Crypto Currencies kill our Planet

According to this article here the global production of crypto currencies consumes the same amount of electrical energy as entire Switzerland does.  This is around

60 Terawatthours per year.

This, dear friends of modern economy, is just about the silliest and weirdest thing that happens on our planet. We are talking about energy efficiency, decarbonization, de-nuclearization, and the like and some weird guys invent currencies which need heavy number crunching in order to be created.

I understand that printing money shouldn’t be an easy task. With energy, consumption is silly. Production from renewable energies is key. So how about linking the production of digital coins to the production of solar or wind power? The more PV modules or wind mills you put up and use for energy production, the more crypto currency you have on your account?

The effect of raising marginal costs per unit will be the same as with number crunching. The more renewables we will have, the less digital coins you will get per unit energy.

But please stop this silly number cruncing-based crypto currency!!!

 

Lufthansa follows the 737 Reconstruction

The Lufthansa Company Archive became aware that I am reconstructing the Cockpit of their D-ABXA “Giessen” Boeing 737-330. Lufthansa was the first owner of the aircraft, starting in 1986 and flew it until 2001. They decided to publish a short Whatapp Story …

 

The funny part of the story is that I was not able to follow the story since I do not use Whatsapp at all.

 

Or maybe a Space Shuttle Launch Simulator …

Karl was kind enough to help me to turn the cockpit. I need to get access to the lower floor parts in order to fit the mechanics and to make it rain proof (although the latter will give me some continuing headaches to solve). Two winches, some tools, some rough size, mass and force estimates and here it goes (followed by a regular and well earned cheese and crackers & fine wine from Salgesch and Spain (provided by Kuonen and Schwander, respectively).

Boeing 737 Flight Deck Project

Dear Friends of Flight Simulation

In late September 2018 Jörg Weinmann, the head of simparts.de and simsystems.de, sold the following Boeing 737-330 cockpit shell on ebay and I could not resist to place a bid. It turned out that I was the only bidder since other potential buyers were frightened by the unknown and potentially heavy transport costs.

The problem with such heart- rather than mind-based purchases is indeed the follow up costs and related organizational troubles. But that is exactly why they are so much fun! And so here goes the story …

The cockpit shell is almost empty. Airworthy parts like instruments have been resold on the aviation market and other parts like seats, control columns and rudder pedals were used by simsystems.de for a flight simulation project. All cockpit interior covers were part of the deal though disassembled.  This is exactly what I need since I already own seats, mechanical control elements and I am in the process to rebuild replicas of the flight instruments anyway. The cockpit still contains much of the original wiring, mechanical cables and heating tubing … and a lot of dirt. It has been flying since 1986 for Luftansa (D-ABXA), Islandsflug, Channel Express and last for Jet2 (D-CELP) until it was disassembled in the UK in 2017.

I knew this monster could not fit into our attic, so the first step was to check with the city’s building permit officials whether such a cockpit shell could be legally placed into our garden. The exchange of photographs and a few phone calls quickly revealed that they never got such a request and did not know how to deal with it. But we settled the discussion with the agreement that the cockpit could be treated like a unheated garden house or a children’s playground, given it would not superseed 10 square meters and 2.5 meters height. Which means:  no building permit needed. I then confronted our neighbors with the plan and got into pretty humorous and overall positive chats.

The next step was transport. I visited simsystems.de in Remshalden close to Stuttgart to have a look. Jörg Weinmann took the time of showing me around his flight simulation parts factory and I also discovered that in addition to the highly professional quality of their aircraft panel and electronics replicas they also have a really innovative I/O solution to connect electronics: they use the CAN Aerospace protocol to hook up all electronics of the whole cockpit with a single cable (power excluded). All cockpit components are line replacable units (and plug and play on the running system). This is just about the opposite to what standard suppliers of flight simulation hardware do (e.g. the OpenCockpits which I currently use).  Jörg offered to cut the cockpit below the cockpit floor so that it would not exceed the 2.5 meters height and he even suggested to check out transport options.

Before the big thing arrived we needed to get ready for placing it. In a joint effort we have turned a forgotten sewer shaft into a 3×3 meter concrete basement within a few days. See yourself! My three kids helped digging, I made the casing and the construction company Wirz AG delivered the cement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also started to get quotes from companies operating mobile cranes that could possibly lift the cockpit from the truck into our garden. Finally on Tuesday 13 November the cockpit arrived. At 7:30 in the morning. And contradictory to the agreement with the transporting company it arrived in a truck that would not allow to lift it out of the truck with a crane. The only option was to get a heavy duty pallet transporter into our neighborhood in order to first get the cockpit out on the street before the crane would move it into the garden. Most nearby companies with such gear refused due to legal issues, but I was lucky again to have a straight forward service by the well know Wirz AG. They sent a pallet transporter from several kilometers away (he needed some time due to limited speed) and we moved the cockpit onto a parking space. While it started to rain the mobile crane arrived and  lifted the cockpit onto the basement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final part of the interim story is about getting the cockpit ready for winter. The first and very most important detail about it is that it came without cockpit windows. According to Jörg they are still very valuable and are possibly already operating as replacement windows in an old aircraft. We already had replaced the glass of several windows in our old house, so I contacted our valuable partner Mr. Kiener from Vedo Glas und Spiegel AG. Guess or not, he took on the challenge and provided a superb and professional set of six cockpit window replicas using 6 mm standard glas (not airworthy, but should resist a medium size hail storm). My impression was that Mr. Kiener had quite some fun for that non-standard mandate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I now needed to unpack the full cockpit, get some power connection into the shell, heat and dry the interior (it did rain before we had mounted the windows), re-mount the cockpit door and to prepare the lower and after section for the winter.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The autumn rains and the first snow storm will tell us how rain proof this preliminary fix is. And the story will continue during the next 15-20 years, so stay tuned! Thanks to all who were involved to start this new project.

