Start with the Floor/base.

Now that MSFS2020 will be released in less than a month, I am currently skipping the warp of the screen for the time being. As I currently do not know if MSFS2020 is a simulator to build a cockpit against or upgrade my current P3Dv4.5 to P3Dv5.

The Warpalizer license I have today does not cover either MSFS2020 or P3Dv5 so the choice is still between upgrading the current Waralizer license or simply buying FlyElise. The price and choice of simulator may determine that later.


Started with building the floor. Bars in 120x45mm wood, 12mm board material on top of it and finally I will put an aluminum plate on either 2mm or 3mm depending on whether I need to get it stiffer or not.


I use Carl’s design (www.737diysim.com). Redo his measurements to suit my stuff and plans, but based on his drawing and builds the floor in sections. Mounted wheels 40mm construction height, if these are allowed to remain later, the ceiling height must determine. But during the construction period, they are extremely handy.

I bought a homemade Yoke column from a friend who went a straw sharper and bought an entire OEM column. On mine, the FO side is an OEM and the Captain side is a replica from opencockpits.com. The problem with this yoke is that it is made with link arms and thus can not turn more than about 140-150 degrees on each side. Whether I redo them before assembly or postpone it until much later into the construction, I will have to decide a little later. The plan is then a timing belt or chain.

Slowly but slowly

About a little over six months ago, I bought used overhead frame and panels. They are originally from Simworld and the quality is absolutley superb.

However there were some small parts missing but largely complete. The seller found some screws and a piece of plastic as well as the EGT gauge panel which he sent to me this week.

I have been wiring cables and chose to run all panels individually with DSUB connectors. Mounted parts and this is what the overhead looks like today.

More about the overhead later in the build as the unit approaches assembly.

Now finally all parts of the CNC milling machine have arrived. I am currently working with software control. I really hope I can get this thing going and lerning curve is smooth so I can start milling useful stuff.

All conditions in the world


I don’t really know what I have done to deserve it, but at Christmas Santa came with a new soldering iron. Probably I had been whining about my old one far too much so to get some Christmas peace a soldering iron was a good alternative.

Probably about the same scenario occurred around my birthday so my wonderful wife with kids gave me this digital laboratory power supply. Now I really have all the conditions in the world to be able to do a good job in the rebuilding of the simulator.

And a lesson to learn. Everything, just about anything involving a hobby project of this size takes extremely much longer than I thought.

The beginning again.


Okay, so the plan for this weekend was to build a greenhouse for my wife. However, it turned out that the weather was too bad so after quick decisions we emptied the storage room which will be the space for the simulator and the renovation really started.


The surface before renovation


The house is built in lightweight concrete so we installed plasterboard in the roof. Futhermore we covered the walls with OSB boards, a type of pressed and glued wooden boards. So mounting of shelves, hooks and more becomes super easy. Painted evrything and added new parquet.

Fresh paint and door relocated, the space where the simulator will be built.


My wife has come across an old unused kitchen from her job, which I got installed. Will be added more units on the opposite side door at a later date.

3D Printer installed.

So, still waiting for the postman with spare parts for the 3D printer. In the coming week, I hope to make time for further storage and pick up tools and machines.
For now I’m looking on all the opportunities that pegboards provide, Thingiverse again is a gold mine, more on that later when the printer is back in business.

Progress is sloooooow…


Progress is slow but it’s just a matter of getting used to it, this hobby is slow. The job of 3D printing and CAD the MIP continues. The printer is currently working on a new gear leaver handle and mechanism. The body itself is just printed, the tube, the wheel and the trigger will be sanded, spray filled and painted in several steps. More on that when i can take pictures to show.

The CAD drawing is largely measured, adjustments are made to ensure that everything really fits. The space between the gear leaver, the standby instruments and the upper eicas screen is really tight and the range of small screens of 4:3 size is really limited. But I’m chasing on.

In the meantime, I intend to enlighten other cockpit builders, who have helped me in some way (probably without even knowing about it). The first video I ever saw on a homemade simulator was a video I came across on YouTube totally random.


Neale Hargreaves a British guy who has built a full mock-up Boeing 737-800NG branded as KLM. In his first video, he shows his entire sim that he built out in a shed. I watched the video countless times to the extent that my wife responded in the style of “if he can do one, you can too!” and that was where the idea of my own cockpit building started.

Back to the drawing board


Now 2mm aluminum sheet has been purchased. Currently sits with Fusion360 and measures in so everything fits. I am completely novice in Fusion but teach me slowly but surely.


Furthermore, I have previously made a gear leaver of plumbing parts and springs. The result was not to my satisfaction, so I turned to the 3D printer and printed out a gear leaver. The measurements were bad and overall the feeling was not right. So now I give Karl’s design a chance and hope for better results than before.

Link to 737DIYSIM gear lever on Thingiverse.

I will also fill the space in front of the screens with glass or clear plastic. The holes in the MIP backplate surrounding the screens are made slightly larger to fit the glass. The joint is covered with MIP screen frames.

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.