Add a Second Monitor – Part 1

Dual monitors

Dual Monitors for Flight Simulator

This was a great project and really enhanced the Flight Sim Pod. Dual monitors allow you to display the flight instruments on a smaller screen and show the outside view on a large monitor, or even an HDTV as shown here. Most noteworthy: quality flat panel monitors are wonderfully inexpensive now! 

Video Transcript

You can display your flight instruments on an auxiliary monitor and use your main monitor for the outside view. This increases your outside visibility and makes it easier to read the instruments.

This is nothing new. People have been running flight simulator on multiple monitors for years, but I wanted to show you some specific issues for mounting a second monitor.

I’ll literally show you the nuts and bolts of this process.

Part 2 of this video will show you what to expect when you run Microsoft Flight Simulator X on two monitors.

 

To start off, I removed the 1×6 board from the flight simulator and used a 1×8 board instead. I needed this taller board to mount these two Saitek switch panels vertically.

If you don’t have a miter saw that can cut a 1×8 board you can usually get that done at the store. Many home improvement stores will cut lumber for you.

Now lets look at the monitor mounting bracket. This small bracket is appropriate for this size monitor. One half of the bracket attaches to the monitor, the other half will attach to the board.

This is the Dell 19 inch monitor that I’m using for this project. It was very inexpensive.

This is how the bracket will fit on the monitor….
but look here: the bottom edge of the monitor can not hang below the bottom edge of the board….

Because, I have to allow room for the Saitek yoke below it.

Unfortunately, that puts the top attachment holes on the bracket too close to the top edge of the board, so we can’t use those holes.

No problem. We will simply drill new holes into the steel bracket!
It’s not difficult. First, I measure where the new holes will be: three quarters of an inch on center, below the existing holes.

Next I tap the center points with a punch and hammer.

I drilled pilot holes first with a 1/8” drill bit. Use cutting fluid if you have it, or a lubricant like WD-40.

Next, use a ¼” drill bit to make the holes larger. Notice that I clamped the bracket in place.

The drill bit generates a lot of heat, so take your time. Drill a little, then back off for a moment to allow the bit to cool. Then repeat.

The drill press I’m using is not expensive or fancy. You could probably even do this with a hand drill if you clamped the bracket to a work bench. Either way, remember to take your time and be safe.

Use a 5/16” drill bit to make the holes larger one last time. So yes, I used three different drill bits for these holes. Yes, there is an easier way, a step bit will allow you drill holes in steel without changing drill bits.

Wear safety glasses. Wear safety glasses. Look, you can actually see bits of hot metal shooting in different directions.

Are dual monitors worth going through all this trouble? Yes! You will love having your flight instruments on a separate monitor.

Be sure to clean up the bracket after you’re done drilling.

Attach the mounting bracket to the back of the monitor according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This model already has mounting screws for this purpose.

The bracket slides on easily.

Measure the distance from the bottom edge of the monitor to the top edge of the bracket. In this case, it’s 7 ½”

I want the monitor in the center of the board, so I’m measuring the halfway point here.

Again, I want the top of the mounting bracket to be 7 ½” above the bottom of the board.

Hold the bracket in place and trace where your four mounting holes will be.

Drill pilot holes with a 1/8” drill bit, then final holes with a 5/16” drill bit

Now we can use ¼-20 screws to attach the bracket…. However, there’s another issue to address.

The ends of these screws will be too close to my 40” HDTV. I’m not comfortable with that.

So I used these ¼” tee nuts for the top two holes.

Flip the board over, and bang in the tee nuts with a hammer and a block of wood.

You can use shorter screws now. 1 inch long ¼-20 screws with washers.

Make sure the bracket is straight and attach ¼-20 screws to the bottom two holes. These screws are an inch and a half long, attach with nuts, washers and lock washers.

Slide on the monitor and see how it fits.

This is how it will sit in relation to the switch panels.

In part 2 of this video, we will paint the board and attach it to the flight simulator. I’ll also show you how to relocate the aircraft instruments to your new monitor in Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

 

Dual monitors for your home flight simulator
Dual monitors for your home flight simulator
large two screen flight sim

Customer-Built DIY Flight Sim Pod

I love adding pictures to the Customer Gallery! Check out this customer-built DIY Flight Sim Pod that was completed by Russ in North Carolina. He has it set up to simulate general aviation airplanes and regularly uses it for cross-country flights that he posts about on his Facebook fan page. You can see it features a large HDTV as the primary display, an auxiliary monitor for the flight instruments, Saitek switch panels, and the Saitek Pro-Flight yoke/throttle quadrant.

