We are happy to present the Builder of the Month for June 2010, " Markus (markusr)" for his excellent work on Boeing 737 flight simulator. His work is something which will inspire most of the new cockpit builder. During the course of this written interview , Markus has shared with us in depth about his flight simulator and also a few tips and tricks which would be useful.
Hello Markus, could you tell us a about yourself?
I am 28 years old and I live in a city in Austria, right next to the Vienna International Airport (LOWW). When I relax in our hammock I can see and count the landing planes, when the runway 11 is in use and so I can recognize the airline and the aircraft type, because they are already so low.
When was your first experience with flight simulator?
My first contact with Flight simulation was in the year 1991. It was Microsoft Flight Simulator 4 on a 3.5” Floppy Disk. My first takeoff was in a Cessna in Chicago Meigs Field. The first add-on I got was for Austria called “Wien, Niederösterreich und Burgenland” (provinces in Austria) also on a Floppy Disk.
The next years I flew in MS FS 5 with the Learjet and trained landings and takeoffs. Followed by FS95 and FS98. While, I skipped FS2000 . I discovered the online segment with MS FS2002 in the year 2001. Also the interest of flying real flight from A to B was getting bigger and bigger. So I started studying IFR charts, rules, communication, etc. and trained those with hours of flying
How much has the flight simulator improved from FS 4 to FS X?
I think these two pictures below say more than words. These pictures show Chicago Meigs airfield, both versions.
Also the community has grown now to a huge community. Many freeware and very good high detailed add-ons were developed. With getting more professional also the home cockpit segment started growing and developing tools and software packages. In my eyes not the graphic is in the foreground but the simulation must be good, as real as possible and it’s very important to me that the frame rate is good. I really hate when the FS is stocking and reloading textures. That was the reason I am using FS2004 until now. Maybe as the cockpit becomes more and more complete I will take a look on FSX.
There are number of Boeing 737 simulators around but everyone has his/her own reason for selecting this model. What has been your reason?
The 737NG is a fascinating aircraft as the design is very nice. When I first saw the aircraft, I can’t remember the year anymore, but it was a 737 from the Lauda Air airline, I was fascinated about this aircraft. It started back in the year 2004 with my Aerosoft Australia 747 MCP and EFIS. As it was perfectly working with the PMDG 737 I have built a throttle unit with LCD displays and a FMC. One of my final decisions has been the availability of the required parts for building a cockpit.
Most of us have had one or more builders in mind who have inspired us, would have any builders how have inspired you?
The most inspiration was by Ian P.Sissons. He has very good ideas with making the Hardware overhead work with PMDG 737 that was the reason that I started my overhead project. During the project building I wanted a MCP and CDU working and with PMDG 737 I couldn’t realize my requirements, as PMDG is not offering any offsets for programming external hardware. I had to look around for another complete software solution. The second inspiration was the chance to fly in a 737 simulator two years ago. Since this day I had the idea in my head..."I must have such a cockpit in my home."
What attracts me with your home cockpit the most is your MIP. We all think you have done a great job with your MIP. Can you tell us how you achieved this and your approach?
First I have to say, that the MIP was not a planned thing, when I started building the Overhead. During the progress of the Overhead project I wanted more and found those drawings in the forum:
I have shown them to my father and we started thinking about making them. As my father is very good in thinking and building parts, he was my most supporting hand. Without him it wouldn’t be possible to build this and I wouldn’t be there where I am now. So I have to thank him very much for his time, help and fantastic ideas.
These two pictures were our base of the MIP. Together with the well known drawing from Juan we created our measurements and the whole MIP design.
During the building process we noticed that it won’t be easy to attach the CDU unit into the MIP, so we designed our own CDU holder.
What has been the most challenging portion of your cockpit building?
The most challenging thing is coming up. Mounting the Overhead in the room. Other challenges were: fitting the LCD monitors into the MIP and transporting the MIP from the building room to its final position and getting the servos and LCD display in the overhead to work. The three built in monitors are 1x19” PFD on the captain side, 1x15” EICAS and 1x17” PFD on the 1st officer side. The monitors were dismounted from their original frame and mounted directly on the MIP. To have the display front right behind the front panels of the MIP a wooden barrier was installed behind each monitor.
Transporting the MIP to my home was around one day of work: dismounting the fully painted MIP into all the parts, transporting them safely to the new place and mounting them together. Some damages to the painting had to be repainted after building it together again. I have taken some pictures from the mounting, which you can see here, if you want more details: http://737cockpit.at.tf/2010/05/23/m...kpit/#more-223
Getting the Servos to work was also a major challenge: http://qik.com/video/6136539 this link will show a video of the working Flap gauge. As I wanted to have a LCD display showing the AC / DC and AMPS status from the aircraft it took me a very long time to get this working.
The last challenge I want to share was wiring all the LED boxed and the sections from the overhead. It was not hard to get this done, but it took a very long time.
I don’t know how many meters of cable I have used, but I think it was a minimum of 300 meters.
You have just completed your overhead? From whom did you purchase the overhead? And what software did you use for the programming and logic?
All hardware parts in my cockpit, except the Joystick cards I am using for all the switches and buttons, came from Opencockpits. For those cards I use BU0836X from Leo Bodnar, Windows will recognize these as a joystick and via FSUIPC the programming is done.
First I have started programming the Overhead logic myself with SIOC, but soon I wanted to extend the cockpit and so I have switched to the full avionics suite from SimAvionics. With this suite some manual programming has to be done, but it’s much easier. With SIOC you need to address all the LEDs and read the status out of SimAvionics Server. Also each button and switch has to be configured with FSUIPC to talk to SimAvionics Server. It was a lot of work to do, but in the end you are satisfied when everything is working as designed.
What are your future plans for the cockpit?
After having the Overhead installed the next step will be a new throttle quadrant and the pedestal section of the 737NG. In the meantime: flying, flying and flying. As the project started back in October 2009 I have to catch up some flight hours.
I know you fly online on VATSIM? Do you use your current home cockpit online and how is this experience?
I have flown on 29th May 2010 the first time online with my cockpit. It was a short hop from LOWW to LOWS and it was great, no comparison with managing the MCP settings with a mouse or programming the FMC with the keyboard. As soon as the overhead is in place I think it will be fascinating and a complete new flight experience.
What have been your important resources or sources of information which assisted you during the course of your hobby?
One of my sources was and will be in the future the mycockpit.org website and forum. Other sources were the OC forum and many blogs I have read from other cockpit builders to look and see how they have solved some tricky things in their projects. The most help during the project I received from my father, as I mentioned before.
Other sources for my hobby “flight simulation” are of course the VATSIM community and their local ATC teams as well as flight simulation magazines.
Finally, what do you think about Mycockpit.org
Mycockpit.org is a very strong and friendly community of aviation enthusiasts. If you need some tips from other builders, you will get them in a very short time. And the information that is hosted on your forums is a great source for everyone who wants to start a cockpit project.
Finally I want to thank my wife that she gives me the required time and respects my “not so normal” hobby.
Thanks Markus from the entire Mycockpit.org team for this useful interview