Simulator Solutions Software Update

Simulator Solutions has released a significant software update to their SimStack ecosystem. This Simulator Solutions software update includes new versions of SimStack Switch and SimStack Loader, as well as enhancements to the underlying SimStack codebase used to compile SimStack code.

These changes have been under development for more than 12 months and include improvements to both functionality and stability. The updated software can be downloaded from the Software section of the Simulator Solutions website with the production compile servers having already been updated.

This new SimStack software requires 64-bit Java, version 10 or above and supports both OpenJDK and Oracle Java. This allows customers to choose which licensing arrangement is best for their requirements. At the time of release, SimStack software has been tested with both OpenJDK and Oracle Java from versions 10 through 14.

The most significant changes are to the ProSim, Prepar3D and X-Plane interfaces. These now use a Data Dictionary which makes the SimStack interface to these applications more transparent. When these software vendors update their system variables, customers can update their Data Dictionary to reflect these changes.

The Prepar3D interface now utilises SimConnect to provide a direct connection to P3D and Simulator Solutions have developed an X-Plane plugin called SimData. These changes were necessary to support the Data Dictionary functionality and overcome limitations with the previous interfaces.

There is increased flexibility for inputs and outputs and more code commonality between the supported simulator software. The SimStack Switch and SimStack Loader manuals and associated integration guides have been updated to reflect these changes. Updated documentation is available from the documentation section of the website.

If you are running Prepar3D, X-Plane or ProSim and you proceed with these updates, you will need to make changes to your code and adjust your simulator configuration. More information is available in the relevant Integration Guides. Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.

While the basic SimStack software remains free to customers, Simulator Solutions have launched new enterprise features than can be unlocked with a license key. These include a Git code versioning plugin, additional simulator interfaces, power and environmental monitoring, email notification and an interactive web interface. Please contact Simulator Solutions for more information about these enhancements and to obtain a quote.

Long Live the Queen of the Skies

With the final Qantas 747 departing Australia and British Airways announcing the retirement of their entire fleet, the Queen of the skies reign is sadly in its twilight.

But there is some good news on the horizon for those enthusiasts who would like to keep a piece of the Queen of the skies alive.  Simulator Solutions are uniquely placed to help preserve the heart and soul of these beautiful aircraft – their cockpits.  With the ability to acquire some of the few remaining 747 cockpits, Simulator Solutions can breathe life back into these shells and turn them into fully functioning flight simulators to live on for many years to come.

747 cockpits become flight simulators

Simulators Solutions have been building 747 simulators for the last 20 years.  Their SimStack hardware was specifically designed to bring old flight decks to life and is operating in dozens of aircraft simulators around the world.  Turning a cockpit into a simulator is no small task and the results speak for themselves with a simulator that has the look, feel, smell and function of the real aircraft.

747 cockpits become flight simulators

These 747-400 simulators are turnkey units complete with high definition wrap around visual systems and all the necessary computers.  For added realism, a motion platform can also be included.

A 747 Cockpit Simulator

Unfortunately, as more of these beautiful aircraft are cut up, the number of viable cockpits reduces.  Once they have all been scrapped, the opportunity to own one as a simulator will no longer be possible.

Sad end to a 747

Befitting her status as the Queen of the skies, these simulators do come with a regal price tag.  Anyone interested in owning a piece of royal history should contact Simulator Solutions for details about this unique opportunity.

AST-300 Refurbishment Project

In June 2020 Simulator Solutions delivered a fully refurbished AST-300 Synthetic Flight Trainer to a flying school in Tasmania. By replacing the old 1980’s hardware with our modern SimStack solution, we have ensured this classic unit will go on to train thousands more pilots in the art of Instrument Flying.

Preparing to install the instrument panel

The AST-300 contains both gauges made specifically for the simulator as well as genuine Bendix/King parts such as the HSI and OBS. Through the flexibility of SimStack and our Synchro and Resolver interface, all the simulated and genuine gauges could be interfaced to the new simulator back-end.

Reconnecting the power and SimStack boards after shipping

By retaining these OEM parts, an authentic training experience can be provided to ensure pilots develop learned motor skills consistent with what they will experience in their training aircraft.

At the customers request, the old NAV/COM stack was removed and two replica Garmin GPS units were installed. This allows students to come to grips with these complex devices in an environment where they can safely press the ‘Pause’ button.

Monitoring on the Instructor station

The scenery and customer selected flight model are supplied by Prepar3D, and a new touchscreen instructor station has been added, This provides the ability to control the weather, add malfunctions, reposition the aircraft and record the training session.

The simulator will be approved under CASA regulations as a “Category B Synthetic Flight Training Device” and can be used to log instrument training and recent experience requirements.

