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View Full Version : Well-financed newbie asks ... which vendor?



DaveyJJ
05-21-2008, 03:22 PM
I'm curious to find out what the veterans here think is the most reliable vendor(s) to use assuming that you A) have the cash you need in hand (let's say $150,000), and B) you want a nice, enclosed 737-800 or Airbus 320 cockpit to while away your leisure time. Seriously.

I am researching such a (fantastic) scenario and am seeking expert opinions.

I know that there are now many more vendors of such parts/solutions than there were even five years ago (Aerodeck, FlightDeck, FlyPFC, etc etc) when this first all came up to this level, but am actually now confused between the number of build-your-own versus built versus a bit of each options that have now made themselves available.

When did this explode so much past simply a hobby we were all attempting in our garages (with the humorous toleration of our spouses)?

I guess I'm really asking ... if you had the cash to outright buy a nice cockpit sim, who would you spend it with (and why, if you want to elaborate). I assume that there are places that can even deliver the whole package now, right?

Thanks for taking the time. Or if this has been approached before, can you point me to the relevant thread.

PS. I'm a former ATC, private pilot, technology nut and artist-type (last 18 years) whose dad always took him to CYYZ's old terminal 1 to watch planes back in the 60s and 70s.

Trevor Hale
05-21-2008, 03:36 PM
Hey Davey,

Here is the big dilemma for you. I have seen so many people jump off the ladder and hit the ground by purchasing tones of equipment and ready made accessories. Here is the problem. Once you jump off the ladder you will never get "and I quote" Your money back 100%.

Part of building the simulator is the fun of it, but if nothing else it lets you spend your money bit by bit, and see if this is a hobby that is really for you. I have seen so many people miss the point of the simulator and buy all kinds of stuff, just to find out that they loose some configuration somewhere, and don't know where to go to fix it because they didn't build it.

So if Money is no object, and you have the ability... I would buy the parts as kit form, and enjoy building it as you go.

Other wise, you may find yourself wishing you had in the future.

However, if your independently wealthy, and you have tones of money to burn. Sure there are many people that will take it from you, just be aware that when you order a complete lot of equipment like your interested in, you can expect to shell out the money months before you see anything arrive.

My honest opinion is to decide on Airbus or Boeing. (be sure of your decision because there is no turning back) Order yourself the MCP and EFIS panels from CPflight, or 737Ng.com, get some good Computers, a Main Instrument panel from either of the above suppliers, and Project magenta software, and go from there. Make sure you assemble and configure everything, and if your still interested you have only blown about 1/10th of what you want to spend.

Just my opinion.

Best regards,

Trev

DaveyJJ
05-21-2008, 03:43 PM
Hey Davey,

Here is the big dilemma for you. I have seen so many people jump off the ladder and hit the ground by purchasing tones of equipment and ready made accessories. Here is the problem. Once you jump off the ladder you will never get "and I quote" Your money back 100%.

Part of building the simulator is the fun of it, but if nothing else it lets you spend your money bit by bit, and see if this is a hobby that is really for you. I have seen so many people miss the point of the simulator and buy all kinds of stuff, just to find out that they loose some configuration somewhere, and don't know where to go to fix it because they didn't build it.

So if Money is no object, and you have the ability... I would buy the parts as kit form, and enjoy building it as you go.

Other wise, you may find yourself wishing you had in the future.

However, if your independently wealthy, and you have tones of money to burn. Sure there are many people that will take it from you, just be aware that when you order a complete lot of equipment like your interested in, you can expect to shell out the money months before you see anything arrive.

My honest opinion is to decide on Airbus or Boeing. (be sure of your decision because there is no turning back) Order yourself the MCP and EFIS panels from CPflight, or 737Ng.com, get some good Computers, a Main Instrument panel from either of the above suppliers, and Project magenta software, and go from there. Make sure you assemble and configure everything, and if your still interested you have only blown about 1/10th of what you want to spend.

Just my opinion.

