(Originally published 28/04/09 on the now-defunct Sky High Dotnet blog)
If you peruse a few of the more complete cockpit projects out there – you know, the ones that look like they took waaaay too much of the builder’s time – one thing you’ll notice is that they feature a plethora of dials, switches, knobs, controls, gauges, screens and gewgaws of all sorts.
While some of this stuff can be bought off the shelf, and companies like SimKits (right) specialise in providing accurate-looking and fully-functional instruments like altimeters and turn indicators for a range of aircraft types, much of it is fabricated by hand by the poor builder out of wood, metal or other materials. Some hardcore builders cast their own plastic parts. The quest for realism (see FAQ #1) drives some to extreme lengths of ingenuity. It’s like DIY, but the end product is something you can have fun with.
Clearly all of this has to interface with a PC somehow, and further, control Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS, which 99% of home cockpits projects use as their core software – there are a couple of ‘pits out there based on Austin Meyer’s excellent X-Plane but it’s only really just starting to become accessible to the hobbyist). Read More