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Author Topic: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit  (Read 20993 times)

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kahlid74

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Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« on: March 27, 2013, 12:00:36 pm »
I've had a few threads in the wild about this but I decided I guess I should make one out here for it anyways.  Back in the 90's My step-brother took me to Virtual World in Chicago.  Virtual World was a division of FASA and an on premise Virtual Reality site where you could play Battletech in a 4 player free for all and later 8 player.  The Chicago site was at navy pier.  It was awesome and one of those things that stuck with since.  As I got out of college and got into arcade machines in 2003/4 I said I would love to build one of the pods for my playing enjoyment.  Time went on and I never really had the location or tools or time to complete my vision.

In 2006 I reached out to the guy who had the last 3.0 pods in existence.  His handle was Green Day and he lived in the surrounding LA area.  I went out for a weekend and relived the 90's in all it's Battletech glory.  I took lots of pictures and measurements and was inspired to build my own with a little twist of course.  When I got back home things didn't change much, since I was living in an apartment and all my tools were boxed up at my parents house.  Fast forward to 2011 we bought a house, I got a big section of the basement unfinished and I setup my shop.  I finished a cabinet for a friend and then went to work earnestly on the Battletech POD.

Greenday in his POD Bay:


At this point I'm about 85% done with the POD.  Through trials and tribulations I've changed how I was going to use doors and I've come to a place where the inside is useable from a play perspective.  Last night I performed the cardinal sin of putting the computer/monitors and controls in it and played a few rounds of MWO.  It was awesome.  I see a bunch of areas I want to improve and I'm even more inspired to finish the panels now.

Lets start from the beginning:
Here's some pictures of the Virtual World 3.0 pods, the one mine is modeled after:







Issues right off the bat:
The dimensions for the pod were two 4x4x4 sections.  The door frames in our house are roughly a little bigger than 36" without the molding.  If I built this thing at 4x4x4 sections It would never leave the house.  Not a huge issue because I don't plan to ever leave this house, but if it ever happens, it would be a good idea to at least make it so I could try to get it out.  So I changed the dimensions to 4x3x4.

The section where the monitor was housed also housed a massive chassis and backplane board where four motherboards resided.  Two for graphics and two for Processing/Network.  Since my computer would be significantly smaller than those and I would use LCD screens I decided to shrink the back to 3x3x4 (l*w*h).  With these new dimensions I was ready to roll.  Here is the original Sketch-Up drawing of the two parts.  I never went back and modified it for the smaller dimensions as I just kind of eyeballed it as I went (somethind that always screws me over in the end).


My first build for this was:
  • 5.1 surround sound
  • Interchangeable joystick/Throttle with keypad/mouse (I wanted to play other PC games in the pod too
  • Control panels with switches and buttons for Mech Combat with descriptions that were backlit
  • Three Screens that used a mechanical component to come towards the player once the doors were closed
  • Comfortable seat where I could game for an hour or two (maybe more if I was feeling lazy)
  • Automatic Opening doors
  • Keypad locked entry on the side
  • LCD screen to display the Mechwarriors name while in the POD
  • Airflor inside the pod (temperature monitor/control if possible
  • Moveable seat forward/back for others besides me
  • Main screen/s for playing and lower screen for out of game info (Teamspeak/radar/etc.)
  • Fixed sturdy base but also Mobile
  • Cool carpeted floor like the old pods
  • Leather arm rests like old pods
  • Internal Immersion like the vulture pod (http://simhq.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/3151112/all/Mechwarrior_Cockpit.html)

I play competitively in MWO with a mercenary unit, so using these buttons wouldn't be practical in those situations but for all other purposes they would give me the immersion that I was craving.

I decided to build the back section first, where I would sit.  I went with 19/32 plywood since I wanted stronger than 1/2" but lighter than 3/4".  19/32" felt like a great fit stability to weight ratio.

Let's build a base:
I used 2x4's for the base, from home depot.  Never really got flat ones so it was kind of warped but it's something I learned and will make a note of it for the future.  I used Wood glue, 2" deck screws and 15 gauge nails to secure it.  I cut the corners to 45 degrees.  My miter saw from start to end must be off by a few degrees which caused anguish, but I made it work.  I put some standoffs I got from Amazon on the sides.  They use a hectagon drill bit to extend.  I went with these because they have a lip of metal that goes under the base, which I thought would be important for supporting the weight inside when sitting.  I also put some 150Lbs casters under the bottom with the rear being swivel an the front being fixed.






Added Support:


Added firing strips for the frame build:



Rear sides frame:
I took a page from furniture makers and marked all the sides with a letter so I could remember where I wanted them to go.  I cut the sides with a circular saw and then finished with a jig saw.  I was going to use a router but I wanted sharp corners not rounded so I decided the jig/circular saw would work the best.  I used wood glue, brad nails and 1 and 5/8" star screws to secure the sides.  The process I did was the following since I didn't have anyone else to help me hold sides:
  • Measure 19/32" from the side, make a mark
  • line up firring strips to 19/32" line in
  • Dry fit for flat lay
  • Spread glue on firring strip with spatula
  • Put firring strip in place
  • Use brad nailer with 1" nails to secure firring strip to surface (firring strips were roughly 3/4" thick
  • Drill holes for screws, two for each surface
  • Counter sink the top of each drill hole a bit for an even screw residing
  • Added screws to firmly secure sides
This process worked really well for me.  In the past I had firring strips shift when drilling and I would always get screwed in the end.  With the brad nails they stayed put long enough to get screws in the secure them tight.  If you follow this process Brad nails are NOT acceptable for load.  Always use screws or 15ga or lower.  16 ga and higher nails are not recomended for load.





You can see how the screws were longer than the sides + firring strips.  I left these screws as I didn't feel like going back with my dremel and either cutting them off or replacing them with 1 inch screws.  I couldn't find star bit 1" screws, only 1 and 5/8 as the shortest so I went with what I had.