Best regards,

Trev

Much of what you say is what I've been mulling over myself. I do want the experience of building/tinkering and have enough buddies with engineering and mechanical backgrounds to help when I hit the inevitable roadblock.

I'm torn between Airbus and Boeing. I love the A320 ... seeing them in the sky around YYZ every day and "flying" one in X-Plane, but I can not get over my "if there's no yokes, it's not a real airplane" mentality having grown up through the 1960s and 1970s.

There also seems to be more Boeing stuff out there ... when it comes to eventually getting it completely done ... or am I mistaken?

If there are decent/full A320 parts (overheads, etc) available, I think I'd probably go Airbus.

Thanks for the input ... more to mull over (I like that feeling).

Trevor Hale
05-21-2008, 04:01 PM
Well you are right, there is more Boeing stuff out there then there is Airbus, However, that doesn't stop you from doing it yourself. Guys have spent 15K on a laser cutter/engraver just to build their own panels.

I was an Airbus Fan, and still am at heart. Seeing the new FCU/EFIS Panels from Cpflight for the Airbus, is a real tear jerker for me, because If I had only known then what I know now, I may have jumpped off that ladder instead.

The biggest thing you need to realize is that every time you rebuild your simulator, it gets better and better. I don't think that anyone can build it 100% perfect first go.

Secondly, I have seen people sop all their money into Boeing stuff, only to realize that Airbus is their love, and then they try to recoup a portion of their money to buy airbus stuff, only to find out they are just as unsatisfied.

Research, research, and more research is the ticket. Figure out what you want to do, and play with it. I spent at least a year going over things before I started, but I tell you this. The day you connect your first switch to a ripped apart joystick for your landing gear, so you have something to flick rather then pressing G on the keyboard is the day it's all over. :)

We are here to help, kind of a shrinks for sim builders to help you get perspective before you do something you might regret.

And by the way. If Airbus is where your heart Lies..... follow it, you will never be disappointed, and like I said, I think many of us on this site have proven that just because something isn't available on the market today, doesn't mean we cant tell you how you can go about building it yourself. Thats why it is still considered to be a Hobby.

Best regards,

Trev

Jackpilot
05-21-2008, 04:07 PM
If there are decent/full A320 parts (overheads, etc) available, I think I'd probably go Airbus.


I am an FDS client and a very satisfied one, building a 73, but I have seen their A320 stuff ..impressive.
They are just next door to U, no duties, no shipping cost. Go and have a look.
As a starter:
http://www.flightdecksolutions.com/view_page.php?id=63
http://www.flightdecksolutions.com/prod_info.php?id=585
http://www.flightdecksolutions.com/prod_info.php?id=529

Trevor Hale
05-21-2008, 04:17 PM
Well said Jack,

When you ordered your stuff from FDS, how long from time of order did you need to wait before you got the stuff?

Would you say less then a month?

Trev

DaveyJJ
05-21-2008, 04:35 PM
I am an FDS client and a very satisfied one, building a 73, but I have seen their A320 stuff ..impressive.
They are just next door to U, no duties, no shipping cost. Go and have a look.
As a starter:
http://www.flightdecksolutions.com/view_page.php?id=63
http://www.flightdecksolutions.com/prod_info.php?id=585
http://www.flightdecksolutions.com/prod_info.php?id=529

Yeah, I like them a lot. I spent time at their open house recently speaking with Peter and his brother when I had the chance with some very tech-savvy friends of mine as well and we came away very pleased with their work. As a matter of fact, on a forum thread there (http://www.flightdecksolutions.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3596)about that evening, my son is sitting in the right hand seat in one of the pictures. It was superb work by them ... I enjoyed every minute. And being local has advantages over other good builders it is true. (And that balding(!) guy examining the throttle quadrant (http://www.flightdecksolutions.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3597) might even be me.)


Well said Jack,

When you ordered your stuff from FDS, how long from time of order did you need to wait before you got the stuff?

Would you say less then a month?

