Oculus Rift Sensor on a Tripod

It’s easy to mount the Oculus Rift sensor on a tripod.

The Oculus Rift sensor is designed to sit on a desk or table, but sometimes it is much more convenient to mount the sensor on a tripod. For example, my flight simulator does not have a table sitting in front of but this tripod works nicely. It’s easy to mount the sensor on a tripod, I’ll show you how.

This is an old, spare tripod that I wasn’t using any more. You can see where I repaired the crank many years ago. I’ll use this tripod for my Oculus Rift now.

Quick note: You’ll notice I covered the Rift sensor. I did that because the sensor is quite sensitive to bright light and I’m using some pretty bright lights to film this video. You probably won’t need to worry about covering the sensor like I did.

Instructions

If you currently use the Oculus Rift with the sensor sitting on a desk, take a moment to measure the distance from the floor to the sensor. Unclip the wire and let’s take a look at the base of the stand. The base will not unscrew here… look farther up toward the sensor. This is where it unscrews. That’s actually a lot better for us than unscrewing the base. Remove the quick release plate from the tripod. Screw the sensor onto the plate. The threads should match perfectly. Both the sensor and the plate have standard quarter-twenty threads. Return the quick release plate to the tripod. Adjust the height so the sensor is the same distance from the floor as it was before. If you need to re-calibrate the location of the sensor, you can do that in the Oculus Rift software. I recommend using some small strips of Velcro to attach the wire to the tripod.

Simply position the sensor so it points at your headset and take off ! ! !

My joystick, throttle and rudder pedals are secured in place with a framework of PVC pipes and lumber. It is item F311, the Side Joystick Frame and I can help you build one for yourself. 

Happy landings!

Oculus Rift sensor on a tripod
Oculus Rift sensor on a tripod

Saitek Pro Flight Yoke Ultimate Fix

This modification to the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke uses zip ties and springs that I bought from a home improvement store. It’s a very popular modification that I’ll call the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke Ultimate Fix. The springs will attach to the center shaft and the four screw posts.

NOTE: modifying the Saitek yoke will void the warranty. However, if you purchased the yoke over two years ago, the warranty has already expired.

Credit for this idea should go to Tom Gromko who published this method on the AVSIM forum.

Springs for the Saitek Yoke

Before we start, I’m assuming you’ve already removed the pitch spring and swing arms as shown in the disassembly video. You can leave the roll return spring in place for this mod, or if you want less resistance, you can remove it. You’ll notice that I’ve removed it for this video.

The springs we are using are from Home Depot and it costs less than $4.00 USD. This package comes with four springs, but we will only use the larger two. If you can’t find these springs exactly, find ones with a similar load limit – about 2.4 pounds.

Home Depot Extension Springs
Store SKU 685383
Model # 16086
Internet # 202045462

Modify the Control Horns

Let’s get started. Rotate the yoke so the back of the control housing is facing you and it’s best to prop up the yoke on some boards or something. Locate these horns on the center shaft and specifically locate this small gap in the plastic structure. Use a drill and a 1/8” drill bit to make a hole right through that small gap and then repeat on the other side.

A 1/8” hole should be large enough for these mini Zip Ties to fit through them. The springs will loop over the screw posts on the left side and the right side and then attach to the center shaft. Unfortunately, the springs tend to slide off of the screw posts while we’re working with them, so use a small file to create a groove in the plastic. This file is actually three-sided, therefore it’s really handy for this job. This groove we’re making faces the back of the yoke. For this screw post, file a groove on the front side, towards the yoke handle. The spring stretches easily between the posts and it fits nicely in the groove.

When you work on this post, be very careful not to damage the circuit board or any wiring here so it’s ok to take your time with this step.

Install Replacement Springs

Now we want to attach the horn on the center shaft to the exact center of the springs. I used calipers to determine the middle point of the spring. You don’t have to use calipers, you can measure carefully or you can even count the strands on the spring to determine the middle. Mark the middle three strands with a sharpie and then remove the spring. The spring can be a little hard to hold on to, consequently, use a zip tie to hold the ends while you fold it over like this.

Look for the mark you made and use a small screwdriver to loop under those three strands on the spring. Then, loop a zip tie under those same three strands and remove the screwdriver. This green zip tie was just temporary and we’re going to cut it off now.

