Wednesday, 26 September 2012

How to fix multi monitor panel display problems

I use three 24" monitors for my external view, and a 22" for my instruments.

When I first tried opening different planes' 2D panels to drag over to the 22" monitor I found that some were stretched across all the monitors or, worse, didn't appear at all and caused the FSX cursor to do its spinny thing.

There is a simple fix for this.

Go to the main FSX folder and into SimObjects, then Aircraft.

Find the folder for the plane you want to edit and go into its Panel folder.

Take a copy of the panel.cfg file (naming it panel-orig.cfg or similar) and open the panel.cfg file in Notepad.

Find the panel you want to fix (for example [Window00]), and edit the following line:

window_size=1.000, 1.000

Change it to:

window_size=0.333, 1.000

If the line isn't there just add it.

This will reduce the width of the window to a third of the display (ie. one monitor if you're using three).

Save the file and fire up FSX to check that your panel is now displaying correctly. If you experience any problems you can just restore the original panel.cfg file.

You may also find that the external view is squashed up into the top part of the screen.

To fix this go back into the panel.cfg file for your aircraft, and look for the following section, usually right at the bottom:

[Default View]

Change the SIZE_Y to this:


Note that these fixes may not work for every plane. For example I have found big problems with the default Beaver that I have yet to overcome. I suggest you try one plane at a time, and if you experience problems just restore that plane's cfg, check the problem has gone, then try a different aircraft.

To avoid having to undock and drag your panel every time you want to fly, you can save the flights with the panel in the correct position on your second monitor. The steps are detailed in this post.

There is a lot more information on editing cfg files here.

Saving panel position on second monitor

I use this process to avoid having to undock and drag panels to my instrument monitor every time I fly.

  • Start FSX.
  • Go to Free Flight.
  • Select the aircraft, aerodrome, weather and time I want.
  • Start the flight.
  • Alt-Enter to windowed mode.
  • Bring up the instrument panel I want. This varies from plane to plane. For example, aircraft with IFR panels like the default C172 and Baron are excellent, but others like the good old Goose have a lot of blank space for the outside view. If, like me, you are using multiple monitors for the outside view you will probably need to edit each aircraft's panel.cfg file to get the panels to display correctly.
  • Undock the panel and drag it to the second monitor.
  • Save the flight.

I've done this for all my favourite aircraft, so when I want to fly I just load the saved flight for the aircraft I want and use the menu to move it to another airport if necessary.

I use the following convention for naming the saved flight, so they're always at the top of the list and easy to find:

000 Type Location

000 C172 EGBW

Centre console

I've had to rethink the centre console. I was planning on having it 30cm wide so that I could store a joystick in it when not in use. After some testing it turns out that this is just too wide, as I suspected it would be.

The new plan is to make an 18cm wide enclosure, just big enough to mount my two Saitek throttle qudrants side by side. I think this could extend out a little way from the MIP, giving a flat surface on which to use the mouse or the joystick when necessary. I won't be able to store the joystick inside it, but that's not the end of the world.

I cut some MDF last night and dry assembled part of the console. I immediately saw that some tweaking is needed so I still don't have working throttles. The frustrating thing is that this isn't a big job, but I can only cut outside after work, which doesn't give me much time before it gets dark each evening. Also, it's lashing with rain today.

I haven't been able to fly since Friday, and I'm getting twitchy. I may have to jury right the throttles just to get back in the air until the centre console is finished.

Weekend progress

I made some good progress this weekend, but obviously didn't get everything done (that was never going to happen).

After a quick trip to B&Q for a couple of sheets of MDF and some sawhorses I took the cockpit apart and carried it all down to the back garden, where it was sunny for once.

I cut 10cm off the depth of the top of the cockpit so it was the same width as the supports, and trimmed the edge where it was a little too long. I've based the cockpit measurements on a width of 6' (as MDF comes in this length it reduces cutting) but the top was an old piece of timber I had lying around, so it was a little too long.

The sawhorses made the cutting so much easier, as did a new wood blade for my jigsaw. I'm getting pretty straight cuts now.

