My Flight Simulator Project
I thought it might be fun to build my own flight simulator, and have wanted to do a project like this for years. I bought some SAITEK flight simulator instruments, which are designed to work with many flight simulator programs, especially Microsoft's FLIGHT SIMULATOR X program. After looking at a few other peoples projects posted on the web, I went down to a local hard ware store and bought a black office table, with a hard pressed top and metal supports. I also bought plastic sheeting of several colors, brackets, bolts, and aluminium framing strips. Below is the project after a few hours.

I drilled several large holes in few inches from each corner for cable runs. I measured out the size I wanted the cockpit master panel to be, and then carefully bent the first aluminum strip to fit, and then the front cowling cover about 20% smaller. I then cut the black backing for the mastter panel, then cut out the inserts for the instruments. I got a nice tight fit. I then put in "L" brackets to hold the panneling in place on the table, as well as a hot glue gun to hold the panel into the aluminium frame. I then inserted the instruments, then put in more larger "L" brackets to hold the instruments in place, due to the possible future force of my hands on the instruments in flight.

Here is what it looked like after a few hours of work. The bolts coming thru into the black plastic pannel are clear plastic 9mm bolts. They look good I think. I bought a black piece of wood for the food pedals, and some extra carpet to cover the wood section.
Throttle controls on the right, instrument stack offset to the right. Everything is USB connected, but I had to put in powered USB hubs to handle the power/signal loss of the distance and number of cables. 5.5 volts only goes so far!
Here are the foot pedals. USB powered, but they wiggle around too much not to be bolted down. I bought some U brackets, a wood section, and will glue the carpet to the wood, then bolt the pedals to the wood/carpet. Then bolt the U brackets to the wood block, then hook those to the lower desk support strut in the back. The central circular pivot is a tension adjuster, so I can adjust the resistance of my pedal controls. I only have two instrument panels attached over my yoke system. Normally aircraft use 6 of them, but I haven't spent the money on the other 4...yet. But I left expansion room for it of course.
Here is the instrument stack. Radio COM1 / COM2 / NAV1 / NAV2 function
DME / ADF / XPDR functions. All are working USB connected. Below that is the Full Autopilot panel with associated setting controls, Auto Throttle, Flaps, Elevator Trim wheel, etc. Below that is the Switch Pannel, with landing gear controls with LEDs indicating actual gear status, aircraft engines controls, and the electrical master bus. To the rigth is the three knob throttle, pitch and mix controls.
I flew first by magnetic compass, shown here. But the electronic compass was easier and closer to my main vision...so I used that for the rest of the flight...
Looking out the right wing at Mount Fuji.
After a few more hours, I put a sheet of white panel plastic over the assembly as a cowling. I then put black insulation foam over the back edge, then a red trim dash cover. I then put a red trim down the outside of the aircraft fusilage sides to match. I later trimmed off the 8 inch extension you see by the throttles.
Here is a picture looking down. I didn't want a blank space until I order more electical instrument panels, so I put some velcro tabs down, cut out a color picture of a GPS unit, and will place that there.
Here is the foot pedals, finished and mounted. All bolted down and very secure.

Looking at the rudder pedals from teh back. You can see the wood block, cut carpet and bolted in pieces. A cable run holds down the USB cable as it exits the controller.

Looking from the front of the simulator. I cut a large piece of white foam from the monitor packing to use as a front cowling plug/protector. It hides the wires, and keeps out the dust. Just lucky it was the right size, shape for cutting. It's about 2 inches thick. It stays in by friction.

Here is the front without the cowling plug. You can see it on the carpet down to the right. Inside you see the cable wrapped power and data cables.
Looking inside the engine compartment, starboard side. Mounted power strip with three USB power adapters. Two USB hubs in front, one built into the yoke assembly.

Looking inside the engine comartment, port side. Power and USB cables going up to flight instruments, and also down the access hole to a USB hub located under the left yoke area for external USB attachments, such as headphones and future expansion items.

You can see the external USB hub located just to the left underside of the yoke, under the table. I have affixed the paper GPS unit to help fill in some blank area in the main instrument/yoke area.

A shot from tthe starboard side, I put in two "eye candy" instrument guages over the throttle controls, until I put something real in later on.

I then put in a stenciled plane number, N5685T. The N is for North America, the 4 numbers are relevant to me, and the "T" is for Teresa...:) So, this is my "Tango" aircraft, with red trim.

I had to adjust some settings and cables, but here it is, poowered up and flying. I have my two instruments set to Altitude and Air Speed. I could choose any of the standard 6, and can hit a button on the instrument panel to cycle thru them. I need to add a USB keyboard interface nearby for other system controls, and maybe a small monitor for other controls, such as electrical status, oil temp, etc.

Here is a shot of my flying from Yokota Air Base towards Mt. Fuji. I have my USB headset in, and am practicing with radio and DME flying. I put some blue plastic panels behind the TV to help bring in a better asthetic flying experience. I need to bring the TV closer and higher tho.

Here is the instrument stack...this is a fun project, and I have alot more to go, but for now, it's fun flying!

Harris Flightsimulator 2011

Updated 2011-10-11

Here is the completed Simulator a bit later. I have the full 6-Pack of digital instruments, left and right monitors, and put in my Bose 301 Speakers in front for sound. I'll toss a second sound card into the mix soon for seperate ATC and Pilot chatter....I will also work on getting some much higher resolution topography for the system, several companies sell very good terrain upgrades! More on this aspect of the project later!