LOAF Fixes a PC (or: the Story of Karga the Hero)

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Good morning!

Two thrilling eBay victories last night: the first was a lot that included a TQS, Elite Rudder Pedals and F-16 stick and the second was an ADB-to-PS/2 adapter for a Belkin OmniView KVM switch (the former sniped using my phone in a grocery store parking lot, aint the future grand?)

Here's a sad fact: two months ago I had a simple ThrustMaster FCS/WCS Mk. II/RCS setup that I thought was the fanciest thing in the world. Today I own an FCS, WCS Mk. II, RCS, MFCS, MWCS, PFCS, FLCS, TQS and a set of Elite pedals. What happened?! I think I'm just missing the original WCS and I'll have inadvertantly collected ThrustMaster's entire golden age lineup. Old joysticks are a hell of a drug. (In all seriousness, I'm happy to give away my extras; Dundradal and Death get first dibs since they donated sticks to me in the first place. ENABLERS.)

Speaking of which, the Pro FCS arrived yesterday and I'm really sorry I'm not going to end up using it. It has a HEAVY metal base and the resistance is amazing... so tight that it takes a real effort to pull all the way back, like a real aircraft. I hope the F-22, supposedly out for delivery right now, is as nice (I hear it is!)

The ADB-to-PS/2 switch is a neat find but I'm going to have to wait a little until I can do anything with it. OmniView PS/2 switches are common but still a little expensive and I really am officially out of discretionary funds until after Christmas. I'm going to need to get the switch and then put in another cable order with Monoprice (always so much fun.) In fact, they had plenty of the switches cheap at the place in Woodbridge... maybe I need to sucker someone into going back there with me!

We were talking about this on #WingNut last night, so I thought I'd mention it here: I love my PS/2 keyboard so much and am so excited that I'm going to be able to use it with Bertha. If you aren't familiar with the IBM Model M, check out the surprisingly complete Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_M_keyboard

These are the big, heavy keyboards that make such a satisfying CLICK when you type, similar to a typewriter. They're nigh-invulnerable, too. My dad's Model M (which came with a real PS/2 Model 80) still works great after TWENTY FOUR YEARS... and that's not twenty four years of business, it's raising four kids who like to eat and drink sticky things. Mine is a 1993 model, made by Lexmark (52G9658.) Apparently the older IBM-built ones are slightly nicer (with detachable PS/2 cables!), so when I have money again I might pick one up on eBay just to be an absolute keyboard snob. It looks like you can get a messy looking one to clean up for a few bucks... which would kind of be a fun project.

The F-22 Pro and my box of DB-15 switches should arrive in the mail today, so I should have a little something to post about over winter break!
 

Youngblood

Rear Admiral
Ahhh the sidewinder game voice I think I may still have one I loved that thing used to plat Star Trek Bridge Commander with it all the time my Room mate would put up with me shouting "RED ALERT SHIELDS UP!" I think he hated me.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Merry Christmas from Bertha and Karga!
 

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Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Good morning everyone! I hope you all had a great holiday weekend.

Unfortunately, I did not: I came down with a stomach virus a few days back and spent the holidays in bed. I missed Christmas dinner and I feel like a real dope for sitting my family giving me awesome presents with a glassy-eyed expressionless look on my face.

I'm on the mend and back at work now, although the sum total of my solid food intake for the week consists of a McDonalds bagel sandwich I picked up about an hour ago... so we'll see how that goes.

Now, back in time a little...

As expected, the box of joystick switches and the ThrustMaster F-22 Pro arrived on Friday! The joystick is spectacular... I didn't know they made sticks this nice. It's HEAVY and TIGHT... I'm going to get giant arm muscles playing through the games again when this is all over. I can't wait for the TQS throttle to arrive for the full experience.

karga-f22.JPG


The switches, however, were a bust; it turns out you can't hot-swap joysticks because of the current. Luckily, *trying* it didn't fry my board... just made it stop working slightly. So that was a waste of money. Anybody want several DB-15 switches?

