Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Progress Report

In the 10 or so months since I started this blog, lots has happened.  Yep, lots of stuff.  Not a whole lot on the cockpit/simpit front, but I lost my job and therefore lost funding for my project.

My old cockpit, Moya, sat there, in the exact state it was in my last post, for months, mostly unused.  I switched to using my 42" TV for daily computer use by shoving a desk up against the TV stand, since my cockpit was not as comfortable for long use as I had hoped.  I did an 18 hour shift in it the night that World of Warcraft: Cataclysm launched, and my butt and back ached for an entire week after.

On one of the days when I had nothing to do (and that's often when you're unemployed), I decided that I wanted to re-design Moya so she'd be more useful.  I was eager to do something with my time, so I drew up a redesign in one morning and deconstructed and started rebuilding that night.

There were a lot of problems with Moya that I wanted to fix with my new design.  Moya was too big, too heavy, too hard to move, too uncomfortable, and had no dedicated space for custom button panels.  Not to mention she was ugly.  But she was mine, and I loved her.  But not enough to not feel any remorse when I started taking her apart.

The next night, the shell of my new simpit, Aurora, was complete.

From Simpit build

She was smaller, lighter, sleeker, and mobile since I put casters on her belly.  She also looked better because I figured out that you CAN cut 1/8" plywood with a circular saw if you put masking tape over the cuts.  I also learned about using furring strips to connect two pieces of wood together without having framing under them, which was a huge problem I had with Moya.  Live and learn, eh?  Every single part except for the casters came out of Moya.  Yay for recycling!

I played around with Aurora for a while, and finally got to put the Ipac that I bought to control custom buttons to use by installing a custom control panel, but even with the improvements in the new design, she still wasn't comfortable for daily computing.  In order to cut down on size, I had to shrink the keyboard tray, and that meant I had to get one of those tiny, no 10-key having, keyboards, and I gravely missed my old G15.

From Simpit build

Aurora also suffered from the same comfort issues that Moya did.  And I didn't like that she wasn't enclosed.  When I designed her, I figured that I'd eventually add an enclosure to the base I'd already built, but after she was constructed, I couldn't fathom how.  It's been nearly two months since I sat in her and I've had some ideas since then.  I stumbled upon the amazing Akers-Barnes Cockpit plans and found that lots of people have used the design to great success.  So I went ahead and modeled them in 3d in Google SketchUp and decided that I would build one for myself.

From Simpit build
Today I bought the materials that I would need, two sheets of 1/2" plywood and a 20" steel pipe and got started.  Wish me luck!

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