Attached the top and put a chair in to show dimensions and sit down in it.  I needed inspiration!



Building the inside:
Since the width of the POD was shrunk to 3 feet from 4, i had to think about the internal dimensions.  the arms would be important to maintain their width since it was relative to joystick/mouse.  I decided to reduce them in the end by about 1 inch and see how it worked out.  I was pleased with how it came out.




Seat time:
At this point I was ready to do the arms but I didn't feel comfortable with their width until I get a seat.  I struggled and toiled and thought about buying a racing car seat for 300 bucks online or ebay and in the end I said no.  I went to a local junkyard about 20 minutes from my house.  Thankfully it was summer.  I walked around the entire place and the state of seats and condition was just sad, and left me in a quandary.  As I was walking out I saw it, a 1970's GMC Conversion van retrofitted by a painter.  It wasn't in the main lot but instead right in front of the dudes office.  I went up to it and the passenger bucket seat was dirty and beautiful.  Without hesitation I bought it.  It was the best $25 bucks I ever spent.

I wanted to go with a car seat because they had the built in forward/backwards movement for adjustability.  I thought about an automatic seat but realized the AMP draw on it could be large and all of the ones they had were in horrible condition, so I went manual.
Seat in my wife's small accord:


DIRTY!  I made a thread here and got great advice.  I used purple power and 30 minutes of elbow grease.  Then i used car/vinyl Durapaint to paint it black.






Seat Base
I was really in the dark here and had no idea what to do.  I decided I would use 2x4's length wise and then attached a 19/32" plywood to it.  The mobile base of the seat are screws so I drilled through the 19/32" plywood for the four screws.  I then routed about 9/32" from the bottom and I can bolt two of the screws in.  It doesn't really move without it but I was like wth, why not.




Arms Frame:
So I cut the Plywood arm frames out and then dry fit them against the seat.  I wanted to be sure the dimensions would work.  That it wouldn't feel to crowded or un-useable.  In the end it felt like it would work so I put it together.




Finished:







Air flow and putty
I decided I would install two 200mm fans in the rear to push air into the pod.  This would create a wind effect past my head and would work to cool my head, which should work to cool the body.  I then putty'd the sucker and got ready for painting.





As always I learn everything after the fact.  I used Bondo and half way through sanding with my mouse/orbital/belt I was like "Oy vey you moron, get your safety glasses on, your gas mask on and your air purifier going!  More often than not, I'm a dolt.


Rear Section Paint:
I didn't want to paint it black, but wanted something that felt warm and natural.  I chose "Wild Stallion" grey.  For me, the first thing that sticks out is always the one it is.  It was the first color I gravitated towards.  I used an Oil based Primer.  Super thick, has to be applied with a roller and absorbs really well.  Also smells HORRIBLY bad.  The smell was in the house for days.  I got yelled at quite a bit by the wife.  I now have charcoal filters for my air purified that take care of the fumes for future primer sessions.

The primer dried in 24 hours, second coat applied, house fumigated by opening lots of windows.  Yay for Wisconsin winters and all windows/doors open.  Poor furnace.  Once the second coat dried I applied the first coat of latex grey.  I used my paint gun.  The coat was fantastic.  there were a few areas where it added up, but overall it was the bomb.  The thing about Latex is that it can take up to a week to dry.  The undercoats stay liquid a long time.  This is a mistake many people make with it.  The object needs to not be touched/bumped for 5-7 days for the coat to settle.  Once settled, I applied a second coat.





Rear Air flow assembly box
Here's the assembly of some Oak hardwood I cut/routed to be a fan box for the outside of the box with a metal grate.  I used armored electrical wiring because I wanted it to look immersion-ish coming around the side.  Thought it would be something cool.


From the inside:


Rear Speakers
So I had a Creative Labs Gigaworks 5.1 sound system with 270 watt's of power and a 220 watt subwoofer.  I decided I would use these as the sound system.  I took apart the speakers and found they had a tweeter, mini sub and control/amp board.  I disassembled then and dented the dome of the tweeters in the first picture.  I bought two more speakers off ebay to get new tweeters (like $20 for the pair.  30 with shipping).  I was very careful from this point forward but when I did the center channel I dented it's dome too.  So I was 4/7 with them.

The slots on the front wood are for the original creative covers.  I reused them for nostalgia and they worked pretty well.  I decided not to primer the wood because I wanted a wood grain feel to them.  After the fact now I kind of wish I primed them but it is what it is.  Wood blow off from drill holes isn't an issue because the speaker cover hides them all.








Arm rests
So in the arm rests, I used a 8x4 sheet of 19/32" plywood.  I used some cloth stuffing and then bound leather over it.  I then used my stable gun to secure it.  Once secure I drilled sunken screw bits so they could be attached to the arms.  I'll try to find these pictures


So the rear section is now in the bag, time for the front.  I'll post the front and the challenges I faced with that in a few days.

Constructive criticism is ALWAYS welcome.  I'm not an expert at anything and my wood working skills are embarrassing.  I take a lot of short cuts because I just don't see the sense in taking so much time to do something until after the fact.  It's a vice I have, it burns me a lot and I work really hard to try and handle it.  I've also learned a lot building this project and I feel like I keep getting better every day when it comes to building.







chopperthedog

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2013, 02:17:24 pm »
Neat build  :applaud: Battletech was fun bitd. I seem to remember it being at north pier (a mall couple blocks west of navy pier)  :dunno


good day.

kahlid74

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2013, 03:18:22 pm »
Neat build  :applaud: Battletech was fun bitd. I seem to remember it being at north pier (a mall couple blocks west of navy pier)  :dunno


good day.

Gah!  you're right.  My memory is horrible.  Damn 90's robbing my brain of precious resources.

dandro

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2013, 03:37:05 pm »
oh man, this is neat!!!!! sub'd I remember playing Battletech in the day....