Anyway, with the top reduced to 6' wide by 40cm deep (forgive my mixing of measurement systems) I cut the 6' x 4' sheet of 12mm MDF I had bought to the same size. I then trimmed the three upright supports so that the height of the whole thing would be the same as the back, which is made of 6mm MDF.

Once it was all reassembled it was much less wobbly, even without the battens I had been using to brace the upright supports when it didn't have a base.

I also reattached the MIP supports to the top using angle brackets instead of the Heath Robinson battens I had used before.

I doesn't look much different, but the whole unit is more stable, 10cm less in depth, and a couple of centimetres lower. This gives me a lot more room behind me, so I can sit further back and not be so cramped.

I decided not to make the monitor support until I know exactly how high it needs to be.

The consoles have had a rethink too, I'll post separately about them.

I've added some pictures.

Monday, 24 September 2012

How to make a lighting panel using toggle switches

I did this for FSX but it should work for FS9 as well. No promises though, as I haven't tried it.

To simplify the instructions I'm going to assume that you are using SPST toggle switches similar to these, and red and black coloured wires (although they can be any two colours, as long as they're different).

Shopping List

  • A Leo Bodnar BU0836X interface card - £49.99 + £4.99 delivery
  • An A to B USB cable to connect the card to your PC - £4.97
  • A registered version of FSUIPC - 28.56EUR
  • Some simple SPST (Single Pole Single Throw) ON-OFF toggle switches (10A Toggle SPDT A, Order Code: JK27E) - £3.49 each (much cheaper on eBay)
  • Two lengths equipment wire (any gauge), of different colours. I use red and black.
  • A drill with a suitably sized bit for your switches (I believe 12mm holes are pretty standard for toggle switches) - £10 for the bit (I already had a drill).
  • A piece of hardboard, plastic or thin MSF to use as the panel. I used offcuts cut to 7.25" x 2", the same size as GoFlight panels. (You could get away with using thick cardboard to practice with, then you wouldn't even need the drill.)
  • Electrical tape.


First plan the layout of a simple panel. I did a lighting panel first (top one).

Mark out the material you will be using for the panel and drill a hole for each switch.

This is actually my engine management panel. The holes are a bit wonky but it's not too bad when the switches are in place. Try to be as accurate as possible when drilling though.

Fix the switches in the holes and figure out how long you need your wire to be to reach the BU0836X comfortably. Cut a length of each coloured wire and connect the red wire to the terminal for the ON position on the switch, and the black wire to the OFF position terminal.


I use switches with male Lucar type spade connectors on the back, which means I can connect the wires using female Lucar connectors which makes it easy to disconnect them and move them around if required. You can always just wrap the wire around the terminal and secure it with electrical tape, but this isn't an ideal long term solution as the wires will work loose over time. Soldering is another more permanent solution.

Choose an input on the BU0836X card (I started with 32 and worked backwards, as I have seen a report of input 1 interfering with Saitek devices). Push the other end of each wire into the connectors on the card. Make sure you strip a short (5mm) length of the insulation from the wires first to ensure a good connection. I had a little trouble getting the wire in at first. There's a particular angle that works well, but if have trouble try gripping the wire with pliers until you get the hang of it. If you need to release the wire just press down on the top of the connector and it will come free.

Assuming you're using input 32 the red wire from the ON position on the toggle switch should go to the B32 connector, and the black wire to the ground (GND) next to it.

Plug the BU0836X card into your PC using the USB cable, and fire up FSX.

Start a flight and hit Alt to bring up the menu. Choose FSUIPC from the Add-ons menu item, and select the Buttons & Switches tab.

Now for the fun part. Click one of your switches and it should appear in the Joy# and Btn# boxes. Then check the box on the right labelled Select for FS control and the dropdown labelled Control sent when button pressed will activate. Choose the function you want your switch to perform from the dropdown menu. For example, to have your switch toggle the beacon select Toggle Beacon from the list. (If you can't find the entry for an item try looking under T for Toggle, as many of them are in there.)

Next select the same toggle command from the Control sent when button released dropdown, so that the switch will toggle off when released. (See A note on SPST vs SPDT switches below.)

