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. They are everywhere around world, flying short to long flights 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…there are lots of ready-made parts are available, and lots of people who have gone down the same road who can share their experiences.
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 have fumbled my way through this, so I didn’t really feel qualified to be a “teacher”. Besides, most of what I was using to build my sim was pre-fabricated parts from online simulator hardware companies so it should all be just “plug and play,” right? Yeah, no.
There is no instruction manual to put one of these together. You collect parts from many places and they often don’t fit together well, or at all. So you’ll have to overcome fit and finish issues, devise creative solutions to tackle unique problems, fabricate parts that you can’t afford or you’re missing, and troubleshoot a LOT! You’ll eventually likely learn wood working, metal working, 3D printing, electronics, computers, networking, and so on.
Anyway, after I started my build and posted a few pictures some folks started to ask me how I did this or that. So I figured why not give back and share my knowledge? 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!
This 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 plunge! You will need their support, understanding, and their extreme patience.
Another thing is that this can be a lonely hobby. It’s hard to find people as excited or motivated as you to do something like this. Which is why it’s very important to build friendships with those who share a similar passion. 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.
Just a word of advice. Please 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.
Where to Start?
To help you get started, one of the best cockpit builder forums out there is CockpitBuilders.com where you’ll find a lot of great people in the builder community who are always willing to help. You can also reference my Links page where you’ll find other helpful resources to get your project going.
And if you’re looking to build a 737, probably the best 737 builder site out there is Flaps2Approach.com where you’ll find all sorts of great information about the 737 along with great ideas to build your sim.
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. Have fun and good luck! If I can help, feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have.