MyCockpit Featured Builder of the month June 2008
Back by Popular Demand, MyCockpit.org is proud to announce the return of our Monthly Featured Builder interviews.
This time around you will see a couple new features: #1. The featured builders will be selected by the member base, each featured builder will choose the next month's featured builder but it will be kept anonymous until the interview comes out. #2 Each featured builder will receive their very own Mycockpit, Award that they can display as their Avatar, or in their signature.
Just another of the many ways we can get you guys involved.
Now, without further Ado, I would like to introduce the First Featured Builder for June 2008,
Hi Paul, Please Tell us a little about yourself! Where do you Live, are you Married?
I am 53, l currently live near Manresa, 75 Kms away from Barcelona, Spain, and am married to a beautiful Brazilian lady – between us we have 6 children, 4 girls and 2 boys who live in Brazil, Spain and Portugal. We are very much an international family! I grew up in the UK, and had the benefit of being a member of the Air Training Corps, which fuelled my enthusiasm for aviation, and allowed me to fly and be close to aircraft from the age of 14.
How long have you been involved in flightsim?
I built my first simulator aged 15, with some fellow cadets – it was based on the Link trainer, and was basically a plywood box with some non functioning instruments and smoked Perspex windshield – but it moved!
From then on, career change, expeditions in Africa and South America, and later the kids, got in the way, but I guess having flown as a passenger on the flight decks of many military aircraft stuck in my mind.
What or who got you involved in the idea of building a simulator?
I was living in Portugal, and despite a few attempts over the years at playing with various simulators, it was my weekly business flights into Lisbon that got me interested - I bought a copy of FS9, began to fly the approaches, and then hooked.
How long have you been building your simulator for?
I started in 2005, when I discovered the FDS and PM Websites – I bought PMRJ, to add to my Feel There ERJ145, and the came the fatal day my wife agreed I could buy some CH controls…. The followed the crazy idea of the first projector, then the idea of a cockpit roof….
Why did you choose the aircraft you chose?
At the time of choosing, I was flying almost weekly for business with Portugalia or BA in the 145 – it seemed a small enough airframe to build, and luckily, because at the time, I didn’t realise the complications of marrying the available software into a workable simulator. By the time I realised the full complications, well, I was on the road, and had great support from Peter Cos and Enrico Schiratti, along with my fellow 145 builder, Marco Fernandes, a Brazilian pilot living and working in the US, who has been a great source of motivation.
What would you say was your biggest challenge this far in the sim?
I guess that is easy – continued motivation. My job involves a lot of European travel, which is great for spotting, working out where you are whilst looking out the window, and guessing the runway. The downside is that some weeks I am away from home for 3-4 days, so all I can do is plan and dream, and of course family pressure – but I have been fortunate that my wife understands, and the kids have left home!
Have you had to make any noticeable sacrifices to realism, in order to solve any problems?
Simulator realism has two ends – desktop & Level D – Yes, I have make adjustments, due to the (even more today) limited availability of parts and software for RJ s.
I use PM programmes throughout - PMRJ, Boeing CDU, MCP, PM Systems and Instructor Station, and am fortunate to have one of 2 sets ( to my knowledge) of the FDS Signature panels produced – MIP, with steel backer, and all glare panels, plus the overhead section. Currently I use a POSKY 145 as the flight model.
I have had to make compromises – I can’t fly my ERJ as I did with the Feel There desktop model, so am not as realistic as I could be, and the hardware (I use an FDS Boeing CDU, and 100% realistic FCU etc) means I need to map the PM Boeing software to the ERJ hardware, so some buttons don’t work as labelled, and I need to use some spare buttons on the sidestand, BUT and this is important for most builders – I am not undergoing a type approval rating on the real ERJ 145 – I am playing. My procedures are not either100% Boeing or Embraer, but they are much, much better than the desktop, and still make me break into a sweat onto a difficult approach – why – CRM – all the knobs and switches are in the right place!
How many rebuilds (tear downs) or Major overhauls has your sim undergone?
So far, three major adjustments, all to do with changing dimensions. When I first built the shell, I used dimensions available on the Embraer web site, so was sure the fuselage is 100% full size, but then I discovered the flight deck floor was too low – I added a false floor, and was very happy until I had a visit from Dieter Jakob, who delivered my first Routech yoke. Dieter spent most of his life as an engineer for Lufthansa, and has access to many types of aircraft. Dieter sent me a CD with lots of photos of real 145s showing a tape measure across the panels.
This led to my last rebuild, as I was able to replicate 100% the compact size of the ERJ cockpit, and of course I have the dimensions if anyone else is interested in building.
Do you fly your simulator On-Line, if so On what Network, and under what name?
