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4 Great Flight Simulator Setup Examples That Will Inspire You to Build Your Own

333 views | Last updated on June 21, 2021 by Senne Vandenputte

In a previous guide, we discussed step by step what it takes to build your own home cockpit, what you should keep in mind, which hardware and software to pick,… along with some examples of setups.

In this article, we want to dive deeper into some great flight simulator setups we came across recently, and look into more detail the advantages and disadvantages of each setup, along with a price estimate of the different components.

Flight Simulator

Flight simulators are not just for professional pilots. In fact, many people build their own flight simulator setups in order to improve their skills and enjoy the experience of flying at home. All from the comfort of your home, without having to worry about weather or cost. Those are just some of the many advantages of a flight simulator.

Now, a great setup can be very expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to get a high-quality flight simulation experience on a (tight) budget. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next project, then this article is perfect for you!

4 Great Flight Simulator Setup Examples That Will Inspire You to Build Your Own

What Makes a Good Flight Simulator Setup?

First of all, it’s important to consider what makes a good flight simulator setup.

The term ‘good’ might mean different things to you than to someone else, depending on your requirements, wishes and budget. But generally spoken, a good home flight simulator cockpit should at least have the following characteristics:

Comfort: A good flight simulator needs to make you feel at home and comfortable the moment you ‘step inside the cockpit’. Ergonomics are important, as you need to be comfortable for hours while using the simulator. Even if you tell us “it’s just for 30 minutes at a time”, as we both know that won’t be the case for long!

This might be achieved through a high-quality chair or gaming seat, which are both adjustable in all directions (height/tilt). Add to this foot pedals that allow for natural movement of your feet without having to keep them flat.

Realism: Your cockpit should have a high enough fidelity to make your experience feel real. You want something that is realistic and not too costly to build, but still has an authentic look and feel.

Quality controls and hardware: A flight simulator is only as realistic as the controls and hardware you use, so be sure to find a solution that both works well, is precise and feels and/or looks realistic.

Sufficient space: Your flight simulator setup should have sufficient space for your controls, PC, monitor(s) and any other tools you want to use; such as iPads, maps, checklists, etc.

Visuals: the visual aspect should be clear and feel realistic, with decent hardware and a good monitor

But if your goal is mainly just to fly around in the sky without much focus on realism or cost, you might be fine with a basic cockpit and one joystick

4 Great Flight Simulator Setup Examples

Next, let’s now dive into the main focus of this article: some great examples of flight simulator setups. Although quite different from each other, each of these examples is great in its own way.

We will also analyze each setup and give you an estimated cost overview of the different options, which can act as a guideline for your own project.

An important note before we dive in: a few of the products used below have been discontinued by the manufacturers. We will always mention when we replaced specific products with another in the cost estimate.

These examples may seem familiar to you, as we have mentioned them in our Home Flight Simulator guide. Here, we’ll dive deeper into each of the 4 example setups.

1. Rodger Dodger Aviation’s DIY cockpit

The first home cockpit example is one by Rodger Dodger Aviation, a website covering all things regarding building a DIY home flight simulator cockpit.

4 Great Flight Simulator Setup Examples That Will Inspire You to Build Your Own

His flight simulator setups are often based on a DIY construction using inexpensive PVC pipes to create the cockpit. A big monitor provides great visuals, on top of a second monitor that shows the main instruments. The other hardware primarily consists of Saitek/Logitech hardware, such as the yoke, dual throttle quadrants, and a switch and autopilot panel.

Based on the pictures, we estimated the cost as follows:

Gaming computer$1500
Gaming monitor$500
X-Plane 11$70
Logitech Yoke + Throttle$150
Additional Logitech Throttle$60
Logitech rudder pedals$170
Logitech Radio Panel $150
Logitech Switch panel$130
Logitech autopilot panel$150
PVC/Paint/Tools$120
Total (estimated)+- $3000

(All prices are estimates based on average retail prices in Feb. 2021)

As you can see, it’s a very inexpensive setup, with all the different components totaling around $3000. A great starter setup if you’re on a tighter budget but still want to have the feeling you’re sitting inside a cockpit! Of course, nothing stops you from making it more detailed, with side panels, lights, map holders, or anything else you can think of.

