Sim Interface Cards

Which Interface board do you require for your sim and why?

Interface Cards

These are essential to help bring the sim out of the computer and into the real world. They allow your electrical components such as switches and LED's to interface between the computer and your constructed devices.

Ardunio Mega

This interface card is currently my favourite. Readily available, cheap (from around 6 Euro's each) and very versatile by allowing a host of different components to be connected. 

I found this card ideal when starting out. It has 52 input/output connections

(I/O). When these are full, you add another card. I currently have 26 Arduino

Mega's connected to my sim via various USB powered Hubs.

They allow for the connection of the following items:
 

  • Buttons/Switches/Rotary Switches

  • Led's/Lights

  • Relays

  • Servo's

  • LCD's

  • Stepper Motors

  • Encoders

Many people worry that you have learn Ardunio programming language to be able to use these. But this is no longer true. With Mobiflight software, that is all done for you. The user inputs the details of what device that is connected to what pin. Then you tell the software how it's to interface to the sim. Mobiflight is free and gets updated all the time adding new items and simpler interfaces. The last update included a lot of presets that the user simply selects, like Com1 Radio Freq.

If you do have any programming knowledge, then the Arduino should be your best friend from the start. You could easily convert any real aircraft component, by converting the ARINC Databus with coding and programming the Arduino microprocessor to read and write the correct signals.

The downside of Mobiflight/Arduino is unless you know how to code you can not use the 15 analogue pins for ADC (analogue to digital conversion) essential if your want to map a control axis via a potentiometer. What you need for this task is a Leobodnar card..........

LeoBodnar Cards

This interface card is currently my 2nd favourite despite having the worse on board terminal connectors I have ever seen. For potentiometers, encoders        and switches only

          This board excels in joystick replication. Ideal for analogue controls                   such as potentiometers in control systems or throttle quadrants.                    These are also used in my sim for dimming the display                                     panels/monitors of the MIP via Prosim. If you just want 32 programmable switches/ buttons to add realism and 6 axis control, this is your go-to card!

       

Programing? Quite literally plug and play! Connect your switches and tell the computer what you want the switch or button to do.

                                                  The downside compared to the Arduino is the limited capability in the connection of                                               electrical devices compared to the Arduino and the price. These are not cheap! Especially                                            considering you will need at least 4-5 of these in your sim for full awesomeness. 

Flight Deck Solutions FSD-SYS cards

I have never owned one to comment on because of its expense. However, the

sim community rates these as being the best solution for any sim.

You are limited to only switches and LED's as connected devices.

I am told what makes this fantastic is that you flick the connected

switch. Prosim automatically detects the switch and assign what

you want that switch to do. Very simple and very fast in operation. 

I am currently in contact with FDS as I really want to see how good this

interface board actually is. This unit was purchased two months ago at a cost

of £315 and £70 pounds UK import tax. OMG THATS NOT CHEAP! That's almost

triple the cost I spent on 26 Arduino Boards. 

Let's see how this performs........I'm expecting big things! It's in the post.

Update: Lost in the post and lost over 400 pounds on this adventure. I'll stick with the cheap stuff. 

Pololu Servo Card

I own two of these USB Servo controller cards. Never actually used them, because of the Ardunio can control servos. But if you're not going down the Arduino route, these are pretty essential if your using servos for controls or instruments. Mid range at $29 per unit.

                  I will plug these in and test them in a future video to see how they compare                       to Mobiflight and the Ardunio.

Phidgets Interface Cards

These are rated very highly in the sim community, Simplicity in programming and 

have a huge following of users offering plenty of advice. If you're considering these, do your homework, but I have been told, programming is pretty simple.

I really can not comment on these, but they offer a complete range of 

interconnecting cards offering different I/O. The card to the right is currently 

priced at $95. That definitely puts it in the expensive bracket of interface cards.

Opencockpits SOIC cards

I want to state right here, I love everything www.Opencockpits.com produces and I have many of there products. I actually rate them very highly and I whole heartily apologise to open cockpits for these words, but these interface cards are probably the most difficult interface cards out there. If Carlsberg did interface cards, these wouldn't be them.

You physically couldn't create a more complex programming and connection system if you tried. You need this card for this and that card for that. Then programming had me in tears for days. I own a complete suite of these over complicated units. They are now placed into the deepest darkest corner of the sim bin.

Unless your a gluten for eye gouging and hair pulling, there are cheaper and much easier methods out there. However, there is a big following out there and many people use them. Check them out at:

GETTING STARTED

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