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    I know that there have been some discussions about home simulators in digressions on other threads, so I thought I’d start a fresh topic. I am completely clueless about setting up a home flight simulator and would like some suggestions of what I need to buy to have a reasonable simulator. I know you can spend thousands of dollars on a simulator, but I am interested in getting started without going crazy. Are CH yokes, rudder pedals and twin power quadrant any good? What about Saitek? What is the best software? Do I need a 22″ or 24″ monitor? How much ram do you need? Any other suggestions are welcome.



    I have XPlane and FSX (microsoft) software. Both have pro/cons, both are good. And, a lot of bang for the buck. I am not familiar with Saitek.

    I have CH Products pedals, yoke and throttle quadrant. All are pretty easy to set up, and the throttle quadrant has switches on the front that you can program to do different functions (flaps, gear, deice…..) I don’t know if they are the best, it is what I have and they work.

    The computer that I run is one that a geek at my office built for me. It has a lot of processing power, a good video card and a high speed drive. The XPlane site has some good guidance. http://tinyurl.com/aoxmss3 I spent around $1000 for my box, but it is a hot rod. I think you can spend less, I know I could have spent more.

    I am not a geek, but, what I understand, more power gets the best resolution and rendering of the background, so the more processing power the better. I tried to run FSX on a general purpose PC and all it would do is lock up until I tuned the settings to low.

    I have a pair of 26″ monitors but a pair of 22″ are fine. I use 2 monitors, one for the G530, Radios and other items and the other for the cockpit/panel. The 2 are side by side and you can run them so they have a wide picture too. One monitor will work, but 2 make it much easier to tune the nav system and run the FD/AP.

    I use FSX most because I am more familiar with it. FSX will connect to that “game rooms” so I join in rooms where there are armature controllers running an approach control and tower operations and request approaches. Some are very good, some are lame. A USB headset is needed (for communicating), but that is needed because the sound will drive your family nuts.

    I also see where the WX sucks in the US and fly the “actual” (it will set the WX to the Metar if connected to the web) conditions.

    But most of the time, I set up WX conditions and fly approaches on my own nav to airports I use frequently.

    I know it keeps my instrument flying skill sharp. The engine failures I think are the most value for practice. You will work up a sweat flying an approach to minimums after losing one during your climb out into IMC.

    I think it is a good investment plus it is fun. I suspect there are others here messing around with this stuff, I hope to get some tips.




    I am actually working on a full article for this for a future Flyer edition. I am in the process of building a setup with 4 32″ TVs for my visual references and 2 24″ monitors for my instrument panel. While that is somewhat overkill for most people, I want to have the visual references to be able to do a circle to land approach and have a bit more realistic setup.

    Regarding Saitek vs CH Products, both do what they are designed to do. Saitek has some functions that are integrated and work a bit better with newer systems as the CH products were designed quite some time ago and don’t support as many additional functions (for example, the Saitek has a built in clock/timer on the yoke). Both are “plug and play” but also have some pretty easy set up programs to run with them. Personally, I would search for one with a multi-engine throttle quadrant and whichever has a better price, go with that one as for some reason they normally don’t come with the multi-engine quadrant. Also, I think CH’s quadrant is generic without the knobs that we have in piston twins (different styles and colors).

    With regards to FSX and X-Plane, as was mentioned previously, they both do a good job. FSX is a bit more stable and easier to use, although the new X-Plane 10 is the top of the line. With that being said, an old version of flight sim (FS2004) will still do a great job of what you need it to do and practice muscle memory and work on single engine items and is easy to run on older computers (and therefore much cheaper).

    If you would like, post any specific questions on here so I can answer them directly and/or shoot me a private message or e-mail and I will be more than happy to discuss items further with you.


    Does X-plane support touch? Once touch monitors are more common this is going to make for very realistic sim panels for modest cost. Next of course would be 3D exterior views and 2D interior? Would be fun to do a virtual fly in of twin cessnas…



    I am not sure, but I will check and see. No promises on how quickly I get a response though! 🙂


    Oka y how do you set up the 4 TVs? I have 2 monitors on one video card …. How do you get 4 more? Is there a motherboard that will accept 3 video cards?..


    Its not the motherboard, but the graphics card that you need. There are quite a few that will support more than 2 monitors. Raedon makes quite a few as well as Nvidia. Shoot me a PM or e-mail and I can help you out some.