Stretch the spring between the two screw posts again and loop the zip tie through the hole you drilled in the horn and then attach the zip tie like this. Repeat this process on the other side. Now tighten both zip ties all the way and clip off the excess from the zip ties.

Finishing Steps for the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke Ultimate Fix

Finally, replace the lid and try it out.

Hold down the yoke housing with one hand. Note how easy it is to make small pitch changes when you don’t have to struggle against that center detent. You may notice some noise coming from the springs if you are making large control inputs. But if you’re otherwise happy with the results, reattach the control housing. There are 14 screws.

And give it a test flight!

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Saitek Pro Flight Yoke Modification Videos

 

Saitek Pro Flight Yoke Ultimate Fix
Saitek Pro Flight Yoke Ultimate Fix

See Inside the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke

I’ve developed several ways to modify the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke, but first we need to open it up without damaging it or losing parts. Prepare to see inside the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke!

Saitek Yoke Disassembly

This is the very popular Saitek Pro Flight Yoke. This video will demonstrate how to take apart the control housing. You will also see how to remove parts of the pitch and roll mechanisms. We will then be able to modify and improve the pitch and roll movements in later videos.

Note: Disassembly of the Saitek yoke will void the manufacturer’s warranty. However, if you bought the yoke over two years ago, the warranty has already expired.

Let’s get started. Disconnect the yoke from your computer and then turn it upside down on a table. There are 12 screws that hold on the bottom of the control housing. Carefully loosen all of these screws. There are also 2 tiny screws at the base of the control shaft. Remove these and be careful not to lose them. Remove the bottom of the control housing. Most of the screws will probably remain in the housing, and that’s fine. That will save you the trouble of replacing them later.

See Inside the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke

Let’s look at the major components of the yoke. Here is the spring that returns the yoke to its center pitch position. This spring and associated mechanism is what makes the yoke feel like it has a detent. It makes fine pitch adjustments difficult. Even if you’re trying to make small, precise pitch adjustments, you still have to overcome the full tension of this spring. We’re going to get rid of it. Let’s look at some of the other components. This is the pitch potentiometer over here and the potentiometer for the roll movement is here. Here’s another view of the roll movement. This is the roll return spring. This spring is not as objectionable as the pitch return spring, but we will show you how to remove it anyway.

Pitch Axis

Let’s get to work on that nasty pitch return spring. Remove the screw from one side of the spring. The spring is under tension, so carefully unhook it from the post and remove the other screw. Now we see there is actually a second spring underneath the first one! The pitch spring is connected to two swing arms and the swing arms come together at this elbow. Remove this pivot screw (this is where your hands get greasy). Reach in and hold the control arm steady with your left hand and then use your right hand to pull up on the elbow to remove it from its seat. The swing arms are held in tension by the spring, so you’ll need to unhook them from the spring also. Remove both swing arms and then you will see that nasty spring. Verify the control arm is still attached and is still moving the pitch potentiometer. The yoke now moves freely forward and back with no centering feature at all as a result, it is prepared for whatever modification you would like to make.

Roll Axis

The roll movement on the Saitek yoke is not nearly as problematic as the pitch. However, if you still wish to modify it, here is how you remove the return spring. The return spring is held in place with only two screws. The top screw is easy to reach with a small screwdriver. The spring is under tension so carefully unhook it from the mounting post. Turn the yoke all the way to the left. The bottom screw is here, but it’s hard to reach. It’s not a straight shot, but you can still reach it with a small screwdriver so carefully loosen the bottom screw. Be careful not to round out the head of the screw. Remove the screw and the spring from the control housing. Now there are no centering mechanisms for either the roll axis or the pitch axis.

Reassembly

After you’ve completed your modification, you will need to reattach the bottom of the control housing. There are three tabs that must fit into three slots on the bottom of the housing. If you don’t have all three tabs aligned with the slots, the housing won’t fit. Sometimes it takes some wiggling to get the housing to fit correctly. There is also a tab at the back of the housing that must fit inside the lip. Now you know how to take apart the Saitek yoke and how to put it back together again. The remaining videos in this series will show several ways to modify and improve the yoke.

