Start Here

So, you’ve decided to step into the world of flight simulation. Before your legs get weak and your head gets dizzy let’s clear up some things:

  1. Flight Simulation is a Flexible Hobby
    • You can make a flight simulator however you would like to, with whatever you have
  2. The best place to start is where you are now
    • A lot of people will say “I don’t have the tools yet, I will never be able to build something like that!” This is a very toxic mindset. Start with what you have, and go from there.
    • Get enough skills to be able to work safely (watch some safety videos on YouTube about power tools/electronics safety) then go after it!
  3. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time
    • Honestly, however, I would argue the best way to eat an elephant is to not. Elephants are an endangered species.
    • Skills build off of each other, and from experiences. You won’t really be able to “learn everything on the ground” watching 16 hours of YouTube, experience is a great teacher.
  4. You are insignificant
    • I actually just put this one in here to catch you off guard. You are awesome. Don’t change a thing.

Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.

-Theodore Rosevelt

Now that that’s out of the way, and I sound like your dad, let’s move on.

Here is a podcast episode I recorded about some considerations to make during your planning process.

Handout

Jump To:

Planning

Skills

Quotes

Planning

If you learn to fail you fail to learn. wait what?

Everyone tells you “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Let’s put the PLAN in airPLANe, and get started.

Determine Purpose:

  • Are you a Student Pilot using this as a Training Rig?
  • Are you a pilot using a simulator for further training or instrument currency?
  • Are you just freaking interested in flying airplanes?
  • Are you just freaking interested in the mechanics behind flight simulators?
  • Are you building this for someone else? That’s very noble of you. Kudos!
  • Are you building this simulator to keep up with your neighbor who hypothetically started a YouTube channel building a small aircraft simulator and creating configuration videos? You know- the one with the loud saws and the quiet eyebrows.

How are you going to build it: 

  • Homebuilt
  • OEM (original equipment manufacturer) 
  • Off-the-shelf hardware

Determine Airplane: 

  1. Light GA airplanes: student pilots, great first sim because of simplicity- but honestly build the sim you love most 🙂
  2. Larger GA airplanes (Twin engine, etc.) fun and challenging-especially less documented ones. Some planes have lots of documentation, some have very little.
  3. Combat Jet (huge flex 🙂)
  4. Combat Prop/Historic
  5. Airliner Lots of parts, many take long time, years to decades, good for aviation enthusiasts, more dreamy.
  6. Helicopter
  7. Novelty (Star wars, Balloon, Etc) Low documentation

Understand how much time you want to spend

  • Time dictates realism
  • Time dictates completion time

Do you prefer building or flying?

  • Build =  More realistic simulator, more time, more system knowledge
  • Fly = Optimized for flying, good controls but not as much detail to cockpit
  • Happy middle = Both, have a very simple setup for flying while you build.

Think about:

Your display situation: Monitors, TVs, Projectors. How many? Curved projectors?
Are you willing to learn? If yes you can take time to dig deep. If not it’s possible it’s better to buy things premade.

Budget

  • Money is not the most important thing in sim building.
  • Tons of insanely smart simulators made from cardboard, foam, and scrap wood
  • There’s a point where simualtors are starved by money- and one where money starves your simulator.
  • It’s only as cheap as you make it
Bell Curve Icons - Download Free Vector Icons | Noun Project
On the Y Axis is simulator potential. On the X Axis to the left, your potential is “limited” by money. It’s not impossible- you just have to be smarter. To the right, you begin throwing money at the problem. If not careful you can fall into buying stupid things you don’t need.

“Flying is expensive, flight simulation shouldn’t be”

-FlightSimMaker

Space:

  • Enough space?
  • Try your garage, basement, room
  • If no space, make a smaller sim
  • May have to be creative in having it modular/fold up/small
  • Single pilot
  • If you have 6’ by 6’ or 2m by 2m you can make an excellent sim.

Woodworking

Make sure you are safe:

Want to learn about woodworking?

CAD

Fusion 360 (used by Karl and Martin, leaders of two of my favorite projects! :)) 

“Whatever Your Mind Can Conceive and Believe, It Can Achieve.”

– Napoleon Hill.

“Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you decide to enjoy your life.”

– Joyce Meyer

“Hello and Welcome to Mickey’s Flightdeck”

-Michael Schulz

737DIYSIM Cockpit Build Starter Guide resource

Software:

  • MobiFlight
  • Air Manager
  • SimVim (Whatever it’s called now. It starts with an “H”)
  • Project Magenta (Instrument displays only)
  • FSUIPC: Control simulator events with assigned keystrokes. More powerful than keyboard configurator.

​Addons:

  • 737: ZIBO

Check out all of the resources I recommend under in my Partners and Resources Page!

Top Five Barriers:

Time

Space

Knowledge

Money

Your “Local Government” (Whether that be parents or spouse😂)

More will be added later, as always!


Psst. Pass it on:

Filling this forum may add your advice to this article!