Warborg

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2013, 03:13:10 pm »
This is a killer project, I've wanted to do something like this for a while with interchangeable flight and driving controls, I've waffled between mech or starfighter type simpits...  I've got a Logitech MOMO steering wheel and Saitek X-52 flight gear to put in just sitting in my closet just waiting for a chance to be used...   :)

Do you have any more detailed/larger/higher res pictures for the pod controls and interior perchance?

MD Draco

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2013, 03:39:15 pm »
Oh Good Grief YES!!! Back when I was living in the UK (to young to have gone elsewhere at that point) I remember they had one virtual world in the country in London, and I kept trying to get enough friends together to go there, but somehow it never happened... Methinks this is possibly the greatest project to grace my eyes! Battletech books are what got me into reading, Battletech was what got me into board games, and Mechwarrior II was what got me into simulation games! Heck, I was even ranked third in the Battletech card game in the UK, and when Dark Age came out (when Wizkids has the license) I even played that too! Battletech has ever been one of the more fun sci-fi branches in my opinion!!

I only wish there was enough room for me to build one of these following your example, but for now; I shall have to live vicariously through your build... That, and I think this is a bit beyond me, as I'm really only just learning how to do the wood work required to build cabs!!

Looking forward to seeing your progress :) This is dedication!

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2013, 04:11:16 pm »
not to knock your woodwork, because its really good but......wow, that seat looks fantastic!
If you are helping someone and expecting something in return, you are doing business not kindness.

pal251

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2013, 11:00:44 pm »
You are my hero


I've always wanted to build one of those cockpits

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2


kahlid74

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2013, 12:05:15 pm »
Thanks for the kind words gents.  So on with the pictures and build.

Continuing the build at the front
So originally, if you look back to my first functional requirements I said I wanted to use three monitors.  This was for a few reasons.  I hit up Russ Bullock on twitter when MWO was in it's Friends and family stage and he re-iterated that they would fully support three monitors albeit not right away.  So I purchased two more Acer 23" monitors to go with one I currently had ( no longer made so I found them on ebay for 90 a monitor).  I then had to figure out how to get three monitors inside the cabinet.

By shrinking the cabinet from 4 to 3 feet in width I effectively took away a lot of working room I might have otherwise had.  I got the mount (Fast Track triple screen) and made a mock up using the exact size of bezels cut into cardboard.  What I discovered was very disheartening.  The below pictures are ~34" in width when laid together.  Doing the math a 24" monitor leaves 10"(wood at 19/32" on each side remove ~1.5") on both sides, which means I have 6" on each side to go from one side of the monitor to the other.  The angle was just brutal.





You'll also see the arms stick out "past" the sides which wouldn't work since the wood would prevent them going out that far.  This issue wasn't a concern because FastTrack had shorter arms but ugh, the angle is just ouch.


Then I played MWO with three monitors and was blown away at it's poor implementation.  Both side monitors field of V was like 30-50 percent and all side menus skewed to huge ugly proportions.  I've seen more recent photos and it looks a lot better but at the time I was like ugh, this just won't work.  I played Max Payne 3 and ME3 and they both were enjoyable on three monitors but then I started reading about three monitors, and the experience.

Our brains can only really process/look at one thing at a time.  Peripheral vision exists but if I was going to make three monitors work, I would have to blow out the front beyond 3 feet with width and it would then no longer be a VR3.0 pod, but more like something else all together which is fine, to each their own.

So I Scraped the three monitor Idea and went back to one monitor.  Now to find a size.  27" 1920x1080 monitors are in the 150-300 range and are nice, but at 27" and large, you gotta go with 2560x1440/1600.  So I started looking at 27" that support that.  Welcome to the 700 dollar club.  At that price, why not just go big and roll 30".  Then I discovered the Achilles heel of 27/30" monitors that support 2560x1440/1600, their response time is horrible.  The engineers/manufacturers for these devices figured they would be used in cad/Graphics art and wouldn't need fast refresh.  So I dug and researched and toiled and then I came upon the HP 30".  It's response of 7ms (gray) was the best of breed and the reviews/posts all state the colors are wonderful.  Then I saw PCMall had a sale on them at 850 bucks.  So I bit the bullet and grabbed one.  Having now gamed on this monitor wow, just wow.

Let's build a frame
Since I've gone through the process of base/furring strips I won't bore you with it again.  The dimensions of the front are 3x3x4 (w*l*h).




At this point I kind of had a brain fart and either forgot to take pictures of the front build or they are on a different camera.  I'll check when I get home today from work.

Rear entry
So I wound up building the front out and was then like LOL.  how do I get inside it.  So I cut out a whole in the rear which will most likely have a door on it.  The cut isn't accurate because at the end of the day you won't see it.  I plan to use additional wood around there area that would overlap the cut so the door would be hidden.  You can see the base of the monitor mount I installed when I was dry fitting the monitor.




Front Main Panel
I'm going to take some time here since this is really the best picture I can talk about hot this took form.'

The first thing I did was create the speaker columns on both sides.  These were roughly 8" in width on the original design.  I shrunk them to 7" each and then made the side walls go ALL the way back to the rear of the front section.  I did this because I wanted some re-enforcement.  Once done I cut and installed the foot board.  I installed it half way through, wood glues/screwed/nailguned it in and then sat down the next day and was like aww crap.  My legs were bunched up and it felt uncomfortable.  So I removed the screws and then used a chisel/screw driver, a hammer and carefully pried it out.  I then remeasured and moved it back, re-glued/screwed/nail guned and it worked the second time.  It fit perfectly.

I always knew I wanted a secondary monitor.  Even with the three monitor system I wanted another monitor where I could have teamspeak up and see who was talking or pipe out a map (like what artemis would give us).  So I had a 4:3 13" monitor sitting around that I got for 5 bucks when Circuit city went out of business.  I decased it and cut a little box for it out of a wood panel.  I then routed the eges to hide the bezel and then I did a little route job on the edges.  As you can see my router got away from me and yeah, son of a B.  I'm going to re-make it but I haven't had the want to do it yet.  The monitor fits snuggly into the wood router area for the bezel and then I used zip ties and Nailed wire guards on the reverse to hold it in.  You could also use the metal strips with holes that they use to hold dryer vents up but I decided I would do the easy with zip ties in case I ever need to remove it.  The weight of the decased monitor is barely 5 pounds so no worries on stability.

