Before dismantling


An image from the simulator as it stands today, MIP backplate in 5mm MDF wood, and no faceplates. I’ll make them in aluminum instead.

Unfortunately, the panels from flightsimulatorparts are not super quality, but it was the first thing I bought and simply did not know better. They get off to a start, can always be replaced afterwards. The buttons are 3D printed, sanded and painted. The standby instruments in the picture above are from the same 15 “screen which shows the upper eicas screen.

I came across 3 flightillusion gauges and thus will switch to these. I know they are not the right instruments for NG but they are too cool, so i am going to fit them anyway. My mission now is to find a screen small enough to fit between the instruments and the landing gear lever.


I hope I can find the time of the week that comes and meet my friend with the industry sized CNC Router, to cut out all the holes in the new MIP backplate.

Main Instrument Panel

Planning MIP with the parts I already have. Using the measurements from marcuspilot.com and the same technology as Karl from 737diysim.com. He builds an absolutely amazing simulator in mostly wood, if you haven’t seen his blog and videos check them out! He is also kind enough to share a lot of his measurements and these are exactly the ones I will use.

The frame is made of wood, MIP backboard as well as MIP faceplates will be made out of aluminium. The panels acrylic plastic I recycle my old ones from flightsimulatorparts, at least initially. The quality of those panels is not the best but the dimensions are good and the degrees of rotary switches right so they will get off to a good start.


I will build the entire main instrument panel as a single unit, where lower MIP and glarewings, autopilot and EFIS all sits together. Mounted with IO Cards on the backside for easy access. To run LEDs Phidget64 Cards will be used, naitive dim control without using resistors is just fantastic. Inputs will be controlled with OpenCockpits MasterCard. 72 digital inputs per card, and 3 cards per usb cable I get very far. In addition the outputs can be used for relays. Servos with GSA card to run Flightillution gauges standby instruments and flaps. Steppers and 7-segment displays are run with Arduino Megas. Everything is mounted in a package controlled with 5v, 12v and a usb cable. At least that’s the plan the entire MIP on 3 cables + monitors.

Tools

Sometime during a cockpit build comes the need for a 3D printer. Maybe not a must, but a terribly helpful one. I turned on a D9 with a 300x300x350 printbed. It has been a faithful servant and helped me to print buttons, boxes and tools.

But pretty soon into the building, the 3D printer is not enough, a cnc cutter would do much of the job better. I found on thingiverse a Polish guy Nikodem, who has made and shared a printed milling machine. Very popular and looks really promising. Designed for milling in wood and plastic but many users have also succeeded in milling aluminum. So with the help of the 3D printer I now build a DIY Dremel CNC.

All printed parts are ready. Waiting for ordered parts from Asia. At present the world is in the Covid-19 crisis so transport takes longer than normal. But I hope I will be able to get the parts home soon so I can assemble the machine and start testing CNC before the summer. Meanwhile, I get help from a friend who already has a bad ass 1×1 meter industrial machine.

Where to start?!?

ok, building a simulator cockpit how hard can it be? How much will it cost? How long will it take?

There is really no exact answer to it but it will be just as complicated I choose it to be. It will not be cheap, this hobby is anything but cheap and in the end most people who have been doing this have been building for many years. So it is kind of a “never ending story” and I’m just at the beginning.


I will build a Boeing 737-800NG, partly because it is the model I fly most with online and I can’t put my finger on exactly why but have simply stuck to the 737NG. In addition, it is by far the most common home cockpit builder model, so there are tons of information and also manufacturers of 737 simulator parts. So the choice was pretty simple in the end.

I will build a fixed base sim with a 180 degree screen using 3 projectors short throw. At present, I plan on not having the simulator encased in a shell, but that may change during the journey. I will build as much as I can DIY, mostly in wood and sheet metal. One of the first goals is to have the screen. The projectors have already been bought used by a fellow builder who unfortunately has chosen to finish his project. So I got to buy them cheap. At the same time, I will deal with the components I already have, rebuild them and use the components that are already finnished. First up is the rebuilding of the MIP itself.


I hope I will be able to inspire someone with this blog and that you can find some useful information.