    I have been working on a sim for a couple of years and recently converted it to a 414 from a single complex.
    The picture I included is missing a shot of the right window.

    I’m running latest version of X-Plane on 3 computers.
    Front View (twin 23″ monitors) high end graphics card and fast computer.
    Computer #2 is left side, lower end with fairly good graphics card and ram
    Computer #3 same as left side.
    Computer #4 mid end computer good graphics card running SIMAvio Flight instruments.

    All this is connected over 100MB Ether so it’s fast.

    I build the sim and steam layout with plywood and mylan cover for the glare shield.
    Sitek Yoke, Quadrant and controls.
    Sub woofer and speakers

    In the pictures I’m flying a 1968 arrow that matched my plane at the time. No pics yet of the twin setup.

    I intent do move the 23″ monitor one per side (R and L) then replace the front with 32″ to get a bit better peripheral view.
    Put a cover over all of it with PVC and heavy cover cloth.. when you do that the reality factor is amazing.



    Great! I want one!

    How much have you spent? (Numbers Please! We need numbers in this forum!)

    quote RENRIQUEZ:

    Great! I want one!

    How much have you spent? (Numbers Please! We need numbers in this forum!)

    Probably about 4 hours of 340 flight time? 😉


    Ted, if you are talking about my 340, 2 hours will be enough.


    You guys are too funny.. I suspect you may be right about the 340 time. I’m going to add a few more pics for you as the in process of building.

    Time was a huge factor.. I’d be happy to tell everyone how I did it if your intersted and give you everything I have for specs.

    You can see some of the construction in the pictures. I started it all out by going to my plane and taking exact measurements of the pilot side.. I didn’t do both sides simply because I didn’t have room for the sim if it were that big in my sim room.

    I then cut out everything with cardboard (many times to get it right) hooked it together with small scrap wood that you use for holding the tar paper down on roofs. Using a hot glue gun I hooked the cardboard to the sticks until I had everything like I wanted.

    I then transfered it over to the wood and started building.

    Monitors were picked up at costco for about 169 each.
    Computers I picked up at best buy and off ebay for the side computers. 500$ for the primary and 100$ each for the secondary and about 300$ for the instrument computer running SimAvio.

    As for side monitors I picked them up for free just asking friends. You can see I actually have 2 dell 15″ LCD monitors for the instrument panel. You can pick them up for 30-50$ on ebay or craigs list.

    The most expensive part was the 450$ graphics card on the primary front display. I wanted something I could get real cloud textures with. However this card is still not strong enough for what I want and will move up one more card.

    I’m running a 1GB DDR high speed raidon card on Windows 7 for the primary and Linux on the side computers and windows XP for SimAvio.



    Kelly, very nice simulator setup. We’re interested in building something as well for our basement. I’ll have to come back to this thread when we get started with it.

    I do the comparison to flight time partially joking, but it also points out the value and trade-off. So if you can build a sim for say $1,500, that’s 4-5 hours of flight time for me. The payoff then being virtually unlimited sim time (even though not loggable), so that seems like a pretty decent trade, provided you’re also willing to put forth the effort to use it. It also helps if you can set up a way to have someone fail things on you.

    Another way of comparing it would be to a sim session. I was looking up prices for training, and RTC charges about $1,600 for a 2.5 day session with 10 hours of sim time. So if you can build one for the same as one sim session…


    You make a great point. Actually if you purchase the X-Plane Dongle and use the commercial version of SimAvio I think you can classify it as PCATD or something like that for logged time.. Cost can be prohibitive however.

    I use it during times in the winter I can’t fly, or one of my favorite things to do is to load up VatSIM in an aera I’m going to go, drop the weather down to minimums and then run the entire cross country (If I have time) or the last 30nm of the trip including the approach.

    I also like to practice the ODP out of any airport I don’t know about both in VFR conditions, then drop everything down to mins and do it again.

    My setup also powers my iPad mini running foreflight so it makes the feeling of being there fairly real.

    I found that having the two side monitors was a huge help.. I can now look out and see a nacel in each window when flying a 414 sim.

    The one thing plan to do is pull the 6 pack I cut into the wood out and replace it with a swappable screen made of either plastic or mylan.


    Speaking of which, how’s your search for a plane coming?

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