Below are some high-resolution photos of the major components inside the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke….

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Saitek Pro Flight Yoke Modification Videos

 

See inside the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke
See inside the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke

Triple Screen Flight Simulator with HOTAS

DIY triple screen flight simulator with HOTAS
DIY triple screen flight simulator with HOTAS by Ola

Great to see this innovative build from Ola! He made several modifications to the DIY Triple Screen Flight Simulator project to better match the type of flying he enjoys. You can see from the screen shot he is flying a Piper Cub over the summer countryside. He is also running Flight Simulator X. The stock project from DIY Flight Sims calls for a yoke and throttle quadrant, but Ola designed two podiums on either side that support HOTAS (Hands On Throttle and Stick) flight controls. I fully support modifying the designs to match your needs. It’s exciting to see all the variations that builders can create. I never predicted I would see a Triple Screen Flight Simulator with HOTAS.

Logitech G940

Ola is using the Logitech G940 HOTAS flight system with his home flight sim cockpit. I’ve always wanted to try out this system but I haven’t had the opportunity yet. I’ve owned lots of Logitech products and I’ve always been pleased with their reliability and affordability. For some reason, I’m not finding this available on Amazon or Newegg. Amazon actually does have it listed at $620 USD, which is way too expensive, but could be an indication this product is discontinued. I hope it’s not discontinued, but it is a force-feedback joystick, and it’s hard for those to sell successfully in the already competitive joystick market.

Especially relevant are the 2″ Velcro strips on either side of the triple screen flight simulator with HOTAS. You might not know this unless you’ve experienced it, but if you use rudder pedals while sitting in an office chair, you immediately find that pushing on the pedals, results in you rolling away in the chair. The remedy is to strap the chair in place with sturdy Velcro strips. Most of all, you literally get to “strap in” when preparing to fly your simulator.

 

home flight sim with three screens
DIY triple screen flight sim by Ola

Inside the CH Products Yoke

Inside the CH Products Yoke

Inside the CH Product Yoke

This is the CH Products Flight Sim Yoke. I’m going to disassemble it to show all the hackers and makers what to expect if they ever want to modify one.

Note: This will void the manufacturer’s warranty, but if you bought the yoke over a year ago the warranty has already expired.

Start by popping off the knob handles from the little mini-levers. Unscrew the table clamps, so now you have access to this corner screw. The screws in the opposite corners are under the rubber stoppers. Also there’s a screw under the warranty sticker of course. There are 8 screws total.

Now we’ve re-attached the table clamps and removed the top in order to show the inner workings of the control housing. Be careful that the back of the shaft doesn’t pop up. There’s a lever underneath the shaft, and this links to the pitch potentiometer. Note you will need to verify it’s seated correctly when you re-assemble the housing later. Here’s the linkage for the pitch potentiometer. Note that the pitch trim wheel moves the potentiometer too. The trim is way too sensitive to be useful, as a result, I just forget about it and use the Saitek trim wheel (which is great).

Additional Observations

The roll movement is linked to the other potentiometer at the back of the unit. If you have a separate throttle quadrant (and I hope you do), these mini-levers on the top of the housing become redundant. You can remove these 6 screws and the wiring clip to take out this component. The yoke grip can be disassembled if you’re adding buttons, or something similar. There are 10 screws total in the grip.

Once the face is off, you can see all the wires from the various buttons. The wires snake through the shaft and come out here. The centering springs return the yoke to its middle position for pitch and roll. Most noteworthy, these springs, plus the friction of the control shaft can make it difficult to make subtle control movements like during a landing flare. Click to this blog post and video to see how to fix the CH Products Yoke to avoid over-controlling your home flight simulator.

Inside the CH Products Yoke
Inside the CH Products Yoke

CH Products Yoke Modification

 CH Products Yoke Modification

The CH Products Flight Sim Yoke is a solid addition to your home flight simulator. Even so, we can modify it a little to make the yoke work more smoothly because the spring tension and the friction within the mechanism can cause you to over-control the airplane. Sometimes you need to make more subtle control inputs.Ideally, when you have the airplane trimmed properly, you can fly with a light touch on the yoke. For example, if you’re over-controlling the airplane during landing, you’ll porpoise down the runway. Well if you don’t do that in real life, it’s embarrassing when it happens in flight simulator.

