• Builder of Month - January 2006

    MyCockpit Featured Builder
    Ian Cameron Boeing 767

    IFSBI: Would you care to first give us a brief introduction about Ian Cameron?

    Ian: I am 59 years "young", retired, and married with two adult son's who no longer live at home. I live 14 km from Hobart, which is the capital city of Tasmania the island state of Australia just South of the mainland. Without going into detail my working life included electrical engineering, airline flying and computing making the simulator an obvious retirement project for me. I have used and enjoyed most pc simulators since the very first ones to appear on Apple II and Commodore 64's etc

    IFSBI: Where is your sim located, town, country, wife's spare bedroom?

    Ian: The Sim is located in an upstairs bedroom measuring approx. 4.5 m by 3.5 m. and is the only available space I have. You can see from the photo there is not a lot of room for anything else so its commonly called "Ian's Sim Room".

    IFSBI: What made you choose this airframe?

    Ian: It all began when Eric Ernst released the first version of his 767, later to become PIC767. I was amazed by the functionality of the software in a total system sense and the flight model was undoubtedly the best available for MSFS. The aircraft also had appeal because although having some airline flying experience in the past, I had never flown anything with glass panel instrumentation. The mix of analogue and glass panel made for a nice balance and retained that older airliner flight deck feel. I have come to love this aircraft and the LDS767 has taken it to another level in terms of home cockpit functionality, further enhanced with Nico Kaan's FSCONV program. It was Nico Kaan who inspired me to get started, when I saw how he was making a hardware FMC keyboard for PIC767. I began to see the possibilities of using a very inexpensive piece of software to make something more realistic to use than a mouse and keyboard and a single screen. I must admit I never thought then it would end up where it is today.

    IFSBI: When did you first start your project?

    Ian: I began construction just over two years ago after about the same amount of time thinking about it and researching interface techniques etc. I expected it would be a 6-year project to get it where I see it going and that is still looking about right. In reality it is probably a project that will continually evolve, as things in use now will be improved upon and replaced in the future.

    IFSBI: What parts are you using for your panels? Are they purchased, made yourself, or real aircraft parts?

    Ian: When I started I intended making everything myself, but along the way I had the opportunity to buy a few second-hand items, including an Aerosoft MCP, CH Yoke, and a FDS 767 overhead panel. I also received a few generous donations of small panels etc. My philosophy with building has been to keep the cost down and more importantly to have something I can fly along the way. So buying a few things at the right price satisfied both objectives. I designed and built the shell from pine framing and MDF for around AUS$350, built my own FMC, MIP, rudder pedals, all my radios, my FSbus interface etc. I am currently building a scale throttle. I picked up two 21" monitors with minor faults for about $20 on Ebay and a $30 B&W TV for my FMC CDU. More recently I purchased a projector, which has been the largest item in terms of expenditure, but has been well worth every penny. I expect the all up cost to be around $7000 (just a rough guess), which sounds a lot but over the six years about $1200 a year for a fascinating project and my own 767 to fly whenever I want.... I have heard of people spending that much to be members of golf clubs!

    IFSBI: Where there any special problems that you came across while building the cockpit?

    Ian: I think the main problem was learning how to compromise and come to terms with the fact the sim was never going to be an exact replica in every way. Because of space and practicality I couldn't build a full width 767 flight deck, so I compromised by bringing in the side windows and cockpit walls, but still retaining a scale size MIP, overhead and pedestal. Again because of space I could only build the shell to the rear of the pedestal, but still made provision for building back to the flight deck door should I ever have the room in the future.

    Compromise was necessary if I was going to fly my sim within a reasonable time. For example, at the moment I use a CH yoke mounted on a fixed control column, along with the incorporated throttle. I intend to make a proper dual column set-up one day, and as mentioned I am currently building a 767 throttle quadrant, but the CH unit has me flying online several times a week for the moment!

    IFSBI: Does your family support you in this project?

    Ian: I am very fortunate in having a wife who totally supports and encourages my project, although still unreasonably refuses to serve me coffee on the flight deck or run through the passenger drill. The one thing I have found very interesting is the reaction of friends and relatives to my sim...ranging from bewilderment (the "what's wrong with him" look) to utter amazement.

    IFSBI: Do you have a web site where you post your project?

    Ian: I did have a regularly updated dedicated forum page kindly provided by Simhardware in New Zealand but hacker problems on the site have forced them to withdraw the service. I'm now looking at alternatives, as I feel a web site is a good way of keeping a record of a project as well as giving something back to the sim community. I know I get a lot of enjoyment, inspiration and information from other builder's projects.

    IFSBI: Are there any other Hobbies or interest that you are also involved in?

    Ian: I do build RC model aircraft, in particular gliders and although I fly them regularly I haven't done any building since starting the sim…something had to give way!!!

    IFSBI: Is there anything, during the build, you can recommend to prepare our readers for when building a project?

    Ian: I can only offer a few of my own very subjective preferences here:

    A. Research the intended aircraft type for available software and interfaces to ensure you can achieve the level of simulation you wish and stay within your budget.

    B. Having decided on type, build the shell first. By doing this you then have something to fit things to, something to sit in, to contemplate the eventual result, and a permanent set up to have a fly, even if initially its just two monitors and a pc joystick. I found that by flying this way the priorities for which switches or functions I should be building next, became self evident. I built a little test panel with an array of switches, rotaries etc and used it for getting those high priority functions going, made a panel and fit it in its place, and allocate something else to the test panel.

    C. Try and get something done every day no matter how small. Today I glued 4 pieces of wood together for my throttle...tomorrow it might be a little sanding etc., and occasionally a full day hard at it. My favourite saying is "Little bit done each day, get big job done"!

    D. When the project seems never ending remind yourself that "It's a sad day when all the work is done" (Not my second favourite saying!)

    I would like to thank the sim community generally for all the help I've received. I could never have advanced my sim to what it is today without that help. The best part about the project is undoubtedly the wonderful friends made from all over the world, all with the same passion.

    Thanks for the opportunity to say a personal hello.

    Best Regards
    Ian Cameron