Starting your own home flight simulator is an exciting and rewarding adventure. It can also be expensive and very challenging at times. I give you some tips on where to start and what to consider when starting to plan out your own flight simulator build.
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At its core any basic but functional simulator ideally has the following components:
- Mid to high range PC and monitor – You want something that will run the simulator you choose smoothly
- Yoke or joystick – A yoke is your best choice since most aircraft use yokes, but some do use a control stick so it’s up to you.
- Rudder Pedals – Necessary for steering the aircraft on the ground, helping control windy day landings, and activate brakes
- Throttle – Don’t think I need to say much here. This can be as simple as a single lever to a complex multi-lever device.
You can, of course, expand on that to your heart’s content with the plethora of parts available today to build your ultimate sim.
I’ll cover a couple of scenarios you might choose to go with: A single or twin engine General Aviation aircraft and a Commercial Airliner.
General Aviation (GA) Single or Dual Engine Aircraft
There are many choices available if you decide you want to go with a GA aircraft.
To prepare yourself to build a commercial airliner simulator, take a look at my How Much Does it Cost page. It’ll give you an idea of the potential costs and what components are involved. You can use that to help you gauge whether it’s for you and how far you might want to take it.
If you’re looking to start small, say, with a single or twin engine aircraft you have a lot of options available
Start lurking around builder forums and ask questions. One of the best cockpit builder forums out there is CockpitBuilders.com. You’ll find a lot of great people in the builder community who are willing to help.
Take a look at my links page. There are a lot of great resources there from where to buy components for your sim to forums and builder sites to give you inspiration.
If you’re looking to build a Boeing 737 simulator at home, there are many great sites you can look to for insipiration like Flaps2Approach.com, Flightdeck737.be, 737diysim.com, and elephantair737. These are by no means the only ones. Reference my Links page where you’ll find other great resources and builder sites to help get your project going.
Words of Advice
A full sized home cockpit is a MAJOR time and energy investment, a money drain, and can seriously stress relationships. 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.
This can also be a lonely hobby. It’s hard to find people as excited or motivated as you to do something like this. Much less someone in close proximity to help. It is so important to have a supportive spouse and cultivate friendships with those who share a similar passion. The more people you share 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 question why you’re doing this. Trust me, there will be times like that.
Please be courteous and appreciative to those who share their experiences (they don’t have to, after all). Be humble. Be open to new ideas, and kind to those who share them. Credit those who help you along the way. Ask for permission if you want to pass on information you’re given. And be generous with your knowledge.
Let’s make this community a place of sharing and support so we can all get a taste of what only a select few get to do for a living.
Most of all, HAVE FUN!
To me, building a flight simulator cockpit at home is about the journey AND the destination. Take your time, take breaks to re-energize, and make sure you occasionally step back and admire all your hard work! Oh, make sure to FLY your sim often so you can remind yourself why you’re doing this. It’s not just there to look cool!
Feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have.