I then built the monitor housing wood and of course, my measurements were off and the thing was not square and it took way longer than it should have to cut it, since I had to skew corners/sides and dimensions to get it to fit but eventually I got it.  The end result was a level I was pleased with.  Not perfect, but it works.


Took the wood back out, cut out the monitor with just the screen (bezel hidden) and then got it nice and neat:


Routed the edges for the monitor:


Dry fit the monitor:



It fit nicely.  I did NOT remove the bezel from this monitor.  It has a 3 year warranty and I didn't feel like messing up a 1k monitor to get it looking super duper.  It worked out fine for me I think.



Both monitors in:



Main Monitor Mount
I used hardwood to create a monitor mount.  The main monitor sits snuggly into the routed edge but something needs to press it forward to hold it.  To do this I used some 2x4's underneath and then the stand mount.  The monitors stand mount actually has hooks on it like a picture frame, so it was super easy to get two screws at the top where it just slid in and held firmly.  I used some 3' deck screws (self-tapping) and locked it down.  No wood glue because I need the ability to remove the monitor for painting, etc.


Additional Front panel wood work
I added these little guys because I thought it would work well to hiding certain aspects of the main panel and also for additional angled buttons.






Paint Time
I was pleased at the state of the cabinet and decided that it would be a good time to paint and prepare for front panel control panels.










Massive fumigation later (thanks oil based primer --cream-filled twinkie--) and painting was complete.  Time to build some control panels.

Control panels: The pro way and the innovative cheap way
The control panels on the VR3.0 pods were designed into the software.  They displayed on LCD's what weapon was where and allowed you to assign it to a weapon group (Red, Blue, Green) each of which was represented by a colored button on your joystick.  This would prove challenging as any ability I have to work a feature like this into MWO would result in me hacking the program and potentially getting banned.  Greenday was originally going to send me some control panel stuff but he wound up needing it as additional ones broke down.

So I decided I would going to go a different route and just build some CP buttons like the vulture pod but in a darkend closed pod it would be tough to see what button was what, so I decided I would use a backlight for the words.  I read up what other Simpit builders do, especially the real way to do it and was blown away at how long of a process and how difficult it can be to get the light raceways through metal.  I then found an alternative.

One of the simpit builders purchased white acrylic, painted it black and then used a Laser engraver to burn the pattern off of the paint.  The end result was an awesome control panel for a fraction of the cost.  I decided this would be the direction I went.

I decided I would angle the control panels at 15 dregrees from the side of the monitor to the side of the cabinet.  I made them 2" high as I figured this would be high enough for most buttons depth (something I learned now isn't necessarily the case, but I can make it work).  I cut the pieces out, dry fit them and then drilled/screwed them in from the monitor side.  I then countersunk the holes so the screws wouldn't get in the monitor mounts way.  The end result was something I was happy with.  the protective cover is kept on until you've drilled all the necessary button holes.  You then remove it, paint it black and then laser engrave it.





There are corners/angles that are open to the back lightning but I will fix this in the future.

Let there be light for the control panel
To do this and light it without there being dark spots, I used LED strips.  I got them from a Chinese reseller on Ebay for pretty cheap along with the dimmer.  I chose green cause I thought it would fit best with the pod.  There are specific places you can only cut the strip.  I made sure I always cut that exact spot.  I then soldered some wires on to each making note of the -/+ as if you mix this up this specific strip can be damaged.  I then used hot glue to bind them to the wood.  It was kind of a tedious process but it worked as expected in the end.  I used wire nuts to put them together (wanted to use molex but the holes between aren't big enough for molex).  You can see the furring strips for the control panels here better than the previous pictures.










I like the result and I'm excited to get the control panels drilled/etched and see it lit up.

To be heard!
I showed the speakers used before, and I did the same process for the front Right/Left.  Without a 5th tweeter I didn't feel like going back to Ebay for another so I decided to just use a center channel I had laying around from an old Sony system.  The speaker was rated for 100 watt peak so it seems pretty straight forward.  I then decased the Sub and all the controls.  I made notes of every connection, removed them and then removed the component from the main panel of the subwoofer housing.  This process took about 2 hours because I wanted to be super careful not to damage any of the parts.

Other simpits have installed vibration units to enhance the experience.  This Creative sub is 220 watts so I figured this thing would probably be enough to really shake the cab.  Boy was I right.  This sucker on 25% volume gives an entirely different feel being right behind the seat.  This was never my intent of use for the cavity here but boy did it work well.

Here's the back of the subwoofer panel with all the brains of the creative Gigaworks:


Removing devices from the control panel carefully:


Main power:


Intelligance/power removed, just the sub left:


Systems fit into the rear cavity behind the seat in the pod:



Subwoofer inserted into the back of the cab cavity.  I used a dremel with the circle attachment to fit the subwoofer.  I was going to route the lip like the original enclosure had but I never got around to it and the fit without routing the lip was fine IMO.




I reused the original sub grill.  I like it's look.  You won't see it thought anyways as the chair completely blocks your view of the system.


Center Channel speaker:




Fan/Temperature control
I found a cool computer fan control system and thought it would integrate well into one of the side angle guys I put in:




I had to cut the fins in half as they were a little too deep, but I got in into wood panel.  I don't have pictures of it but I'll try to grab some.

That's all for right now.  I'm hoping to get my laser engraver in about 2 weeks and then I'll flush out the control panels.  What's good is that while I wait for it I can finish work on the Lift-Gate system for pod doors automatic open and closing.












