View Full Version : New Cessna 172 Simulator Project

12-26-2010, 05:04 PM
Hi everybody,

A few weeks ago I visited Joe's simulator (project727.xsn.net). I was really

amazed how realistic a flight simulator can get. Few days later I found my self

getting FSX. I have been playing for a while with it and I just love it. I was

able to add Yahoo Maps texture through tileproxy. In the end I wanted more so I

decide to build a simulator for myself.

While searching through the internet I found that there are some planes that you

can find plenty info, like b737 or A320, but there are others that are more

difficult to replicate because of lack of information. I decide that I want to

build a Cessa 172/Skyhawk, maybe the glass cockpit version. I'm an electrical

engineering student and I'm very familiar with CAD software like Solidworks. I

was able to find some CAD files for the C172 panel but I wasn't able to get CAD

files for the cockpit cabin or shell. I have some idea how to start building the

panels but I have no idea how to build the cabin/shell. I will appreaciate if

somebody could give me a hint or could tell me where to find info about the

cabin/shell of a C172.

My goal is to build a very realistic C172 simulator at a price less than $5,000. I

found these plans (The CS-1 "Stallion" Dual Seat Trainer -

http://www.simsamurai.net/Sim_Samurai_CS-1_DIY_Sim_Co.html) for $30. I beleive

that it doesn't have the exact dimension of a C172 but it provides a good staring

point. Also it provides a very cheap, less that $300 in materials, way to build a

cabin/shell. If a keyboard provide more keys than the total inputs(toggle switches

and push buttons) of a cessna 172, you can easily emulate all the input without an

expensive board and software by a simple keyboard hack using capacitors and

relays. I'm still thinking about how to deal with the outputs (lights, leds, etc)

in a cheap way. Any additional help will be appreciated. Thanks.

12-27-2010, 04:41 AM
Very interesting site. Could be worth the cost for the blueprints. Just by examining the design though you could perhaps make your own. As you are quite familiar with CAD shouldn't be to hard. If you take a look here Free Cessna Manuals (http://www.micro-tools.net/pdf/Cessna/) you will find the manuals for the 172. The owners manual in many cases and the POH (Pilots Operating Handbook) will have the dimensional information (interior) of your aircraft model. The parts catalog though is the one that's of bigger importance when building however. That will show you nearly every part of the aircraft. While there is no dimensional info there are excellent drawings. Showing you how the parts work in the real aircraft. This is important if you don't have access to one.

One of the things you should consider first off is FSUIPC (http://www.schiratti.com/dowson.html). This extends the range of controls nearly 10 fold over that of the 'stock' FSX. It's a free download but to get the full benefits you'll need to pay for registration. Well worth it from a sim builder standpoint. On the other side of that - The input side. A hacked keyboard may seem like a cheap way to get all the inputs you need but there are many that you will need to convert from a conventional 'knob or toggle' to that of a keystroke. The BU0836X (http://www.leobodnar.com/products/BU0836X/) by taking it off of the keyboard side and making it a joystick input lets you add all the rotatably controls and there are plenty.

Radio Knobs
Instrument Adjustment Knobs
Toggles and Switches.

These can all be accessed easily with the unit mentioned above instead of trying to rig up something and because it's USB you can add them till you run out of inputs to make for your sim. This becomes even more important if you plan on making the Garmin G1000 (https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=6420) cockpit as that interface is mostly knobs.

When you are working with a keyboard input you have all the keys and thats it. With a joystick you have a great deal more fidelity as your turning a knob not pushing a key. As well you can only add one extra keyboard to your computer say. As each keyboard will show up as another keyboard. Same keys. So you don't gain the extra 'keys' by adding more of them. You get duplicates. A joystick however can be assigned as you see fit.

FSUIPC and the BU0836X are a quick one two to get things rolling. From there you can add all you need with very little hassle.

Hope that helps out some and welcome to MyCockpit.org

01-03-2011, 10:19 PM
I check with the 172 POH pdfs but i did not find any measurements of the cabin at all. I did find it for the 180. Thanks anyways.

01-04-2011, 12:01 AM
Not sure if you've run across this guy's simulator in your research, but it's pretty awesome http://www.youtube.com/user/Cessna172sim

He has another site with info that might be able to help you out.


01-05-2011, 02:13 AM
Yep your right. Looks like someone made a custom version of the POH for the 172 and uploaded without all the figures. No worries though I found a version online that fits the bill. It's a 1978 Cessna 172N POH that has the figures in there. I uploaded it here for others just in case someone else can use one later. However if you can't wait for the file to get out of the moderation que here is a link to it.

1978 Cessna 172N Pilots Operating Handbook.pdf (http://www.nwfc.ca/content/uploads/172N_Pilot_Operating_Handbook.pdf)

Section 6 part 8 has the dimensional info for the interior of the aircraft for balance and loading.

Hope that helps

01-05-2011, 03:30 AM

Welcome to this interesting hobby. C172 is a great choice for first project.