2. Uncertified Pilot’s flight simulator cabinet

This home cockpit was created by a Dutch guy called Tim, who shares his flight simulator experiences on uncertifiedpilot.com (unfortunately not updated anymore since a few years).

Tim custom-built a wooden “desk”, which had compartments for the yoke, throttle, rudder pedals, trim wheel, and more. He sketched his idea first then based the design on that sketch. A great example of what you can achieve with some planning, measuring, home depot tools and a few hours of your time!

4 Great Flight Simulator Setup Examples That Will Inspire You to Build Your Own

4 Great Flight Simulator Setup Examples That Will Inspire You to Build Your Own

The Saitek/Logitech Cessna yoke, throttles and trim wheel have been unfortunately discontinued by the manufacturer. Too bad, as it was an amazing way to elevate your flight simulator experience when you’re planning to fly a Cessna virtually. So in the cost overviews, we replaced them with the standard Logitech yoke and throttle quadrant in the below cost overview (you might still be able to find a second-hand trim wheel online).

Also, the rudder pedals that were used in this project are not available anymore and were replaced by Thrustmaster TFRP Rudder pedals. Lastly, in this project, they used an Apple iMac computer to run the simulator and use as a monitor. However, to maximize compatibility with different hardware and software, we do recommend choosing a Windows-based (gaming) PC.

In the cost overview, we based the price on an average iMac price of $2000, which is comparable to the price of a decent gaming PC plus a high-resolution monitor.

iMac$2000
X-Plane 11$70
Logitech Yoke + Throttle$150
Thrustmaster Rudder pedals$130
Logitech Radio Panel $150
Logitech Switch panel$130
Wood/Paint/Tools$200
Headphones$100
Total (estimated)+- $2900

(All prices are estimates based on average retail prices in Feb. 2021)

As you can see, this type of setup can be achieved already with a budget of around $3000. Of course, it all depends on exactly what computer you get, what hardware you’ll use, etc.

3. FlightChops’s home cockpit

FlightChops, aka Steve Thorne, is a famous aviation YouTuber who creates some incredible videos.

In one of his video projects, he built a complete home flight simulator to help him prep for his IFR training. The full IFR simulator featured a custom-made Stay Level Avionix panel, along with some great hardware to make it as realistic as possible. He later even gave the setup away to one of his followers in a contest!

4 Great Flight Simulator Setup Examples That Will Inspire You to Build Your Own

As you can see from the pictures, his setup is fairly straightforward: he has a basic cockpit area, with one main monitor to provide the outside view. On the panel, an iPad Pro 10.5″ serves as the virtual instrument panel using a dedicated app. Other hardware includes a Logitech Pro Flight Yoke and dual throttle quadrants, a Logitech switch and radio panel, and the awesome RealSimGear GNS430 GPS.

He also shared the full components list, which made analyzing his setup a lot easier for us!

Stay Level Avionix custom avionics panel$900
Gaming PC$1000
X-Plane 11$70
Logitech Yoke + Throttle$150
Additional Logitech Throttle$60
Avionics – 6-pack: iPad Pro 10.5″ w/ RemoteFlight Cockpit HD$500
Logitech radio panel$140
Logitech Switch panel$100
RealSimGear GNS430 GPS$380
Total (estimated)+- $3300

(All prices are estimates based on average retail prices in Feb. 2021)

The PC he uses is a fully custom-built gaming PC, built to his budget and with the following components:

  • Asus ROG Strix Z390-H Gaming Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7 8700K
  • Samsung Evo 970 250GB NVME SSD
  • Asus ROG Strix 2080ti OC
  • Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB DDR4 3200
  • Corsair Hydro Series H115i RGB
  • Corsair 500D Mid-Tower Case
  • Corsair HX750 Power Supply (old)

The full set-up adds up to around $3300 (excluding the main monitor). FlightChops mentioned that the setup only added up to around $2000, but we’ll assume he was able to get some of the components at a discount due to sponsorships. But still, the price is still amazing when you look at the components list and its performance!

