This flight simulator project was born when Rob and I had the chance to spend some serious time in real flight simulators. A local commercial simulator firm was nice enough to allow us the use of their 737 simulator free of charge.
At this point we thought it was neat, but we wanted more. We were finally able to beg a flight on an MD-83 simulator that was owned by a local airline. This is what finally sunk the hook. It was so real that we had to have one! Unfortunately for us, the 21 Million dollar price tag was a bit much for our meager pockets.
After doing some calling around, looking for something that would make a good cockpit for the simulator we wanted to build, we found what we needed at the place we first flew the 737. For $200 we purchased an IFR cockpit that was home-built to run as an auxillary cockpit off the analog computer that drove their Lockheed Electra simulator.
We carefully loaded the cockpit on a truck and shipped it back to my place where we immediately began removing wiring and instrumentation that we didn't want.
The idea was to turn this nice looking 4 place Beechcraft into a single seat "winged machine of death". We spent almost 6 weeks cleaning it up and removing existing equipment to make room for the new design we had planned.
Unfortunately, we had to shelve the project after the cost calculations ran over $1000 for the interface gear to be able to connect the instrumentation to a PC. The cockpit languished in my garage for over a year and a half.
A few weeks ago I began searching the web for folks that were building their own flight-sim cockpits and found the most amazing thing. There was this little ISA board called the EPIC that looked like just what I needed to solve the controller problem that caused us to stop work on the cockpit.
After further reasearch, I discovered that this $250 board would solve every single problem I had envisioned in interfacing the simulator instruments we had to a PC. It would handle all the toggle switches, rotary switches, lights, numeric displays - EVERYTHING! I immediately contacted the author and made arrangements to get an EPIC with an expansion interface.
While we were waiting for the board to arrive, we began working on the cockpit again at a furious pace. We made up a year and a half of neglect in only three weeks.
This brings us up to present day. We've got the entire simulator repainted - light gray on the outside, dark gray on the inside. We've got the floor replaced, the seat repaired and cleaned up and we've nearly finished the work required to construct the left side console.
I'll be placing pictures of these developments on this site as soon as I get the chance to.
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