The Main Instument Panel is a single large 27 inch monitor.
The Radios, ILS and TACAN displays are all seven segment displays using the MAX7216 chip, purchased cheap on eBay, and run by Arduino and DCS-BIOS. They are all red in color because green seems to be four times the price. The larger displays that require more than just numbers, like the CMSP and CMSC, are 20x2 character OLED displays. You can shorten the character display and use a cheap 16x02 LCD, however I decided to spend a little more on those panels so i could fit all the characters in. The OLED displays are white, and some green cellophane material is put over the top to give them a green tint.
The very large displays of the CDU and ARC-210 are 3.5 inch TFT's, run by Arduino Uno's.
I'm not a programmer or coder, and nearly all of the code I used was cut and paste from ED forum members sharing their own work. The code that is mine is modifed from other users work, and is VERY untidy because I have no real idea what I am doing, but it works.
Below is each in a little more detail.
Very early on in the design process I decided I wanted to use a singe large display to cover the largest section of my Main Instrument panel. This is large enough to cover both MFD's as well as all the gauges on the main panel. That meant I didn't have to build complex servo or stepper motor driven gauges, and could just export them to the screen using Helios.
The main display is an LG 27MP3HQ-B. It is a discontinued model now, but at the time it was the cheapest 27 inch LCD IPS panel that I could find. It cost me $190 AUD ($144 USD). An OLED model would probably look much better with proper deep blacks, but I wasn't willing to spend top dollar on an OLED monitor just to hack it up.
I removed the panel from its plastic casing (voiding its warranty) so it was smaller and thinner and mounted it's control panel in the rear of my MIP.
It is connected to the PC via a HDMI cable. Both of the MFD's, the Digital Clock, UHF repeater and the RWR display are exported in DCS World as viewports using edits to the Monitor Config .lua.
If you don't know how to do that, have a read of this forum thread.
Here is the LG 27 inch monitor mounted in the center console. In this photo it still has its plastic casing on. I later removed this, to allow the screen to be about 3mm closer to the frame, and so there would be more room to run cabling behind it.
Here is the IPS Panel removed from the monitors plastic casing. Four screws and some plastic clips and it comes apart easily. I was happy to find that the ribbon cable to the PCB was long enough to allow me to mount it away from the panel.
The IPS panel being mounted in the MIP. It simply sits in place, and is sandwiched againts an aluminium bar across the rear and the front panel.
This photo was taken when I was fitting the new custom MFD's. You can see how the edge of the MFD is the very edge of the panel. You can also see how removing the plastic case of the panel allows for room to run cabling from the MFD around its edge and to a card mounted behind it.
The Main Instrument Panel fitted and working. It covers most of the main panel, however you can see how I had to make the fuel gauge and flaps gauge as it is not wide enough to cover the entire thing. One of the drawbacks is that the screen covers behind the AHCP, so I needed to space it out away from the panel to fit the switches.
A view of the gauges working behind the bezels.
The left MFD working. The viewport is pushed up against the very edge of the monitor. The MFD's were specifically designed so they would fit.
Version one of my CDU was designed to fit this 5inch LCD HDMI Display Module, that I purchased from Buydisplay.com for around $33 USD. It was connected to the PC via a HDMI cable, and the CDU display was exported straight from DCS World using a viewport, just like the MFD's.
This worked fine while I was using two projectors with a 180 degree screen, but after the addition of a third projector and the 270 degree screen upgrade, I was forced to remove the HDMI cable for the CDU as my PC has a maximum output of four monitors. This is a limitation of the software, as although I could in theory attach more monitors, NVIDIA surround wont let you combine more than four monitors as a single display, which meant in turn I was unable to warp and blend them on the curve. So four it is, three for the projectors and one for the MIP LCD.
I ran without a CDU display for a few months, before I eventually purchased this 3.5 inch TFT that is designed to push straight into an Arduino Nano. The CDU was very easy to export using DCS-BIOS, as a ED forums user has already done all the hard work for me. All I did was cut and paste the code, and it worked straight away. It has one minor drawback, being that the screen refresh rate is very slow, line by line. I actually like that, adds to the analog feel.
Rather than redesign my entire CDU, I laser cut a quick adapter bracket to mount the smaller screen
Here is version one of my CDU, with the 5 inch LCD mounted.
Here is the rear of version on of the CDU, with its breakout panel mounted. Ribbon cable connects the LCD to a control card that was mounted in the left console, and a HDMI cable attaches to that to the PC.
Here is the Arduino 3.5inch TFT running the DCS BIOS sketch, and displaying the CDU display in game.
The 5 inch LCD removed, with the 3.5 inch one resting in its place.
The cover piece I laser cut to mount the smaller 3.5 inch LCD.
I added some small white markings to show where the lines of the smaller display are. This is because the OSB buttons were designed and positioned for the larger 5 inch LCD, and rather than redesign the entire thing to reposition the buttons I added these to make it easier to see which OSB activated which line on the display.
For the Counter Measure Systems Panel (CMSP) I used an OP2020i OLED display I purchased direct from the manufactuer wide.hk via their eBay store. Cost is around $38 AUD ($29 USD).