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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2013, 09:34:42 am »
Great work.  I have never seen one of these pods in the wild but it sure looks like fun.  Alot more going on then a racing sim. Your design seems to be working out well and the pictures really make me feel like I am part of the build.  Keep it up  :applaud:

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2013, 10:48:10 am »
I had mentioned in previous statements that the control panels would be White acrylic with Black paint over them.  Then I would etch into them the words/boxes so back lighting could push through them.  So here's some more on that.

I had originally speced out the costs of laser cutters/engravers and decided to check out a local shop instead.  The cost was roughly $20 bucks per panel.  Which at six panels was somewhere north of $130 with taxes.  The more I thought about it the more I decided it might make sense to do it myself.  Then I would have my own laser cutter/engraver.  So I revisited the scene and found a cheap Chinese Laser cutter known as the DK III.  Everything I read about it was positive since it's price point was so low.  So I purchased one and it arrived last week.

The DK III I got was from Ebay at about $700 fully shipped.  Complaints about similar laser cutters/engravers deal with all of the stuff being shipped inside the cutting area and moving during shipping resulting in a need to re-align the laser ( a painful and dangerous endeavor if you aren't trained).  The DK III I got shipped from a US address in two shipments.  Nothing came inside the cutting area which was awesome!  Everything was speced at the factory and was true when I lined them up as well.


I set up a fabrication station in a different area of my work shop for this and my 3D printers.  Small laser cutters require exhaust to pull smoke away from the cutting area and a water pump to cool the laser tube.  Larger laser cutters can require different gases that can be tough to manage.

I installed the software onto my Fab station computer and then I started the exhaust and the water pump.  The exhaust tripped the breaker when I plugged it in, which was weird cause I tried it on a different breaker without issue.  So I plugged in a different power strip and tried it again without issue.  I ran the exhaust/Water pump for about a minute and then turned the laser on.  The first thing to do is get the voltage right.  I put a piece of test wood in and turned the laser switch on.  I test fired it and ramped the volt to 9 (recommended between 8 and 10).  It cut the test wood and I got a case of the giggles.

So I fired up MooshiDraw2013 and started going to work.  I made a box and typed Hello world into it.  I told it to engrave.  First pass was versa, which I didn't see in the setting and concave.


Then I tried an option called Fixed, where the laser went deep.  The result was a charged box but once i used a brush I got most of the char away and could see the hello world.


During this cut I turned around and all I saw was Smoke.  I was like Holy Cheese Balls.  I swapped filters in my purifier for the charcoal ones and ran it on high, turned off the furnace to prevent it from spreading to the rest of the house and went and opened the windows on the lower level.  Boy can I be stupid sometimes.  So long term/big picture I have to figure out what to do with this smoke when cutting.

I then grabbed a test piece of White Acrylic painted with one coat black and the backing paper still on and ran a Vision Thermal/Night.  the results were exactly what I had hoped.  Clean and legible.  People who had tried this with CNC/Dremmel machines were disappointed in the look and style which is why most recommended using a laser for precision.





So yeah, awesome.  Now it's time to build out the scheme/design and then paint the panels and then engrave them.

Also, here's a video of it doing it's business.  Don't mind my Bill Murry impersonation lol.
http://s157.photobucket.com/user/Kahlid74/media/BattletechPod/LC-mov_zps8bb8cce6.mp4.html

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2013, 12:16:37 pm »
Man! This is awesome! They had a Virtual Worlds in Texas that I visited when I was in high school. It was the most fun ever. I remember coming out of the pod sweating like I'd just run a mile.

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2013, 04:40:35 pm »
So I hoped out of the POD to check the laser engraver came back and my son was sitting having a field day.  I'm fairly certain I'll have to build him a pod too in a few years:

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2013, 08:53:34 am »
One Control Panel system try -

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2013, 10:15:16 pm »
Sorry I missed this build. Looking awesome!   :cheers:  :applaud:

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2013, 10:15:44 pm »
Wow, looking at the pics reminded me that my wife and I played this in Dallas back when we were dating.  Good stuff!

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2013, 02:38:35 pm »
It's been a while since I had inspiration to return to this and with summer "supposedly" here the pool is open and I've been having fun automating that.  The wife took a trip last week and the little guy stayed as his grandparents which gave me a whole chunk of time to play with this.  So I sort of got the right side Laser cutting/buttons done and then also worked on the fan exhaust on the rear.

Fan Exhaust:
My original design I had air being sucked out the back of the cab through two fans at the rear.  I used two 120MM fans.  I then used an armored cord to add some external astetic.  Unfortunately the armored cord is Solid Core which is a beast to work with when trying to connect 22/24ga fan wires.  Long story short I jused a 16ga wire and soldered it to the fan wire and then used Wiring nuts to connect the Solid core to Stranded.  What they transpired was a nightmare.  Fan 1 worked great but fan 2 took about an hour of troubleshooting to discover that two of the nuts weren't actually conducting electricity.  Grabbed two different nuts and all was dandy.  Was a weird situation.  Here are the two external fans sucking air out of the cab.  The big plan is to have fans on the roof of the hatch door that can suck air into the pod on top of you to create an air flow past your face.






Control Panels - Right side

With more inspiration I tried my hand at finishing the control panels on the right side of the screen.  I'm please with the design but not the layout.  I wanted to use up available real estate but also leave room in case I needed it in the future.  What transpired was placement that overlapped into screws and/or over where MDF is which kind of blocks the light behind it.  Coupled with the fact that it's really tough to "home" the laser cutter and meh.  I feel like it's a good "rough draft"  I'd love to go back and redo it but it's something that will take time.

You can see several seams bleeding light.  This IMO is also expected.  I've got some ideas as to close it off but I'm not 100% how I'm going to do it just yet.  I'm going to finish the left side and then once it's good to go I'm going to wire it all up and get it working before determining how to close the gaps.


























