As you all know there are some light GA planes out there (like the VL-3 in MSFS) without an autopilot panel.
You CAN still use the autopilot in these planes but its a bit clunky because you will be using keyboard commands only.
I was thinking a universal autopilot popup panel like would make things much easier when we fly such planes. It would appear in the drop-down tool bar (where the icons for Camera/Weather/Active Pause etc are). I was looking for one on flightsim.to but didn’t see any but maybe I missed it. Does a mod like this already exist out there?
I made this quickly in MS Paint to help illustrate what I’m talking about.
For me, I use the Logitech Multi Panel shown above, but this has been superceded by the Streamdeck which is a true delight. It might cost a little bit but is one of my most prized possessions and it does so much more as well, both within the sim and elsewhere. I also have a Honeycomb Bravo, but it is eclipsed by the other two pieces of hardware and have never used it. The autopilot is such a central part of the sim that any improvements and from anywhere, will be one of the best investments that you can make.
A universal auto pilot also needs the aircraft to be setup to use auto pilot.
In the systems.cfg for each aircraft there is an [AUTOPILOT] section and the first line is autopilot_available = 0 or 1. 0 is no Autopilot available so autopilot commands simply will not work. You can set it to 1 to get autopilot key commands to work but then you’re hoping that the other parameters have been set correctly.
Also some aircraft can be “fudged” to have a fake autopilot but it may not necessarily behave well. For example the Fiat G91 when used with fake altitude hold does actually hold altitude well, but develops quite a significant nose shimmer/shake.
I like the feel of a real switch too. But I also use Air Manager and 15" touch screens. The advantage of it is I can program and label my own custom panels. It would take me less then an hour to program the panel you show in your pic. I could also make custom ones for each aircraft, that load automatically when I switch planes. You can also get a knobster for dialing things in.
I wish this is where I had started instead of filling my desk with hardware panels.
I’m going to have to get into that Air Manager thing and I also have a plan to throw together a couple of “button boxes” in the future.
In the meantime I have a stream deck and a couple of Koolertron programmable keyboards and they all work very nicely together with the rest of my kit.
For basic AP that pretty much works with anything that’s AP capable you just need to identify the core functions and map those somewhere sensible (my Stream deck for example)
Alt Up / Alt Down
HDG left / HDF right
Cycle AP mode
(Note, the terms above are not the exact ones listed in the sim control config but that list seems just about right for the minimum number of functions I have mapped. - with that core of basic controls I can pretty much use the AP on any aircraft to get myself stable and on my way without ever having to fumble about with mouse/cursor and clickable cockpit stuff.)
As long as you edit the .cfg noted above the VL3 autopilot will work very nicely.
GPS, HDG, alt Hold, VS all good.
I have heard a lot about these Streamdecks and I will look into these, thanks for mentioning them!
I have got the AP working on the VL-3 and see what you mean. The basic functions work perfectly but it refuses to follow the GPS course line but thats not a big deal!
I’ve never considered a hardware panel before due to lack of space but I can now see that its possible to get small units, no need for big bulky things.
That is a great set up you got there! How nice not to constantly reach for the mouse to change a setting. Must be a great increase to immersion.
I just did this thank you, works perfectly. It does not follow the GPS course but since I will only be doing short flights this is not a big deal. I have LittleNavMap on a second monitor and its easy to nudge the HDG to follow the planned course line.
Yeah, it’s great to have a realistic layout where I can activate controls with a tap on the screen or a twist of my Knobster instead of using a mouse. To me, there’s nothing that kills immersion more than using a mouse to do stuff in the cockpit. It’s been my goal from the start to exterminate the mice from mycockpit!