Click OK to return to your cockpit and observe the virtual version of your switch. Flick your real life switch, and the one on-screen should toggle as well. Switch to an external view and and watch the result :)

Note: If you are doing this on FSX's default Grumman Goose like I was, the lights are all messed up and need fixing. I'll post a tutorial on how to fix this.

Rinse and repeat for the rest of the switches on your panel.

This will give you a functioning switch panel for under £100, which increased my immersion levels considerably. After the initial outlay you can create more panels with very little outlay (I've started getting switches on eBay now for a fraction of the Maplin price). I have 3 panels and counting now, and lots of inputs left on my BU0836X card.

Of course, the panel itself looks grim - bare wood with pencilled in labels. There are a number of ways of tarting them up which I'm currently looking at, so I will post the results of my attempts when I have something worth looking at.

If you're still reading you might be interested in my tutorial on how to create an engine start panel using rotary switches, coming soon.

Happy switching.

A note on SPST vs SPDT switches

Because of the way these switches work you need to tell FSUIPC to do something when they are released. The drawback of this is that you need to start each flight with the switch in the same position as those in the on-screen cockpit. If you start with the beacon light off on your RL panel and on in the cockpit, then when you click your RL one on the on-screen one will switch off. This isn't a problem as long as you always start with a cold and dark cockpit like I do, and remember to shut down after each flight (or use a checklist).

If you use a SPDT (Single Pole Double Throw) ON-ON switch instead you will have 3 terminals, one for each ON position and one for ground. This means you can assign a specific switch position to each (eg beacon on and beacon off, instead of toggle beacon). The downside here is that it uses two of your precious  BU0836X inputs instead of one, effectively halving the number of switches you can have before needing to buy another card.

Unable to start the MAAM-SIM DC-3 - Solved

After installing the MAAM-SIM DC-3 I could not get the engines started. After a while I decided that this couldn't just be due to my ineptitude (which is normally the case), and a quick trawl of the net turned up the following solutions.

For each variant open up the aircraft.cfg file in Notepad.

In the [piston_engine] section change the normalized_starter_torque value to 1.5 (or 2.0), like this:


Changing the power_scalar value to 0.95 or higher also works, but this affects the power output of your engines, giving you an extra 10 or so knots at 2000rpm which could mess up your flight planning.


Some people have also found that lowering the FSX target frame rate to below 30 fixes this, but this didn't work for me.

I got all this information from this thread on Buffalo Airways.

Friday, 21 September 2012

DC-3 startup and weekend plans

Not much to report today.

I started on the lighting panel but ran out of switches. I really should start ordering them in bulk online rather than spending 5 times as much per switch at Maplin.

The engine start and management panels are working brilliantly, but I can already see some areas for improvement.

I spent last night obsessing over the correct startup procedure for the DC-3. I found this video, and then these notes which seem to be describing the same procedure.

The problem is that the default FSX DC-3 doesn't have a mesh switch, and I don't know what the energiser and engage switches are. Perhaps Jean-Luc Picard could tell me.

I might get hold of the MAAM or Just Flight DC-3s to see whether their panels are any more realistic. It needs more research first though, before I start splashing the cash.

I'm hoping to get a lot done this weekend, weather and family permitting. I want to take the cockpit apart and trim some depth off it, then reassemble it with a base and some right angle brackets to give it more stability. I'm also hoping to build the centre and left hand consoles, which should also help reduce the wobbles. (The wobbles aren't that bad, but I want it as steady as a rock.)

If I have time I'll try to knock up a proper shelf for the 3 monitors. At the moment they're on piles of books and not at all even.

That's a lot to do - let's see how far I get.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Engine management panel

I finished wiring up the engine management panel and tested it last night.

This has  L & R generators, L & R engine primers and L & R fuel pumps.

These are all simple ON-OFF toggle switches, with the exception of the fuel pumps. I modelled these on the Beech Baron's, with three settings: HI, LO and OFF, so I used a couple of ON-OFF-ON toggles I had lying around.

After testing I think the primer switches should be momentary, as you hold them for a few seconds depending on conditions to prime each engine before start.

Also I think I wired up the fuel pump switch wrong, as I was getting ON-OFF-OFF. I may just go for ON-OFF switches here anyway, as FSX doesn't seem to support the LO position, which I've only seen in the Beech Baron in any case. I'll look into this further.

