Welcome to SimObsession.com, a site devoted to my flight simulator hobby, or as my wife would say “obsession,” building a Boeing 737-800 simulator out of my home. It’s a very challenging, satisfying, and creative hobby, while at the same time infuriating, immensely frustrating and a black hole of time and money. So you really DO need to be a bit obsessed to stick with something like this.
Why are you doing this?
My passion for aviation started when I was a four-year-old kid and my dad used to take me to to LaGuardia International (KLGA) in New York to watch the planes taking off and landing late a night. It was a way to settle me down when I had bad allergy fits. The air conditioning in the car and watching those planes somehow helped me feel much better.
I got my pilots license at age 17, but sadly my career as a commercial airline pilot never materialized and I haven’t flown a real aircraft since 1995. While I may not be flying a real jet today, the passion never left.
In 2008, after 20 years of desktop simming dating back to the late ’80’s and the Sublogic/Bruce Artwick Flight Simulator days, I decided I wanted to fly more than a desktop. I missed the tactile feeling of reaching over to flip a switch and turn a dial, not just move a mouse cursor. Technology had progressed to the point that realistic home-based cockpit building was becoming a much more attainable reality.
After buying my first few components my “want” started to be become almost a “need” for all those knobs, dials and switches to be in exactly the right place. I “needed” to feel like I was really there. That started a long journey that is still going strong today, and has turned into something I would have never imagined would be possible at home all those many years ago.
What is your goal?
My final goal has always been to recreate the 737-800. In a nutshell, I want to be able to sit in the pilot seats and “see, hear, and feel” as much as I can of the real experience. I want a 737 pilot to sit in the captain’s seat and say “wow, this feels like my office.” I’d like to learn and recreate real airline operations. And perhaps enjoy a multi-crew experience with someone who shares a similar passion. It’s all part of that four-year-old’s dream.
While I know it’ll never be perfect, not with my budget and time constraints, the options available today can get me pretty close. I think I’m well on my way, but you be the judge.
Why the 737-800?
“Everyone is building a 737 simulator. Why didn’t you build something more unique?”
Well, first of all, I happen to be a huge fan of the 737. It’s my favorite aircraft, period. They are everywhere around world, flying short to long flights, going to and from small to large airports, and doing it with tried and true technology combined with fancy modern tech. It’s like having one foot in the past and one in the future.
The truth is, the 737 is a hugely versatile aircraft, and its popularity around the world means they are also popular in the sim world. Translation…lots of ready-made parts are available, and lots of people who have gone down the same road who can share their experience.
That comradarie is huge when you’ve never done this before and there is no instruction manual. The home simulation world can be a very solitary, lonely road at times, so the more people you can share ideas with the easier it is to get through the challenges, especially when you’ve got a mess of wires you’re looking at and you start to wonder what it is you’re really doing. Trust me, there will be times like that.
One of the best builder forums out there is CockpitBuilders.com and one of the best 737 builder sites is Flaps2Approach.com. I’d highly suggest you start there first to get an idea of what others are doing and help you begin preparing for what it will take to do a project like this.
Why this site?
I wasn’t originally planning on creating a web site for my sim. I’m by no means an expert compared to some out there, and I have certainly made a lot of mistakes as I fumbled my way through this. Plus, most of what I was using to build my sim was pre-fabricated parts from online simulator hardware companies so everything should be “plug and play”. Right? Easy peasy. Yeah, no.
After I started my build and posted a few pictures some folks started to ask me how I did things. So I figured why not share my knowledge and maybe it’ll help someone else with similar problems or questions, or perhaps just help them keep motivated.
A word of caution before you embark!
One thing I want to be clear about is that while yes, this can be a solitary/lonely path, it is NOT a solo hobby or I should say it’s VERY difficult to do this alone. Nor is it for the faint of heart. It is a MAJOR time and energy investment, a money drain, and can seriously stress relationships (you think I’m lying?). So be sure you’re truly prepared (and prepare others) before you take the dive! You will need their support, understanding, and their extreme patience.
My best advice would be to make friends with those who share your passion. If there’s someone you can build with nearby who shares your passion, do it with them. Things will progress much faster. Be courteous and appreciative to those who share their experiences (they don’t have to, after all). Credit those who help you along the way (don’t forget to ask for their permission if you pass on information they gave you). And share the knowledge you gain with others so we can advance this hobby and our enjoyment of “living the dream” only a select few are fortunate to do for a living.
Most of all, HAVE FUN!
To me, it’s about the journey AND the destination so I hope you will join me as I share my build progress.