It’s a great build and I would like to point out some details that Russ included that contribute greatly to a quality home flight sim project:

  • He painted it. A lot of people want to skip painting, but it’s such an important part of a truly finished project
  • Note the trackball mouse. I recommend this handy feature for any flight sim.
  • Rudder pedals! No twisty joysticks for us, we’re pilots.
  • Trim wheel: this is a great product from Saitek that I think is overlooked by way too many people in the flight sim community.

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Customer-Built DIY Flight Sim Pod

I’m happy to see pictures of a completed DIY Flight Sim Pod. This is one of my favorite projects but after I published it, I started to realize many people probably didn’t have room for a home flight simulator this large. The Pod is about the size of a Smart Car. Russ found a way to work with limited space by leaving off the Pod’s side walls. You can see in his video here that the walls of this room actually serve as the side walls for the flight sim …. smart! 

You can keep up to date with Russ’s flying adventures by liking his Facebook fan page at this link.

Happy landings!

Fly to the Secret Base in FSX

The FSX Secret Base and the surrounding islands are featured in the second half of the Tokyo Executive Transport mission. The islands only appear during that mission so if you try to fly there during free flight, you will find only empty ocean. Try flying the mission. Sure, you get to see the islands and the Secret Base in FSX, but you have to fly the assigned Lear jet.

So how do you fly to the Secret Islands in free flight? How do you fly your choice of aircraft? You noticed in the video I was flying the Robinson R22. If you want to do something similar, you should add the Secret Islands as a scenery object. Fortunately, this is very easy.

Add the Secret Base in FSX

Add the Secret Islands (including the Base) as a scenery object in FSX. Check out this link: this is a freeware FSX scenery download that installs the Secret Base as a regular scenery object. Don’t forget to read the Read Me file.

The file installs the Secret Islands, the Secret Base, death ray guns on the mountain peaks, and some sort of suspicious weather station on the top of the highest mountain. The only object that is not included is the retractable water runway that leads to the hangar. The runway is present during the Tokyo mission, but not when you fly to the Secret Islands in free flight.

Air Manager

I use Air Manager software from Sim Innovations in the embedded video. This is a clever piece of software that makes it easy to display instruments on a separate monitor. I’m using it for the Robinson R22, but it works for a variety of default and add-on aircraft. Use it in FSX, FSX Steam, Prepar3D and X-Plane. Air Manager features over 300 flight instruments to choose from and more on the way.

approaching Secret Base in FSX
Secret Base in FSX

 

Mail In Order Form

Mail in Order Form
Mail in Order Form

Do you want to order a Roger Dodger Aviation DIY project, but don’t want to order online? You can do that with this handy form you can print, fill out and mail. Include a bank check or money order. If you send a personal check with your order form, I will have to wait for it to clear before I email you the download link.

Be sure to include your email address, and please write clearly. I only sell digital videos and manuals, so I will email you a link to your purchase so you can download it.

I don’t offer refunds for mail-in orders. Because I have to manually process this order, the regular refund policy doesn’t apply. Fortunately, it is very rare for anyone to request a refund, and I’ve never had a refund request for a mail-in order.

As always, I appreciate your business.

Happy building, happy flying!

 

Cats in Space

I unexpectedly adopted a cat when my mom moved to a new apartment and discovered she couldn’t have pets. Then I realized something amazing: I’ve been making YouTube videos for 10 years and I’ve never uploaded a video with a cat. I can now do cat videos! I had dreams of my cat earning enough money in ad revenue to pay for her own food, litter, and vet bills. Look at this video, she even hops onto the back of my chair and flies through space with me…. how cute is that?
 

 

I guess it’s not that interesting to people. Literally zero people care.

So I guess I’ll have to eat her.

Moving the Customer Gallery

Customer Gallery from old website

I’ve spent an enormous amount of effort migrating the essential content from the old website over to this new one. One of the most essential webpages and the part I’m most proud of is the Customer Gallery where so many people sent in pictures of their completed DIY Flight Sims projects. I love getting these pictures! The Customer Gallery is huge and I haven’t moved it yet, and it’s going to be a lot of work. Now that I know a few things about optimizing photos for the web, I will have to adjust every picture from the Customer Gallery so the website won’t bog down.

I’m going to have to optimize over 90 photos.
But I will do it. I’m grateful for every one of these pictures and every one of these customers. They all put a lot of effort and care into their projects.

By the way, you may see other blog posts that have blurry pictures. Those are just sample posts that came with the WordPress template. I’ll delete them soon.