Jump to content

Custom FS Component Design/Creation


Recommended Posts

Hi all,


Let me get the main point of this post out there first and then I'll give you a little history. I'm starting a service where I am offering custom designed and built flight simulator components. I'm not talking about components that match exactly to real world components, I'm talking about stuff for the many of us that don't have the room/money...etc to build a replica cockpit in our homes, but still would like something to make our flight sim experience more tactile, if you will.


I'll get back into that in a second, but the history first. I'm a private pilot and have had my license since 2006. Don't fly as often as I'd like mainly due to the cost (and because I'm a spoiled brat and decided to transition to a Cirrus after I got my ticket, which has ruined me for flying anything else, lol). I'm a child of the 80's/90's and grew up on Microsoft Flight Simulator, back when it was just a 2D instrument panel and extremely crude graphics by today's standards. After they stopped making the series awhile back, I pretty much stopped using my sim. Then when I heard about the restart of the series, I couldn't wait to get back into it. I had to take a little time to accumulate the funds to build a computer able to run it well, because if I was going to buy MSFS, I wanted it to run flawlessly. I finally got my computer built about 6 months ago, and very quickly I was reminded of the sim's ability to rip you out of the virtual world whenever you had to grab your mouse to make something happen in the cockpit. Doing a few searches online about 3 months ago, I stumbled upon the most glorious of products - an Arduino. I was immediately obsessed. After I bought my first Arduino, I had Amazon packages arriving almost every day (along with driving an hour to my "local" Micro Center). All the packages were filled with various switches, displays, encoders...etc. I'm definitely an electronics geek/nerd, so I had some experience in things like soldering, resistors, wiring...etc), so I got to work right away on adding switches around my Honeycomb Bravo throttle quad. After a few days of gluing switches onto it, with exposed wires everywhere, I decided I needed to make an enclosure of sorts. Out came the wood, but without the proper woodworking tools, I quickly abandoned that idea. At Home Depot I was looking at various storage cases, electric enclosures...etc, although nothing really felt like it would feel like a cockpit component. On one of my many trips to Micro Center, I was about to leave when I decided to just take a walk down the 3D printer aisle. I've always wanted one but the last time I looked into them (years ago) they were out of my price range. Well imagine my excitement when I saw they were selling the Creality Ender 3 Pro for $99. How could I NOT buy it?? I very quickly went down the rabbit hole of 3D printing. I taught myself Shapr3D (slowly), but have come to be fairly proficient in it. Two weeks later I had designed my first device (photos below) - and that's what leads me here.


My main issue with cockpit components that you can either buy outright or you find on sites like Thingaverse, is that they are almost all exclusively replicas of actual cockpit components. To me that's great if I was able to build an actual cockpit, but that's not an option for me. I wanted something that I could attach to the top of my Honeycomb Bravo that gave me multiple capabilities, but was still laid out in a style that you'd look at and could see it being in a plane somewhere. My favorite thing to do on the sim is fly 737 routes, so I wanted something that primarily controlled the autopilot, but also allowed me to control some other functionalities that I used often - things like landing, position and anti-collision lights, the APU, master battery switch...etc. It took me about a month and a half to design and build my first version of this device (with multiple failures and re-dos along the way), but in the end I think it came out pretty damn cool. I've since added a Laser engraver and CNC machine to my arsenal (since again, the prices are so cheap), and just this week I finished a new faceplate with laser engraved text that, if I had known I was going to get a laser engraver when I started all this, I would have designed and built the panel to include backlighting capability, because the material I used to laser engrave turns out to have an excellent ability to allow for backlit text.


Anyway, super long story even longer, I started thinking that I gotta imagine there's more people out there like me, that would like the ability to have a more tactile experience while using their flight sim, but can't afford or just don't want a full cockpit setup. So I decided to start offering my services to create and (if wanted) build these types of devices for others. I an in no means offering a quick turnaround on these. At the moment my job is on hiatus until the end of January (I work in television so my show is between seasons), so I have some time right now, but eventually I'll be limited to working on these only during nights and weekends. I also take great care in making things and I really try to make everything as nice as possible, so that adds time as well. But now that I've gone through the process of designing and building my first one, I'm definitely a lot more proficient and the entire process now.


SO, if anyone is interested in talking to me about making something for them, I'd be happy to discuss. Obviously there will be a fee associated with it for parts and of course, my time, but I'm not looking to get rich off this. I just actually really enjoy doing this stuff. But we can talk about what you would like and come up with a price from there. I'll ask for a small deposit to get started (mainly to cover components, which are cheap so it won't be a lot). Also, if you would just like me to design something and you have the capability to 3D print it yourself, I could do that as well. I could even compile all the components you want in it (switches, buttons...etc) and send you a package with everything you need, then all you would have to do is 3D print it and assemble. I can also include or not include an Arduino (I'll be using Arduino Mega 2560 Mini's, which are awesome because they work perfectly with Mobiflight but are a fraction of the size of a normal Mega 2560). I can even possibly program it for you and send you the saved Mobiflight file so all you need to do is load the file and plug in the USB (although I will say that right now I've only programmed one for a PMDG 737, Fenix A320 and the stock MSFS aircraft, so if you have an aircraft that isn't listed in the Mobiflight preset variables, we'd have to discuss options).


My email address for this is:


I look forward to hearing from any of you.

Thank you for your time.





This is the Final Product (with the old faceplate before I laser engraved the text)

PXL_20221015_015900427 - Copy.jpg

PXL_20221015_015917568 - Copy.jpg

PXL_20221011_112519659 - Copy.jpg


The wiring inside. It's a mess as it was my first attempt.

PXL_20221010_210826553 - Copy.jpg


I then made a little annunciator panel to add above it, mainly because I needed a way to light up the device so I could see it at night (before I realized I could do backlit text). You can see the small add on I made sitting on the very top, and obviously the red lighting it's shining down across the device

PXL_20221027_044432871.NIGHT - Copy.jpg

PXL_20221020_093609129 - Copy.jpg


The wiring in the add-on I did much cleaner

PXL_20221020_085722555.NIGHT - Copy.jpg


Here's the updated faceplate I made with the laser engraver

PXL_20221026_023807180 - Copy.jpg


And here's an example of how the backlight could work (I'm using a flashlight so it's brighter than it will be with a proper build)

PXL_20221026_024832807.NIGHT - Copy.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...