View Full Version : A320 Planning the path

06-15-2008, 09:00 AM

After 20 years of FS using one computer, A joystick Pedals, and loads of free/payware scenery and aircraft, it is now time to move on.

I have recently had both the opertunity of 4 hrs in an FFS MD82 sim, and a MD82 jump seat trip. This reignited the dream of a more realistic setup.
Although my current favorite machine is the Maddog2006, I am heading in the direction of developing a wider A320 implementation.

As with most I am troubled with Time, Space and to some extent also budget constraints. For this reason, and following advise I am starting slow, but want to plan for an expandable concept.

I have therefore looked into what a singleperson A320 setup would cost, and have been in discussion with Peter Cos about FDS options.

I can see that I could easily end up spending 10-15 000 EUR before having a complete setup including AST software - if I was opting for ready to install FDS panels.
Although I have an understanding wife, this investment is not realistic, and I have therefore queried FDS for kits, which I could then assemble myself. Although I have several FS friends that have obtained this previously it seems that FDSs business focus has changed and therefore is reluctant to sell kits.

My question to you dear panel is therefore if you have any suggestions, as to how to bring down cost through the recommendation of appropriate kits. (I will not succeed if I have to go out and buy all the items for the panels individually).

Current setup:

FS9 on optimized PC with 24" widescreen LCD monitor
Loads of scenery and aircraft
CH Pedals
Logitech Sidewinder Joystick

My thoughts on the initial layout is as follows:

AST Software (w interactive Overhead, PFD/ND, ECAM/Backup Instr, MCDU)
FCU Panel
EFIS Panel
Throttle Quadrant
Radio Management Panel
Flaps Panel
Speedbrake Panel
Engine Start Panel
ECAM select Panel

To refer to the survey of being a builder more than a flight simmer, my focus is definetely on realistic flying.

Hope you can help...

Thanks in advance.


Michael Carter
06-15-2008, 10:09 AM

No one I know of has plunked down the cash all at once for a single-seat or dual-seat training device. That's beyond a lot of us here. Including me.

Start off with one piece, add to it, and move on to the next. 15.000 is a big outlay, but spread over 5-10 years it doesn't hurt as much. Make sure you are able to keep flying during the build even if it's still on the desktop.

If you are really in a hurry, you could choose another aircraft that would be cheaper to build, but you might not be happy with the compromise if what you really want is the A320.

Sometimes a cheaper solution is to scrounge the internet for used parts both real and simulated. The former are scarce for newer aircraft but they do turn up occasionally and sometimes cheaper than a replicated panel with no hardware included.

Patients in this hobby is required, as very little seems to happen overnight, let alone weeks or sometimes months. Good luck with your build.

06-15-2008, 04:55 PM

Thanks for your comments.

Im not sure I will purchase the entire package right off, but I do need to plan it to some detail, and get an overview of what investment is involved, so I avoid major surprises in relation to cost, that may result in me running dry half way to the goal.

This is only fair to my personal financial advisor, and myself for that matter, and will contribute to the success. :wink:

Likewise if kit options can save 30-40% of the price, I may need to opt for kits, rather than assembled panel parts.

This is where I really need the help of you guys...


06-15-2008, 05:19 PM
I've started my cockpit more then one year ago, I think it's project to last a minimum of 3 years.

Almost my panels are self-made with MDF, for electronics I use cheap boards from Opencockpits.


Michael Carter
06-15-2008, 06:15 PM

Thanks for your comments.

Im not sure I will purchase the entire package right off, but I do need to plan it to some detail, and get an overview of what investment is involved, so I avoid major surprises in relation to cost, that may result in me running dry half way to the goal.

Sometimes it's best not to even think about it, and buy when you're able.

I'm speaking as a re-confirmed bachelor though. I really don't want to know what I have invested in my 727, but I can tell you it's a lot less than a lot here have spent.

Get some wood-working books, and check out all of the posts when someone here posts photos of what they've built. Plastic, aluminum, wood, e-Bay, and Mouser Electronics are your five best friends in this hobby.

06-16-2008, 04:08 PM
smile - well for me planning works best, as I opt to stay in a happy familly.
Anyhow regardless of how one plans or dont plan financially, the problem remains:

How to reduce cost in comparisson to the off the shelf FDS modules, taking into consideration that:

Building everything from scratch is not an option due to my limited free time and workshop facilities. Further citing one of the polls on mycockpit, im more a simmer than a builder.
Realism of the implemented panel parts through well functioning A320 replica is important to me


08-26-2008, 11:09 PM
Cordial greetings, I wish to take the steps of 320 as far as wood is concerned, one can help me? my mail is ruben.encinales @ gmail.com

Michael Carter
08-26-2008, 11:43 PM
Wood is very easy to work with minumum tools, very forgiving, and sometimes repairable if you haven't made too serious of a mistake. (Holes in the wrong spots or for holding something until the glue dries, etc.)

