Yes, it’s still coming. I know it’s April and so far nothing, and you’d be perfectly within your rights to assume I’d abandoned this blog, but I haven’t. Not quite. Things have gone extra-slowly mainly due to my being a bit lazy. But I now have a fully-equipped bedroom office, and in one corner of that is my minimalist temporary simpit. However, I have yet to play – or even install – FSX on it, because I’m spending most of my time playing Elite: Dangerous, and this isn’t an Elite: Dangerous blog.
In short order, I plan to fabricate a mini-MIP that will hold my Saitek instruments and sit on top of the keyboard desk I have already incorporated into the mini-PIT. This will give me a playable sim environment. If and when I manage that, it’ll be worth a post. Meanwhile, the greater plan to build a shed for the new project continues, but I have yet to find a builder who can handle all the landscaping I want without wanting silly money for it. At this rate, I may well just hire the equipment and tackle it myself. Right now, I plan to start work as soon as the weather turns, but knowing the UK it could decide to rain from now to July, in which case nothing will get done until summer. We shall see.
Meanwhile, here’s a couple of pics.
The red thing on the right of the picture is my 3D printer. It’s an Up! Plus 3D, a low-end printer from a no-brand manufacturer in China. The current model goes for £1200 but I was lucky and got this original model for just over £500, and it’s still perfectly capable if a little more fiddly. Calibrating it proprerly is a bitch, and getting the prints to stay on the base and not curl up and ruin things is a major pain, but once you get into the routine, it’s a fun hobby. Why did I buy it? Well, I figured it would come in handy for the project. You can print gears and handles and knobs and all sorts with it, and when the time comes to build panels and controls, it could come in handy. Right now, I’m just printing keyrings, cases for my Raspberry Pi, and lens adapters for the Oculus Rift.
But, me being me, I’m already investigating better and newer alternatives. There’s a new, semi-affordable (£3K) printer that creates its model using ultraviolet lasers and a bath of liquid polymer. The models it makes are much more detailed and continuous than those made using the multiple-2D-layer method all current consumer printers use. It’s also a lot faster. Watch this space.
That’s the pilot chair and frame from my previous temporary simpit. I cut it down and placed it into a wooden frame on a board, mounted the pedals in the right place, and then built the table over it as somewhere to place a keyboard, and – eventually – the instrument panel etc. That’s a Thrustaster HOTAS Warthog mounted on the chair; probably the best fighter-jet-style control set in the world right now. A perfectly detailed replica of the A-10 Warthog controls, made in cast metal rather than flimsy plastic and with the same components as the real deal. It’s fabulous, but sadly also fabulously expensive. You can’t beat it for playing Elite, though.
The monitor is actually my old 55″ LCD TV from the living room, which I recently replaced with a 4K model. It increases the immersion dramatically. But what really makes it is the Oculus Rift, which you can see on the table. I haven’t tried to play FSX with it – though I gather it’s been done, with minor glitches – but I have played E:D and it’s just something else entirely. You’re in the cockpit. End of story. Nothing else comes close, and I can’t wait for the consumer version of the Rift which should have enough resolution to eliminate the ‘screen-door’ effect of the DK2.