Building an Robinson R44 instrument Display For FSX (part 1)

I have always been impressed with the amount of detail, people put into activities and I never thought of myself as being in that category, but I have decided to give it a go with building a Robinson R44 helicopter instrument display. My interest was triggered by picking up 2 of these


which are replicas of R44 cockpit instrument gauge housings.

The following poster shows what an R44 cockpit should look like


so the first thing for me was to get the amber lights installed. I found some 12v led lights on ebay. I was attracted to them because they have the correct dome amber covers as the original but the originals have a black surround. I also want them to be 5V to connect to an Arduino (although Im not sure yet how I will get them so work), so time for some DIY light hacking.

First get the maps as shown


then take them apart completely, so they look as follows


Now we want to remove the 12v led from the white capsule housing. It is possible to remove it without destroying the led (its only the white capsule housing we need for this) but otherwise use a very small screwdriver to winkle out the led and then pull with a pliers so it looks as follows:


Finally, repeat for all 8 lights (in my case Im using a mixture of red and orangle lights as they did not have enough yellow lights in stock but I will probably go with all yellow. The following picture shows the lights with my prototype finished led)


Note that the prototype has a black top not chrome – so time to start sanding and painting.

Now, sand the tops of the chrome housing (so the paint has something to stick to). I used P150 sandpaper. Make sure should sand the edges as this is typically where paint starts to peel.

After sanding the the tops of the lights, apply some masking tape and fill in where the light will go with some damp paper towel.


I though the chrome effect was actually plastic but I think its actually some kind of metal but I had already purchased paint for plastic so will have to make do. The next stage is to spray the tops and edges and leave to dry.

Before spraying (as you can see Im no paint expert and its all rough and ready) πŸ™‚


and after 1st coat


Now while these are drying its time to get back to the actual lights.

I purchased some bright components 5mm led’s 5-7v prewired off ebay. These are really handy as they already include the resistor.


we are going to use these to replace the 12v led’s that we removed from the white capsules.


but before we put them into the capsules, wrap some electrical tape around then so that they stand proud of the capsule by about 1 inch when inserted. This is about the width of the electrical tape 15mm approx


then put the back in the capsules


Im still waiting for the paint to dry so here is a picture of the prototype. The pain looks a bit rough at the side but its only the head on view you will see



and now Β we have 5v led Arduino ready Robinson 44 warning lights ready for installation in the instrument housing


The next post will see if we can control them with an arduino before later connection to FSX.

WhereThingsAreBorn πŸ™‚

When Monitor Is Not Enough (FSX)

So diving in before I can swim (is there any better way), I grabbed a triple monitor stand and 3 Dell P2414H monitors (they were cheap at the time but have gone up by 50% now so cant recommend the supplier).

Originally I connected them to 3 ports of my graphics card but now am using a matrix triplehead2o which allows me to free up 2 ports on the graphics card for other uses (more later).

The picture is for illustration only. I did not purchase a 3 monitor stand from alsortsoutlet Β and I wish I did as the one I did purchase, I would not purchase again as it was tough to align the monitors at equal height.

My screen resolution is now 5760 by 1080 whiich is great for FSX


WhereThingsAreBorn πŸ™‚

Come Fly The Friendly Skies

Over Xmas, I was lucky enough to Β get 12 hours instruction in a Robinson R44 helicopter. It was incredible and I realised that as I had a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator at home, wondered if I could build something that approximated a robinson R44.

In summary, you can expect to see a a few FSX posts.

So grab a copy of FSX (I recommend the Gold edition) off ebay or Gumtree (Gumtree seems cheaper at the moment)


I purchased the thrustmaster off Amazon for Β£37.99 at time of writing (and here is my standard affiliate link)


and come fly the friendly skies.

WhereThingsAreBorn πŸ™‚

Alexa Make My Breakfast – And Where’s The Bloody Toast ?

Food is never far from my mind and in my previous blog, I mentioned how I found an egg cooker to make my morning eggs. I also have kettle for my tea and a toaster for my toast – So how do I get Alexa do make my breakfast πŸ™‚

Firstly, see if you can see whats wrong with the following picture. You have 10 seconds so no cheating πŸ™‚



Well did you guess. The answer is:

(a) Each wall socket has a zwave smart outlet connected.

(b) The egg cooker has a 2 pin power connecttor so I had to use an adapter

(c) There are 2 cat5 outlets on the wall – what was I thinking !

(d) There is no coffee in the coffee canister πŸ™‚

So, for Alexa to make my breakfast, I used the smarthings app to add 3 more smart outlets called Kettle, Toaster and egg cooker respectively. I then used the Alexa app to scan for new devices and add a group called breakfast – brilliant thinking eh πŸ™‚

So, now I load up the egg cooker with water, add water to the kettle and leave the switch on, the night before and then the next morning while Im getting dressed I can say:

“Alexa turn on the kettle”

“Alexa turn on the toaster”

“Alexa turn on the egg cooker”

“Alexa turn on breakfast”

BUT there is a problem with the Toaster. The toaster leaver will not stay down until power is applied so I cant do it the night before. Toast will have to be manually made for now but Toaster – you are on my hotlist !

WhereThingsAreBorn πŸ™‚





Why The SmartHouse Needs An Egg Cooker

So my breakfast normally consists off 2 boiled eggs and toast (maybe a bowl of porridge in winter). I was looking in the cupboard one day and found and egg cooker. I used it and it worked as advertised. I could not find the exact model on the internet but I did find Β this

Egg Cooker


It turns off automatically (very important) and you can see where this is going πŸ™‚

Go out and order it today using my affiliate linkΒ Egg Cooker

and get ready to automate your breakfast !

WhereThingsAreBorn πŸ™‚

Let There Be Light !

So, I received my Smartthings hub and Zwave sockets. There was not much to do except follow the Smartthings app instructions to add each socket (which I called lamp one to lamp 4). I then created a group called livingroom lamps.

I then plugged in the lamps, tested from the smartthings app and it all worked – now for the Amazon Echo integration.

I then used the Alexa app to rescan for devices and it found the new devices (lamp one to lamp for immediately).

Now I say:

“Alexa, turn on lamp one”

“ALexa turn on lamp two”

“Alexa turn on lamp three”

“Alexa turn on lamp four”

“Alexa turn on living room lamps”

“Alexa turn off living room lamps”

I also setup two lamps in my bedroom (out of earshot of Alexa). I used the optional microphone to say “Alexa turn on lamp five” etc and it all works great.

WhereThingsAreBorn πŸ™‚