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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2013, 03:22:31 pm »
Now you're going to have to come up with something for the other side.  ;D

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2013, 01:29:24 am »
Really loving this build but the anal part of me is going  :banghead: over the misaligned screw heads and gaps in the panels.  Are you going to revisit these?  I honestly think this is a contender for the hall of fame but needs more focus on the details.  Sorry if I come across harshly but I just want to help you make this the best it can be. Getting down of my  :soapbox: now. 

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2013, 10:07:26 am »
Really loving this build but the anal part of me is going  :banghead: over the misaligned screw heads and gaps in the panels.  Are you going to revisit these?  I honestly think this is a contender for the hall of fame but needs more focus on the details.  Sorry if I come across harshly but I just want to help you make this the best it can be. Getting down of my  :soapbox: now.

Constructive Criticism is always welcome.  Getting a thrashing for poor construction isn't always something one likes to receive but you're 100% right on it all.  These are things I struggle with on my builds.  The limited time I get to work on these projects puts me in a place where when I screw up, I just have to roll with it to get to completion (for sanity purposes) and once I'm done, I can come back and try to redo it with a better outcome.

I don't plan to keep the gaps present, but one of the big things I struggled with was the acrylic moving when I was drilling.  My thoughts on redoing the panels would be to pre-drill the panels next time and then line them up with spacers for accurate positioning.

So really, once I was done cutting the acrylic I accepted the failures of my first build and decided to invest the time to completely finish it and see how it played out.

The other thing for me is this was built with MWO in mind, but MWO is really turning out to be a dud (PGI as a developer is dropping the ball).  With this in mind I've now started thinking about inter-changable panels for stuff like Star Citizen or other games that may want/need control panels.

So no apologies necessary.  What bothers you also bothers me but it's a struggle between RL and this pod and what I can feasible get done to keep my sanity.

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2013, 10:24:33 am »
Just discovered this & raced thru the past posts. Omg. Once again, I am utterly humbled by the amazing work of others done on this site. Even if I had the money/space to build the workshop I'd need to do this kind of work, it'd still b way beyond me. :notworthy:

I'm curious about your '3d printer' mentioned earlier. I take it you're not simply referring to the laser etcher? What r u using? I got interested when I heard about the Makerbot a few years back, & have always said I'd sell my kidneys for a 3d printer when they got to the point where they could make a good trackball. Last time I checked, it still wasn't possible.
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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2013, 08:41:52 am »
Just discovered this & raced thru the past posts. Omg. Once again, I am utterly humbled by the amazing work of others done on this site. Even if I had the money/space to build the workshop I'd need to do this kind of work, it'd still b way beyond me. :notworthy:

I'm curious about your '3d printer' mentioned earlier. I take it you're not simply referring to the laser etcher? What r u using? I got interested when I heard about the Makerbot a few years back, & have always said I'd sell my kidneys for a 3d printer when they got to the point where they could make a good trackball. Last time I checked, it still wasn't possible.

I have two.  An afinia H (basically a rebranded UP from China) and a Sumpod.  The Sumpod came with all sorts of issues and I had to rebuild it myself.  The Afinia came fully functional.  The afinia prints some of the best models period.  The sumpod has a larger build area.

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2013, 05:51:58 pm »
Oh, Oh, Oh! Man this is awesome, what a cool project to be doing. I don't know this game or have ever seen one of these pods before. Does the enhanced vision switches actually toggle game view or are they for show? Oh my mind is now working overtime with the thought of electrrickery you could throw into one of these pods. Shame I am restricted with space as I would love to make something like this.

Looking forward to seeing the finished item.  ;)
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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2013, 02:39:30 pm »
I just looked up the Affinia. Wow. But--$1600! Ouch! Is the res' as good as it looks? If it could make a good trackball...
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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2013, 12:23:20 am »
So it's been a while, and I have been unfaithful to finishing this because I was working on this (http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php/topic,136026.0.html) but I finally got back in the pod and POOF, no sound.  WTH.  So I bring out the old Multi-meter, test both sides, power from the plug, fuse is fine, power to the AMP board and then I see capacitors swollen, and all sorts of weird stuff.  I go online and find out all sorts of interesting stuff.

First off, no one really makes High Fidelity for Computer speakers anymore.  The Creative Gigaworks was pretty much high grade stuff for computer and Creative doesn't make it anymore let alone support it.  I also found a rich community of people like me, who after experiencing the Gigaworks S750 system will never go back to anything else and have gone to great lengths to repair their systems.  So down the rabbit hole I go.

Two threads containing a WEALTH of knowledge about this subject:
https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/2873671
http://forums.creative.com/showthread.php?t=287662

SO the capacitors are super cheap versions,  First thing is to remove them all and then go buy Panasonic ones.  Second thing is to remove ALL of the glue, including the crystallized heat rendered ones.  It sounds like the crystallized ones can actually conduct electricity, which is what people have seen causing some of the issues.

Big capacitors and the crystallized glue.  The glue should be paste white/yellow, not brown:



Capacitors removed, time to cleanup glue:


More areas where the glue crystallized:




Pieces removed to allow for glue cleanup:


So that's where I now am.  I'm going to place an order for new capacitors tomorrow and then I need to reach out to more of the other guys to find out how I continue to troubleshoot failed parts on the board.

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2014, 04:03:18 pm »
Khalid, your work on this stuff is amazing.  I just wanted to encourage you to keep up the work.  And if you ever need some info about the original pods that you have pics of in the first post, those particular ones I purchased from GreenDay and they are now sitting in my garage ;-).  These were the first generation pods to be released.  Later, Virtual World Enterprises released a second setup of pods called the Tesla II Pods.  I am one of the owners of a company that has a bunch of the Tesla II pods still up and running in a public venue.  We have both a store where we keep them up and running for people to still play and we haul them around the country to various Cons (Wizard World, Dragon*Con, etc). 

