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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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)
- 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!)