Ch322 Project Visit - SF260 Simulator

Rob Jonkers's picture

On Saturday 05 December a project visit was held at the home of Rob & Vera Jonkers to view and fly the Siai Marchetti SF260 Simulator – a two-year scratch built project planned to be used as a training device for aspirant ab-initio military pilots. An initial simple device was built, primarily as a virtual cockpit trainer, but to gain true positive training a more representative device was needed that would replicate the cockpit more precisely and at the same time provide a more encompassing surround visual system with the view that it would be a suitable FNPT 2 certifiable simulator system.

So the design unfolded, firstly to replicate the cockpit, controls and switches, as well as the instrumentation, and the first year the structure was created and the initial systems prototyped to check the viability of the eventual layout. This is where the system engineering architecture played a large role in achieving the desired result. The overall system comprises seven computers, five of which drive the instruments, one drives the master PC which is the instructor station, and one mega PC driving the surround graphics.

Two of the instrument PCs are known as Raspberry PIs (a strange name for sure), these being credit card size computers running small screens that can display individual instruments where the larger displays don’t fit the panel. (These being particularly challenging with unfamiliar operating systems).
Most of the instrument faces had to be graphically designed from photos from the real cockpit to ensure an exact replica, and then programmed to behave as the real instruments would.

The surround visuals dome was this project’s main challenge, the requirement stemming from the training team needing a field of view in the vertical plane of 80 deg+ as this training device would be required to carry out advanced manoeuvres and aerobatics, and a nominal cylindrical screen could only achieve 30-40 deg FOV.
As a first objective a prototype screen segment was built in a parabolic shape and with plenty of testing with various short-throw projectors with different lenses and f-stops, a suitable solution was found. From here, the full size dome could be manufactured on which 3 projectors are mounted, each with a horizontal span of 75 degrees.

For the last six months the system came together and extensive functional testing and programming ensued, with pilot inputs as well as measurements taken from flights in the real SF260. EAA members who came to visit were treated to an immersive flight experience, with Arthur Piercy having felt vertigo for the first time in many years. Eugene Couzyn dropped in with his Gazelle, with the horse paddock quickly converted into a heli-pad for the day.

For the afternoon everybody threw a vleisie on the braai outside the workshop and took turns in flying. At the same time the partially built 737 simulator was also fired up and in flight condition to shoot approaches into Innsbruck with the Kaptein doing an outstanding job of being a 737 instructor. The SF260 sim is being finalised for delivery soon, with final tweaks being made, as well as the addition of a seat & stick shaker to mimic the stall & g-buffet and ground rumble, this addition adding the ultimate immersive experience barring a motion system.

Now to continue with the B737 project to completion...

The engine room, many km of wires
Arthur Piercy fly the SF260 Simulator
Geoff Fish tries out Rob Jonkers 737-800 simulator
Rob Jonkers watches over his simulator
Vera Jonkers introducing her horse simulator