There’s nothing like using a genuine aviation part in Flight Simulator. Real parts are made to last, cannot be upgraded, and offer a level of immersion rarely attributable to a reproduction part. There is also the historical perspective knowing what airframe the part was removed from. This said, although OEM parts are not difficult to find, a solid level of ability is needed to successfully convert many parts to use in Flight simulator.
Conversion of an OEM part can involve re-wiring, determining the pin-outs for each function of the part, interfacing with an appropriate card such as a PoKeys or Phidget card and connecting to a suitable power supply. OEM parts that are more complicated in nature may involve further work to determine functionality and necessitate several interface cards and relays for correct operation.
Put very simply, ARINC 429 is a data communication protocol used on most higher-end commercial, military and transport aircraft. The protocol defines the physical and electrical interfaces to support an aircraft’s avionics instruments.
LEFT: SIM 429 enclosure by V1-Avionics - compact and easy to install (image copyright V1 Avionics).
With knowledge of the protocol, many instruments can be converted for flight simulator use if an appropriate avionics interface is used between the simulator and the OEM part.
V1 Avionics has developed a low-cost interface called the SIM429-11 Interface. This interface will allow easy connection of OEM instruments avoiding the necessity of rewiring and conversion.
Whilst the Protocol is used by many OEM parts, it is not used by all; therefore, if the Protocol is not supported, conversion of that part to Flight Simulator will still be the traditional way using an interface card.
V1-Avionics is the company behind the development of the SIM429-11. The project team comes from a background in telecommunications, engineering and aerospace applications and is ideally positioned to unravel the intricacies of the ARINC 429 Protocol, to develop, and eventually release the SIM429-11 interface for public use.
Once the interface is released, conversion of OEM avionics instruments will become easier, more streamline, and within the reach of all flight simulator enthusiasts.
I'll post additional information as this technology unfolds.
For further information on the interface, additional photographs, diagrams and videos - navigate to the V1-Avionics website.
OEM - Original Equipment Manufacture (real aviation parts)