Our previous video showed how to disassemble the yoke. This video will show the CH Products yoke modification. I’m basically replacing the tension springs with rubber bands. The mod is reversible, so if you decide you don’t like it, you can change it back to the way it was before.

CH Products Yoke Modification

Note: disassembling consumer products may void the manufacturer’s warranty.
We will start by removing the springs. There is continuous tension on the spring, so push it down onto the pylon. Then remove the screw and washer… and carefully unhook the spring. Reattach the screw. Unhook the other end of the spring from the shaft. Repeat on the other side to remove the second spring. This cable is held in place with a small zip tie. Carefully snip it off. We’re going to use the hole that the zip tie was in…but we’re going to need one on the other side too. Here’s the existing hole, and now we’re drilling one in the same place on the other side. This is a one eighth inch drill bit. Just removing the little plastic shavings here.

Now we have our own little zip ties for the next step, and rubber bands. Insert the zip tie through the hole. Take two rubber bands and loop them over themselves like this. Connect the zip tie to one end of the rubber bands like this. Then stretch the rubber band over the pylon. Repeat on the other side. Notice I’m holding the yoke handle when I loop the rubber bands over the pylon.

Everything is looking good so far so let’s tighten up the zip ties. Loosen the rubber bands, cinch up the zip tie, then loop the rubber bands over the pylon again. Here’s the opposite side. Try not to get the rubber bands twisted too much. Snip off the ends of the zip ties.

Finishing Steps

Now you might ask, isn’t there a simpler way? If you look at how the shaft is constructed, you’ll notice we can simply loop these rubber bands on the opposite horn like this and loop the other rubber bands on the other side. Well that does work, but not very well. The rubber bands tend to rub against each another and make a banjo sound. I’m assuming you don’t want your yoke to sound like a banjo, so that’s out.

Remember this lever needs to be seated correctly on the bottom of the shaft, and the sleeves need to set in the grooves on the back of the unit. Finally, this wiring harness was disconnected from the mini-levers that we removed in the previous video. We don’t want it flopping around, so we attached it to these other wires with a zip tie, and everything is tucked away nicely.

The CH Products yoke modification is complete! Now the yoke has a better response to those subtle little control inputs that we tend to use when the airplane is trimmed for cruise flight, or any time a soft touch is necessary.

CH Products Yoke Modification
CH Products Yoke Modification

 

DIY Flight Sim Pod Final Assembly

DIY Flight Sim Pod Final Assembly

DIY Flight Sim Pod Final Assembly Video Transcript

This is an excerpt from the DIY Flight Sim Pod instructional video. The video and associated manual show you every step in building this home flight simulator project.

In this final section, we’re going to populate the Inner Frame with computer hardware. Furthermore, we will assemble all the pieces of the Flight Sim Pod. Your new flight simulator will soon be finished!

We see here the Inner Frame, all painted and masking tape removed, lt’s look at the right side of the frame. Here on the Computer Shelf we can set a desktop computer, and a powerstrip on the Top Shelf.

Next: the monitor or HDTV. It is a very good idea to get help from a friend while mounting the HDTV. You can’t actually see the bracket when you clip onto it, so it helps to have a second pair of eyes watching. Make sure it’s centered in the frame also.

Install the switch panels and then add the yoke, and beside the yoke, the throttle quadrant. I have attached Velcro to the top of the throttle quadrant for the trackball mouse. There is enough room on the yoke housing for a mini-keyboard, or it can go beside the yoke. Don’t forget a drink holder!

Attach the rudder pedals, and add the speakers. Remember the Chair Staytheres? I painted these also. They have Velcro that loops over this horizontal bar. Notice when you use the Chair Staythere you have to reach way down to get it and you might want an easier way. I simply measured 7” from the end of the pipe and drilled two holes and then I tied on a piece of boot string and hung it from the pipe above. I did this on both sides.

Now I don’t have to reach down so far. With all the peripheral equipment on this machine, we end up with a lot of wires. I loop the wires and use strips of Velcro to keep them organized. If I need a USB extension, I use Velcro straps to help keep it secure. Use it for the rudder pedals so the wire won’t get tangled up with your feet. I secured the USB hubs with Velcro too. I recommend labeling the USB wires, there are so many of them

Once everything is hooked up, it’s time for a test drive! Make sure all the peripherals work correctly.

