March 22, 2012 at 2:11 PM ET
The sentiment "it's amazing what kids can do these days" is clichéd, but at times it's the best possible reaction. Take these five high school kids building a flight simulator based on a "Battlestar Galactica" Viper 7 -- the craft flown by Colonial fighter pilots.
The project is for Maker Faire Bay Area; all across the country, Make Magazine organizes get-togethers for inventors to show off their ideas and craftsmanship. The Viper flight simulator is the latest Maker Faire submission from DeRose family of San Rafael, Calif. Past creations include a potato Gatling gun, a fire-breathing dragon, and the arm canon that Samus from "Metroid" utilizes.
The DeRose's latest is a collaborative effort among other kids in the neighborhoods, along with a few mentors:
As the video explains, the process began with scaled down prototypes created with Legos. Once it was determined that the projected motors were in the right spots, plans for the real thing was drafted in AutoCAD, a 3-D modeling program. Which was then applied to the fuselage of an actual plane, one affixed to a motion control platform that's capable of 360-degree rotation.
In addition to moving like the "real thing:" (what with the spacecraft from the show being a total work of fiction), it will look like it too, at least on the inside. There are plans to re-create the interiors found in the show, even the “blinky-lights.”
The thing that brings it all together is a modified version of "Microsoft Flight," an open source simulator, which will emulate the "Battlestar Galactica" universe. There will also be additional programming to allow the game to interface with the actual hardware contained within the cockpit.
More information on the work in progress project can be found via its homepage. There's a Kickstarter to help raise funds for essential materials. Even though it's almost at the 200 percent mark, financial assistance is still necessary.
Matthew Hawkins is an NYC-based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode, and co-hosts The Fangamer Podcast. You can keep tabs on him via Twitter, or his personal home-base, FORT90.com.