Check out our project site:


and feel free to contact me directly:

Also, check these measurements:

From a -20 degrees frozen Tampere, Finland.

01-07-2011, 03:17 AM
Thanks Vectro and Ronson2k9.

I downloaded the new PDF and found the measurements. I also visited the website you recomend me Vectro and found the pictures with the measurements.

This question is for Vectro, in your Cessna 172 Simulator Project, did you build the entire cockpit from scratch or you start from a real used Cessna 172 cabin?

01-07-2011, 04:32 AM
We were lucky enough to find a real 172 shell. I would say that by using the real fuselage there is so much more job.

01-07-2011, 02:32 PM

In terms of difficulties, do you recomend me to build the cabin or buy a used C172 cabin?

In terms of money, do you recomend me to build the cabin or buy a used C172 cabin?

Thanks again.

01-07-2011, 04:27 PM

In terms of difficulties, do you recomend me to build the cabin or buy a used C172 cabin?

In terms of money, do you recomend me to build the cabin or buy a used C172 cabin?

Thanks again.
In our case the shell was pretty badly damaged. The dural as a material is very tricky. Once it has lost it's original shape it is very hard to force it back to it's original place. It basically bends once, then cracks. We had to cut large segments of the the shell parts away and replace them with a plywood.

I suggest you go for a real one anyway if you have a change. We were lucky enough to get the twisted fuselage for free so I cannot say anything about the costs really. It took appr. 2 years to repair the fuselage as a part time hobby.

Our fuselage was written off from duty when a hangar roof collapsed on top the plane during wintertime. There was too much snow on top of the lightweight hangar roof.

Here is from where we started, september 2006:



01-07-2011, 07:36 PM
Hi Vectro,

Well, based on your opinion and pictures, I'll first try to get a real non-working plane. If getting the plane is not possible or too expensive, I'll have no choice but to make something similar to a Cessna 172 in plywood. I'll probably buy The CS-1 "Stallion" Dual Seat Trainer -http://www.simsamurai.net/Sim_Samura...IY_Sim_Co.html) from Simsamurai and use it as a starting point. I'll be praying God that I could get a cheap bargain on one non-working C172. In the meanwhile I'm building a big CNC Router Mill, 8' by 4'. As soon as I get the machine done i'll be cuting the panels.Thanks.

01-09-2011, 03:14 AM
I found this(http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=c97c36e649f2a2a42101d5bd4b07c133&ct=mdsa) 3D model for a cessna cockpit. It very simple but its a good starting point, I can export it to solidworks and modify it and it includes a motor design for motion platform.

06-16-2011, 02:02 AM
Very interesting site. Could be worth the cost for the blueprints. Just by examining the design though you could perhaps make your own.

Thanks for the reminder of why I should try and hide the interior frames of my designs! (so people just don't go and attempt to copy it rather than buy it) ;)

#1 - I take alot of extra care in what I offer. I deeply and thoroughly research each design I create.

#2 - The CS-1 is very, very close to a real Cessna 172 / 182. I am a real pilot and I spent several hours measuring the cabin interiors of these aircraft.

#3 - Both the doors and interior height were slightly lengthened for several reasons. To begin, a real Cessna is ~3 ft off the ground. You climb up into it and therefore the door can be shorter. Mine is a little taller because I assume most builders will not raise their sim off the floor. Secondly the roof is slightly taller to help better accomdate pilots up to 6'-2".

#4 - The cabin interior of the CS-1 is also 2" wider so as to easily accomdate a real panel installation if desired but this also to provides a little more pilot comfort. If you've ever spent more than an hour in a real cessna you will appreciate this!

#5 - The door framework is made to accomdate up to 30" LCDs..something a real Cessna door will never be able to do unless you bolt on a "breakout box" onto it.

#6 - The distance from the door jamb to the panel is the exact same dimension as a real 172 / 182. I also allowed for enough space behind the seats for flight bags.

#7 - The instrument panel, which can be seen in my demo video on the CS-1 page, is slightly higher, again ~ 2", over the height of a real 172 but also calls for a slightly higher seat (16-18" which would be a low office chair ht.) Real Cessna seats move from 12"-15". More importanly this helps resolve yoke placement issues with storebought cip on style yokes as real yokes are ~30% up into the panel. Regardless, the dash height to roof line dimension remains the same as a real 172.

#8 - Real fuselages are great (if you can get one for $500) but most often they cost over $2,000. Secondly I've seen far too many people waste money on a real fuselage only to realize they have to gut everything just so that they can install LCDs into it and then they can't figure out where and how to mount their yoke. In short..real aircraft don't always make for great sims.

#9 - My main design philosophy is that I design from the pilot seat outward. I build for maximum functionality not maximum novelty. I build sims...not aircraft replicas.

#10 - I have hundreds of very satisfied customers. My designs are very detailed and very well thought out. For the prices I ask many have called it a bargain and after having received their plans set many folks have said the would have paid double.

(and I'm not kidding!) :-P