Mike's Flight Deck is an introduction to home cockpit building, the hobby that takes off where flight simulation game software ends. When staring at a 17" monitor on a crowded desk, and pushing, pulling and twisting a wimpy joystick just doesn't do any more, it's time to build a simulated cockpit or flight deck. This site offers information on how to do just that.
Mike's Flight Deck is also home to Mike's Flight Deck Books, a very small company that sells the books I've written about building flight simulators. So far I've written two and a half books.
Clicking on a cover image will take you to the information/order page for the respective book.
Computer Upgrade (13 May 2013)
I made what I hoped would be a minor upgrade to my computer, minor in the sense that I wouldn't have to rebuild the software on it. Win 7 has a moderate ability to load drivers when new hardware is found. I poked around the web looking for other peoples' experiences when upgrading a processor.
I found a mixed bag, some people were pleasantly surprised, others less so. Finally, I figured, what the hell, backed up my files and went for it.
The new processor called for a new motherboard which naturally needed lots of new drivers... sigh!
Oh, Win 7 tried really hard, or at least, it thought about it for a long time, but finally rolled over, put its metaphorical legs in the air, and said, "No joy for you today, sir."
So, I got to spend a day and a half loading software and watching my computer download updates and reboot. It could have been worse, I suppose. The system did activate without me having to make phone calls.
Hopefully, that's over for awhile.
Folded Projection Paths (21 Mar 2013)
I've been researching the use of fold mirrors in projection systems as part of the material for Building Immersive Display Systems.
Wrap-around panoramic projection systems present a real challenge in terms of delivering high contrast imagery. As the field of view increases, a wrap-around screen results in either end of the screen spilling light directly on the other end. Without proper care, image contrast suffers.
A tried and true approach for front projection systems is to use a low gain screen. With today's high output projectors, you can use what would have been an unthinkably low gain a few years ago and still produce good image highlights.
Or, you can use a professional rear-projection screen to produce excellent contrast and highlights with a more moderate power projector. Professional screens are pricey, but the biggest issue is likely to be the space required for rear-projection throw paths.
That's why fold mirrors are attractive. Toss a few mirrors into the throw path and the space requirements become more manageable.
Unfortunately, there's a problem with the use of fold mirrors that's rarely mentioned on the game forums. It's called secondary reflection. That's when light from the back of a rear projection screen hits the fold mirror and is reflected back onto the screen where it tends to kill contrast.
Fortunately, secondary reflection is not unknown the professional A/V community. This problem has a straightforward solution, just make sure to angle the fold mirror enough with respect to the screen. The angle required to avoid secondary reflection depends on the distance between the mirror and screen, and there's an easy graphical technique for finding that angle.
I'm in the process of adding a description of this technique to the manuscript.
Chapter 1 Rewrite (11 Feb 2013)
I've completed a major rewrite of the first chapter of Building Immersive Display Systems. It's a much tighter chapter now, focusing on the factors important to building immersion.
I've also done a first pass re-structuring of the second chapter. I removed material which had become redundant as a result of the chapter one rewrite.
Postage (28 Jan 2013)
The US Postal Service raised prices today. I ship books using flat rate Priority and Priority International. These are basically airmail services which have been reasonably good choices for getting books to buyers in a timely fashion.
Now they just got more expensive.
I don't know of any better choice. Pay less and an international shipment can extend to months. Sigh!
So, if you're planning on buying a book anytime soon, right now is a really good time because very shortly I'll be digging into my Paypal "buy button" logic and bumping shipping up to match the new USPS prices.
Writing (16 Jan 2013)
I am in the process of refactoring the first two chapters of Building Immersive Display Systems. I'm surprised to find myself doing this, because after the last edit I was reasonably happy with what I had. Ah well, that's the value of putting something aside for a bit and looking at it with fresh eyes.
CNC Project Excuses and Writing (5 Jan 2013)
Well, I can't use lack of parts as an excuse for no progress on the CNC project. I'm probably missing a few things, but I've got quite enough on hand to do something. The problem is that I'm too comfortable inside where it's warm. My work area is neither warm nor comfortable. Eventually I'll get bored enough to venture into the cold and damp, but if not, spring is coming.
What I have done is pick up the manuscript for book 3 which I have officially renamed Building Immersive Display Systems. I had initially looked at the book as describing a functionality of simulators, but what it really has as its central thread is the use of display technology to boost immersion in virtual worlds, and that's not limited to simulators.
The manuscript as it stands contains a lot of good material. There continue to be developments in the industry that I'll add, but all in all, the book's loaded with goodies. I'm just not satisfied with how it's all presented. It's too easy to get lost in the details. That's something I need to fix.