Working time approx. 30 minutes.
The original visualator for my F-18 simpit consisted of three HD projectors, casting their images onto a 270° screen. That worked quite nicely until I tried VR for the first time. Virtual Reality for flight simulators immediately amazed me with the unrestricted ability to look in every direction! Up, down and even to the rear sector – something impossible even with the most advanced dome-style visualators. I believe VR has a great potential, possibly also in professional flight crew training.
As stunning as VR might be, it has one critical drawback for pitbuilders. You are not able see your real life cockpit anymore with the VR headset on. This makes it very difficult to find buttons and switches quickly. But if you ever experienced a fully functional cockpit, you can’t really go back to mouse clicking things in the virtual world anymore. So I started to search around for a possible combination of the virtual outside world, with my real life cockpit. But however promising current ideas, hardware and research for such an “Augmented” or “Mixed Reality” may be, I did find nothing readily usable to this date (2019).
So I decided to modify my Oculus Rift, to be able to still see my cockpit with the headset on. This proved easier than expected. I just cut away some plastic below the lenses and also from the face frame.
With the modified headset, I can now fully see my cockpit up to the glareshield, find buttons and switches, use the MFDs and read checklists and maps. From the glareshield upwards, I see the HUD, canopy frame with mirrors and the virtual outside world through the Rift. The horizontal field of view is still limited (like looking through diving goggles), but in my opinion the combination with a hardware cockpit represents the best overall solution currently available.
Disclaimer: I strongly discourage everybody from doing this with you own VR headset! Deliberately cutting things off will instantly render any warranty void and also constitutes a good chance of permanently damaging your device beyond repair, if you are not extremely careful and perfectly know what you are doing!
Update 21. Feb. 2020: More pictures of the modified Rift (right side without the tape) as requested.
Rich posted on 16.7.2021 at 16:09
Very innovative approach, Bergison!
Have you thought about the newer hand tracking capabilities some of the VR systems feature (e.g. Valve Index, Pimax Kxx)? I haven't personally used them myself but am wondering if the ability to virtually depress a switch that you can "see" in ANY cockpit might be a better way to go now than by cutting away the bottom of the Oculus Rift. This might become even more compelling as haptic feedback in say, VR gloves, attains greater fidelity.
Yuri posted on 06.2.2020 at 6:29
Very intersting Could you post more pics of cut headset? Is light getting in a way? Didficult to switch focus from vr to rl?
Hi Yuri,1) I've uploaded more pictures showing the cuts close to the lenses with the covering tape removed on one side.2) No issues with light, even as I have a window right next to my sim.3) The required switch in focus is just what you have in real life (and as well with a virtual cockpit inside the rift as it is 3D).