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Posts: 4
Hi. I am new here and have a very exciting project we want to both share and get help with from this amazing community.

This is a Widebody simulator project at my local aviation collection, Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, in Salisbury, South England.

From what we can gather it was donated to the collection from Qinetiq, themselves having received it from Farnborough. That’s it that’s pretty much all we know for sure. A little speculation however…. It says BEDFORD on the body, probably because RAE Bedford was behind it originally. We therefore suspect that it was then moved to Boscombe Down, where Qinetiq are based, who had no use for it so we got it here as a part of their heritage collection.

RAE Bedford was a research site of the Royal Aircraft Establishment between 1946 and 1994. It was located near the village of Thurleigh, north of the town of Bedford in England and was the site of aircraft experimental development work.

Starting in 1946, construction work began to turn the wartime RAF airfield into what became known as the Royal Aeronautical Establishment, Bedford. The runway was extended in the post-war period to accommodate the Bristol Brabazon aircraft, which required a very long runway but which never went into production. A lot of the development for what became the Harrier was done here, one early version became known as the 'Flying Bedstead'. Also Thurleigh had a catapult runway and it was here that the 'ski jump' later fitted to some aircraft carriers was also developed.

The wind tunnel provision consisted essentially of four large high-quality research facilities, which would allow the testing of aircraft configurations and components at speeds from around eighty miles per hour up to a Mach number of 5, or five times the speed of sound. These were (in order of completion) the 3x3 supersonic tunnel, the 13x9 low speed tunnel, the 8x8 supersonic tunnel, and the 3x4 high supersonic speed tunnel (HSST).

The airfield was closed in 1997 with the RAE having become the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). DERA consolidated its experimental flying operations at Boscombe Down, moving aircraft from Farnborough as well as Bedford.

The wind tunnel site is now the Twinwoods Business Park and some of the buildings are in commercial use. Red Bull Racing use one and Body Flight use a vertical wind tunnel for a free fall simulator. Another building is the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre.

So back on track, from what I can see this is a project that has been through many hands and has never been completed. I joined with the aim to get the simulators in the collection up and running. We have 5 I believe, and none are operational to visitors, something we will change asap.

Ok so the widebody is a beast with a massive steel platform covered in a fiberglass shell. Rumour has it it was based on an Airbus originally however as so much has been changed I am sure it will not resemble the original aircraft at all in its present state.

She has side by side seats with a pair of 42” Panasonic displays . She has a pair of CH Product yokes attached to some very nice stands , and thrustmaster pedals . She also has had some considerable engineering to the aircraft throttle box with linkage arms fabricated to move sliding potentiometers . So far so good. We have this interesting contraption , it appears to be 3 small tft displays in a housing. Investigation as to where this is designed to rest is ongoing. This is the reverse with these connectors We are not sure what the USB connectors are for.

There is a Windows 10 PC with some modest specs, Intel Pentium Gold G5400 3.7ghz with 8gb RAM, 1TB storage, GeForce gtx 1060. This may be on the slow side, RAM definitely needs bosting for a start, as we will be running dual displays and potentially the displays on the mystery instrument panel box. Currently we have a password discrepancy, we don’t know it, so it presents us with the opportunity to have a nice clean start. Windows7 seems like a good fit, as long as our chosen sim software runs on it. The machine will not be networked outside of installation mitigating the need for someone to keep things maintained on that side.

When the nose access panel is removed we get to the electricals. It appears we have some sort of IO board. We even seem to have some labels! This is where we suspect we need to look at upgrading to a neater solution to aid in maintenance of this sim. Whilst we are not familiar with IO systems both Arduino and Raspberry Pi are in our sphere of experience. This is where the mobiflight system comes in! We have a small surround sound system also however I suspect decent headphones would add more realism.

OK so what is the plan. Well we need to get it working! It currently has software issues and as such the PC will be wiped and a clean install of windows and whatever sim software is most suitable. This is not a combat aircraft, unlike our other sims, and therefore we want something as realistic as possible using military aircraft we have in our collection. Leaning towards X-Plane for it’s ease of added skins, we could even skin our own exhibits for the simulator. This is where the community comes in. What should we run, cost is a massive factor for a small museum collection obviously but we have a large simulator crying out for a decent system to be set up.
2022-01-31 13:57