Pine wood is cheap and plentiful, commonly labeled as SPF, (spruce-pine-fir) it is a major building wood of every industrialized county.

Plywood comes in different grades of finishing. Cabinet grade is the most expensive you can buy. It's nearly ready for paint or stain with minimal finish work neccesary. AC grade is the most common at lumberyards with one side smooth and one side rough. AC grade needs a lot of work to get it ready for a final finish even on the AC side. Sanding and filling and sealing will bring it up to par. CDX is exterior grade plywood, and you don't want to use that for your sim. It's rough on both sides and impossible to economically finish for paint. Though it could be used for interior support contruction that will not be seen or exposed.

A lot of us use wood and wood products for sim building. Solid wood is typically (for those working with wood) used in the primary construction for the exterior and interior framework, while plywood or thinner basswood can be used for smaller components such as throttle quadrants, MPC cases, glareshields, instrument panel stands, (and sometimes the panel itself), overhead outer framework, etc.

It can be sanded to an extremely smooth surface with enough patients and time, and can be sealed to fill up the grain. When painted, you can't tell it from aluminum or steel.

Luan plywood is typically an 1/8" or thinner and is sanded extremly fine. It is typically used above the sub-floor before carpeting or a solid tounge and groove hardwood floor is layed. It makes for less work for control stand boxes, instrument panels and other items mentioned above. It will still have to be filled and sealed with either multiple coats of sanding sealer or an auto body glaze and then sanded smooth. The body glaze is a much faster method as it dries extremely fast and adheres to wood very well. A coat of sanding sealer after the final body glaze sand and then a fine sanding with a 600 grit will finish it off as slick as aluminum.

You'd have to check the download library for plans or construction details for an A320. If not there, the internet is your next best bet.

Just don't glue anything together until you're sure it's correct. The bond is stronger than the wood. You'll have to cut it apart if you goof.

And always remember the carpenter's adage: "Measure twice, cut once."

08-27-2008, 03:57 AM
Building a cockpit can be an expensive undertaking but as other people have stated,
very few spent it all at ones. Also when you like to reduce your budget, just keep
on following this site. Sometimes people who close down their hobby to look to other
horizons offer their panels (FDS panels) for reduced prices. That way I bought my FDS
elite glareshield in Netherlands, my overhead in Madrid, my MCDUs in Ireland...
I bought also some panels from cockpitsonic. To my opinion not as great as FDS but at a
relative cheap price. If you know how to use a solder iron and you are not afraid
to build your own PCBs then opencockpits is the cheap way to interface it all.
I am already building for more then 2 years But I sometimes stop building for some
months and just fly the thing. I always make sure that I can fly again within some days
when I continue working on the sim.
The numerous pictures on this site prove that many people make something...some go for the perfect copy of a cockpit...some like to imitate a cockpit (are happy when it looks like it) ... and some want to have some immersive feeling...
Of course the budget that will go into it will also go higher the more you want to get to perfection of a certain cockpit. Anyway, its an evolution... I started out with the idea to make a cockpit resembling an airbus (sidestick) and I was going to make my own panels...
but see were you end up after some years....

Greetz Peter

08-27-2008, 08:48 AM
Yes to echo everyone else- Patience is key and sometimes you may want to look to liquidate other hobby interest. I have been involved in running a military simulation (airsoft) club for 2 years now, but it's time for me to sell those guns and gear and work only as an admin/advisor for the club and that money will go to help pay for yet another phase of my Learjet 45 simulator (which by the way, is a very affordable full-size sim).

Besides patience, dont forget that there are often several companies that offer the products you need at competitive prices. With the 737NG and A320, the choices are growing monthly it seems. If someone had all the money at once, then it'd be easy to build a full 737NG in 6 months.

08-27-2008, 12:14 PM
S if its any help at all Im selling my entire Airbus 340 setup I still have a MIP, Fully wired overhead, pedestal,A Real A320 flap panel off the actual A/C brand New prctically, thrust levers , 2 sets of pedals, 2 projectors left, FCU fully operational, 7 Phidget I/O Boards Brand New, Software Scenery of all kinds, This could literally save you 1000s to get started. If interested let me know. No CDUs tho sorry all 3 have been sold :)

Let me know if I can help S I have been building for close to 10 years.Also I am very trustworthy and will give you a good fair shake, you can ask any of the guys who have got stuff from me.


08-27-2008, 07:19 PM
Hi there,

I couldn't resist the opportunity to plug my "wares"!!!

Pricing by PM...