Trev

They actually spoke with me to some degree about what I have in mind and their estimate for delivery for a "very large order" wasn't out of line for what is required. For smaller orders, I'm certain they can accommodate well but as to specifics, not sure. They hang out here a bit, no?

Jackpilot
05-21-2008, 04:39 PM
Trev
Variable, but they always sent me more than enough to keep me super busy building, including custom parts. All a matter of properly planning ahead wich part you will need and when.
No complaints about that...
Lots of innovative products, very often ahead of most competitors.
My 2 cents.
I strongly encourage Davey to have a look, talk with them and make his own opinion.
The fact that they are on our "cold" side of the border is certainly an asset for him!!

Jackpilot
05-21-2008, 04:43 PM
sorry Dav you answered before my reply...I could not attend this time .Glad you had fun.

Trevor Hale
05-21-2008, 05:35 PM
Trev
Variable, but they always sent me more than enough to keep me super busy building, including custom parts. All a matter of properly planning ahead wich part you will need and when.
No complaints about that...
Lots of innovative products, very often ahead of most competitors.
My 2 cents.
I strongly encourage Davey to have a look, talk with them and make his own opinion.
The fact that they are on our "cold" side of the border is certainly an asset for him!!

Fantastic Jack. I agree with you 100%. If they are able to keep some kind of part flow coming to keep you busy then that is indeed a bonus. My biggest fear would be dropping 3 or 4 K and having to wait for months and months, wondering if your stuff is ever coming. LOL, obviously this is not the case.

I almost wish when I lived in the City that Peter would have let me come by and have a look at their products. I had the pleasure of a couple emails exchanged, and when I requested a possible visit, he told me that he wouldn't be able to swing that.

I am not quite sure why, but I just assumed that he was working on some incognito project. LOL I am very glad that you have had such wonderful experiences with FDS.

PaulEMB
05-23-2008, 10:03 AM
Hi,

I am also a happy FDS customer, and although I have a "non standard" sim, the FDS team has been excellent at fulfilling my requirements.

I would highly recommend a visit to FDS, I'm sure you will get a better idea of how to visualise your dream, and then be able to realise it!

DaveyJJ
05-23-2008, 02:34 PM
Hi,

I am also a happy FDS customer, and although I have a "non standard" sim, the FDS team has been excellent at fulfilling my requirements.

I would highly recommend a visit to FDS, I'm sure you will get a better idea of how to visualise your dream, and then be able to realise it!

I was actually at the open house that they had recently, fortunately being only about 90 minutes drive away. Peter Cos invited me and I must say that I and a couple of even more tech-savvy friends were impressed.

That being said, I am also getting excellent replies and customer service from the guys at Cockpitsonic's Texas office. And their complete product certainly is stunning.

I am trying to decide between these two (and consequently two a/c models as well).

BHawthorne
05-23-2008, 06:50 PM
While having the money to realize the project is nice, I truly believe the key ingredients for me are patience, tons of research and a willingness to learn a lot of new things at a pace that is comfortable to you. Money is only a minor portion of the equation. I personally believe it would be a mistake to spend money on anything unless you're dead sure that's the initial way you want to implement it and you've asked around for every little detail over the time of the build. My bet is you'll end up having a lot of fun learning new stuff and working with friends on the build and not end up spending anywhere near that $150k mentioned in the OP. I'd treat the project as though you don't have that money. It'll be a better influence upon your decision making along the way.

One thing you might think about since you do have a bit to begin with is find the boneyard contacts in your region. Get a price quote for a cut cockpit section. I've seen 737 sections go for $750-$2500 in the 2 cases I've seen in the last year. It would make a very solid shell for your build and would increase realism. They should come with the yokes and throttle quadrant and most of the panel mounts you'd need for the basis of high fidelity build.

blueskydriver
05-24-2008, 09:41 AM
Davy,

Like some of the others here, I am a big FDS fan and I just received my B737 MIP Stand with Custom CDU Bay and many other related items. I am very happy with Peter and Steve.