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2014, 09:49:17 am »
Khalid, your work on this stuff is amazing.  I just wanted to encourage you to keep up the work.  And if you ever need some info about the original pods that you have pics of in the first post, those particular ones I purchased from GreenDay and they are now sitting in my garage ;-).  These were the first generation pods to be released.  Later, Virtual World Enterprises released a second setup of pods called the Tesla II Pods.  I am one of the owners of a company that has a bunch of the Tesla II pods still up and running in a public venue.  We have both a store where we keep them up and running for people to still play and we haul them around the country to various Cons (Wizard World, Dragon*Con, etc).

Hey man, thanks for joining to post.  Glad Greenday's pods went somewhere good.  I was saddened when he collapsed them from 6 to 2 but I get it, as the parts were super rare and the ability to keep 6 pods fully functional was difficult.  I hope you got the main computer and printers and can run the games fully.

Just a quick side note, the pods you have are the second iteration.  Tesla is the third iteration of the pods.  The first pods were the 2.5VR pods and were all destroyed when they built the 3.0VR pods (which are the ones you have).  The 2.5 pods were white and super rare.


So you run the Tesla II pods with Propwash(Nicolas)?  He's a great guy.  We talked a boat load back in the day about this project.  I also talked a bunch with Jordan Weisman about this.  He sent me some original schematics of the VR3.0 pods for my project.  Was fun talking to him about them.

So my pod, lets talk about where it is:
  • Inspiration: I lost inspiration to finish this for right now as Mechwarrior Online has turned into a complete piece of POOP.  Additionally some of the constructive criticism is 100% accurate but hard to swallow as I've said before I never quite seem to finish something to a professional level.  The challenge is I need to swallow my pride and remember it's constructive criticism and to take the time to do it right.
  • Time:  Work is going crazy right now, we have a second little one set to arrive July 11 and I'm starting my own brewery with a friend as a side project.
  • Sound System: My last post talked about my wanting to fix the sound system.  I haven't yet completed this however I did buy a second board off Ebay and sent that to a guy in the UK who fixed it.  I became greatly concerned when I saw these boards dry up and wanted to get a spare.
  • Arcade Machines:  I'm supposed to build two arcade machines this summer.  I'm not sure that will happen but yeah, that will take some time.

So yeah, I'd love to finish this guy, but I'm not sure if I ever will.  Side note, Star citizen has released Arena Commander and it's spectacular.  Perhaps this pod may transition to that!

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #27 on: June 05, 2014, 10:56:37 am »
Dented tweeter dome = put a toilet paper tube on it and gently suck on it. Works most of the time, occasionally there'll be one with a fabric or paper dome that lets air pass through. Even on those if you do it fast you can get it.

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2014, 05:16:15 am »
This is just sooooo coool! :cheers:

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2014, 11:23:31 am »
Hey man, thanks for joining to post.  Glad Greenday's pods went somewhere good.  I was saddened when he collapsed them from 6 to 2 but I get it, as the parts were super rare and the ability to keep 6 pods fully functional was difficult.  I hope you got the main computer and printers and can run the games fully.
Thanks!  I was glad to get a chance to get these.  I did manage to get everything in the whole room (which included those other pods worth of spare parts) except for the Madcat model ;-).  Its all setup at my store (except for the 3.0 pods which are at home).  Everything still works with the exception of some issues with one joystick.  Seems a rodent decided to chew across the wiring harness cutting the whole stinking thing in half.  I have a spare harness but right now I'm just soldering and heat shrinking instead of trying to run the harness all the way through.

Quote
Just a quick side note, the pods you have are the second iteration.  Tesla is the third iteration of the pods.  The first pods were the 2.5VR pods and were all destroyed when they built the 3.0VR pods (which are the ones you have).  The 2.5 pods were white and super rare.
Wow!  Someone who actually knows some of the history!  I've not managed to find any of the 2.5 pods.  We own 18 of the Tesla II pods and I have these 2 3.0 pods.  We also have 2 complete pods plus console and MR for a set of the games running the 4.0 software.  As far as I know, there are only 2 places where you can actually run all 3 of these versions.  The other is a couple guys in Dallas who aren't yet in a public venue.  But they recently managed to find a set of Tesla II AND a set of 8 3.0 pods.  Its not all functional yet, but we talk daily working him through the issues to get there.  We've, unfortunately, had way too much experience bringing these things back from the dead.  With all of our traveling we put a lot more strain on the hardware than they were EVER meant to endure.  So I've had to rebuild whole pods from full structural failure a couple times so far. 

Quote
So you run the Tesla II pods with Propwash(Nicolas)?  He's a great guy.  We talked a boat load back in the day about this project.  I also talked a bunch with Jordan Weisman about this.  He sent me some original schematics of the VR3.0 pods for my project.  Was fun talking to him about them.

Propwash (Nickolas - you missed the K ;-) ) does still own Virtual World and we are a licensee of the software from him.  He is a great guy and we've been in this together now or almost 10 years since he bought the company from Hacksaw.  We operate a company called MechCorps Entertainment out of Houston, TX.  Propwash still has an interest in some of the pods up in Grand Rapids, MI

Quote
So my pod, lets talk about where it is:
  • Inspiration: I lost inspiration to finish this for right now as Mechwarrior Online has turned into a complete piece of POOP.  Additionally some of the constructive criticism is 100% accurate but hard to swallow as I've said before I never quite seem to finish something to a professional level.  The challenge is I need to swallow my pride and remember it's constructive criticism and to take the time to do it right.
  • Time:  Work is going crazy right now, we have a second little one set to arrive July 11 and I'm starting my own brewery with a friend as a side project.
  • Sound System: My last post talked about my wanting to fix the sound system.  I haven't yet completed this however I did buy a second board off Ebay and sent that to a guy in the UK who fixed it.  I became greatly concerned when I saw these boards dry up and wanted to get a spare.
  • Arcade Machines:  I'm supposed to build two arcade machines this summer.  I'm not sure that will happen but yeah, that will take some time.

