NFL? Flight simulation? How do they fit together? Meet Brian Dressel, AFSBI Member 1324. Brian is the mastermind behind M1 Interactive, a thriving entertainment company and its off-shoot M1 Sims. He and M1 are all about displays (very large video walls), interactive design, motion/face tracking, software development, and custom electronics that suit any project needs. “My grandfather was a TV repairman in the ‘70s and he and my Dad taught me electronics basics and how not to get electrocuted while fixing stuff.”
Brian’s background is in the entertainment industry and now he creates permanent exhibit designs with a heavy focus on technology. For a recent interactive NFL installation, M1 built a complex display where people could touch one of 32 NFL helmets on a wall, each representing a player, and activate a force feedback mechanism inside which shook it while a video about that player was displayed on screen. Brian says: “This is a good representation of the kind of things we do and what I brought into the simulator.”
Flight Sim Builds for Real World Training
When he’s not creating awesome electronic displays, Brian is a student pilot (he’s shooting to get his certificate soon) and an avid sim builder. His M1Sim website tagline is aptly named: Flight Sim Builds for Real World Training. Brian’s sim is a Diamond DA20 replica and sits on a 6DOF motion platform, with three 50” displays around it, driven by 2x1080ti, on X-Plane 11. “The motion really adds realism,” he says, “it shakes you while flying in turbulence and can really be extreme in pitching and rolling. Your body feels it, when you pull up you really feel the sense of gravity.” His site has a lot of really good info on using Arduino creatively, including sketches to build things like an elevator trim LED bar indicator, tips for ArdsimX and a lot more. Real fun to visit and it’s so nice that he shares it all.
“I never stop learning, I watch a lot of YouTube videos. Every day there is something new to learn, something I didn’t know.” Like many, Brian feels more and more excited using new technology, creating his own, or contribute to what others build. That’s the spirit, and Brian reflects it all. “We have a CNC and laser cutter so I spend a lot of time designing and cutting instrument panels. I recently learned some new workflows, such as starting with white acrylic, painting it black and laser etching the lettering and lines out”. Brian has built plenty of small panels like Trim indicators, annunciators, switch panels and landing gear controls and rewired many of the off-the-shelf components to fit better within his sim”.
Favorite sim show: I/ITSEC in Orlando. “It’s crazy, lots of technology, mostly from military suppliers, bringing the latest in simulation software and hardware. Much today is about VR and the impact it’s having on simulation. You can really touch something, play with the control. I saw an F16 there that was entirely managed through a unique combination of AR & VR inside of an actual cockpit. It’s amazing”
Plans for the future
“I would like to take this to the next level, perhaps make and sell some products. At my company, we do have the facilities to build stuff and I really love how simulation brings so many of the things we already do together.” A worthy endeavor, after all, many of the commercial sims we see today were born in a garage, made by people who had a passion for flying and tinkering.
PS. We discussed the possibility to organize an AFSBI weekend for members to be able to visit a fellow members’ sim. “I could take my sim to the studio, it would be great to spend a day or so talking about it and making it happen for others.” Well, we are open to that possibility and will see where and when would be convenient for some of our members to meet. AFSBI is planning a series of simulator workshops, so perhaps we could join these two things, informally first and see where that would take us.
In the meantime, a big thank you to Brian and best wishes for continuing his (many) exciting activities.