This project combines two of my favorite things: a cozy fireplace and my flight simulator. Why not simulate a nice cozy fireplace inside a flight simulator?!
This DIY flight sim is ready for winter! I combined the warm atmosphere of a crackling fireplace with the fun of flying my simulator. It’s just the thing for those freezing winter months. You can do this too, it’s easy to set up.
Create a Fireplace Inside a Flight Simulator
My flight simulator has two displays connected to the graphics card. The large display is a 40″ HDTV and the smaller display is a 19″ VGA computer monitor. Typically, I display the flight simulator outside view on the large screen and the flight instruments on the smaller screen. For today’s project, I’m only running FSX on the large screen. Start FSX and start a flight. Select Windowed Mode from the View Menu and resize the window so it fits on one screen (the large screen in my example).
Next start a web browser on the second monitor and find a fireplace video on YouTube. Play the video and select full screen. This is how I my smaller display shows a cozy, crackling fireplace.
All we need now is a nice hot apple cider. I recently discovered sugar free apple cider from Alpine. It doesn’t need any sugar because of what we add next: cinnamon flavored bourbon. Apple and cinnamon… oh it’s so, so good! Leave the ice and snow outside, you’re flying in comfort. Happy Landings!
What you’re seeing here is Lockheed Martin Prepar3D with triple screens and more. The software is Prepar3D version 3.4, the DIY Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim, the DIY Side Joystick Frame, Air Manager is running the instruments on the 4th display. The installation of P3D was straightforward and you’re looking at a stock installation with no add-ons (yet).
The three main displays are inexpensive 32″ HDTVs connected to a single Nvidia GeForce mid-level graphics card. The system specs are at the end of this blog post.
P3D recognized the Saitek X52 Pro and properly assigned its functions, which was very nice. For other flight simulator programs, assigning the controls correctly is an awful awful chore, but not for P3D. This is the first flight simulator software I’ve ever seen that correctly identified rudder pedals and successfully assigned them to the correct function. Including the toe brakes. So, kudos to Lockheed Martin. They also build spaceships, by the way. Just so you know.
It’s easy to combine the DIY Side Joystick Frame, (item 311), with the Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim project. I’m using the Saitek Pro Flight Cessna rudder pedals. Great rudder pedals. I updated the drivers for my Saitek switch panels that enabled them to work with P3D. That was easy.
You’ll notice that nothing here is expensive or exotic… or even new. For example, I’m using a second-hand computer to display the flight instruments. The second computer is so old it’s running Windows Vista.
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.
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.
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.
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.