So yeah, I'd love to finish this guy, but I'm not sure if I ever will.  Side note, Star citizen has released Arena Commander and it's spectacular.  Perhaps this pod may transition to that!

So another option might be some of the stuff from MekTek and StompyBot.  I'm actually going to be in a booth next to them at the Rooster Teeth Expo in Austin over July 4th weekend.  They are headed down from Canada to the show and we all arranged to be together.  With a little work, their software could possibly run in my pods.  But in your pods, it would be super easy.  There are many folks who have become increasingly frustrated with MWO.  I think it is a great platform, but I do hear the complaints as well. 

Congrats on the new young'un coming along!  My middle one is graduating from high school tomorrow so I remember those days!  I hope you continue with this project and get it "complete" (is any project ever actually completed?) so that you and your next generation can enjoy it for years to come. 

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #30 on: June 11, 2014, 09:08:47 am »
Hey man, thanks for joining to post.  Glad Greenday's pods went somewhere good.  I was saddened when he collapsed them from 6 to 2 but I get it, as the parts were super rare and the ability to keep 6 pods fully functional was difficult.  I hope you got the main computer and printers and can run the games fully.
Thanks!  I was glad to get a chance to get these.  I did manage to get everything in the whole room (which included those other pods worth of spare parts) except for the Madcat model ;-).  Its all setup at my store (except for the 3.0 pods which are at home).  Everything still works with the exception of some issues with one joystick.  Seems a rodent decided to chew across the wiring harness cutting the whole stinking thing in half.  I have a spare harness but right now I'm just soldering and heat shrinking instead of trying to run the harness all the way through.

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Just a quick side note, the pods you have are the second iteration.  Tesla is the third iteration of the pods.  The first pods were the 2.5VR pods and were all destroyed when they built the 3.0VR pods (which are the ones you have).  The 2.5 pods were white and super rare.
Wow!  Someone who actually knows some of the history!  I've not managed to find any of the 2.5 pods.  We own 18 of the Tesla II pods and I have these 2 3.0 pods.  We also have 2 complete pods plus console and MR for a set of the games running the 4.0 software.  As far as I know, there are only 2 places where you can actually run all 3 of these versions.  The other is a couple guys in Dallas who aren't yet in a public venue.  But they recently managed to find a set of Tesla II AND a set of 8 3.0 pods.  Its not all functional yet, but we talk daily working him through the issues to get there.  We've, unfortunately, had way too much experience bringing these things back from the dead.  With all of our traveling we put a lot more strain on the hardware than they were EVER meant to endure.  So I've had to rebuild whole pods from full structural failure a couple times so far. 

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So you run the Tesla II pods with Propwash(Nicolas)?  He's a great guy.  We talked a boat load back in the day about this project.  I also talked a bunch with Jordan Weisman about this.  He sent me some original schematics of the VR3.0 pods for my project.  Was fun talking to him about them.

Propwash (Nickolas - you missed the K ;-) ) does still own Virtual World and we are a licensee of the software from him.  He is a great guy and we've been in this together now or almost 10 years since he bought the company from Hacksaw.  We operate a company called MechCorps Entertainment out of Houston, TX.  Propwash still has an interest in some of the pods up in Grand Rapids, MI

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So my pod, lets talk about where it is:
  • Inspiration: I lost inspiration to finish this for right now as Mechwarrior Online has turned into a complete piece of POOP.  Additionally some of the constructive criticism is 100% accurate but hard to swallow as I've said before I never quite seem to finish something to a professional level.  The challenge is I need to swallow my pride and remember it's constructive criticism and to take the time to do it right.
  • Time:  Work is going crazy right now, we have a second little one set to arrive July 11 and I'm starting my own brewery with a friend as a side project.
  • Sound System: My last post talked about my wanting to fix the sound system.  I haven't yet completed this however I did buy a second board off Ebay and sent that to a guy in the UK who fixed it.  I became greatly concerned when I saw these boards dry up and wanted to get a spare.
  • Arcade Machines:  I'm supposed to build two arcade machines this summer.  I'm not sure that will happen but yeah, that will take some time.

So yeah, I'd love to finish this guy, but I'm not sure if I ever will.  Side note, Star citizen has released Arena Commander and it's spectacular.  Perhaps this pod may transition to that!

So another option might be some of the stuff from MekTek and StompyBot.  I'm actually going to be in a booth next to them at the Rooster Teeth Expo in Austin over July 4th weekend.  They are headed down from Canada to the show and we all arranged to be together.  With a little work, their software could possibly run in my pods.  But in your pods, it would be super easy.  There are many folks who have become increasingly frustrated with MWO.  I think it is a great platform, but I do hear the complaints as well. 

Congrats on the new young'un coming along!  My middle one is graduating from high school tomorrow so I remember those days!  I hope you continue with this project and get it "complete" (is any project ever actually completed?) so that you and your next generation can enjoy it for years to come.


You're MechCorps Entertainment!!!  Super Rad!!  I spent quite a few days on those old Firestorm forums talking with you and Prop.  Good stuff!

We probably won't find any 2.5 pods ever unfortunately.  Jordan said they physically destroyed them all when they upgraded to 3.0.  I asked him why on earth they would do that and he talked for like 5 minutes logistics but it just never made much sense to me.  Either way I was too young back then to have helped in any way/shape/form.

Now this is making me want to start working on the pod again, bahhhhh, I have no time darnit.

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Re: Virtual World 3.0 POD/Battletech Pod/MWO Simpit
« Reply #31 on: June 11, 2014, 09:10:39 am »
Dented tweeter dome = put a toilet paper tube on it and gently suck on it. Works most of the time, occasionally there'll be one with a fabric or paper dome that lets air pass through. Even on those if you do it fast you can get it.

That's actually super genius.  I might try it one day but right now I have like 15 of the creative gigaworks speakers as I've bought a couple of sets to get the subwoofer and it's controller board since they are becoming rarer.