INTERVIEW: TRC makes gauges for everyone!
January 13, 2003
Friend, are you like me and are building a SimPit that needs a multitude of those old fashioned round faced gauges? Are you also like me in that you would rather buy the gauges instead of building them from scratch? If you are in agreement with me I think we may have a solution.
SimPits: Hi Mijke, welcome to SimPits! For our readers who might not know of your company, TRC Development is a relatively new company based in the Netherlands that sells functional instrument gauges for general aviation aircraft. I must admit I have been very excited to see your line of products appear because I for one do not want to fabricate my own gauges from scratch. Tell us about your line of general aviation gauges and the USB Central Control Unit.
TRC: We are as excited about our products as you are! We have done everything to make them as realistic as possible. Therefore, even a real pilot, can hardly tell the difference from outside. Internally, they are completely different from the real instruments. Our gauges are driven by electron ics and especially designed mechanics from high quality ABS plastics.
They therefore last almost forever and are easy to connect to the PC running flight simulator software via our USB Central Control Unit. Just a single connection for all these different gauges! And it's even nicer, since the Central Control Unit has its own processor, there is no processing power drawn from the main PC running the flight simulator software. So it doesn't influence your frame rate at all.
And we have more exciting news: we are staring a new webshop, where you can buy kit gauges to put together yourself, thereby saving lots of money!
SimPits: Will the gauges fit in a real Cessna instrument panel?
TRC: They do indeed. However, TRC has instrument panels available for cockpit builders, which are also very realistic. They are made from metal, powder coated and finally printed with the texts as in the real aircraft.
SimPits: How many gauges can the Central Control Unit control? Can the unit be daisy chained to control even more gauges? Does the Central Control Unit also control toggle Switches and buttons or does the user need to use a separate card like the EPIC, KE-72 or the X-keys?
TRC: You will only need the Central Control Unit. It has digital and analog inputs and outputs, controls servo motors, lights and much more. It can control up to 37 different devices like gauges, switches, lights, even yoke, rudder pedals, throttle, mixture, flaps etc. A description of all the devices the board is able to control, can be found on our website.
SimPits: The gauges are equipped with back lighting which is regulated by the central control unit. I assume that means that to turn the lighting on or off you simply activate the appropriate keyboard command in Microsoft Flight Simulator? Can the gauge’s back lighting be dimmed or brightened or is there just one setting?
TRC: Indeed you can regulate the light simply by connecting a potentiometer to the CCU. So it is a manual procedure, like in the real world.
SimPits: I thought it was great that you are building one gauge unit that contains 17 different face plates and can be converted for use as an airspeed indicator, vertical speed indicator or tachometer for 7 different airplanes. What are the 7 different airplanes?
TRC: The gauge unit which can be used to build an Airspeed Indicator for a Bell 206B Jet Ranger, Beechcraft Baron 58, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, Cessna 182 Skylane, Cessna Caravan Amph. & Grand Caravan, Extra 300S, Mooney Bravo, Sopwith Camel, Schweizer Sailplane and the Vaught Corsair. The Vertical Speed Indicator can be built for the Bell 206B Jet Ranger, Beechcraft Baron, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, Cessna Caravan Amph. & Grand Caravan, and the Vaught Corsair. A Tachometer can be built for the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, Cessna 182 Skylane, Vaught Corsair and Sopwith Camel. Finally also a Manifold Pressure gauge can be built for the Vaught Corsair. All the faceplates necessary to build one of these gauges are included in the kit.
SimPits: Once the user has installed the correct face plate, how do you configure the Central Control Unit to handle the gauge as a airspeed indicator, say verses the tachometer?
TRC: We supply a very impressive graphical calibration program. You simply follow the requests on the screen to calibrate each instrument for a specific aircraft. You only have to do this once. The calibration parameters are written into a file on your PC, which file is used by the interface software to tell the hand on the instrument to follow the exact positioning as being produced by the flight simulator software.
SimPits: I understand that you are also developing a line of instrument gauges for jet aircraft. Will these instruments be strictly for commercial jets, or will they be compatible with acrobatic maneuvers such as performed by jet fighters? In particular what kind of Attitude Indicator do you have planned? Will it have the ability to roll 360 degrees, and will it have needles to follow a VOR/ILS signal?
TRC: As with most developments, each new instrument takes a lot of effort, much time and enormous investments. One of the most simple instruments - like the tachometer for example - needs up to 5 different plastic injection molds. Such a mold is easily priced at 20.000 dollar or more. So you'll understand that we have to be convinced that we can reach a realistic number of sales for a certain instrument before we will start development for it. A few of our present gauges can be used in jet aircraft already.
SimPits: What about a horizontal situation indicator? Will it have a DME indicator, a VOR course deviation indicator, or an ADF needle?
TRC: The HSI is the next product we are working on. However, it is a complicated device and we would like to implement indeed all the features as found in the real thing.
SimPits: For those who are building a Cessna 172, you also build complete instrument panels.
TRC: We have complete ATD's and FTD's available for private pilots who want to keep themselves up to date at home. They are also popular at flight schools. The hourly cost for such a device is much lower than the real aircraft!
SimPits: Your Radio Stack is particularly impressive. It even has the KLN89/94 - GPS unit and a Moving Map display.
TRC: Yes, it has. As with all the instruments we have developed, also here we have spend much time and effort on the realism of the products. We have special LCD screens produced which have exactly the same size and features as the displays in the real radio stack. Another benefit of our radio stack is that all radios come separately from eachother. With each a ribbon cable to the Radio Stack Controller board. This means that you can decide your own order. If you like to have one of the NAV/COM on another position, you can do it. You don't need a GPS? Than leave it out when ordering. All radio's are separate products. You can buy a small radio stack to begin with and expand it later, while still having the best replicated radio stack as in the original. We also have a special radio training system, which uses a single KX155A replica and a KT76C Transponder replica. This training system for real pilots enables a trainer and up to 16 students to sit down around a table. Each of the students has such a system, which is connected to the PC of the trainer via a single USB. Now the trainer can act as the control tower and/or the platform and train pilots to use their radio communication as to be used in real life! This system is ranked as the best and most realistic training system ever!
SimPits: Thank you Mijke for your time.
*Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
*Websites - http://www.therealcockpit.com
*Address -TRC Development b.v.
P.O. Box 12004
3004 GA Rotterdam Airport
*Tel: 31 10 4390200
*Fax: 31 10 4390210
Mijke Niks is the Chief Public Relations Officer of TRC and holds a degree in Design and Communications.
Interview by: Justin Messenger