However, when I started going for the cockpit 3 years ago, I was looking at the do-it-yourself idea and I can say I switched to built components later. For one, it is easy to plug in a EFIS and MCP with an USB cable, configure some software and you're flying with them, as opposed to making those yourself, working with "whatever" hardware cards and trying to figure it all out. You spend more time troubleshooting and less flying. I don't mind fixing things, but the hobby is flying a simulator and maybe fixing some things, not fixing everything and hope to fly!

Finally, and to say the least, I have seen many companies pop up on the radar and some are great and others are...well, not so great. The old saying still goes "buyer beware". Also, my main point is this, and maybe someone else might know about this, a few years ago a company started up and the owner was just getting into this and he had some awesome skills in fiberglass work.

He took real cockpits and made molds from them, as well as other interior parts. He now has a company called AeroDeck Engineering. If I had the money as you suggested and if AeroDeck is as good as the website suggest:

http://www.aerodeckengineering.com/Products/products.php

I would buy it all from them because the cockpit looks really good; then again for $150,000 you could get a real pre-cut sim with everything here in the states if you look hard enough (check out http://www.angelfire.com/il2/aphs/).

However, since I am an FDS fan like I said, I'll stick with them because not only do they have good products, they have great support and that is what matters most! That I'd swear too! You call or email them and they'll email you or even call back within a few hours, even on weekends or way, way after midnight (if PC or Steve is up); all just to make me happy. So, that is where my money will continue to go...

John

DaveyJJ
05-24-2008, 11:58 AM
Davy,

Like some of the others here, I am a big FDS fan and I just received my B737 MIP Stand with Custom CDU Bay and many other related items. I am very happy with Peter and Steve.

However, when I started going for the cockpit 3 years ago, I was looking at the do-it-yourself idea and I can say I switched to built components later. For one, it is easy to plug in a EFIS and MCP with an USB cable, configure some software and you're flying with them, as opposed to making those yourself, working with "whatever" hardware cards and trying to figure it all out. You spend more time troubleshooting and less flying. I don't mind fixing things, but the hobby is flying a simulator and maybe fixing some things, not fixing everything and hope to fly!

Finally, and to say the least, I have seen many companies pop up on the radar and some are great and others are...well, not so great. The old saying still goes "buyer beware". Also, my main point is this, and maybe someone else might know about this, a few years ago a company started up and the owner was just getting into this and he had some awesome skills in fiberglass work.

He took real cockpits and made molds from them, as well as other interior parts. He now has a company called AeroDeck Engineering. If I had the money as you suggested and if AeroDeck is as good as the website suggest:

http://www.aerodeckengineering.com/Products/products.php

I would buy it all from them because the cockpit looks really good; then again for $150,000 you could get a real pre-cut sim with everything here in the states if you look hard enough (check out http://www.angelfire.com/il2/aphs/).

However, since I am an FDS fan like I said, I'll stick with them because not only do they have good products, they have great support and that is what matters most! That I'd swear too! You call or email them and they'll email you or even call back within a few hours, even on weekends or way, way after midnight (if PC or Steve is up); all just to make me happy. So, that is where my money will continue to go...

John

Thanks John,

We are lucky to be quite close to FDS ... only about a 75-90 minute drive depending on traffic across the 401 and have visited them and asked a fair number of technical questions. I am fortunate enough (or perhaps nerdy enough) to have friends who are programmers, mechanical engineers, and tinkers who code in assembly language for hobby projects and build CDC machines accurate to 1/1000th of an inch for fun. I took them with me.

Aerodeck is, unfortunately, not able to offer some of the equipment they are showing at this time ... I have had some great email conversations with them but they can't fulfill the order I'm envisioning at the moment.

On the other hand, Manolo at the US branch of CockpitSonic has been extremely helpful over the last week, and they have a turn-key simulator that is a slight bit more than I had wanted to spend, but is certainly worth the extra money if a complete, ready-to-fly thing is what you're looking for. The product is quite stunning.

I will be making a decision soon.