Building A Cessna 172 Simulator


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.

23 thoughts on “Building A Cessna 172 Simulator

  1. [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….

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

    1. The medical’s not too expensive, plus you can always get a RAMPC which only really costs you money if your GP charges you, CASA issues it to you for free :)

      I got my medical just 2 weeks ago and all the exams only really costed me around $300 :)

      1. My class II cost $100, but my schools gonna cost $90k. Sure you can get a PPL for ~$6500 but then what? How long did it take you to save up that change? At $150 a month it took my a few years. So 40+ hours later you’ve got your ticket and you’ve STILL got to maintain currency and can’t go beyond 50 miles. ~ $180/hr rental plus gas plus possible landing fees at other airports. Nope! Unless your made of money and have your own plane, that sort of flying isn’t a good idea. You’d want to get your instrument rating so you can actually GO somewhere… like states away. But still you’d have to deal with rental costs and rental CAR costs. Sure you COULD be a part owner. But still you have to maintain currency. Bottom line, unless your made of money or someone pays you to fly their airplane so you can maintain your currency, building a sim is the hands down better investment. After the money’s all spent you can still fly instead of just looking whist-fully at the planes departing your local airport.

        BUT if you are made of money, get a ticket! No sim can match a sunset at FL 250.

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