I am an enterprise software developer who lives in Columbus Ohio. Over the last three years I've developed the madness which is a cockpit building hobby. I live with my very supportive wife and two daughters who have no idea how strange it is to have the strange things we do in the basement. I've created this website to catalog the things I learn and share the tools and information I've gained as well as support all the users of the Helios software.
How did it all begin?
As you can imagine since I'm outnumbered three to one I have my retreat activities. This traditionally was playing FPS shooters or MMORPGs online. When ARMA 2 came out me and several friends started playing regularly. I started piloting the Helicopter to get us to the mission locations, which triggered me to dig out my old X45 joystick. After a few weeks I became frustrated with moving my keyboard out of the way for the joystick. This lead me to build a little surround for my seat to hold the throttle and joystick. I enjoyed flying the helicopter enough I picked up a copy of BlackShark to try it out while I was at Microcenter the next time. I was immediatly hooked on it. This precipitated a move of my computer to the basement along with expanding my surround to include a custom table build. I also began lowering the seat to feel more like a real cockpit.
Enter TouchPal and then Helios
While learning how to startup and fly the shark I ran across a faitful post on the eagle forums entitled "Black Shark Nirvana with TouchBuddy". This showed an image of an incredible looking touch screen control for all those fiddly switches. I immediatley started scouring ebay for a cheap touchscreen monitor. Luckly I was able to in short order find a 15" touch screen locally for only $50. The next day I picked it up and got touchbuddy installed. While the setup floored me, I was frustrated by some of the limitation and the inability to get switch state from the simulation. I started working on a replacement which allow me to do everything I wanted. This lead to the release of TouchPal which was a replacement for TouchBuddy which actually read values from DCS and appropraitly changed state on the screen. This was great for watching tracks and learning. In addition you never had to worry about the sim getting out of sync. This also lead to an escalation of my home cockpit. I evolved it to incorporate two more of the touch screens and a Logitech G940 setup I eagerly purchased for the forcefeedback, and latter regretted. This lead to expanding TouchPal to incorporate multiple windows. It was about this time that Flim from SCSimulations reached out to me. He was selling MDF F16 cockpit kits and wanted to design a touchscreen cockpit around software like TouchPal. We started talking and that lead to the work on Helios, which took TouchPal to the next level. In order for this to be used more generally a WYSIWYG editor needed to be developed. We also desired it to be usable across multiple simulations which meant a plug-in architecture must be added. Since Flim and the rest of the SCSimulations crew where mostly F16 fans it made since to work on OpenFalcon and F-16 pit first. While Flim designed the mounts I set about adding gauge rendering to Helios. Helios was finally released in January of 2011, representing almost a year and a half of intense development time. Flim also launched the UMC cockpit which had mounts for the Cougar, HOTAS Warthog and touch screens along with a replicate ACES II seat. This was a fun time and saw many new friendships form and I believe added significant fun to hundreds of sim pilots. Unfortunatley both Flim and I started to burn out. It was obvious at this point there was not enough of a market for these type of products to make a living for our families and neither of us turely wanted a second full time job. This saw Helios moving to donationware from paid software in Apirl of 2011 along with the disolution of the SCSimulations store. At the end of this journey my cockpit now looked like this.
I want to say thanks to Flim and all of the early Helios supports, especially those who paid for it in the early days. With out you Helios nor my cockpit building obsession would exist. Gadroc's Workshop is now here to help me document my construction of a full physical A-10C pit and expand Helios's capabilities.