• How To...Reuse Another Person's Junk

    One Person's Junk Is Another Person's Flight Sim Part

    By John R. Havrilla (4 August 2007)

    When rebuilding my latest dual seat cockpit, I knew I had to widen the cockpit to accommodate the six 19” LCD monitors for the outside views and two for the instrument panels, but there were three basic reasons I could not build a full center console:

    1. The room where the flight sim was to be placed limited the width to around 70 inches.

    2. I still use the flight sim computer for other tasks, such as editing video, web design and other day to day tasks.

    3. I have two Newfoundlands that will start barking to go outside to play at the precise moment I am comfortably sitting down ready to taxi out to the active runway. Event though they are very intelligent dogs they have not grasped the phrase “Please remain seated until we have reached cruising altitude and the captain has turned off the seat belt sign. They have no respect for the “Captain in Command” concept.

    So a center console that I had to crawl over was not very practical.

    I needed a compact housing for the throttles, flaps gear and parking brake. After building several prototypes from wood and flat fiberglass panels, I really wasn't satisfied with any of them. Nothing was found while rummaging through all my junk boxes in the basement. It was then that I looked in the corner and saw an old treadmill a friend gave me.

    On the front of the treadmill was a shroud that covered the motor and front pulley assembly. It was perfect.

        Using a saber saw, the excess plastic was cut away leaving a housing approximately 9” wide. Slots were cut for the controls in the top and face of the panel.

    The sides were cut from 1/2" thick Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and attached using screws.

        A separate base for the controls was fabricated using 1/4" thick poplar, 3/8” square hard wood, some rotary and micro switches.

        All the levers were built with removable handles so the top shroud could slip over the base assembly.

        Fully assembled, the center console is compact yet functional.

        The center console allows easy entry and egress from the cockpit when those “Unruly Passengers” decide that they do not want to fly from JFK to Philadelphia and would rather go out to play in the yard.


    When building a flight simulator cockpit, other peoples junk can be a valuable part for your build. One of the biggest assets one can have is imagination. When walking through a store or flea market or when looking at other peoples junk, I always ask myself “Can I use that on my flight sim?” And if you are flexible in your design and are not going for a 100% replica of a certain cockpit you will be surprised at the gems you can find.

    John R. Havrilla

    Tags: cockpits

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