I also took another run at cleaning the desk and cleared another third of it (the center; it's a u-shaped desk and Karga is set up on the left side.) I still need to clear this incredibly nerdy bookshelf, but I did at least organize the front enough to position Karga's rear speakers so they're actually in my rear (sorry for the blurry picture):

karga-rears.JPG


So then, Christmas, which I was only barely cognizent of! My brother had a real live Mr. Kat made for me:

karga-mrkat.JPG


... and my mother got me... two more MasterPilots! I haven't had the energy to install them yet, but the setup is going to look SO COOL once they're in place:

karga-moremps.JPG


... and John, who you will all remember as the person who zapped Karga at Mythic in the first place, brought a very appropriate addition:

karga-ups.JPG


Finally, this arrived in the mail: the ADB-to-PS/2 converter. I need a Belkin Omniview KVM to use it. It sounds like Joe Garrity and I will head back to Woodbridge some weekend soon to dig one up!

karga-omniview.JPG


The TQS arrives on Tuesday! Make your peace.
 
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Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
It's truly amazing that years later you've managed to pick up probably near $2,000 in Thrustmaster equipment for a few hundred bucks.

The F-22 is a beast! It's the Italian supercar of 1990s joysticks. I'm pretty sure the WC sticksets for the F-22 and TQS setup run out of commands before they run out of buttons. The problem with the setup though is that compared to the F-22 the TQS feels like a toy. Depending on how you set it up, it can tend to flop around if you are moving the throttle position a lot (which tends to happen in WCP/SO). Otherwise, it's a solid piece of a equipment. You are going to love that final setup! It is definitely the best way experience Wing Commander.
 

Darkmage

Vice Admiral
$2k for the F-22 and TQS? that sounds a bit much considering you can get a HOTAS cougar for $200 or a HOTAS Warthog for $600-900.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
$2k for the F-22 and TQS? that sounds a bit much considering you can get a HOTAS cougar for $200 or a HOTAS Warthog for $600-900.

I think he means for all the Thrustmaster gear I've picked up over the course of this project, which is almost their full run of classsic pro flight gear.

Actually, I have the original price lists that came with a bunch of these so I can do the math...

TQS - $199.95
F22 - $219.95
FCLS - $199.95
PFCSS - $149.95
WCS2 - $149.95
RCS - $149.95
MFCS - $149.95
MWCS - $99.95 x 2
FCS - $99.95
Elite Pedals - $79.95

Which comes to $1600! I've probably paid about $200 for it all.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
I had a lot more energy when I got home from work last night, so I decided to go ahead and tackle the MasterPilots! So, without further ado... the whole setup, with three MasterPilot MFDs in place:

karga-manymp.JPG


Beautiful! I can't wait for the TQS to arrive (January 3.)

I don't think I'll have much to report until then, but I will dig out the real camera and take some nicer pictures of the setup for you this weekend.

Also, GOG sent me a Christmas card! Here it is:

karga-gog.JPG
 
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Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Oh yeah, they're super cool! Everyone who sees them is very impressed.

That said, they need a PS/2 or AT keyboard plug -- so a modern USB-only machine won't take a MasterPilot.
 

HotJob

Rear Admiral
Oh yeah, they're super cool! Everyone who sees them is very impressed.

That said, they need a PS/2 or AT keyboard plug -- so a modern USB-only machine won't take a MasterPilot.

I'M GOLDEN!!! My 3 Mhz Pentium 4 Still uses the PS/2 keyboard socket! Time to start shopping!

Er, did you said something about putting the overlay sheets online? Or do they come in the box?
 

Worf

Vice Admiral
PS/2 to USB adapters are extremely common.

There's even a bunch that work with the ORIGINAL IBM Model M keyboard (known to be fairly picky).

If you want to ensure the modern PC you get isn't legacy-free, you'll need to buy a business machine. My two work machines have docks with a full complement of ports and one of them was purchased a couple of months ago brand new.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Good morning everyone! I hope you missed me. After several weeks of being terribly and repeatedly sick I am finally on some fancy antibiotics that are making me able to Wing Commander with the best of them again.

The best news is that my recovery coincided with the arrival of the Thrustmaster TQS! As Dundradal promised, it is one heck of a throttle: just covered in crazy knobs and switches and buttons. Just learning to fly again is proving to be a fascinating experience.

Basically, there's a four-way switch that you use with one finger to control many extended cockpit features... and then a three-position slider you use to change the values on the four-way switch, for a total of twelve possible commands with two fingers. But many of the games support the other buttons, too... Wing Commander III, for example, lets you swap between different cockpit views by rotating the big radar wheel.