Although I've yet to come across an aircraft with both alternators and generators I wanted separate switches for both even though they share the same input in FSX. I'll use the red rocker switches I ordered on aircraft with alternators, and the metal toggle switches for older types with generators. It means using up a couple of extra inputs on the BU0836X card, but should add a touch of authenticity when flying different types.

I'm now thinking about making a fuel selector panel with a cutoff switch, but I'll do the lighting panel and MIP switches first.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Here are some pictures. Not great quality as it was dark and the attic is cramped so it's tricky to get everything in.

And, behind the scenes...


Twin rocker switch for alternators

I ordered one of these twin rocker switches this afternoon:

At the weekend I bought two black rockers switches from Maplin for Master Battery and Avionics switches.

16A Rocker Switches

I wanted plain (non-illuminating) red ones for the alternators. I had a bit of trouble finding some, so hopefully these will work.

All these four switches should fit in to the left of the yoke with a bit of luck.

Magneto problem - Solved

It works!

Here are the settings for FSUIPC:

with the following values:
OFF = 0
LEFT = 2
BOTH = 3

Repeat for SET MAGNETO 2

I guess you could have START = 4 as well, but I'm using a separate starter switch.

I was still seeing the switches flip to the START position sometimes, so I checked the FSX settings and found a couple of old key bindings from the previous test panel I had made. I deleted these and everything is working perfectly :)

Magneto switch problems

I made some progress on the switches last night. The engine starter panel is now all wired up (I'll need to solder the wires to the rotary switches once I'm happy it's working), and the switches are in place on the other engine panel. I'll need to finish wiring that one up and test it tonight.

Unfortunately adding a wire to the OFF position on the rotary switches did not solve the problem I was having with it skipping positions. In fact, having both switches working made it worse, with the right engine switch affecting the position of the left engine switch.

I'm sure the switches are wired up correctly as each position shows up as a separate button press in the Windows Game Controllers tool.

I suspect it's either a conflict between FSX and FSUIPC, or I'm just using the wrong control command in FSUIPC.

I checked FSX and couldn't see any conflicts, so tonight I will try using the 'Magneto x Set n' command (where x = engine number and n = 0 for OFF, 1 for RIGHT, 2 for LEFT, 3 for BOTH). Currently I'm using 'Magneto 1 Off', 'Magneto 1 Right' etc.

If that fails I'll try setting offsets.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Engine start panel

On the way to the airfield we stopped at Maplin and I picked up some rotary switches and knobs for the engine start panel.

Back home I cut out the overhead panel and made a couple of 7.25" x 2" switch panels to fit to it. My hand sawing is improving but the edges are nowhere near as straight as I'd like. I'll need to think of a better way of doing this, particularly as I need to add text to the panels. One thing at a time though.

I drilled out the engine start panels and fixed the two rotary switches for selecting mags on left and rght engines, and a momentary toggle switch as a starter for both.

While Kerry was watching Downton Abbey I wired up the starter and left engine rotary to my Leo Bodnar card, and hurried up to the attic like a kid at Christmas to test it. I love starting the engines this way.

I sat in a Beech Baron 58, looking at the virtual version of the table I'd had lunch at earlier, and clicked the left engine switch round to BOTH. Then I looked over at the engine and clicked the starter. The prop span and the engine burst into life with a satisfying roar and a cloud of exhaust fumes. It's the little things :)

So the switches worked fine, another testament to the excellent BU0836X card. The only problem was that I hadn't wired up the OFF position on the rotary switch. I found that this caused problems when switching mags, going from OFF to R, then BOTH, missing R. This makes sense when you think about it. With the toggle switches on the lighting panel I saved one precious BU0836X input on each switch by assigning each light's toggle function to fire when the switch was ON, and when it was released (see below). You can't do this with a rotary switch as then each position is released FSUIPC doesn't know which direction it's going in.

I'll grab a screenshot showing this.