Handing over the keys using approved social distancing

Whilst the project was completed earlier this year the delivery and installation was delayed by the global COVID-19 epidemic. However with the easing of restrictions in early June we were finally able to complete the installation and hand over the keys using the approved social distanced technique.

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COVID-19 Impact

Like all businesses Simulator Solutions is affected by COVID-19.

Although our office and workshop efforts continue as normal, travel restrictions impact our ability to complete several projects as planned.  

We will be in contact with affected customers to work with them on rescheduling affected works when the travel situation allows.

Stay safe, and best wishes to those affected.

Say Hello in Singapore

Simulator Solutions are at the Singapore Airshow!

Stop by the Australian Stand (B67) this week to discuss your integration challenges, or just to say ‘Hi’ to Rod!

The EEVBlog Features SimStack on YouTube

At the end of November, we had a visit from Dave Jones who runs the very successful EEVBlog on YouTube. Dave, who is an electrical engineer, was very interested in SimStack and our work turning cockpits into simulators.

Dave spent several hours filming the simulator project and then some more time interviewing Rod. He produced two videos about SimStack and the work that Simulator Solutions are doing to convert an ex United Airlines 747-400 cockpit into a simulator in Sydney, Australia.

The two videos can be viewed on YouTube – the links appear below:

New Product – SimStack Motor Driver Board

Today the first new SimStack Low Current Motor Driver boards rolled off the production line, ready for our latest simulator project.

The SimStack Low Current Motor Driver board has been created to allow control of up to 8 small DC motors. This is a very flexible board that can find many different and innovative uses in any simulator.

Each motor can be controlled in both speed and direction as well as being commanded to freewheel and brake, depending on the requirements.

SimStack Low Current Motor Controller

Some examples of how this new SimStack board can be used are listed below:

  • Operate small motors attached to gauges such as an altimeter or trim gauge
  • Control Air core motors (Sin & Cos), such as those found on car instrument clusters
  • Single direction resistive gauges, such as a temperature or pressure gauge
  • Bi-directional resistive gauges such as a turn or slip indicator

This SimStack board is available with traditional spring connectors or with the optional Wago 733 series pluggable connectors.

More detailed information about this new board can be found here.

747-400 Simulator Commissioned by Simulator Solutions

In September Simulator Solutions commissioned their latest 747-400 simulator built with genuine, unmodified panels and parts.

747-400 Simulator Commissioned
The delivery flight with Rod from Simulator Solutions (right).

This simulator has been constructed over the past 18 months from former Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 B-HUF and has 32 SimStack interfaces that are used to connect:

  • OEM synchros and resolvers in throttles, controls and gauges
  • OEM Korry switches and annunciators
  • OEM ARINC 429 devices including RCPs, MCP and Transponder
  • Throttle motor drive and interlocks
  • OEM solenoids and stickshakers
  • Retrofitted OEM CDUs
  • Various other OEM controls, lamps, sensors and circuit breakers

The 6 display units featured on the flightdeck are a new product produced by Concord Aerospace who also sourced many of the OEM panels and instruments to complete the cockpit. Visuals are provided by Lockheed Martin Prepar3d v4 connected to three Optoma HD projectors, and the whole simulator is connected with over 5.5 kilometres of wire in 100 looms drawing approximately 70 amps of current at peak load across multiple DC and AC supply circuits.

The aircraft avionics and flight simulation is of course provided by Aerowinx Precision Simulator 10 (PSX), and additional free community tools are used to interface with Prepar3d and provide other addon services.

Originally retired in 2014 having accumulated 102,639 flight hours and an estimated 90,000,000 kilometres of travel, the flightdeck of B-HUF has now been restored to operational status to educate and entertain for many years ahead.

SimStack Distribution Board Launched

Simulator Solutions have developed the SimStack Distribution board to replace the highly successful SimStack Ground Board.

SimStack Distribution Board

The SimStack Distribution board was developed as a result of feedback from customers who found they needed to aggregate more than just ground connections. This new board has four independent voltage busses, allowing greater flexibility when building wiring looms.

This new board is available with the traditional spring connectors or optionally with the Wago 733 series connectors.

Please visit the SimStack Distribution board page for more information about the board and pricing.

New Connectors for SimStack Boards

SimStack boards can now be ordered from Simulator Solutions with optional pluggable connectors.

SimStack Connectors

The Wago 733 series pluggable connectors provide the following benefits:

  • Spring loaded for ease of wiring
  • Keyed fittings to make each connector unique
  • Included with strain relief brackets
  • Allows looms to be fully constructed before installation
  • Provides easier field servicing of SimStack boards

SimStack boards can be ordered with standard spring connectors, Wago 733 series connectors or a mixture of both. The Wago connectors add approximately US$25 to the cost of each board.