PONG – Revived!

The game PONG was released in 1972, one year before my birth. At the age of 18 I have constructed myself a Pong hardware using the AY-3-8500 integrated circuit on a self-made circuit board … basically a DIY game console! The game has now rested for more than 25 years. I have discovered it and was unable to connect it to any screen since it features a RF transmitter and needs to be connected to a regular VHF tuner which does of course not exist any more for most of today’s TV’s (remember the old days when you had to fine tune the TV channels?).

Thanks to PJ Evans and his inventive post a simple composite output can be constructed to using the video and sync signals of the AY-3-8500. This worked flawlessly and the good old PONG console has come to a new life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the picture above you see the self made console from the mid 1990’s. The small circuit board on the lower right corner is the composite video add-on. Endless memories to a fun time when sprites were black and white, nobody had to wait for a game to start up and the games were not asking for updates …

 

Virtual SkyWork Airlines Flight to Elba

Our Family could enjoy three marvellous vacations on Elba during the last years. Thanks to SkyWork Airlines the island is only an hour away from Bern. Since flights to the Marina di Campo airport on Elba are currently troubled by unmet regulatory requirements in Italy we decided to help out SkyWork Airlines with a virtual flight to Elba with our home flight simulator cockpit and a Dornier 328 aircraft.

Some impressions from the relaxed “real” flights to Elba in the years 2014, 2016 and 2017. Several younger and older fans of SkyWork Airlines and Bern Airport can be found on these pictures …

So why not take up the initiative and offer a virtual flight to Elba. There is no regulatory stuff required and safety can be fully guaranteed. The experience may be similar to the real one (or even better, we’ll be sitting up front).

The home cockpit is a Boeing 737-800 replica currently being built in our attic in Bern with the famous X-Plane flight simulator on Linux, custom made electronics and used aircraft parts (see these posts here and here for more information). We tried to assign most functionality of the freeware Dornier 328-110 aircraft to the Boeing 737. Works  great except for idle and reverse thrust which is handled quite differently for the Do-328 turboprop engines compared to jet engines: we would require a prop mode (condition) lever in addition to separate thrust and reverse levers. Puzzle to be solved. The The flight crew consisted of me and three Co-pilots (flight attendant was off service):

An early 6:00 am start at Bern Airport with good weather (scattered cumulus and 2-3 knots surface wind at 150 degree southerly direction made the RWY 32 (RAMOK 2A) departure with a lefthand turn over Bern direction MONIN and then heading south over the Alps an enjoyable experience. We had no ATC coverage during the whole flight (LSZB TWR is mostly unoccupied in the online VATSIM virtual flight network).

Landing in Marina di Campo is kind of tricky, but we followed the visual approach from the north to RWY 16 that we’ve experienced in real during several flights with SkyWork Airlines. Compared to the Boeing 737 the Do-328 is quite an agile bird in the air. But I had to be careful for not dropping to the ground during the final approach (flies like a flat iron in underspeed, never use this aircraft as a sailplane).  After having mastered the lefthand turn just before touchdown we used full brakes to slow instead of the (still inoperational) reverse thrust.

Happy vacation to our virtual passengers on beautiful Elba and all the best wishes to SkyWork Airlines for their continued success (possibly also with Elba)! We now need a fine Italian espresso at the bar of the Marina di Campo airport.

The Crew

Real Coffee …

… for a real life!

Specs:

  • ECM Mechanika IV
  • Macap M2
  • Moka Efti Extra Bar

Food Blogging …

… is not my business. But anyway …

Buttkicker (Füdligingger) under the seat

The Buttkicker Simulation Kit has arrived. After being sold out for years it is finally available again. It’s a fine piece of hardware. Connecting is easy. I’ve screwed the Transducer under the original B737 seat and it makes a difference during flight.

What is needed now would be to add low frequency vibrations to individual flight systems such as landing gear, flaps or for environmental influences such as turbulence or ground contact. The low frequency vibrations are only partly realistic through the original X-Plane sounds.

Boeing 737 Flight Controls Completed

It took some time to rebuild the cockpit so that it would fit the simujabs control column and rudder pedal mechanics. The whole construction had to be raised by around 22 cm which enabled placing the column and rudder mechanics under the “double floor”. The result is fantastic. See yourself …

Above images show the rudder mechanics of simujabs. They are linked and controlled by regular springs. The toe brakes are controlled by gas springs. One of the difficulties was to add both sets of toe brakes to X-Plane since X-Plane only has functionality for one left and one right toe brake (my guess is that this corresponds to how it works in a plane … toe brakes are linked as well?!). So the solution was to send their inputs to usbiocards() and send the max() of both left and both right brakes to X-Plane by TCP/IP and the xpserver() plugin.

Here it goes and the stuff seems to fit in my small unheated attic just below the roof.

The double floor construction raises the platform by around 22 cm and fits the rudder and yoke column mechanics nicely below the “hood”.

 

Connecting all the wires including the original Boeing 737 column buttons etc took some time and guess what … those original yokes are double wired everywhere (for safety), so I could add some more functionality like the 4-way hat switch replacing the 3 digit dial on the Yoke. This hat switch comes in handy for switching views without having to access the computer keyboard. The hat switch is an APEM HS1A14SA 4-way switch. Next time I’d order one with the included pushbutton.

The roll mechanism centers well enough although there is some slackness between the two yokes during rotation due to all the mechanical 90 degree connections between them.

The interesting fact is that I had to re-learn how to fly with those original columns and rudder pedals. I havea used a joystick and CH Rudder Pedals for years where small movements with each hand or leg or toe make the difference. With the originals mounted there is both force and physical movement needed to control the plane. Lot’s of fun.