We’re almost finished with the DIY Flight Sim Pod Final Assembly. For the final step, I really recommend you get help from a friend because you’ll need someone to hold the Side Wall in place while you attach it to the three interface points. The first point is near the Side Boards. There are two points in the front that slide into place also

Secure each interface point with a self-drilling screw. That Side Wall will stand by itself so you can attach the other Side Wall. Attach all three interface points with self-drilling screws. Next replace this bottom support pipe, or the tail end extension, your choice. Secure with self-drilling screws.

Carry in the Top Canopy, and set the 1×4 board on the ledge near the top of the support pillars. Have your partner hold the back of the Top Canopy while you attach the front. Once the front two corners are in, you can attach one of the back corners. Secure the front two corners with self-drilling screws.

Now we can attach the top support pipe. First insert it in the left side. Remember, we left the right side of the Top Canopy loose for this reason. Attach both pipes simultaneously. Attach four self-drilling screws: The two back corners of the Top Canopy, and both sides of the top support pipe.

You can build your own DIY Flight Sim Pod with this instructional video and manual

 .

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man and woman attach side wall
DIY Flight Sim Pod final assembly

Saitek X52 Throttle Fix

Saitek X52 Throttle Fix

Saitek X52 Throttle Fix

The Saitek X52 throttle includes two detents in its throttle movement

There are actually many situations where you don’t want to feel detents as you’re adjusting the throttle setting.

This is an easy Saitek X52 Throttle Fix. This video shows you how to remove this tiny part, so you can get back to smooth flying.

A detent is a mechanical resistance to rotation. The two detents in this throttle are at the 25% position and the 75% position.

If you’re using this throttle with the DIY Easy Helicopter Collective, you definitely do not want detents in the throttle movement.

This is a pretty easy modification, so let’s get started. I like to begin by placing a piece of tape over the USB cable to keep the dirt out.

Reduce the setting to zero on the tension knob.

I recommend placing the throttle on something soft so it won’t get scuffed up

There are 8 screws that hold the throttle base together. Two in the middle.

Two near the tension knob

Two screws in opposite corners

And two more in the corners underneath the rubber non-skid pads

By the way, disassembly of this product will void the warranty. Just so you know.

Let’s tackle the hidden fasteners first. I’m using a small screwdriver to pry up the rubber pad to reveal the screw underneath.

Now I can remove this first screw. A magnetic screwdriver can help in this situation.

Repeat with the screw in the opposite corner.

Next remove the screws in the middle.

Note that this screw is different.

There are three different types of screws: the four corner screws, two longer screws for the middle, and two tiny screws for the tension knob. Do not get these mixed up.

Here I’m using a smaller screwdriver for these small screws under the tension knob.

Finally, we’ll remove the last two screws in the corners.

The two halves of the base are snapped together. There is plastic latch inside there holding it together.

That’s the latch

As we open it, observe how the parts fit together. See that slimy looking thing there? That’s what we will remove, like pulling a tooth.

Here as I’m moving the throttle grip, you can see two ridges on the rotating axle. Those ridges are what rub against the tooth and cause the resistance you feel when you move the throttle. Those are detents. By the way, do not get that grease on you. It’s hard to wash off.

This really is like pulling a tooth, but much easier. Use pliers, find a good grip and pull strait out. That’s what we like to see.

Reassembly of the Saitek X52 Throttle

Now let’s put it back together. The two halves of the base must be aligned perfectly.

These two white plastic tabs must fit in these two slots.

Snap it shut and start reinstalling the screws.

Again, here is a reminder of what they look like.

Start with these two corners.

Next attach the two tiny screws for the tension knob.

And then the two middle screws. So you’ll notice we’re attaching the screws in the reverse order that we removed them.

Finally install the screws in these last two corners. Try to stick the rubber pad back in place the best you can. It should stick pretty well.

And try it out. Try it with different tension settings. It’s so much smoother now. I really think you will enjoy using this throttle after this modification.

