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  1. #1
    300+ Forum Addict ekezz's Avatar
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    Where to start building a cockpit...

    These are some questions I found at the avsim.com forum.
    >1. How much would it cost me to build a DC-9 cockpit ?
    >2. Where do you buy parts for these masterpieces ?
    >3. How do you do it ???? I know I'm a complete noob.
    >4. Does it work with FS2004 ?
    >5. Do you need any special software to make it work with FS9 ?
    >6. If I built a DC-9 cockpit how do I connect it to FS9 and how do I use it with FS9 ?
    >7. Do I need payware DC-9 software ?? Something like the F1 Iron Knuckles DC9 ?
    As I spent quite some time writing my answers, I want to share my story at IFSBI as well so other "new/potential" builders can take away what they need.
    Kester


    Hi,
    I'll try to give a little bit of an answer. I' started about a year ago to build a 737 cocpit, so my experiences are limited...
    I will give you my personal views and choices, so please first also ask other builders before you decide to spend any money.

    >1. How much would it cost me to build a DC-9 cockpit ?

    This depends fully on the availability of ready made DC9 components, and your ambition and your financial resources. I suspect for a DC9 you will have to construct most parts yourself or modify existing hardware. Instead of giving you a final cost estimate (if possible anyway) I would suggest that you take this as a multi year project and assign an amount of money you want to spend every year. Talking to cockpit builders who have been there a long time, they tell me it is never finished and they keep adding stuff to enhance the realism.

    To give you some indication:
    Software: Apart from MS-FS I purchased PMDG 737, FSUIPC and WideFS, and Project Magenta Glass Cockpit and pmSystems. This approximately adds up to Euro 800. Now for the DC9 there is no PM Glass Cockpit, but with pmSystems you can create panels yourself. For current pricing details you will have to send a mail to projectmagenta.com.

    Hardware Computers: I have 5 connected, most are 4 year old PC's, except for the MS-FS computer rendering the nice graphics. I spent Euro 1250 on this and built/assembled it myself so all components are aimed at MS-FS performance as much as my budget will allow. You can see the specs at http://fly.ekezz.com

    Hardware Screens: You can use CRTs, LCD's and Projectors. I am using a mix of CRT's and LCD's. For the outside view I am using two CRT's. For the Captains PFD and ND I have a LCD, for the standby instruments and upper Eicas I have a CRT. For the FMC/CDU I have a Touchscreen. For the overhead panel I presently use a laptop until the hardware wiring has been completed. The lower Eicas is not implemented yet. Using screens I already had, kept the cost down as my personal priority is on building the overhead panel and adding modules. The touchscreen was a gift from a friend who didn't use it anymore. Ever since friends and collegues hear of my project they sometimes actively offer me their old PC or screen. Now you could make a different choice here. Some builders tell me that the immersion effect is great when utilizing a projector. Others are awed by uzing multiple high res CRT's. You can buy new, you can use old. I'm waiting for a defect projector to show up and replace the defect lamp. For the FMC/CDU screen some use 7 inch LCD's. Anyway, for me it is hard to give you a cost estimate here, but if you know what your preference would be, shop around to get a price indication. And again, you can add better screens over time.

    Hardware Modules: Today I have a CPflight MCP, EFIS and NAV panel ready to use, plug and play, this approximately adds up to Euro 1000. I want to add more modules so this amount will go up. It is my choice to buy ready to go modules as they are designed for the 737 and represent the real thing. It is also possible to buy modules that have a lower cost, but these don't have the look I want, this is a personal choice. The other option is to build your own panels with all kinds of components like encoders, displays, switches, etc. I have no reference to what that would cost and you need to be "tech savvy" to build it. On Ebay a friend found and purchased a real 747 Cargo panel for me as a present. I'll try to hook it up through the phidgets even though it does not belong in a 737, nice experiment.
    The next level of realism is to go for very realistic look, feel and functional modules for the FMC/CDU and Throttle Quadrant. My present CH products stick and throttle are ok, but to have a real throttle quadrant with autothrottle etc is a dream, the cost... Euro 1000 and higher.

