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Flight Time

A visual history of my experiences as a private pilot

Home Cockpit

Throttle Quadrant

Throttle Quadrant

Many private pilots have logged hundreds, even thousands of hours using Microsoft Flight Simulator. I started flying with this software on my PC many years ago. When I started taking real flying lessons I wanted to make the experience even more real so I decided to build a home cockpit.

My first attempt was very basic. The objective was only to move the control levers from on top of the yoke to the location where they actually were on my training aircraft.¬†At the time I wasn’t aware of all the sophisticated hardware items available for home cockpit builders so I used good ol’ fashioned home engineering to get the job done. I also bought a fresnel lens at a store that catered to people with disabilities. You can see the result in the image gallery below … the first half of the pictures are from my first home cockpit.

My second project was … a bit more ambitious. I set out to build a complete B1900D cockpit. I started by designing it using a 3D modeling program in my PC. I even got the dimensions from various sources on the internet. Then, I began by building the throttle quadrant. It was nearly to scale and fully functional with dual throttles, dual prop levers, dual mixture controls, a flap lever and a trim wheel. The inner workings were a thing of beauty, complete with potentiometers that drove a joystick emulator card to make the PC think the inputs were from a joystick.

The other major improvement on my second home cockpit was that I split the PC screen to have half of it powering a 19″ LCD display used exclusively for the gauges while the other half projected the outside view through an LCD projector onto the large screen I built. The outside view was actually reversed and then rear projected to save space.

Both of these home cockpits allowed me hours of fun, both in building them and in flying the virtual skies. The first one helped me remember to pull the carb heat when descending to land in a Cessna (the CH yoke doesn’t have a carb heat lever). The second project made flying feel so real that I was usually on the edge of my seat while trying to approach some mountain airport in Colorado.

I can’t wait to see what my 3rd attempt will be …

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  1. your cockpit looks like a c172 aircraft. how do you install your flight yoke with your lcd topping on it? did you modified your yoke or not?

  2. @Harold Bayot -

    Hi Harold,

    The first cockpit was based on a C172. You can see in pictures 2, 3 and 4 that I simply cut out the panel around the main part of the yoke. This panel was just a piece of wood with stickers on it. None of the gauges worked. I used it mainly to help me remember to pull the carb heat while descending to land. The CH Yoke does not have carb heat. Also, I wanted to offset the engine controls to their correct position, so that’s why I used the strings to do that (a real fly-by-wire).

    The second cockpit was based on a Beech 1900D. I think this is the one you asked about because I used a 17″ display for all the gauges. It’s hard to see, but I cut out a little groove in the wood (just below the display). The groove is where the yoke bar goes (the yoke bar being the part that comes from the main yoke box to the “steering wheel”). The cutout is an upside down U shape. The lcd display mounts from behind the piece of wood and sits as close as possible to the yoke box. The only modification I had to make to the CH yoke was to shave off the little toggle switches at the front of the yoke box so that the wood would sit as flush as possible to the yoke box. These toggle switches are used mainly for flaps and landing gear, but I incorporated those switches into other switches elsewhere in my cockpit.

    Hope that helps explain it. Good luck with your project.

    Kind regards,

  3. What program are you using to display the gauges?

  4. @adam -

    My PC has a graphics card that allows for two displays, so I plugged in both my monitor and the projector. I “undocked” the outside view and moved it into place so that it only shows on the projected image. Then I “undocked” the panel view and moved it into the location of my monitor. So, to answer your question, I’m not using any special program. I did re-arrange the gauges slightly using FS Panel Studio just so that I can get what I want on the display, but it’s not needed. Hope this helps …

  5. Haha I had the same idea for my sim, thank you soo much for your help@cowygr8 -

  6. Could you share with me what joystick emulator card and type and size pots (ohms) you used on your B1900D throttle quadrant. I am wanting to make one for a Douglas DC3. Thanks for any info.

What do you think?

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