In 1993, when Microsoft began using the tag ‘as real as it gets’ on its flight simulators it was with a degree of artistic licence. Twenty years on, Microsoft has left the party but its legacy remains in Flight Simulator X and its cousin Prepare3D, developed by Lockheed Martin. But while display technology and sophisticated flight controls make suspension of disbelief ever easier, a wall remains between the bedroom aviator and his virtual cockpit; nothing intrudes more than having to reach for the mouse to flip the switches.
In the quest for true hardware control of their cockpits flight-sim enthusiasts walk an uneasy line between eye-wateringly expensive professional solutions and too-generic consumer units. The alternative is D.I.Y. This guide takes you end-to-end through – and beyond – the construction of scratch-built panels to control the FSX GPS and autopilot with no mouse or keyboard required. Using no more than basic DIY tools and a modicum of patience you can build professional-quality panels to navigate your default or payware aircraft on the GPS500 GPS or, for the more ambitious, on payware systems from Mindstar or Reality-XP. You can build a generic autopilot based on the Bendix King KFC 225 to hook into most of your default General Aviation aircraft and many payware add-ons.
Based on the experience of developing a scratch-built cockpit from the ground up, this guide features step-by-step instructions, many photographs and invaluable background information that will help you make your cockpit as real as it gets.
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