Elite Dangerous – Vacation time

Elite Dangerous is a seriously good looking game, but you know sometimes we’re in such a rush to get in and out of the stations that we never really stop to take in the sights and sounds of them.

So with a name like “Big Harry’s Monkey Hangout”, I figured this is a place to stop and take a tour. So here are my holiday snaps of the various parks and administrative centers.

Just arriving at Big Harry's and preparing for docking.
Just arriving at Big Harry’s and preparing for docking.
An impressive administrative centre.
An impressive administrative centre.
A picture from the tour bus.
A picture from the tour bus.

Nice place for a picnic.

Anothe park.
Anothe park.

Elite Dangerous, Control panel

Elite Dangerous, I love it as you might have gathered.

But while playing with a nice Hotas joystick and keyboard is great, I find it somewhat breaks the sense of immersion when you need to use the keyboard or joystick buttons to do things like engage your landing gear or deploy your cargo scoop.

What I needed I said to myself was a control panel, something with switches and buttons.
And there are a number of such things available, but I thought I’d have a go at making one for myself.

To that end I purchased a Teensy 3.5 micro-controller which would act as the brains for my panel. In particular one reason for taking this particular board was the presence of an SD card reader. This will allow me to store my key mappings on an SD card meaning I can easily change the functions of the switches without having to reprogram the controller.

The next major issue I had was finding a housing onto which I could mount the switches. And while a good number are available online, none really fitted the size (and price, yes I’m cheap) for what I had in mind. 

But where there is a will there’s a way. 
So using some spare MDF I had at home. I fabricated a housing to take the switches.

Count the holes, that’s twenty six of them. Six latch switches and twenty buttons.
That should cover me for most cases, anything else can be handled by the joystick.

A quick run of the plane and some sanding to take the edges off, followed by a quick spray of black paint.

Here you can see the tangle of wires connecting the switches to the micro-controller.
Don’t even try to solder these, spade connectors are the way to go.

I’ve not yet wired up the led’s for the buttons, so it’s going to become a lot more crowded in there soon. 

On the bottom you can see the micro-controller and SD card holding the mapping file I’m using, that’s a 8gb card holding a 1kb file. Memory has sure gotten cheap. 

Finally here’s the assembled panel, not perhaps as pretty as the commercial products. 
It works great and thanks to the configuration file is highly adaptable for use in both Elite and other simulators (looking at you Star Citizen).

Elite Dangerous – Generation Ship Lycaon

The recent Commanders expansion pack along with the introduction of multi-crews also saw the introduction of new mega-ships amongst which was a number of generation ship.

The first of these discovered was the derelict ship ‘Lycaon’ a ghost ship drifting on a solar systems edge. I decided to take a spin over and take a look for myself and see what the story behind this ship was.

I’ve included all the major points you need to hit in order to find this, along with story of what happened (there’s a spoiler warning before for those who like to see these things first hand).

Elite – Return to Lave

Back in 1984 if you where around to play Elite, your adventure started out on Lave station which orbited the planet Lave. Which as we all know “is most famous for its vast rain forests and the Lavian tree grub.”

Fast forward to 2017 and I’m once again in the Lave vicinity reminiscing about the old days of knocking about the Lave, Leesti and Riedquat systems. So with that in mind I kicked off the old Beeb emulator and got a side by side comparison view of the station.

The lush beauty of Lave as seen from space.

Lave, circa 1984
Lave, circa 1984
Lave, circa 2017
Lave, circa 2017
Lave, tourist information
Lave, tourist information

What’s behind the Asp cockpit door ?

I’m a big Elite fan and if you’ve ever used either the external camera or are fortunate enough to own a VR headset you will have noticed there is a visible door behind you on a number of ships.

So naturally you get to wondering what’s behind said door, so I decided to take a look.

You’d be surprised at the amount of room you need to work back the distance of a Asp cockpit. I’ll not be trying this in an Anaconda anytime soon.