This is connected to an Arduino Uno, and I managed to modify some code that was posted on the ED forums for a 20x02 LCD display to get it to function on the OLED.
Most of this panel is run using the single Arduino Uno, including the switches and buttons.
The CMSC complete. The 'No Data Link' display was added by me into the Arduino Code. The display will show this when DCS-BIOS is not running, so I can tell by a glance that the display is actually working before I fire up the game. The OLED is white, and I later added a bit of green cellophane material on top to get it to match the rest of the cockpit.
The rear of the CMSC. You can see the Arduino Uno mounted. The small PCB is a breakout card i made up, just to distribute 12 volt power to the backlight circuit. The Uno is powered direct over USB.
Another view of the rear of the CMSC. A single USB connection for the Uno, and 12V power for the back lighting.
The Counter Measure Set Controller is a similar design as the CMSP.
It uses the same OP2020i OLED display and I designed and modified the panel with a bit of artistic license. The top panel covers the unused parts of the display to make it seem like its three small displays, like the real thing, father than one large one.
The code was edited from the CMSP display, modified to export the lines of the CMSP instead.
This display is run by an Arduino Mega that is mounted behind the MIP, with all the buttons and pots on it run by a separate Leo Bodnar Card also mounted behind the MIP.
The rear of the CMSC. The Op202i display had a plug soldered to it to allow for easy removal, as the Arduino is mounted remotely behind the MIP, so i would need to disconnect it if i need to remove the panel.
A view of the prototype PCB I soldered up to allow the backlight, buttons and warning LED's to be mounted easily. The Warning LED's are run by the same Arduino Mega mounted behind the MIP.
The OLED display in place and working
The display connected and working, with cellophane on top to dim and make it green. This display is actually broken, hence the dead pixels in the text. My fault- I dropped it and it shattered. It was replaced later on.
The Instrument Landing System (ILS) and TACtical Air Navigation System (TACAN) panel displays are run using seven segment displays, mounted on these MAX7219 8 Digit Seven Segment Display Modules.
Again, some artistic license was used on the panel so the top layer covers the unused sections of it and makes it look like it is separate displays, similar to the real jet.
Here is the MAX7619 eight digit seven segment displays that I used for the Radios, ILS and TACN panels. They are found on eBay or Aliexpress for around $5 AUD, and are very simple to code using DCS-BIOS. They come in differerent colours but all do the same thing.
I recommend using these ones, that have removable display modules rather than ones soldered direct to the board. This allows the PCB to be further away from the rear of you panel, which can assist with having enough space to mount buttons and switches closer to the display. It also allows you to remove the module and connect different displays, like I did for the radio stack below.
The ILS and TACAN panels are designed as one unit, so they can share a single Arduino Nano to run both displays. I designed the TACAN X/Y indicator to partially cover the display, and the code displays a zero depending on which mode is selected. This is because due to the design of a seven segment display, they cant show an X or Y.
ILS Panel in testing. I highly recommend adding add some sort of cover on these displays, as they are very hard to read without any filter. I added a peice of window tiniting film on top, which dims the segments that are not lit up making it easier to read.
The rear of the ILS and TACAN unit. A single Arduino Nano is mounted in a shield that runs both displays and the test light. All the buttons and switches are run from a seperate Leo Bodnar in the console.
I added the dashes to the code to be displayed when DCS-BIOS is not sending any data, so i can tell by a glance that the display is actually working when i turn it on.
The radio stack includes the UHF and two VHF's and uses the same MAX7219 seven segment display modules as the ILS and TACAN. The top panels are again designed to cover the unused sections of the modules, to make it seem like they are individual displays.
The the preset channel indicators share a single MAX7219 card, and I removed the four digit display modules and soldered up pairs of individual segment displays onto some prototype PCB.
This is because the MAX7219 module PCB would not fit directly behind the panel like the frequency displays, as it would foul on the rotary switches and encoders next to them.
The PCB is mounted away from the panel, with cables running up to the three preset channel displays.
Here is the radio stack with the frequency displays mounted. You can see how the full displays have room to fit, however using individual the present channel displays are smaller and the PCB would not fit as they would hit the buttons and switches on either side.
Here is the prototype PCB with individual displays mounted. This allowed me to run cables from each preset display down to the MAX7219 PCB, which i mounted away from the panel.
These are the individual seven segment displays I used for the preset display.
This photo is a good example of how the displays are very hard to read at a glance without some sort of filter being placed on top. I added some window tinting film.
Another photo showing the difference in readability of the seven segment displays without a filter. In both photos the displays are showing the same thing. On the right I am holding a clear peice of acrylic with the protective plastic still on it over the top.
All the displays mounted and working.
With the release of DCS World A-10C II Tank Killer, the Warthog is gaining an ARC-210 Digital Radio, and the top VHF module has been removed. I have already cut the top radio off, and designed and built my ARC-210. At the time i printed this, the radio hasn't actually been released yet and is just a blanking plate.
My ARC-210 uses the exact same display and an Arduino Uno as the CDU display detailed above.
The code on it right now is a placeholder. Once it is working in the game i will update this section!
ARC-210 with the 3.5 inch TFT Screen.
Top VHF Radio removed and the new ARC-210 mouunted.
Placeholder code awaiting the release of the radio in DCS World.
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