    Hardware I/O: There are many types of hardware I/O boards you can hook up your switches and pot's to. All I can say is to read user experiences in various forums and builders websites. I am involved in www.ifsbi.org and you can find a forum and several links from there to cockpit builders webpages, also check out fscockpit.com.
    What I did was to go for Phidgets (phidgetsusa.com) because I can assign functions from pmSystems directly to Phidgets (you do need FSUIPC and WideFS made by Pete Dowson to be found at schiratti.com).
    You can also use the interface software, to be found on the phidgetsusa site. My initial Phidgets puchase of 4 boards and all kinds of leds etc set me back 400 Euro's. Then you need (rotary)switches and wiring etc. Now this can also grow over time. I have spent Euro 100 on this, but will need more as I move on to the overhead panel. And I will need more Phidgets boards. So I am expecting this to head up into the total of Euro 1000 (including money already spent).

    Panels: To have the most realistic view there are some companies that make laser engraved backlit panels. The big parts are the Main Instrument Panel(s), the Overhead panel and the Pedestal. These as a total would set you back between Euro 1000-2000 and then they still need to be wired. I decided for my first year of cockpit building to go for Do-It-Yourself using MDF panels and painting it grey. At a later stage I will convert to the more high fidelity panels. There are some new vendors on the block, so I expect the prices to go down. Including the MDF casing for screens, computers etc, which I put on wheels, I spent Euro 200 so far.

    Cockpit shell:
    It is possible to build/order the cockpit shell. This gives an enhanced immersion effect. Can't tell you much about this, so shop around on the web.

    Documentation:
    There are some nice books/manuals on the working of the airplane systems, FMC/CDU, checkrides etc. When you get into programming the system logics of your aircraft, reference material is of vital importance. There is free material to be found, but some people have taken the time and effort to write very comprehensive manuals, and this is where I buy it. Total so far Euro 180.

    Motion Platform:
    An area that will grow in the next years as it becomes more attainable for the humble soul. Soem builders are putting their own experiment together, some vendors are exploring the possibilities as far as I know.

    Well, I hope this has shed some light on your questions, in my experience this will lead to more questions. Most of the remaining questions below, I have tried to answer in the story above.

    I haven't grand totalled the amount spent by me so far, as it makes no sense to do so. It is a very personal choice how much you will spend and it doesn't take into account how you spread the investment over time. All I can say, is that it is well spent because this hobby is very enjoyable and every addition, big or small brings new joy to my flight simulation experience. And I made new friends in wonderful places who share this hobby and understand what I am talking about

    Happy building and see you around.
    Kester Meijer
    kester@ifsbi.org


    >2. Where do you buy parts for these masterpieces ?
    see above

    >3. How do you do it ???? I know I'm a complete noob.
    start small and gradually expand over time. determine which parts of simulation have priority to you. Use the categories mentioned above and put them in your preferred sequence.

    >4. Does it work with FS2004 ?
    Yes, I use FS2004/FS9 for the outside view and PMDG for the aircraft model, not the PMDG panels though.

    >5. Do you need any special software to make it work with FS9 ?
    FSUIPC is a must have and when using multiple computers add WideFS to that list. And I would add pmSystems.

    >6. If I built a DC-9 cockpit how do I connect it to FS9 and how do I use it with FS9 ?
    see above

    >7. Do I need payware DC-9 software ?? Something like the F1 Iron Knuckles DC9 ?
    I suppose so just like I did with PMDG.
    Kester Meijer
    http://www.mycockpit.nl - to see my cockpit construction
    Certified De-Ice Supervisor EHAM

  2. #2
    MyCockpit Support Staff dodiano's Avatar
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    Wow Excellent Info thanks for sharing!! Matt could we Pin this thread maybe??

    Take care,

    Roberto

  3. #3
    Executive Vice President, MyCockpit


    Matt Olieman's Avatar
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    Good idea Roberto, consider it done

  4. #4
    1000+ Poster - Fantastic Contributor Bob Reed's Avatar
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    WHY?