It's an easy fix though; just wire up the OFF position. It just means I have to use up another input on the  BU0836X card. I saw something about using the card's hat switch for rotary switches, although that may have been rotary encoders. I'll check it out and see if I canuse that instead, as 2 rotary switches with 4 positions (OFF, R, L and BOTH) on each will take 8 of my 32 inputs (my maths is good.)

I'll try to do a post explaining how I wired the rotary switches.

Anyway, that's a job for tomorrow night.

EGBW visit

If you want a decent fry up there are few better places than an airfield caff. I took the family over to my local field, Wellesbourne Mountford (EGBW), for lunch. We sat outside next to the taxiway and watched the planes landing and taking off on runway 23 while demolishing a full English.

I took my crappy old airband radio and tuned into Wellesbourne Information (125.025) so we could listen to the chatter. Hugo and I really enjoyed ourselves, and the girls at least had a nice meal out of it!

Afterwards we popped into my old club at South Warwickshire Fying School and I had a chat about what it would take to renew my PPL. As I thought, I'll need a class 2 medical, a few hours refresher training and a flight test.

I'll have to think about this. Flying is not a cheap hobby, and if I'm going to start again I want to make sure I'll get enough out of it to warrant the expense.

The kids sat in my favourite Cessna 152, G-BHUI, although Bea was more interested in Pussycat, the club cat.

Flying the Beaver

So, we fired up FSX this morning so I could show Hugo all the good stuff I did to the panels last night and...disaster!

When we opened the saved flight for the Baron 58 the main window was no longer stretched across all 3 monitors, but was the same size as the actual FSX application window the main interface that opens when you start FSX and plays that godawful music which I actually kind of like now). Also, although the main panel was still undocked and on the instrument monitor, it was squashed into the left 10th of the screen. The cursor was doing that spinny thing as well, which is never a good sign :(

Despite numerous restarts I couldn't shake the problem, which affected all aircraft, and to add to my annoyance FSX stopped shutting down properly. The window would close but it was still running in Task Manager.

To cut a long story short I figured it must be something to do with the panel.cfg edits I'd been making last night, probably one of the last couple as it had been working like a charm earlier on. I restored all the original cfg files and hey presto, FSX started playing nicely again. I had my suspicions that it was the Beaver causing all the trouble and, sure enough, when I started using my modified file for this plane FSX freaked out again.

I've  restored the C172, Baron 58 and Goose for now, and I'll work through the rest later. I'll do one at a time and test carefully to catch any problems right away.

While looking at the Beaver's panel.cfg I remembered seeing a warning when I loaded it into FSPanelStudio. I tried again and got a message telling me that two panels had the same name: FLAPS_PANEL.

Wondering if this was the cause of the problem I edited the file, changing the first FLAPS_PANEL to FLAPS_TRIM_PANEL (I got this from here), and the second to TRIM_PANEL, but it made no discernable difference. I can't even load the plane for Free Flight without the cursor going mad.

More research is clearly required, as I love flying the Beaver (that sounds like a euphemism), but it's not a priority right now.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Consoles and config files

I measured up for the pilot-side and centre consoles today, and modelled them in Trimble SketchUp while we watched Strictly (obviously I put the laptop away for Doctor Who).

The idea is to improve stability (make the whole thing wobble less) and also have somewhere to store and rest the keyboard on my left and the mouse on my right. The throttle quadrants will also be fitted to the centre console. If this works I'll add another console on the right of the co-pilot.

Looking forward I will also be able to store a military style throttle on the left, perhaps fixed to the top of the console so it can be lifted out and turned over when neeed. Similarly, the centre console is big enough to store my Microsoft Force Feedback 2 joystick. This old beast can be placed on the top of the centre console when required for modern military sims, or on a board in my lap if I fancy a bash at the Hun in RoF or CFS.

The problem is the width of the centre console. It needs to be 30cm wide to hold the FF2 and with the current office swivel chair I'm using I think this is going to crowd me and impede access to the pedals.

I even took the arm off the chair to gain a few centimetres, before realising that the arms hold the back on! I put it back quickly.

A couple of solutions spring to mind. I could always increase the width of the cockpit a little, or I could get a narrower chair without the annoying arms. I'll have to measure up the width of the seats in my knackered old 1996 Vectra. It can't last much longer and I can knab them before the old girl goes to the scrapyard.