Saitek X52 Throttle Fix
Saitek X52 Throttle Fix

Six Screen Home Cockpit

 DIY Six Screen Home Cockpit
Six Screen Home Flight Simulator

One of the best things about the Do-It-Yourself ethos is seeing all the ways people adapt the designs to fit their specific needs. Most noteworthy is this DIY six screen home cockpit built by my customer, Ted. He started with the stock DIY Triple Screen Flight Sim plans and adapted it to include larger monitors, and he added two auxiliary monitors for the instruments and a top monitor for the overhead switches.

It looks like he also built a custom gaming chair from a racing seat.

Want to know more? Ted says:
“I’m only using one computer. I have a Matrox triple head to go for the three, 27inch monitors. The top monitor is operated with the second output on my main video card. I also have another video card that runs the bottom monitors… I made some adjustments because of the 27 inch monitors but it worked out ok. Thanks for your help with this.”

Look at the PVC pipe frame and how it is not restricted to only 90-degree and 45-degree angles as is so often the case with PVC projects. I invented a new building process for joining the PVC pipes together which opens up a world of options for innovative design. 

Check out other customer completed projects in the Gallery.

Six Screen Home Flight Simulator
Six Screen Home Cockpit

Project Origin

The DIY Triple Screen Flight Sim video and instruction manual has grown over the years. Originally, I produced it and donated it to the National Airline History Museum. It is a fun, interactive, hands-on experience for the museum guests to fly a simulated vintage airliner. Most noteworthy, they are still using it after 5 years!

I also spearheaded the first successful flight simulator Kickstarter fund-raising drive in history, as a result, the museum did not have to purchase the simulator. Rafaela threw a pie in my face at a party celebrating the victorious campaign.

 

 

Add a Second Monitor – Part 2

Add a second monitor

Dual Monitors for Flight Simulator

This video will show you how to add a second monitor to your home flight simulator. In Part 1 I modified the monitor mounting bracket and attached it to this 1×8 board. 

Now we will paint the board, install the monitor, and configure Microsoft Flight Simulator X to run on two monitors

Video Transcript

This is where we left off. Now I know all the components will fit correctly, so next I’ll paint the board.

I removed the mounting bracket and all components, but I left the tee nuts in place. I’m painting with tinted primer like I do with all my projects.

After one side has dried, flip it over and paint the other side.

The paint is dry to the touch, but it can still stick to the support boards when it sits overnight so I’m putting a few screws between the boards to allow the paint to dry completely.

I want a layer of masking tape (or something similar) between the new board and this attachment board. If I don’t separate the two boards like this, the paint will stick the boards together almost like glue.

Attach the board with deck screws,

Test fit the monitor to make sure it fits correctly.

You may or may not need an adapter for the monitor cable. This cheap little monitor only has a VGA plug.

Now that the monitor cable and power are hooked up, we can slide the monitor into place and turn on the computer.

The operating system should be smart enough to recognize the second monitor.

If not, right-click the desktop and choose “Screen Resolution” you may need to prompt the operating system to detect the monitors.

I recommend setting the large screen as Display 1

Also select “Extend these displays” here.

You know it’s working correctly if you can drag a window from one monitor to another.

Start Microsoft FSX. For this example, I’ll use the default G1000 Beechcraft Baron.

Select the 2D cockpit view. Right-click just above the instrument panel and select “Close window”

Next, select Shift + 4 to show the Primary Flight Display in a more manageable shape.

Now I can left click and drag it over to the smaller monitor and drag the edges to re-size the window.

Next, do the same thing with the Multi Function Display

I also like to display the Landing Gear Panel because it shows the elevator trim setting. Check out the Saitek trim wheel (I love this thing). Now I can see the trim setting for takeoff.

A quirky thing about this setup is that even if you save the flight, and exit, FSX will not save the locations of the instruments. The next time you start the flight, the instruments will have to be moved and re-sized again. You can remedy this by using Air Manager from Sim Innovations to display the instruments on your second monitor.

If you use TrackIR, a second monitor can still help you. Here I have the Virtual Cockpit on the main screen and the flight instruments on the small monitor. It works quite well.
It was a great experience to add a second monitor to my flight simulator and I hope your project goes well too.

Check out Part 1 of this project if you missed it

 

Add a second monitor to a flight sim
Add a second monitor to a flight sim