• Rays Aviation Project Home Cockpit

    When creating a single seated cockpit I now did not have to build a pedestal which is normally found between the pilots in a twin seated cockpit. Instead I had to build both a left side and right side console supporting a variety of modules and functions together with the MiP. I decided that I did not want to build an overhead for this home cockpit (could be an additional project in the future), so the plan to build was only:

    • Left side console
    • Right side console
    • Main Instrument Panel (MiP)
    • Support for rudder
    • Support for stick mounted on seat

    I started by placing all my current hardware on the floor and there from marking each unit with either MiP, left console, right console, seat, floor, etc. so that I could gain an overview of which units I wanted to place where.

    I hereafter marked an area on the floor covering both the left and right console and started placing the units where I thought it would be the most logical to place them. I did the same with the units for the MiP and quickly ended up with 10 or 15 different layouts. Now I just had to choose which layout would fit my idea the best.

    Now I selected which layout I wanted to go with and laid out all modules on the floor for both consoles and the MiP, took a picture and slept on the idea for a few days. I looked at the picture a huge number of times to try and see how it could be better - it was as something was missing and I wanted to make it more complex and include more switches, etc.

    This ended up in me actually designing additional modules for the cockpit - well front plates that could support some different switches. I started searching for switches that would fit my design and idea. I wanted to give my cockpit a touch of a Boeing 737 besides the replica modules that I had, so I went to Opencockpits webshop and ordered some Boeing B737 toggle switches which have the characteristic white cap.

    I also searched DX.com (Deal Extreme) for additional small toggle switches and click switches - I found some various switches and ordered them. Now that all was ordered I also had the correct measurements for the holes that needed to be cut in the front plates.

    I updated my drawings and mailed them to one of my contacts "Hedensted Maskinfabrik" who has several machines that are able to laser cut metal - He quickly put my drawings into his production line and the output was some excellent cut aluminum front plates of my own creation.

    Previously I had built some toggle switch panels so this time it was quite simple and I knew how to proceed. I now had the front panels and the switches that should be a part of the additional self-designed modules, so all I now needed was to connect them to some PCBs - I had some PCBs from Desktop Aviator from my previous project that had some free connection pins, and additionally I also had several PCBs from Opencockpits that also could be used for connecting these new modules - the output was a combination of both and I now had a great variety of modules for the complete setup.


    Additionally I also had to figure out how and what kind of materials I wanted to use when building the cockpit. Should the frames be built of plastic, metal or wood and if metal then what kind of metal... I had the same issue if I was to choose wood as the material - what size, form and quality should it then be.

    I have no experience working with metal as steel or aluminum which I thought would be the ideal material for this project - this was however also very expensive and I would need a lot of outside help just to get the project started, so my solution ended up being wood for the frames in the cockpit.Since I am actually an office working guy my skills working with wood, screws, etc. is quite limited, but I had ideas and dedication and I was not afraid to try.

    One thing was the frames but what about the MiP - I had previously used plywood as a top for a console, but to be honest I found that solution to be a bad idea because the plywood has a very rough surface. That combined with the fact that I did not want to use aluminum or steel gave me a challenge and I had to find a completely different material to use.

    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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