I was inspired by my time in the RAAF, the Commercial Sim time I got while there was amazing. I got to fly in the Hornet Sim (F/A 18) about once a week (some 30hours), Herc (C-130H) (10hours IN Command). The time in aircraft (mainly C-130H but sometimes in 707 or DHC-4 Caribou) flying somewhere had me almost always kicking the Loadmaster out of the Jump seat to watch the Boys at work... and wanted to take the home flight sim a little further.... I have purchased every version of MS Flight Sim from the first to the last.
Yes I played with the pixelated version of FS on 386SX30 in EGA, ie black and white pixels of a cockpit of a Cessna 152 with slowly moving needles and all keyboard commands.
I have had Century of Flight, Looking Glass Aviation's Flight Sim, and many others as I chased the realistic experience. Still this was not enough...I wanted to make my home Sim experience a bit more like being in a real Plane.
OK a lot further
This brought me to investigate creating a Single User Pod with Ideas coming to me from Sim_Samurai and growing from there. The internet is a wonderful resource for finding out most of the information you need to do almost anything these days. With someone blogging about their journey from concept to completion somewhere in the world.
As they say, that is the start of the seed of an idea....
Then I visited a number of commercial simulators over a three month period, with the gifts of Simulator Time that members of my family had given to me as Christmas and Birthday gifts. Ohh the revelations, the things I saw and the things I learnt that you could get away with and charge money to users for... I visited Flight Experience in Northbridge Perth, and a helicopter sim at HeliWest Jandicott.
A most enlightening few months.
After much Googling, I had plans for a Cabin Structure and Built what for all intents and purposes was a 3/4 Shipping container sized POD. It is 2.2M Wide by 4.5m Long by 1.8M tall inside.
I placed an Air-conditioner into a hole at the rear of the POD, wired it all up to provide lighting and fuses, network etc and had it certified by an Electrician, then wired to a separate connection in the Main House fuse box.
I then began work on the initial MDF Main Instrument Panel (MCP). This was the basic shape of the dash of a 737 with 3 monitors behind it to provide psudo instruments. I then found an AutoCAD file for the Instrument panel and had this Laser Cut from a 2.5mm sheet of Aluminium.
This was mounted and began my initial shape for my MCP. I added switches, LED's, indicators, servo's, dummy gauges, and parts from anywhere I could find to make it more realistic.
I purchased a large amount of equipment from a Guy in the Gold Coast, which accelerated my build of a lot of items. (Thanks Colin). This included
FMC Mount area from Gold Flight SIM Parts
Pedestal Unit basic shape
numerous panels, switches and rotaries,
Throttle Unit and Stand
Radios and button units from Flight deck solutions
Gauges from Flight Illusions
I then began buying modules and parts from OpenCockpits to bring up the realism of my cockpit.
I currently have most of the radios in the Pedestal, including the Rudder Trim, Cargo Fire panel, Auto Cabin Door panel, Transponder, NAV and ADF and ACARS Printer.
While visiting a fellow Simmer Gwyn Pettit in Perth (See Aerosim Solutions), I came across a more realistic Throttle (non - motorised) and with Gwyn's help I motorized this unit for the sim.
I now have a Flaps 40deg and brake pressure guage arrived from Spain, and was tested and calibrated for action in the SIM, as I replace the Auto Brake panel in the mid section of the MCP.
Wiring is still ongoing in the MCP for various 12v and 5 V items to eliminate the dreaded power packs (blister packs). But soon it will be very close to a 737 cockpit at home.
Flying fun for all...