 360 views was unlike anything I had previously experienced.
Check out the video below to see how impressive this technology can be. The video quality isn't great as it was filmed on my phone from a monitor, but it gives a clear view of the cockpit and hands while maintaining an immersive external view. It's clear that projectors and TVs may no longer be necessary. If I were to create a 737 full cockpit simulator, I would paint the windows green to display data and allow for internal cockpit viewing while wearing the headset. It's worth noting that the graphics quality was better than my HP Reverb G2, with no lens distortion. As someone with astigmatism, I often experience blurry displays, but for the first time, my eyes stayed in focus.
I would like to give a special shoutout to the incredible folks at Mobiflight who assist Sebastian behind the scenes. Tuomas and Peter are particularly noteworthy for their outstanding contributions to the Discord community. Tuomas even created our Mobiflight event passes, which were truly exceptional! These passes were designed on a kit-form PCB and allowed users to easily create their own membership cards. The passes even had working NAV and strobe lights, making them a great conversation starter and a helpful tool for assisting others who had just arrived.
As the main event night progressed, plans were altered and the BBQ began. It was a chance to socialize with others and appreciate the progress of Sim Building. The initial starting point and the promising future were both noteworthy. The attendees at the event were just a small fraction of the larger community, which made their potential accomplishments even more thrilling.
The next morning, it was time to say goodbye over breakfast and start my long journey home. I had the pleasure of meeting some fantastic people and hope to see them again in the future. The event was held in a breathtaking location with wonderful individuals. Congratulations and thank you so much to Sebastian for a job well done!
Please remember that this event, which was open to all on the Mobiflight Discord channel, may happen again next year. I highly recommend it!
Take Care, Karl.