One of the things I'm really enjoying about this whole cockpit building process, is that you try stuff, and if it doesn't work you just try something else. As part of my centre console ponderings I am now thinking about extending the console in under the cockpit as a more stable centre support. I'm pretty sure this the way forward, so I'll have to modify the design before I go and buy the MDF next Saturday.

I also thought some more about my switch panels. I am now going to put the engines controls (2 panels) on an overhead which I can fix to the slope of the attic roof.

I'm also going to use rocker switches for the Master Battery and Avionics, and probably both alternators, which should fit either to the left of the yoke or going down the left of the instrument monitor.

I may put the Radio/GPS switch and possibly Autofeather there too.

Again I stayed up far too late, fiddling with the panel configs for my favourite aircraft. These have been modified to allow the main or IFR panels to display correctly over 3 screens, and be undocked and moved to my instrument monitor. I've described the changes in this post.

It took me a couple of hours of fiddling and testing to get the following aircraft working:

C172 (I always start with this one.)
Mooney Bravo (Hugo's favourite)
King Air
Beech Baron 58
DH Beaver

The only problem I found was a weird one. When I was working on the Beaver I tried to place it on a water runway at Kenmore Air Harbour, but it ended up in the middle of some buildings. I tried with the Goose as well and had the same problem. It was 2am by this time so I gave up and went to bed, more than satisfied that the rest of the aircraft were working perfectly.

Friday, 14 September 2012


I'm still looking for radio stacks. I found a bit of a bargain on GoFlight modules but funds are low at the moment so I think I'll leave it for now.

I will splash out on VoxATC UK though. I tried the demo a while back and apart from the robotic voices I really liked it. Having to actually speak to ATC really adds to the flight experience, and I believe there are better voices available.

I've been holding off buying it until I could check out VATSIM, an online multiplayer environment with real people doing the ATC. Although, obviously,  it's far better than any computer generated ATC, the drawback is that with only 30 or 40 controllers on at any one time you are severely limited in where you can fly and receive a service. It's also very geared up for airliners, although I understand there are a fair number of people doing VFR flights in there as well.

With this in mind I plan to use VoxATC for offline flying, and VATSIM for online.

Until I get a radio stack I can use Multi Crew Experience (MCP) to handle the radios by voice command, to save the pain of using the mouse.

On the subject of VATSIM, a strange thing occurred when starting FSX this evening (I'm getting used to strange things happening to FSX). I installed FSInn a couple of weeks ago so I could take a look at VATSIM (FSInn is one of the clients you can use to connect to the VATSIM environment). It worked fine for a few days and I haven't used it since.

Today, for no discernible reason, FSX kept crashing, citing FSCopilot as the reason. After a quick trawl of the web I uninstalled FSInn and FSCopilot and all was well again. I will have to reinstall FSInn at some point if I'm going to use VATSIM as the other client you can use, SquawkBox, didn't work at all for me. I guess I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Switch panels and checklists

I stayed up far too late planning my switch panels and drawing them out in Powerpoint. I'm sure there's a better way of doing this.

I decided to start with standard panel size of 7.25" x 2", which is the same as the GoFlight modules I'm looking at. This way I should be able to cut standard sized holes for all my panels and swap them around if required.

I printed them off and stuck them to the MIP to get a feel for dimensions etc.

I'd like a panel on either side of the yoke, but there isn't enough clearance behind the MIP.

I want to make sure I have all the switches I need for all the types I fly, so I am planning on printing off a checklist for every type and doing dry runs with the dummy panels, to identify anything I may have missed. is a great resource for this.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Switch panels and radio stacks

Today I have mostly been thinking about switch panels and radio stacks.

I need a way of making good quality panels, with crisp white text on a black background. There are a lot of options, so I've decided to build all the panels first in hardboard, and when I'm happy that they are all okay I'll decide on a way of making the final versions. This should give me plenty of time to research.

These are the options so far. I'll flesh out the detail later.

Sticky labels
Perspex (backlit)
Use a sign maker (backlit)

For the radio stack I am pretty much decided on GoFlight.

