Ville's simpit

This is my simpit (simulator cockpit) i've built during 2008-2009. It's the second simpit i've built - the old one was a bit smaller one. It is not modeled after any aircraft type, so it is usable with variety of aircrafts and simulators. The simulator i usually fly is X-Plane. I've also flown the simpit with IL2 Sturmovik and Aces High 2.

The limitations for building the pit have been:
  • Relatively low cost
  • Mostly COTS components
  • Relatively Small size (i have rented a small storage room for building it)
  • Should look a bit like "real" simulator - separate visual and panel displays
  • Easy indoor construction - i don't have possibility for metal welding or too much time available
Image of simpit


On the left is a pilot's view of the simpit. It has out of window visual, stick, rudder pedals, throttle quadrant, control panel and a cockpit display.


Main visual is a 52" rear projection screen from a old arcade game. I use a 1024*768 projector to display the image. The image is projected via a mirror to fit in smaller space and to reverse the image horizontally. There are black walls around the cockpit to limit the view of the room. In my opinion this greatly improves immersion, as you can't see the room around you. The photo on left is taken with room lights on - usually they are turned off when flying.


The panel has two physical control panels with various buttons, switches, dials and levers. They can be programmed freely to do various things in different simulations. Usually i use these functions: bottom left lever up/down is landing gear. The red safety switch on top right deploys brake parachute. The small push-pull switch on bottom right is parking brakes.
The panel inputs are handled by a Code Mercenaries JoyWarrior board.

Cockpit display

Is a 14" TFT monitor in the middle of the panel. It is run by its own computer. It can be used only with X-Plane, as it is the only sim that can be easily shared on multiple computers via network. It is locked to show the cockpit of current aircraft. All panels must be custom made to fit the full screen or otherwise it shows low-detail outside view, as it is not possible to totally disable outside visuals in X-Plane.
There is a KVM switch below panel which allows switching the cockpit display between both pc's. This way it's possible to get the master pc's video output on the panel for configuration purposes.

Flight controls

CH Fighterstick USB, CH Pro Pedals and Saitek throttle quadrant. Fighterstick has a nice trim wheel, and most of its buttons are unused. Pro pedals have toe brakes. On the throttle quadrant i usually map throttle, prop and mixture (prop planes) or throttle, flaps and airbrake (heavy metal). Throttle quadrant has nice 2-way buttons which are mapped to autopilot or engine management functions.
Another image of simpit

Side view

Diagram of simpit

Technical diagram of the simpit h/w.


Side view diagram of simpit


The frame is made of metal shelf building parts. They are pretty easy to work on and don't cost a fortune.


The custom electronics in simpit is the JoyWarrior chip. It is seen by the computer as a USB joystick. It has 24 buttons and 4 axes.

More photos

F-18 fullscreen cockpit i made using photos available on the Internet.
F-18 Fullscreen cockpit

747 panel edited from the one that comes with X-Plane. All instruments are fully functional!
747 Fullscreen cockpit


It's been a fun project so far. I doubt that the pit will ever be ready, so i'll have to upgrade these pages when i make any major changes.

Stuff i've been thinking of:
  • Add a small keypad to get more functions for autopilot etc
  • Add force feedback to the joystick. I've already done some tests and got some hardware for this.
  • Add motion platform ;)
Read more up to date information (and building history) from my tech blog: Coshacks

Contact me if you have any questions or comments!

Last modified Thursday April 09, 2009

Valid CSS! Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional