Saturday, January 25, 2003

New project plans: Flight Cockpit PC

It has been a long time since I've put much new content up here (I get thousands of emails every month and lots of questions, and I should probably put them all in a FAQ or something, but I'm too lazy...grin). I still have my beloved MAME 2 that I finished almost a 18 months ago, and I still love it (though I just had to spend $90 to get the Princeton Arcadia 27" Hidef monitor fixed). I've also gotten a 55" HDTV and XBOX now in my main living room to spend some time with, now that I have a 4 month old to watch over.

But, of late, I am really getting ancy to begin working on my latest "vision". The project is basically a flight cockpit for PC games like MS Combat Flight Simulator 3 and some good old classics like MechWarrior 2/3 and Descent 2/3 type games. One with the full setup of the Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS sticks and rudders (which I have used in one form or another for over 6 years now, but they are too cumbersum to have setup all the time at my main computer desk). Plus, I have some ideas of my own about putting in a roll axis on the throttle. That is where this new "cockpit" PC project comes in. I plan to have a flight yoke and rudders setup for both flight sim programs AND it should work great for driving sim games like Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. Plus the rudders, programmable F16 joystick and throttle with thousands of hats and buttons (and the roll axis on the throttle that I'll add) should make it VERY immersive. I'm going to have it fully enclosed and probably use a flat screen 17" or 19" monitor and will also have a track ball mouse and lots of "buttons" that can be keyboard programmable scattered around the cockpit, all using the Hagstrom Electronics USB 36 encoder again. I'll have 5.1 surround with speakers just behind the flight chair (or right in it by my head) and up near the monitor, plus a big sub woofer. I may even try to support twin monitor support somehow, just incase a game finally takes advantage of being able to have two monitors (but that may slip in time).

I really can't explain it too you if you have never played MechWarrior with a full joystick/throttle setup and rudders, but the simulation experience is awesome. Same goes for a really good flight sim, when you have all the controls. The cockpit will just finish off the experience and give me some place to have all of that equipment setup to play without cluttering up my main desk. The only thing that is really holding me back from doing it right now is space. I don't have anywhere to put it. This might take longer than I think, just waiting for somewhere to put my cool invention (like waiting to buy a new home with a bonus/game room that is big enough to fit my 4 computer network, the MAME 2 machine and this new behemoth). Oh, yea, and I need to begin working on my wife to slowly get her use to the idea...grin. I'll keep you all updated here.