• Builder of the Month October 2010

    We would like to take absolute pleasure in awarding October's builder of the month trophy to Olli-Petteri Pietil, Olli has an excellent Cessna GA simpit. It was an honour to conduct the award and to meet an excellent simbuilder who has emerged. Many hours of work to acheive a fantastic result it really cannot be faulted and identical to the real experience. I'll hand you over to the interview. We have a treat for you this month, as well as a truly excellent interview and images we have video which is great. Hope it is an inspiration to many of you whatever sim you're building.

    Congratulations on the award.

    1. Why did you chose to build the aircraft type you choose and is it based to replicate any aircraft in particular?

    During the time we started constructing our simulator I was still living in Helsinki. I was really impressed with my local aviation club (Malmi Aviation Club) C172 simulator project. I was also in the middle of my real PPL trainings with Cessna 172 so the aircraft type came really naturally. Also we were really lucky to find a real Cessna 172 Skyhawk II fuselage for the project.

    We were actually been asking only some small parts like yokes and rudder pedals for our GA home cockpit project one year before and then one day I got a call from a local GA plane maintenance company that they would have a complete plane for us if there is a person who is certified to take all the instruments and other recyclable parts out from the fuselage. The story behind the fuselage is that the hangar roof collapsed

    on top of the plane when it was in a winter storage. So we were actually pretty much forced to start working with the Cessna 172.

    2. To date, how much time and money have you spent to achieve such a great setup.

    It's hard to estimate time, but we have been constructing the simulator for four years now.

    The constructing and planning have been going on all the time and in most cases we have been

    planning everything well beforehand and then just went and built it. Most of the time for the first two

    years went with the actual fuselage repairing work since it was in a really bad shape and we had to basically build it all over again. Apart from the fuselage repairing work we had a test bench for the Simkits gauges,

    home built avionics, etc. so we basically have two different projects going on at the same time.

    3. What is your technical specification behind the scenes that drives such a great cockpit

    To put it short;

    - One really basic home computer with Win XP 32bit OS

    - FS2004 with Finnish scenery designer scenery and airport packages

    - RealAir C172 flight model with a special made Virtual Cockpit with a prop only

    - Turbine Sound Studios C172 sound package

    - Active Sky 6.5 weather program

    - Ruscool intercom system / Saitek PH09 Pro headsets x 2

    - Simkits servo driven gauges connected to Simkits CCU II motherboard (we built the gauges from the kits)

    - One ATI 1GB display adapter with Matrox TripleHead2Go analogue

    - Reality XP Waas avionics software with home built avionics panel (Opencockpits/IOCards)

    - 3 x Benq short throw projectors + Nthusim curved visual screen aspect ratio correction program

    - Leo Bodnar Precision Joystick Controller BU0836

    4. How did you go about making your own gauges?

    The gauges are made by Simkits but we assembled them ourselves from the kits and bought servos for the gauges separately. Concerning the avionics my brother had a basic level electronic skill that developed along the project. We started with a FSBUS avionics panel with a segment displays and really basic level electronics. Our current avionics panel is our third in a row. The reason why we have been developing the avionics ourselves is that there have not been a real cost efficient way to buy a ready product that is 'professional' enough but still cheap.

    5. Do you currently have or plan to add some form of motion to the sim?

    Not at the moment. We have a special simulator room (25 square meters space) that is covered completely with black fabrics so there is no any external light source in the room. The only light source is the 7meters x 2,5meters curved screen. That makes the sensation of moving really strong. I have been asked many

    times about the motion but once you have tried the curved visual screen that is big enough and been operated in a proper space there's no need for the motion.

    6. What are the general tools you use to produce such fine simparts by hand?

    95% of the parts are made by ourselves. The construction of the fuselage was a real hands on work.

    Luckily we have had all the basic tools for the job in my parents garage and we also have few very good

    family friends like car painters, metal craftsman, etc. So it have helped very much along the way.

    I would say the the Google search engine is by far the best tool there is. In most cases I have just started

    browsing the web for different parts and electronic components. Also we have a really active and skilled simulator forum here in the web. From there we have got plenty of help and good advices.

    Also I would like to thank Malmi Aviation Club / Mr Tuomas Kuosmanen for their technical pioneering work concerning their excellent C172 simulator:


    7. Give one tip/piece of advice to new builders starting out on a GA sim project:

    I have more than one

    1. Browse through all the simulator projects similar to your upcoming plans.

    Put down notes what you want and how it is done in the other projects. Make a rough budget.

    2. Remember to fly also Seriously, I have seen many promising projects that have been started but never finished.Try to set a clear targets and also try to make the simulator flyable along the way. If you only spend all the time planning and constructing the project it will become gray and boring. Plan a rough year clock.

    3. Start from the small and expand the project when your skills are improving. GA simulator is a perfect choice for the first project .

    8. What is there left to do to the sim, what stage would you like it to be at this time next year?

    We are luckily in a pretty good stage already but we constantly want to push the GA home cockpit

    limits in a cost efficient way. It's always constant mind storming. One concrete goal is to make the

    sim flyable in the Vatsim also. We are really fresh in the online flying and would like to participate in

    a local flying events here in Finland.

    9. What are the opinions of friends/familly to the project, have they chipped in with the work?

    In the beginning of the project our family and friends didn't really understand what we were planning

    but once they have seen and test flown the simulator they were really into it. I would especially want to thank my father for his part in this project. He have really helped me and my big brother Ville in this project. We have also got good understanding and support from our wifes.

    10. What part of the sim are you particularly pleased with and why:

    I am mostly pleased with the general high quality. We have spent many hours browsing through the original pictures of the plane and tried to make it as authentic and real as possible, like real paint theme, instrument panel, interior, etc.

    I am also very pleased with the new simulator room, curved visual screen and the new avionics panel.

    The most rewarding parts are the ones that you plan from the scratch yourself and see that other builders can use it too.

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    Thanks for a great interview Olli!!

    Presented by Geremy Britton
    Executive Assistant