• Rays Aviation Project Home Cockpit

    Project Home Cockpit

    By Rays Aviation


    Have you ever wanted to expand your flightsim experience? Ever since I started virtual flying I felt like something was missing - an environment, the unique smells, sounds and the look and feel when you enter a cockpit, the excitement of firing up the engine and taxiing to the runway for take-off and then the awesome feeling when you can see the wings starting to bend upwards and you lift off the ground.

    Flight simulators over the last decade has increased greatly and the realism presented for a flight simmer today is really good - however the real feeling of flying an aircraft just isn't the same sitting in a normal chair, looking at a 20" monitor and controlling a Boeing 737 with a mouse and a basic 3-axis joystick (meaning controlling the rudders by twisting the joystick).

    There are today several ways in which the simmer can improve their experience - some rather extreme and very costly, but to gain an improved experience does not mean to build a $30 million simulator as the simulators used for type ratings at the professional airlines; it can just might as well be a home built cockpit with wooden frames, a few realistic modules and the experience has already been lifted to a higher level.

    I started to gain interest in building a home cockpit but thought that it was a too complex project for me, therefore I started out with designing and building a toggle switch panel, just to see if I was able to do that and the result was actually four different toggle switch/rotator switch panels which were all working perfectly. Hereafter I indeed got very interested and setup a new project - building a console/pedestal of various modules etc. This new project I also finished without problems and I actually used that console for quite a while when testing new hardware.

    Now, after doing these two projects I was really very interested in starting up a new project - this time I wanted to expand my knowledge and test my skills doing a more complex project. I designed a project with the goal of building a MiP (main instrument panel) - not a replica of any aircraft but instead a MiP of my own creation; however everything has a tendency of expanding similar to my project toggle switch panel, so when I had designed my project MiP it was actually not only a project containing a MiP, but instead a complete home cockpit.

    My name is Raymond Andersen and some of you might know me better as Rays Aviation - This is a story about my latest project of building a home cockpit of my own design.

    Scoping & Designing

    The first thing I did when I decided to start this project was trying to define what I actually wanted to do and what the goal should be. If I needed progress goals to keep me going and which additional challenges I wanted to give myself during the project.

    What I wanted to do was to build a home cockpit which was not a replica of any kind, which included most of the hardware units that I had previously tested and reviewed, which could be connected to just one single computer, which was not a turn-key solution, which included modules or products from at least ten different suppliers and which would feature both a glass cockpit function but also the old standard gauges. The home cockpit should of course be compatible with FSX since that is the flight simulator platform that I am using, and the controls should be HOTAS throttle and stick which I prefer.

    • Cockpit of own creation -- not a replica but okay to use replica modules, etc.
    • Use most of the hardware that I already had in my portfolio
    • Setup should only be featuring one computer (would cause issues in regards to the video inputs but I had a plan...)
    • The MiP should be both a glass cockpit but also include old fashioned gauges
    • Compatible with Microsoft FSX
    • Controls had to be HOTAS throttle and stick configuration
    • Use products from at least ten different suppliers
    • Must NOT be a turn-key solution

    I decided that I wanted to build the cockpit as a single seat cockpit since I would be using the HOTAS configuration - of course the HOTAS configuration could also apply in a twin seated cockpit but normally this configuration is seen and used in single seated configurations.

    1. aarmin's Avatar
      aarmin -
      Congratulations on a project well done and above all getting joy and fun out of it.
      Many happy landings!
    1. henrystreet's Avatar
      henrystreet -
      Thanks for the in depth look. Will likely use some of your ideas
    1. dgsmith37's Avatar
      dgsmith37 -
      Awesome results. I can see your next project being a wrap-around screen. It's amazing how much you learn building a project that requires more knowledge than we start with. Thanks for the write up and pictures.
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Quote Originally Posted by sammonsb View Post
      Don't see a tailhook lever. Must be a softie pilot not able to land on a boat.
      Well - actually on the Rays Aviation light and mission panel on the left side console I have a switch on/off/on named HOK => that switch controls hook up/down ... I could only fit 3 letters in the legends when cutting the panel with the water cutting machine.

      But you are right - my skills for landing on a carrier are not excellent

      Merry Christmas All

    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Thanks for the feedback all - if you need guidance in a similar project or just has questions, I would very much like to help out and share my experience with home cockpit building.

    1. jpgregg's Avatar
      jpgregg -
      This is fantastic! I love it. If you like, check out my setup (link below). It's very similar, although your interfaces are much more advanced. Do you have a website? I will be checking back with this article often as I upgrade my system. Thanks for posting!


      Happy New Year!

    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Quote Originally Posted by jpgregg View Post
      This is fantastic! I love it. If you like, check out my setup (link below). It's very similar, although your interfaces are much more advanced. Do you have a website? I will be checking back with this article often as I upgrade my system. Thanks for posting!


      Happy New Year!


      Hi Paul,

      You have a really cool setup!

      3 projectors gives an awesome view - what specs do your projectors have?

      My website is www.RaysAviation.Mono.Net and you are very welcome to visit :-)

    1. jpgregg's Avatar
      jpgregg -
      Thanks Ray. I will check out your website.

      I bought the projectors used, on Craigslist, for roughly $80 each (it's been a little time and I don't remember exactly). They are not identical. I have two 3M MP8670s, and one Panasonic. Also, my youtube vid says I'm running two 9800 GTs, but I upgraded a while ago, and am now running a single GTX660 (much better performance, as might be expected). Since I'm running 4 monitors off a single card, I run the projectors at XGA resolution, to keep frame rates in check. I also use megascenery, with autogen turned off - which also helps keep my frame rates in check. The projector screens are shower curtains purchased at k-mart, stapled and taped in the back, and stretched flat with a heat gun... works quite well.

      Thanks again for the link to your website, I'll be checking back often!

    1. TheSchwartz's Avatar
      TheSchwartz -
      Absolutely fabulous. I have been toying with the idea of doing something like this, but maybe on a smaller scale. Is there a tutorial somewhere on interfacing hardware to flightsim programs (particularly X-Plane)?

      A link would be appreciated
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