SimWareKits GNS 530 Kit
REVIEWED BY: FRed Baron | DATED: 04/28/2018
WHAT WE TESTED
Building of the kit. Integration into X-Plane. Scalability of the .STL files.
HOW WE TESTED
Print, assemble and wire the complete kit. Used in conjunction with Reality XP GNS 530. Test flown in X-Plane 11 stock Cessna 172.
We printed out the parts downloaded from Simware which were ready for our slicer of choice, Simplify3d, using suggested print orientation, no supports necessary. We used black PLA on our self-built, large format Folgertech FT-5, and had a few runs of all the parts ready in little more than an hour and a half. The instruction manual includes a section on optionally finishing the printed surfaces with Bondo™ putty and light sanding. Follow that with prime and couple coats of paint. Process finishing is completely optional and subject to personal preference. In our case, we rather liked the look of the 3D printed surface and chose to forego the process. We had the not-uncommon experience of an extended wait for the monitor, as the order was placed around the Chinese New Year. The package was received in good working order after about a month, although the box was slightly damaged. The purchase links to the recommended monitor models are in the .PDF to assure appropriate specs for this application. As we all know, not all 5″ monitors are created equal. An Arduino mega is also needed to drive the ArdSimX setup. Here at the Lab we always keep extra Arduinos on inventory. With all the necessary components on hand, including printing, built time varies depending on skill levels. An average-experience maker could print, assemble and wire the complete kit in a day, possibly a long afternoon for the more advanced. The build went smoothly thanks to the concise step-by-step .PDF. The first step was the assembling of the 3d printed bezels and buttons with cyanoacrylate (super-glue) and accelerator, then it was on to soldering components on the included PCB. Install the high quality dual-concentric encoders and apply the decals. The white lettering on clear background is a good compromise of look, function and ease of application. Mounting frame is included in the .STL download and the hardware in the box. The template can be used to mark a cut in the cockpit builder’s dashboard, after cutting use the hardware and printed brackets to mount. Alternatively for the desktop pilot, a link is provided on the website to a user-designed standalone housing on Thingiverse. Integration into X-Plane was straightforward. Download and install the ArdSim X plugin in the plugins directory. Replace the default Data.cfg with the simware Data.cfg version, downloaded from Simwarekits. The last “installation” task is to load the ArdSimX basic sketch to the Arduino. Fire up X-Plane version of choice (we tested on 11). Once in the cockpit, the buttons should be ready to go thanks to the functionality provided by ArdSimX, pop-out, drag and drop GPS [also of preference, Default or Third-Party] and the avionic is ready to fly. Thanks to X-Plane 11, the monitor position is remembered each time. Button tactile feel and response is great and delivers satisfying “clicks” upon twisting. A few shipping setbacks aside, none of which were the fault of SimWare, we really enjoyed the printing, building, and testing of this GNS unit. This is a great addition to anyone’s flight simulator and contributes to make it even more realistic. Additionally, for those who use their simulator as an actual training tool, this will allow to go deep into the software, build understanding and really learn this very capable navigation and communication equipment.