Viper cockpit review by Joel Owens

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GoldCylon
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Viper cockpit review by Joel Owens

Post by GoldCylon » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:57 pm

This is posted with permission from Joel, and his web site JoelOwens.org

The Viper Cockpit

I decided to put my graphics talents to work and create a decent interior schematic of the Colonial Viper cockpit. I haven't seen on the web where anyone else has tackled this project, so I thought I'd give it a go. It has taken a good deal of episode watching, frame-by-frame at the cockpit scenes and some background research to try to get good representations of each panel in the Viper.

ImageImage
The Port Console
(The rest of the images can be seen on Joel's page) http://www.joelowens.org/bsg/index.html
The Center Console

The Starboard Console

About the Graphic:
This is drawn using real dimensions, e.g. the drawing is a 100% full size representation and can be printed actual size. I have tried to get this as accurate as possible using the photos off other websites, my own screen captures and some caliper measurements of actual switches as well as certain known avionics display sizes. I did this to get a feel for the actual panel dimensions, which were not easy to determine from mere photos.

I'm sure if I had access to the original panels, I could draw it to within 99.9% accuracy, but since it is long gone this will have to be my offering at this point. The original cockpit instrument stage-set supposedly languished on a back lot at Universal somewhere along with the full size mockups of the Vipers and Cylon cockpit and other left over Battlestar Galactica set pieces. At some point in time it was either torn down for scrap or (as legend has it) was destroyed in a fire at the studios. No one seems to know for sure, and I guess it just adds to the mystique. You have any insider information? I'd love to hear it!

The Flight Stick
There are apparently two variants of the 3-button switch labels. One, which we most commonly see says (L-R):

* FIRE
* TURBO
* IM

The other is labeled:

* STORES
* CAMERA AUTO
* CAMERA MAN


Being a little bit curious about this, I figured Jack Stauffer probably spent as much time sitting in the Viper full-scale mockups as any actor. In the course of some email exchanges with him, he didn't recollect too much about the interior arrangement of the mockups and didn't recall them being nearly as detailed as the "cockpit set". The only detail we see in the mockup is some white lights near the right elbow which don't correlate to anything on the panels from the cockpit set. Mr. Stauffer did however tell me a very funny story about "the fat guys with 2x4's who would rock the full-scale mockups when the actor would shout 'Break left!' or 'I'm hit!'. Ahh, how even the big-budget films do things is sometimes a real hoot! ha

March 20, 2008 - Thanks to an alert fan, Kevin Coyne, I can now show you where the joystick came from! Here is a photo from the cockpit of the Vietnam-era recon aircraft OV1-C "Mohawk", I think you'll recognize the item circled it red:

[ Note: There was a separate filming "Cockpit Set" which consisted strictly of the control panels which was used in the scenes where we see the actors pushing buttons, hitting switches, moving the flight stick, etc.

It's hard to tell if stock footage from the episode "Saga" contained the less-seen lables "Stores" "Camera Auto" and "Camera Man" on the flight stick, but I did note that throughout the series, they took careful steps to make sure the actual actor or actress depicted as the pilot's hands were filmed in the cockpit panel set and corresponded with the shots in the full-scale mockups. There is always good continuity between Boomer's fingers, Starbuck's, Sheba's and so on. Which is something they did *not* do on the original Star Trek, by the way - haha. Watch closely, now! ]

I also noted that although things did light up on some of the aircraft instruments the Viper had, they were by no means fully wired in. For example, the HSI or Horizontal Situation Indicator had the digits wired up, but the left digits (Heading degrees) would jump from 110.0 to 210.0 and then to some non-character plus "10.0" while the compass card was spinning around. The other digits would always read 995. If the degrees had been wired in, it would have stepped numerically with the turn and the distance (995) would have been either decreasing or increasing as flight continued.
~sigh - it was television...

And Now for some Technical Humor!
During the show, the Viper pilots sometimes say "I'm scanning a life-form blah blah blah" and we see the red flashing LED's along the upper panels, usually to Port. This, in fact is a set of RS-232 communication breakout panels, probably provided by Tektronix from some prototype project they were working on at the time. Anyone familiar with RS-232 serial data communications will instantly recognize the nomenclature and probably laugh out loud!

Interesting NASA Space Shuttle similarities!
The NASA Space Shuttle a near cousin to the Colonial Viper?
Well, if you start off with the basics, you can see a few instant similarities,

* The 3 wing structure of both craft
* The 3 engine arrangement of both craft (albiet disproportionate in size)
* The landing gear arrangement
* And last, but not least - some of the cockpit panel controls!