I don’t fly on line, as we don’t have a broadband internet connection, and only use FS ATC. I plan to use Radar Contact as my next move, but hopefully will get internet access when we move house later this year.
Do you ever regret the aircraft you have chosen?
Not any more! There have certainly been times when I wished I had chosen something else, when something became particularly difficult to make or adapt, and when I see the excellent range of products now available to builders. In the end, the ERJ is still my favourite aircraft – it suits very well my preference for regional flights in Europe, as I still tend to fly similar routes to those I travel for work, and at the end of the day, it’s really nice to have one of the very few private ERJ 145 sims in the world!
How have you overcome the lack of parts available for your aircraft?
I was fortunate to have been in contact with Peter Cos when he still had an EMB 120 shell in his shop, and at that time there was a good range of ERJ panels available. Although FDS business was at the time changing, PC made good his promise to me, and a fellow ERJ fan, Marco Fernandes, and built some very good panels.
All the rest is pure home build – the most complex is the centre pedestal and throttle/flaps/spoilers. I am now using the MkV pedestal, now with better measurements, and based on CH pots, but with home made levers and buttons, and a much better feel. Again, compromise helps – I use a Boeing CDU, as there is no Honeywell unit available yet – but it works!
Where do you see your simulator in the next year?
It will be in its new home in Madrid, at our new house, and hopefully with a modified visual system, and probably a few more modifications of things on my wish list.
On average, how often would you say you fly your simulator?
Nowadays, around 2-3 hours, at weekends – more if I am at home during the week – I aim to fly a return flight within Europe most weeks, and sometimes like to try a route of my last business trip – recently I have been flying out of Gothenburg to Newcastle, so that adds some variety, but normally I am home based in Madrid, and fly a domestic route, or my old favourite, to Lisbon.
On average how many hours a week, do you spend building in your simulator?
Recently, not much – like many full cockpit builders, I went from all weekend, 8-10 hours a day, to today more maintenance based activities. I spend time when there is a PM software update, or when something breaks. I can probably add 2-3 hours to my weekend flying in fixing / playing with something I find en route.
Do you think your Simulator will ever be 100% done?
The million dollar question! The answer has to be No, but I hope that my time will reduce, as it has recently, on modifying bits – but the you see a new idea on the forum, or a new part available, and, well, your “to do” list expands again!
On your wish list of items, what is the next thing you want to buy or add to simulator?
Probably RC4, to add realism to the ATC environment. I use FDC Live Cockpit to add sounds, and also PM sounds, so I really need to work a bit more on the sound setup.
I bought a Sony Vaio laptop with an excellent video card and Vista last week, so am planning to try this running FSX to see if there is any advantage.
If you could suggest some advice to a new builder just getting started, what advice would you give?
My advice would be - MDF is cheap – don’t spend endless hours planning – make some sketches, and build something. Whatever you build will never be 100% of what you want, but it will start you down the road of finding what you can be satisfied with. All builders who have been around a few years will tell you they have stopped and started again a few times – that’s part of the fun of this hobby. You discover as you go along, and there is tremendous help available here on Mycockpit.Org for anyone starting out.
Is there anything in your simulator that you have done, that you don't show anyone because you don't think you’re happy with it?
To be honest – most of it, but this changes when we invite friends around who have not seen the sim – Two weeks ago we had some friends over for a BBQ on Sunday, who had heard me talking about the sim for more than a year – when they finally saw the result, it was amazing – Jose spent an hour and a half spellbound in the F/O’s seat as we flew to Lisbon, with Carmen and her daughter taking pictures from the cabin.
When they went home, they convinced their family they had flown to Portugal, and the pictures proved it! I guess we spend too much time being self critical, and worrying about SOPs and Approach Plates without seeing the pleasure we can give to others.
Where is the most exotic place you have ever flown to in your simulator?
That has to be the Amazon airport of Yurimaguas, where my ex parents in law live, followed by Marilia (SP) in Brazil, where after my last visit to Brazil with my wife we left in an ATR en route for Sao Paolo.
I also tried Quito in an A 340, to see the effect of a crosswind landing, and Cuzco, Peru, to bring back some old memories.
If you could change one or two things about your current sim, what would it be?
The seats! The ERJ really has a “compact” flight deck, and getting the crew seats to move easily in and out remains one of my biggest mechanical challenges.
My thanks to the team at Mycockpit.org for the opportunity to talk about my project, and our increasingly popular hobby.
Project ERJ 145
Paul, We at mycockpit.org would like to thank you for agreeing to be the Feature Builder for June 2008, and would like to present you with this award.
Thanks for the time, and excellent Build.
Vice President / Administrative Director