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4. Stay Level Avionix’ high-quality home flight simulator cockpit panel

The last example we’d like to discuss in detail is a home cockpit based on a ready-made desktop-mounted panel. This is certainly one of our favorites, as it looks absolutely stunning!

The panels are created by a US-based company called Stay Level Avionix, which offers beautiful powder coated and plasma cut carbon steel flight simulator cockpit panels, completely tailored to the hardware you intend to use. They offer a variety of options, for small or large cockpits, ‘analog’ instruments or glass cockpit, multi- or single-engine aircraft, different yoke/throttle brands, etc. You can either buy a standard panel (you can choose between different setups like glass cockpit, steam gauges, Cirrus perspective, TBM,…), or have one custom-build based on your hardware.

4 Great Flight Simulator Setup Examples That Will Inspire You to Build Your Own

Just like the one above, his setup is primarily based on the Logitech flight simulator hardware, all beautifully integrated into one desktop-mounted cockpit panel. This setup includes a six-pack of Logitech instruments (which could be replaced with a single LCD monitor mounted on the back), a Garmin G530 unit and Logitech yoke, throttle quadrant and switch panel.

Again, we have compiled a ‘shopping list’ to give you an indication of the estimated total cost for a similar project (trim wheel not included as it has been discontinued by the manufacturer, as mentioned earlier).

Stay Level Avionix panel$900
Gaming computer$1600
Gaming monitor$500
X-Plane 11$70
Logitech Yoke + Throttle$150
Thrustmaster Rudder pedals$130
Logitech instruments (6x)$960
Logitech Switch panel$100
RealSimGear GNS530 GPS$400
Total (estimated)+- $4800

(All prices are estimates based on average retail prices in Feb. 2021)

This setup is clearly a little more expensive than the one we mentioned before, but it does offer an extra level of quality and simulation experience. Nonetheless, you could get a similar setup for still under $5000, which is not too bad for this level of quality and realism!

Conclusion

Whether it’s just for fun or if you want to improve your skills, these are great examples of what other people have done with their simulators. Prices range from anywhere from a few $100 to a few $1000.

As you have read above, there are many ways you can get a home flight simulator cockpit, depending on what you are planning to use if for, your wishes and, of course, your budget. You can put one together using available cockpit hardware and controls, or build one yourself from scratch. If you have a bigger budget, a pre-build cockpit panel is a great option for the ultimate home flight simulator experience.

If you want to learn more about building your own home flight simulator cockpit, we highly recommend checking out our How to Build a Home Flight Simulator in 2021: A Step-by-Step Guide, and The Best Flight Simulator Software and Hardware in 2021.

Good luck!

Cover photo © FlightChops


Recommended reading

How to Build a Home Flight Simulator in 2021: A Step-by-Step Guide

In this comprehensive step-by-step guide, we show you exactly how to build a home flight simulator cockpit!

The Best Flight Simulator Software and Hardware in 2021

Here are some of the best flight simulator software and hardware you can buy to enhance your flight simulator experience!

The Best Flight Simulator Hardware That Resembles a Real Aircraft

Here are some of the best flight simulator hardware that resembles a real aircraft, such as joysticks, yokes, throttles and other hardware!

The Best Flight Simulator Headphones in 2021 & How To Pick the Right One

5 of the Best Flight Simulator Headphones and what you should be looking out for!


Do you have any questions, suggestions or remarks about this guide? Let us know!