Back in about 1983 I bought a paper-bound manual from a mall book store about the Space Shuttle, and I've kept it in my box of keepsakes over the years. The text of it was written mostly for young teens or younger adolescents, but has some wonderful pull-out diagrams of the shuttle's cockpit control panels, and a wonderful huge shuttle cutaway diagram. You can still find copies of this on Ebay and Amazon among other places, keep in mind it is vintage information of the original shuttle configuration.

Well, in the wee morning hours of August 1, 2007 I was browsing through these and decided to look over the control panel diagrams with more than just a passing glance. Well, what I stumbled across is pretty neat (and I'm sure whoever actually designed the Colonial Viper panels is reading this and chuckling again).

I had already drawn up the Colonial Viper panel graphics in the weeks before this, but I sure wished I had made this Discovery well before-hand.

Click on the photo for a 1024-pixel wide enlargement.

If you compare this with the gauge panel on the Viper, you'll say "Hey!", about like I did. ha The gauges as well as the two toggle switches in the lower right corner of this panel are both replicated closely on the Viper (however actual text of the switch labels is somewhat different, and the Viper gauges have no outside labels identifying what parameter they are measuring).

I went thru the rest of the diagrams with a fine tooth comb after that. There are only 4 identifiable similarities in the panels, once again - The gauge panel and the angular joining rib off to the right of it, which both appear in the Viper.

The second similarity is the "HSI SELECT" switch, which looks almost identical in its arrangement. If you wanted to reach a little bit, you could include the Shuttle's landing gear switches/lamps as being in parallel with the Viper's "Turbo" and "Check" switches, and it does resemble this a little, but a quick glance at the Shuttle diagram shows the arrangement is a pretty loose one.

Thirdly, the "Engine Start" toggle switches (which are often unused in the series. Instead they press the 3 lighted rectangular buttons labeled "TURBO").

Sorry, I failed to include the Shuttle Engine Start switches in my page scan. Interestingly, on the Space Shuttle the engines are labled "Left" "Ctr" and "Right" instead of "Port" and "Starboard" as they are on the Viper.

The fourth similarity is the inclusion of a red LED (Light-Emitting-Diode) digital "Mission Time" clock. I failed to scan this part of the page in as well, but it is instantly identifiable on most Battlestar Galactica episodes where you can see the flashing red digits on the right hand console (inside the large red-tinted plastic circle), just to the left of the radio audio monitor.



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Post by Cylon-Knight » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:01 am

WOW! Thanks for the link GoldCylon - and thanks to Joel for that DETAILED work!!!!
"All Baseships are now in range to attack the Colonies."
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Re: Viper cockpit review by Joel Owens

Post by Queenhunter » Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:55 am

Oh my that is a lot of reading. That was some good stuff. A great effort and nice job


Recently I thought of trying to add the C.O.R.A.module to an existing model for
videos am making.

One Idea I had was to use AFter Effects. With After effects it has a sound analyzer,
which can be used to create graphic changes with particles or other applicable effects.

Reason being I had already done something similar with the sound analyzer,

Here is an Example. is in a previous made Music type video.


Is at the begin of video

can be applied it to any image,model or whatever in different ways, using different apps.

That would be cool. I may have a go at making/trying it at some point.Actually make a small model of it then apply the Voice and use it to drive the sound generator particles/graphics

Strange I was just thinking of this the other day and saw this post.
This may come in handy to create 3d models (References)and add some motion graphics to them.

( I realize this is an old post)

again great job.
-ever get that feeling from a movie trailer you cant wait to see it-
that is what it does to me.

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Re: Viper cockpit review by Joel Owens

Post by Cylon-Knight » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:40 am

Queenhunter, I fixed your YouTube links.
Here is a thread on how the YouTube code works on the forum show they will show up in the thread for you too. Every forum is a little different I know - hope this helps.

Adding C.O.R.A. to your vids would ROCK! :nah:

I am going to try After Effects soon on some home videos... is it a big drag on a system? Or does it run pretty smooth?
"All Baseships are now in range to attack the Colonies."
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Viper cockpit review by Joel Owens

Post by GoldCylon » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:39 am

No worries about replying to any old post. New light on something old is always welcome. I'll take a look at the video in a bit.
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