The TQS also has a built in mouse nub! You connect it with a separate serial cable and so can navigate menus and such without needing to switch to your mouse. I didn't have a serial cable on Friday, but one is on the way now...

To celebrate I've taken some "HD" photos of the setup. I don't want to make this thread even slower to load, so you can access them at this URL:

https://www.wcnews.com/loaf/photos/karga/hd/

(If you like looking at really detailed photos of junk piles, you are going to be so happy. The resolution is high enough that you can read all the little displays on the MasterPilots, or the signature on my baseball!)

Now of course this wouldn't be /this/ project if there weren't some crazy problem to overcome during the installation. And that was getting the TQS/F22 to program correctly. I had initially chained everything from my PS/2 keyboard connection in this order: PC-MasterPilot-MasterPilot-MasterPilot-F22-Keyboard. Unfortunately, the programming signal couldn't make it to the joystick--it would lock up in the 'finding' phase using both the DOS and Windows loaders.

I read in old usenet posts that having one MasterPilot and one MasterPilot programmer (which I don't have) could cause problems because of the power and the length the signal would have to travel to the joystick and that the solution was to swap things around until you got an order that worked for your system.

So next I tried: PC-MasterPilot-F22-MasterPilot-MasterPilot-Keyboard.

That was a bust, completely ran out of voltage before I got to the keyboard; it would barely pick up keystrokes or get stuck and repeat letters.

Finally I attempted: PC-MasterPilot-MasterPilot-F22-MasterPilot-Keyboard, which had the added bonus of removing a PS/2-AT converter that I had been using to plug the keyboard into the F22 (MasterPilots, oddly, have both AT and PS/2 holes.)

Bingo! Everything powers up correctly and the loaded can send sticksets to the F22/TQS correctly.

So... what's next?

I'm honestly not sure! The KVM switch arrives on Wednesday and I'll try to integrate that (not feeling positive with my power problems) so I can share the keyboard with the Mac and the PC. And then... I'm not sure! I need to think of some crazy new addition to shoot for, lest I get bored.

(Crazy new addition I won't be shooting for, but would love to see someone attempt: several Origin games--not Wing Commander games--actually support 1990s VR helmets. There are two models supported by System Shock, Wings of Glory and Shadowcaster. You need a free ISA slot, but it would be a heck of a cool thing ot read about. I bet the virtual cockpit in WOG is crazy cool with true headtracking. It's not for me because I only have one eye (and no ISA slots)... but I'd love to see someone do it.)

PS/2 to USB adapters are extremely common.

There's even a bunch that work with the ORIGINAL IBM Model M keyboard (known to be fairly picky).

I wonder if a standard PS/2-to-USB adapter would work with a MasterPilot? I know I have had problems with 'generic' USB adapters instead of ones designed for a particular product. (My keyboard is an IBM Model M! It is the best keyboard in God's universe.)

But: if you guys don't care about pure DOS gaming, a reasonable alternative to the MasterPilot would be the ThrustMaster Cougar MFD: http://www.amazon.com/MFD-Cougar-Multifunctional-Cockpit-Panel/dp/B002NUD40S

It's the same concept but for modern USB connections. And they're fully programmable and you get two in a pack! I've toyed with buying a set, but I'm trying to limit myself to just addons that are specifically designed to work with Wing Commander games. Otherwise I might go *crazy* ;)

Er, did you said something about putting the overlay sheets online? Or do they come in the box?

The overlays do come in the box, although I'd be more than happy to scan them as needed. There's also a piece of software, Fox Three, which will generate new ones for you to print out as needed!
 
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Marc

Commodore
good Lord, man. That's the setup I wanted growing up. Next thing you'll tell us you found a WWII fighter plane seat.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Well, you're all welcome to come over and play with it whenever you like!

(Now I need to build five more identical setups and we can have big Armada battles in my basement... :))
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
good Lord, man. That's the setup I wanted growing up. Next thing you'll tell us you found a WWII fighter plane seat.

Hahahaha we were actually telling LOAF in #wingnut that the one thing he's missing is a gaming chair built for flight sims. There aren't as many setups as there used to be in the 90s, but we found a few that looked alright. No vintage fighter seats though ;)
 
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