The Black Shark is the very first module of the flight sim that later became DCS:World. Eleven years later, we have the same cockpit, marginally updated but fundamentally still the same.
These are some screenshots from a guide I wrote in June 2010. My potato PC couldn’t handle the multiplayer so the textures were set to the lowest possible settings, same for the view range.
That’s the 104th’s server, more than nine years ago.
Back to the present and looking to the future, the new re-modelled cockpit is still Work In Progress. Unfortunately since the DCS engine overhaul, we are stuck with buttons backlighting issues, bad readability in certain light and night-time conditions. There are mods that help but none of them provide the readability of the old Black Shark.
Therefore, the purpose of this TFT is showing the information provided by the avionics that, in real life, would be accessible by quick look.
On top of that, I added some QOL features such as a Cross-Feed fuel valve indicator that warns me as the fuel level gets lower than a certain threshold. It also reminds me of the status of the external fuel tanks and relative pumps.
Other useful features are the SPU-9 for the radio and the UGM8 setting, in case multiple rocket types are loaded. The SPU-9 in real life is clearly visible and its position can be assessed by touching the knob, something that of course cannot be done in front of a monitor.
This is a short demo of the TFT in action. I am terribly rusted as you can see (I wanted to land in a fancy way but failed miserably.. ). Anyway, the goal was showing how it works, so I did some hard manoeuvres in order to have different values on the VVI and the altimeter, plus a brief engagement with 9K121 and S-8.
I recorded the TFT by means of a webcam, the quality is low unfortunately since it’s not really made for that purpose.
This TFT is based on Arduino Uno and it’s interfaced with DCS by means of DCS-BIOS. The hardware is very affordable, less than 15£ (full price on Amazon UK) everything included: TFT, Arduino Uno board, libraries and so on. The TFT comes with a pre-soldered pin strip so is de facto plug an play.
Therefore, if you want to learn something new and create something cool and useful for your pit, a TFT such as mine is a great option.
I briefly mention how to set up and start using DCS-BIOS in this article; for everything else, feel free to ask me.
Next step is probably something for the RIO seat of the F-14B. Probably a sort of “WCS add-on” that provides a manual antenna elevation setting depending on the range and the altitude of a hooked target.