    This is great information. I would like to add there is one thing that we all seem to forget about. The reason we started! Too many times ( I did) we get started on a pit and we get so involved with building that we do not fly any more. Well…. Let me tell you this is not a good practice! In the number of years I have been involved with this hobby I have seen many people come and go. I think the biggest reason is that in all the building we forget why we are building. The pit becomes too much like a job that has to be done, and who needs another one of those in their lives! I think it is important to keep flying while building, try to build for half of your time and fly for half of your time. And once the pit is to a degree that you can fly it… By goodness fly it! Keep a note book handy! I know I get my best ideas for the sim while I am flying it. You have to make it so this never becomes one or the mundane things that we HAVE to do. You are supposed to WANT to do it! I know if you are in the beginning stages of your sim this is not easy. Or so it seems. What is the matter with a joystick and keyboard? That is what got you into this, right? It is all about the flying! Now do not get me wrong part of my enjoyment come from the building. I love to build things for the sim. I love to tweak this and that! But when the whistle blows and the guy looking over your shoulder says, hey what is this for? That is when you start flight sim and show them!

  5. #5
    10+ Posting Member
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    DesktopAviator.com Good Inexpensive Cockpit Panels

    I wanted to build a cockpit for the Cessna 172 but going to placed like Goflight ect. I found that it was a very expensive hobby to get into. Until I found this company on eBay called Desktop Aviator ( http://www.DesktopAviator.com/index.html ).
    Over the past year, they introduced a number of inexpensive avionics panels, starting from their model 1010 that mimics the switch panel of the MS FS2002 and FS2004 Cessna Panel. It sells for $95.00; A 8 Toggle Switch Panel for $79.00, Trim Wheel, USB Interfaces, Parking Brakes. The list seems to go on and on. Their newest panel is a NAV/COM Radio which sells for $99.95. Their site indicates an Autopilot Panel in a month.

    I do recommend Desktop Aviator because you can purchase a complete center panel console for less then $600.00 compared to $2000.00 to $3000.00.

    It is an excellent investment and I am very happy with all my purchases.
    Now flying my Cessna IS as Real as it Gets.

  6. #6
    1000+ Poster - Fantastic Contributor Bob Reed's Avatar
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    Hello Capt. Bobby! WOW! Nice find and thank you so much to post it here for all to see. Another up and comer for some structural stuff is http://innovativefsp.com/ Worth keeping an eye on. If there is something you need drop him a line. I am so pleased after all these years to finally see some stuff coming out that will allow more then just us hard core guys to get into this hobby!
    Bob Reed

  7. #7
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    I've been searching high and low for the rubber covers that are used for the likes of the mcps etc. These are the ones with holes for the leds to shine through and connect to tactile switches.

    I've been sourcing out parts, but sadly haven't been able to find anything. I'm not going ultra realistic, and would love to buy the beautiful panels that I've seen, but the minister of finance (aka wife) would more than likely divorce me if I purchased some of these.

  8. #8
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    Bob,
    How do you decide to go for general aviation or the heavies when starting out with your building?
    Thanks Ralph

  9. #9
    1000+ Poster - Fantastic Contributor Bob Reed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rrkiser2 View Post
    Bob,
    How do you decide to go for general aviation or the heavies when starting out with your building?
    Thanks Ralph
    Well it is personal preference... What do you fly the most now? If you find yourself flying GA aircraft because you enjoy that kind of flying then I would recommend building a GA cockpit. on the other hand if you (like I was) find yourself flying the bigger stuff, then thats what you build!
    Bob Reed

  10. #10
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    Model 2060 Toggle Switch Adapter

    Hi,
    Well, I'm still building my version of a simple Cessna 172. Most of the panels and sub-assemblies I purchased from Desktop Aviator. I just bought this panel and I had to post my comments. The Model 2060 is a 5 Toggle Switch Array Panel ( http://www.desktopaviator.com/Produc...2060/index.htm )with all the electronics needed to connect the panel to their 2040 Digital Switch and their USB Junction Box Model 2050 ( http://www.desktopaviator.com/Produc...2050/index.htm ).
    What I like about this switch panel is the ease of installation and programming. The switch panel connects to their 2040 Digital Switch and the USB Junction Box using RCA Cables. What can be simplier?

    And best of all, the panels I bought from Desktop Aviator are very inexpensive compaired to other flight sim panels I found on the web.

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