My FS9 Autopilot Project using the USB to 10 Button INTERFACE


by: Don "dowop" Loy


My FS9 Autopilot:
Using a few inexpensive items from Steve at Desktop Aviator, and a few
items from the garage, I built this rather spiffy autopilot for FS 2004.
Although, it should also work with FS 2002.
I ordered a 10 button to USB interface, a connecting cable, and a faceplate
from Desktop Aviator at  Steve
there is a great guy and very helpful!
This is the interface that I purchased at: for
around $26.00. It was a snap to incorporate the INTERFACE with my
computer using the USB port rather then the Gameport. The Gameport
allows only 4 switches to be connected while the Desktop Aviator's Interface offers me 10. Desktop Aviator now offers a new 
Model 2040 A USB to 20 Button Interface for $29.00. It can be found at:
                                                       The USB to 10 Button INTERFACE >
< The NEW Model 2040 - USB to 20 Button INTERFACE
Here is a photo of the patch cable, which I also purchased from Desktop Aviator and the Faceplate. 
To get these items, it cost only $2.00. It was worthwhile to get the Faceplate and the Cable at the time 
I ordered the Interface. It saved me time and a few dollars.
< Here's the Mating Cable with the Faceplate
You can have 10 functions with this set up, so, I decided on momentary switches with "on" in the up and down position and 
"off" in the middle!  This way, for Instance, altitude on, push down--altitude off, push down again! Same as with the "up" 
position. This way I can get 4 functions in one switch! I bought the switches at a local electric supply store for about $5.00 ea.
but, I've seen them sold in lots on e-bay reasonable priced. The interface comes with a wiring diagram, which is real simple 
and I used crimp-on terminals on the wires so there was no soldering involved!
As you can see, the housing was made of scrap materials and the labels on
the front were made in Microsoft Paint and applied with rubber cement so
that they can be easily removed if I want to change the switches function.
Notice in the first picture the switch on the far right is is
"Heading Decrease" and "Heading Increase".
It seemed a lot more logical and natural to move that switch right and left for small heading changes. 
Programming the Flight Simulator
Setup in MS2004 and 2002 is simple: When you plug the autopilot in, it is
recognized as a USB device in the sim. Just go to the menu on top by
pressing "alt" then go to options-and follow down to "assignments". On
one dropdown box choose "Autopilot" and it will save you from searching
the entire list. Start with autopilot on-off -double click it and a box appears.
This is where you tell FS which button (or switch) you want to assign to this
function. Push the button or switch and then hit OK. Follow through with the
other buttons or switches until all of them are assigned an autopilot function.
After this is done you can "Kick the tires and light the fires!" it's time to fly! It's nice to have an "autopilot off" switch to hit on
final - its way easier that trying to mouse click on the panel when you're trying to land!
Good luck and.......Keep the oily side down!

Don "dowop" Loy





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