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This page is ment to give you a taste of what happens when you start building your own cockpit. To achieve success with such a project it is essential to do some conceptual planning and to understand – before you start – how much time, patience and resorces it will require. Most likely you will underestimate all three elements – I did!

Here is how my project developed. I never counted the hours spent on it, but they probabely run into the thousands. So, be warned!

Oct. 1995 – Dec. 1995

  • First idea
  • Web research
  • Concept studies, decision on general design / outlay

Jan. 1996 – Feb. 1996

  • Ordering of components for the wooden cockpit structure, fiberglass shell and panels
  • The flight sim (can not be called a cockpit yet) is supposed to run on one PC with one monitor.

Mar. 1996 – Okt. 1997

  • Building starts. It took only a 2 weeks to put together the basic wooden structure.
  • Beginning of panel design with Corel Draw.
  • Trying to understand how the EPIC card and its modules work.
  • Learing of EPL programming language.
  • Wiring of panels
  • Connection of 2 more main monitors and use of WideView for synchronized front view
  • Connection of a 15″ Monitor for a moving map display
    The cockpit now runs with 4 PC’s in a network and uses four monitors

Feb. 1998 – Aug 1998

  • More wiring of panels.
  • Writing of EPL code for the EPIC

Sept. 1998 – April 1999

  • Building of a canopy and panels around the three main monitors. The cockpit is now fully enclosed. Constructing a curved canopy (which can be disassambled for transport) turned out to be a major effort and took three times as long as planned

May 1999 – Apr. 2000

  • The cockpit is ready and actually used for it’s intended purpose: Flying!

May 2000 – Jan. 2002
1st upgrade!

  • Preparation of the cockpit for use with Project Magenta software.
  • Building of CDU with a hacked keyboard and one 5,4″ TFT monitor
  • Complete rebuilding of the front panel section to accomodate two TFT monitors for PDF and NAV display
  • Building of autopilot panel
  • Purchase of 3 more computers to accomodate all Magenta elements. The cockpit now runs on a network of 7 PCs
  • The 15″ monitor is now used to display the EICAS
  • Installation of analogue toe brakes
  • Installation of lights inside the cockpit to simulate daylight and night conditions (panels are not backlit)
  • Installation of dampers in the canopy to make opening and closing smother
  • Adaptation of the EPL code to work with Project Magenta software

Feb. 2002 – Mar. 2002

  • Upgrade to the USB version of EPIC, some modification of EPL code

Apr. 2002 – Mar. 2004

  • Again, the cockpit is finished and used for flying

May 2004 – Mar. 2005
2nd upgrade!

  • Removal of 15″ EICAS monitor, which is replaced by a 10,4″ TFT screen.
  • Complete redesign of all lateral panels (which in Ver. 1 contained some fantasy instruments).
  • Assembly of several TRC-SimKit instruments and incorporation into the cockpit design
  • Implementation of an ATC solution using Radar Contact. The RC window with interactive menue is displayed on a 5,4″ TFT screen. A dedicated panel will be used to control RC. This meant another PC, so now the total count stands at 8!
  • Servo controlled Autothrottle and brake level

June 2005

  • Use of 2 graphics cards on an SLI mainboard for 3 synchronized outside views (instead of WideView on 3 PCs). One of the side view PCs is used as my “workstation” with it’s own monitor. For the first time I am able to take a look at my e-mail or write a letter without sitting inside the cockpit! The number of PCs used in the cockpit decreases for the first time (now 7)!

Feb. 2006 – June 2006
3rd upgrade!

  • Installation of Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar joystick and throttle. Modification of auto throttle gearbox.
  • Installation of new high definition LCD panels for PFD and NAV displays
  • Update of MCP to include ALT and SPD Intervene buttons and FD LED; update of EFIS panel (now backlit)
  • Removal of SimKit standby instruments (using PM on-screen s/b instruments instead)

Dec. 2006

  • First part of overhead panel (OHP_Left, installed in left side panels), using Open Cockpits I/O boards
  • Conception and building of solenoid held Eng1 + 2 start switches

May 2007 – June 2007

  • Removal of monitors for outside views. Replacement with 3 beamers, driven by a Matrox Trippe Head2Go
  • Upgrade of main PC to an Intel Dual Core 6700 CPU and Nvidia 8800GTX video card

July 2008 – Aug. 2008

  • Upgrade of Mechanics Panel to V.3, new Airbrake system

Feb.2009 – April 2009

  • Redesign of Canopy, installation of overhead panel and cockpit windows

Oct.2009 – Jan. 2010

  • Re-Wiring of OHP-Left (now connected to EPIC and Phidgets)
    Wiring of OHP-Right and OHP-Top
    Finishing touches to canopy

The Future ???

  • Backlighing for all panels
  • A motion platform (… ahh, keep dreaming!)