Hjem 737 Cockpit project Cockpit related Introduction to a home cockpit project
Introduction to a home cockpit project Print E-mail
Written by Vidar Fagerjord   
Friday, 16 April 2010 13:24

Sitting in front of one or two monitors with keyboard and a joystick (and for the lucky ones: pedals and throttles too) won't give you that "super real" feeling when you're flying in your simulator. To get the ultimate gaming experience, you'll have to think seriously about building a cockpit replica - and in allmost real scale!

You don't need too much imagination to understand that it is WAY more fun to expedite your flight in an environment close to this:


NOTE: The image to the left is NOT my simulator!!! Quite a few dudes has emailed me about my "extremely nice simulator". All I have to say about that is: Read the different pages about the different areas of the sim. If the respective page shows an unfinished item, then the thingy is not done yet! ;) 

The road to such a goal is long. And expensive! The demand for that DIY (Do It Yourself) spirit will also be present very soon.

My goal with this project is not to get every thingamabob a hundred percent like the real deal. Some fellow builders have "gone airborne" (phun intended) with their project. In my not-so-humble opinion - buying the nose section off of a real airplane and converting it to the ultimate gameroom is taking it a bit too far. The same deal with those who scans Ebay and buy overpriced used parts in order to convert dem to usable simulator parts.

I do not want to make fun of anyone doing this - I am just pointing out that there might be better ways to go bankrupcy, and eventually own a simulator that actually fly!

The sane path to go is to do your business with companies that manufactures replicas of the various components. The backdrop is the costs: They know how to dig into your pocketbook! Well - I do understand this, based on the level of quality and realism they deliver.

My approach is as follows: As real as it gets, as cheap as possible! Now, that is two terms that are at opposite ends of the scale! It all comes down to where on the graph you want to place yourself. I want the panels within sight when I fly to be as close to the real deal as possible. As for the rest, I guess I'll compromize.

The goal/dream is that in the future, Cpt. Fagerjord will welcome you in his cockpit - and the cockpit will look like a real one. Of course it would have been great to build a full-motion sim - but that would be an enormous undertaking, not to mention vastly expensive, difficult, hazardous and whatnot.

Where to start?

Well - the logical start point would be to choose which bird you want to fly! A very wise advice for you: Choose an airplane that you can actually find parts for! An Airbus A380 is not a realistic goal, because it's a brand new airplane. Nobody is manufacturing products for A380 simulators, and don't expect any 380's to be scrapped anytime soon.

I chose the 737-800 because I like it and because the 737 is the most common aircraft in Norway. The 737 has been in the world for a LONG time, therefore real parts are available. And I definitely do want to have actual aircraft parts that have flown around in the world, in my cockpit! But don't let the lack of parts discourage you from building YOUR dream! You can make anything these days, and if you want to put in the time, effort and money - you can make anything yourself, in your basement. But if you are like me, you do want to fly the thing too! Not do "reverse-engineering" for years.

Okay, so I've made THE decision - I know what to build. But what should I start building????

Most builders recommend that you start with the "dashboard" (Main Instrument Panel - MIP) first. A very good idea indeed, but I want to start with the overhead panels (the panels located in the cockpit roof). I start here simply because most systems is located here. As a bonus, they are not that difficult to build, and a functioning overhead can be flown at an early stage. That will keep my flying interest up, which is crucial if this project is going to be finished.

Some argue that the MIP will define your simulator and the space needed. Oh well. That brings up another crucial question: should I go completely insane and build a fullsize flightdeck? Or should I keep the wife sane and go for a smaller setup? Look at the space you've got. And remember that you most likely will end up with a large screen. Plan ahead! You might find that you don't have enough space for a complete flightdeck with visuals. Then you need to think about letting things out. Should you build both captain and first officer's side? Should you build the shell? (a copy of the actual structure that surrounds the cockpit). Or do you just want a semi-complete setup?

If you want a MIP, you could make one out of MDF yourself. It does not need to look good, as long as it works. Keep the DIY spirit up! :)
(also this would be a perfect project to get to know your tools, if you need to...) I plan to make a MIP myself. Eventually I will buy one, but for now that's not necessary.

WORD OF THE WISER: Be sure to read about my failures on page 1 and 2 on the "old overhead" section, before you choose where you want to start!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 19:48
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