Building a Cessna 172 Simulator

plane

As anyone who has downloaded Microsoft Flight Simulator X or X-Plane knows, piloting an aircraft using a keyboard and mouse just doesn’t work. If you’re going to get in to the world of flight simulators, it’s best to go all-in. [Stevenarango] knows this and built a great Cessna 172 cockpit for his personal use.

All the gauges, instrument panels, and controls are from Saitek, one of the best manufacturers of home/hobbyist flight controls. The instruments were mounted on a 5mm piece of PVC, which is mounted on a C172 cockpit-sized wooden frame. All the instruments, from the throttle, pedals, yoke, trim wheel, individual LCD steam gauges, and multi panel are driven by USB.

As for the actual simulation, [Steven] is using a fairly powerful computer running Flight Simulator X with dual monitors – one for the glass cockpit and another for the windscreen. It’s not quite the same scale as building a 737 in your garage, but it’s more than sufficient for an awesome flight simulator experience at home.

Comments

  1. Peter says:

    [i]…individual LCD steam gauges…[/i]

    World’s only steam-powered 172! Does it haul a tender full of coal?

    I like how he did the top of the instrument panel with the right shade of leatherette :-)
    Nice work….

    • Just_dutch says:

      The old style analog gauges are often refered to as “steam gauges” by the more snobbish pilots used to the full glass panel instrument panels. It’s a widely used term.

      • bob says:

        Hahaha what? The term “steam gauges” has been around for ages and not only does it have nothing to do with “snobbish glass cockpit pilots”, it’s often used affectionately. Well depending on how frustrated you are with them at that given moment.

  2. James says:

    all that money and time invested on such a great project. now go out and buy a bigger screen

  3. pac says:

    If you’re gonna go all-in you might want to do something like this :

  4. ds18s20 says:

    Come on; doing the real thing isn’t that hard at all; become certificated pilot and then you can see how much more fun it is

    • FlyingFortress says:

      Reality is never more fun than simulators, especially when it comes to building stuff. I think a lot of people will agree on that. FreeTrack devices, custom joysticks / yokes / rudder pedals, cockpit frames, monitor configurations, searching for a proper flight model, arguing about your simulator of choice, looking for scenery and so on and so on. Go try all of that will your flight club’s rusty C172.

    • asheets says:

      It isn’t hard, but it sure is expensive. $200 per flight hour (and you need ~40 for a PPL) can build a whole bunch of neato computers.

      • hpux735 says:

        While doing the real thing isn’t that hard, and it’s not that expensive (around $100/hr at my club), there is certainly a place for simulation. This one seems to be very well done, and I like it. The only thing it’s missing (for me) is a way to see where you are on downwind. That’s one of my great pet-peeves about simulators. I think it would be a perfect fit for practicing instrument flight.

  5. bbb says:

    How about flightgear

  6. lynndixon says:

    Does anyone know what the panel in the middle between the radio stack and the 6 pack is? Its the one that looks like a little Dynon Skyview or a Garmin GPS. I can’t find it on saiteks website and would love to have one.

  7. Ryan Heyser says:

    Awesome job. Not so much the hacking reply but if you’re into flight simulators, Lockheed (after they purchased flight simulator from Microsoft) now produces their own flight simulator at http://www.prepar3d.com

  8. Matti Virta says:

    Simply stupid building :( only saitek gauges and radio etc,panel, only need connect to USB, But make same than me, USB connect leo bodnar caRD and connect all what you need cables to switches and encoders and yoke etc,etc, have better can make REAL, saitek parts no reality anythink your simulator :(
    and now i make arduino microprocessor connect to all radio panel and DME,ADF,autopilot etc, to sim program,easy way and better make REAL plane/car/F1 sim.

  9. Smellio Visioniano says:

    But does it smell like the inside of a 172? ;-)

  10. Russ Cottrill says:

    Nice, and not that I wouldn’t want a setup like this, however you have to think how much cash this setup actually cost to put togather! Just a quick glance and i get an easy 5 grand! That would be a big step in the direction of a private lic. or down payment on a basic plane! and the 737 sim I saw or the 747 sim the guy built in his basement would pay for a lic. AND a pretty nice REAL plane!! only thing i can figure is these “pilots” are maybe scared of heights!

  11. david crouch says:

    I would love to fly a real cessna but the medical exam is too extensive.
    And i have heard it costs a lot of cash for a special issuance cert.
    So, it looks like a sim is the only option for me. But i would love to build a sim anyway. Nice setup.
    David

  12. Naqash says:

    what is the total price ?

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