SocialFlight Sim Presentation at Mashed08

It’s late, so we’ll talk and write more about the Social Flight Simulator tomorrow. For now, here’s a quickly edited video of our presentation at Alexandra Palace.


The Flight Feed Is Live!

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The SFS is up and streaming at Mashed08!  Watch us assemble like monkeys!

Introducing the Social Flight Sim

(Crossposted from

In fact a bunch of developers are building a flight simulator to bring along that they intend to fly around the world in Google Earth, making all their data available as they go. You’ll have everything you’d get from a real plane, right there inside Ally Pally!
Matthew Cashmore, Netmag

Yep, right there, in the halls of Alexandra Palace, we’ll start constructing our aircraft (a mix of Grob 103 and A4 Skyhawk styling), putting together flight controls and avionics, with the latest web 2.0 principles and 1930’s rear screen projection special effects. Designed for twin seat operations with a pilot up front and a Navigator/Wirleess (Internet) Operator in the back seat, if all goes well construction should be finished by noon on Saturday, with flight testing over the next hour.

And as the 24 hack-a-thon starts, the first pair of flyers will take to the sky at 1pm, from London Stanstead, overfly Alexandra Palace (how meta!), head over to Dover and through Europe on the first leg of a 24 hour flight around the world. With frequent planned stops along the route to land and change over the crew (think Le Man driver changes), constant twittering and blogging from the cockpit, and a live webcam feed mixing in Google Earth views, pilot and navigator cams, and other fun stuff, there should be a lot of content going out.

But it’s also social.

By that I mean we’re providing information about the flight as we fly via a Web API that any developer can call on during the day for the live position or historical flight path, and build their own hacks from that. I’d really love to see a number of hacks around the Flight Sim, perhaps a “Simulated Carbon Calculator,” an automatic “Lonely Planet Guide to What You’re Flying Over,” or tie in with a wealth of data already geo-tagged and available on the web. Just amble over to us at the event and we’ll let you know how to access the API (or we’ll point you at Alistair, who’s writing it as you read this…)

Of course the Social Flight Simulator is not just for coders. With a round the world flight, there’s a lot of bum-in-seat time to share out, so we’re on the lookout for people who’d like to do some piloting or navigating of the aircraft through the journey – training will be given. It’s struck me there are always people who come to Mashed (and similar Hackday events) just to find cool things to do, soak up the atmosphere, and maybe do a few little things. Hopefully the appeal of flying round the world, and talking to the audience watching the flight on the internet, is something that’s cool.

Feel free to comment here, otherwise see you all at Ally Pally on Saturday – and if you’re not at the event but want to watch, then is the place to be.

Proposed Floor Plan

Core Avionics Code Completed

In the words of our Avionics Expert Alistair MacDonald:

Some good news. I have just finished the code that actually moves the aircraft, and that was the complicated mathematical bit.

Obviously there is more work to be done, but we will be flying come the weekend! Being social means we need to tell you many things, the primary one being where the aircraft is via a web service. Hopefully other people will be able to take that web service and provide us with lots of extra things around the flight with the power of the web.

Wiring Up The Controls and the Avionics

One of the challenges we have is putting flight controls into the simulator, and then interfacing them into our avionics computer in a reliable manner. The key to this is the Ipac circuit board. Normally used in the construction of arcade cabinets and home made consoles, this will take the input from a bundle of micro-switched keys and devices, and translate them to appear as if they were coming from a USB keyboard. Of course it means we’ll be flying digitally, but it’s a small sacrifice for reliability and ease of installation.

Ipac 28 PCB

Our Flight Patch Design

If you;re flying round the world, you’ve got to have a flight patch – and while we haven’t got an embroidery workshop doing a detailed fabric one, I’m sure we can hack something together using this as the basis of the design. Any Graphic Artists out there can give this a touch of polish, or should we leave it as the rough pencil sketch it currently is?

Social Flight Sim Patch (Draft 1_