They are twice as much as the Saitek one, but look far more professional. I'll keep an eye on eBay and monitor the forums to see if anyone is selling some off cheap.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

FS Panel Studio

I spent some time playing with FS Panel Studio tonight, and it seems to do the job. I think for now I will get everything up and running with the default FSX panels, and then create my new custom panels in FS Panel Studio using nicer gauges (either freeware or payware, or a mixture of both).

Monday, 10 September 2012


I've been reading a lot about Project Magenta gauges, so I downloaded their GA IFR demo. There's no doubt about it, they are gorgeous.

Knowing they were pricey I contacted them for a price list, and sure enough you're looking at around £120 for one set of gauges. I'll try to post the price list for those who are interested.

I also looked at RealityXP gauges. These are very nice as well, and at about £25 far more reasonably priced. My only concern was the lack of engine gauges.

I plan to build 2 custom panels, one for single engine piston and one for multi-engine (and eventually jets as well), plus glass cockpit versions.

Ideally these panels would include all the engine gauges, Ts & Ps etc. It may be that RealityXP does include these (Project Magenta do), but I couldn't easily see from the demo and their site, so I'll put it on hold until I have time to contact them.

In the end I plumped for FS Panel Studio. I checked out the demo and then just bought it. At £16 it seemed a bargain, and everything I read agrees it's a must have tool.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Using a real world GPS with FSX

I have my Garmin GPSMAP 295 working with FSX :) I can't believe how easy it was.

Now I need to figure out how to fix the GPS to the MIP. It came with a bracket to fix it to the yoke, which I what I used when real world flying, but even if the Saitek yoke would take the weight (which I doubt) it's not ideal as it gets in the way. I found an panel dock by AirGizmos but it's pretty pricy at $100 plus shipping and again not ideal as the screen is flush to the panel which would make it tricky to see and use.

The 295 came with another fixing intended for use in a car. This is just a sticky base, and I may be able to just stick it to the top of the glareshield (when I have a glareshield).

Alternatively I may be able to fix the yoke bracket to something behind the MIP and cut a hole for it to protrude through.

For now though, I'm just chuffed it's working. And for nothing!

I'll try to summarise how I did it.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Starting to come together

I made some good progress after work this evening. I cut out the hole in the MIP for the instrument monitor and replaced the MIP. I fixed the monitor in place using a couple of old shelf brackets I had lying around, which seems to work really well.

I also screwed the throttle quadrants in position.

So now it's starting to look more like a cockpit.

I'll take a picture.

I only had time for a quick test, but my mind is now turning to gauge add-ons, as the default FSX ones look pretty crap when undocked on the separate monitor.

I'll add a tutorial on how to undock and move panels, and save flights.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Radio stacks and GPS

Not much progress this evening. I reconnected the computer and checked the instrument monitor was still working after all the moving around it's had. Then I marked out the hole for it in the MIP. It was too late to cut it by the time I was done, so that's a job for tomorrow.

I also looked at radio stacks and ways to connect my real world Garmin GPSMAP 295 to FSX.

There are a number of radio stacks out there ranging in price from a few hundred pounds to thousands. I can't justify a massive expenditure on this, so I have narrowed it down to 3 possibilities.

1. Saitek
2. VRInsight
3. GoFlight

In terms of interfacing the GPS it seems that this is pretty straightforward to do using FSUIPC. I need to rig everything up and see how it works.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Progress on the MIP

The brace to support the instrument monitor is now in place and I cut the MIP (Main Instrument Panel) to size.

I drilled a hole in it to take the yoke shaft and fitted the MIP in place.

I'll add a picture or two.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Yoke enclosure built

Back to work today after a month off, so construction will now be limited to evenings and weekends.

Tonight I fixed the uprights in place that will support the instrument panel. I also built the enclosure for the yoke and fixed a support across the top to take the primary instrument monitor.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Basic framework

Yesterday I decided I was suffering from analysis paralysis and needed to get started. For me the best way to learn is to get stuck in, so early this morning I headed off to the local B&Q and bought a 6'x4' (1220mm x 800mm) sheet of 18mm MDF.

When I got home I started work, and by the end of the afternoon the basic framework was complete.

I have a picture somewhere...