Pointing Devices
Keyboard Placement | Synergy

To my knowledge, Boeing has until now refrained from installing pointing devices in airliner's cockpits.

The typical home cockpit on the other hand runs on several PC's. Each of these requires a mouse or some sort of pointing device. I decided early on during the building process that a mouse (even a fancy, Laser-equipped one) was too ungainly a sight to be allowed in my cockpit. Besides, a mouse requires quite a bit of space to operate. In the early days - and probabely as an unconscious homage to my arcade gaming days - I experimented with track balls. In the end I settled for touchpads. They are stationary, require little space and can be incorporated into the existing structure without looking too goofy.

Today, thanks to an ingenious little network utility called Synergy all 7 computers in my cockpit are controlled by just two touchpads. The first is installed left of the throttle, the second to the right of the joystick.

This touch pad controls the main FS computer and - via Synergy - five other PCs in the cockpit. These are: PFD, CDU/Autopilot, NAV, PM Systems and EICAS. A lot of screen real estate controlled by one little device!

Due to its position, it must be operated with the left hand. That felt a bit cumbersome at first, but it was just a question of time until I got used to it (refreshing at the same time the usually sleepy right side of my brain).

The second touchpad is connected directly to the Radar Contact PC (i.e. not via Synergy). There is a simple reason for not using Synergy here: the RC program sometimes requires input during flight. With FS in 3-D mode, the main FS window would minimize to the task bar each time the Synergy-driven pointer goes off the FS screen. Not the kind of thing you want to happen during an approach in stormy weather...