Custom:

Boeing / FCS

MDT

What's an FCS MDT? If you guessed the military had something to do with it, you're right. It stands for "Future Combat Systems Mobile Demonstration Trailer", and back in 2006, Boeing had us fill one of them up with simulators.

The goal was simpler than the acronym: The (ill-fated) Future Combat Systems program was about providing soldiers with superior communication and command/control ability in combat. For example, a tank commander could not only attack a target himself, but could also call in fire from other positions.

Our part in this was to help create an immersive and convincing experience showing how a vehicle commander could utilize these communication abilities.

Three pairs of simulators were installed in a trailer — sorry, MDT — with a driver and gunner in each pair. Since each pair represented a single vehicle, their motions were synchronized.

We heavily customized these machines to meet Boeing's specific requirements. It turns out that a suede racing steering wheel is a bit out of place in an armored combat vehicle, so we designed and built a custom 'Cadillac' yoke (which rotates fore and aft as well as in the expected way) for control.

We also made custom throttle and brake pedals, switched from a projector to a single 24" monitor flanked by two 19" touch screens, and added jacks for headphones.

To enable easier entrance and exit of the machines given their close proximity and swept-back side screens, the side screens were hinged.

Additionally, to keep technical work practical in a tightly-packed environment, we also moved most of the audio/video, I/O, and controller functions to separate breakout boxes. And we provided a customized version of our control software that integrated with the main simulation software (designed by Creative Technologies).

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