Flight simulator software has been available for about as long as desktop PCs have been a thing, but modern incarnations such as 2020’s Microsoft Flight Simulator have really raised the bar — not only graphically, but in terms of interactivity. There’s a dizzying array of switches and buttons that you can fiddle with in your aircraft’s virtual cockpit, but doing it with the same keyboard that you use to hammer out code or write Hackaday articles doesn’t do much for immersion.
Looking to improve on the situation without having to shell out for an expensive sim panel, [Michael Fitzmayer] decided to convert a broken Manson SSP-8160 lab power supply into a fairly good approximation of the KAP 140 autopilot system which is used in one of his favorite aircraft, the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo-Porter.
[Michael] gutted the piece of equipment pretty thoroughly, only leaving behind the case itself and the illuminated button panel on the front. The original displays were replaced with TM1637 seven-segment LEDs, and a pair of new rotary encoders are mounted where the stock knobs were. The whole show is run by a STM32F103 Blue Pill, which conveys the button pressing and knob spinning to the game by mimicking a USB Human Interface Device.
A fascia applied to the front of the power supply blocks the original text and labels, and really makes the finished unit look the part. [Michael] admits it’s not 100% accurate to the layout of the real hardware, but it’s certainly better than trying to enter heading and altitude information with the controller.
Oh that’s right, did we mention he’s actually using this on the Xbox Series S? While we generally see this sort of sim hardware hooked up to a tricked out gaming computer, we appreciate that he’s trying to bring some of that same experience to the console world. While the one-way communication of USB HID does bring with it some limitations — for example the hardware needs to be manually reset at the beginning of each flight to make sure the physical displays match what’s shown in the virtual cockpit– there’s still a lot of potential here.
For example, you could design and build your own flight yoke, pedals, and throttles rather than spending hundreds on a commercial version. It sounds like [Michael] is just getting started in the world of affordable console-based flight simulation, and we’re very eager to see where he goes from here.