Home Flight Simulator for Sale, 7 Ways to Choose

7 Ways to Choose the Best DIY Flight Sim | Home Flight Simulator For Sale

You’re looking for a home flight simulator for sale and you come across two similar DIY projects. How do you tell the two apart? The DIY Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim and the DIY Triple Screen Flight Sim are similar, but there are some significant differences too. Here are 7 ways to choose the best multi-screen DIY Flight Sim for you.

Note: for brevity, you’ll see me refer to the projects by their item numbers.
Item #D250: DIY Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim
Item #T440: DIY Triple Screen Flight Sim

1. Adaptability

The D250 Deluxe is much more adaptable than the T440 Triple Screen.
D250: You can build the D250 with a yoke and throttle quadrant, or pair it with one of the DIY floor frames so you can use HOTAS style controls or even a helicopter collective. Match the D250 with the #F311 Side Joystick Frame, the #F321 Center Joystick Frame, or the #F331 Easy Helicopter Collective.
T440: On the other hand, the T440 is great with a yoke and throttle quadrant as originally designed. But if you want a joystick and side throttle, you would need to invent some modifications.

 

2. Recent Work

The D250 instructional video is much newer than the T440.
T440: I produced the T440 video in 2011 as a part of a successful Kickstarter campaign. I had a very short amount of time to design and build the project and a short time to film, edit, and publish the video. It’s still a great project though.
D250: I produced the D250 video in 2016 so it has better lighting, better sound, I used a better camera, and I had more experience editing than I did in 2011.

 

Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim with Side Joystick Frame
Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim with Side Joystick Frame

3. Displays

The D250 has larger screens.
D250: I used 32” HDTVs for the three main displays. The combined screen width is over 6 feet wide.
T440: I used 24” monitors for the three main displays. The combined screen width is less than the D250, but still impressive.

 

4. Keyboard Modification

The T440 was designed to have an overhead panel like an airliner. For this reason, the T440 Triple Screen bundle includes the DIY Airliner Keyboard Modification. The D250 doesn’t have a place for an overhead panel.

 

Home flight simulator for sale, how to choose the best
Home flight simulator for sale

 

5. Styrofoam

The T440 has Styrofoam, the D250 does not.
Builders use ½” styrofoam sheets when constructing the T440 Triple Screen project. Styrofoam may be cheap or expensive depending on where you live in the world.

 

6. Instrument Panel on a 4th Monitor

T440: You will see several builders in the Customer Gallery added a 4th monitor to display the flight instruments. I didn’t include anything about that in the instructions, those clever builders modified their projects on their own.
D250: I included instructions to add an optional 4th monitor for the flight instruments.

 

DIY Easy Helicopter Collective
DIY Easy Helicopter Collective paired with the Deluxe Desktop Flight sim

 

7. Ease of construction

I think the D250 is easier to build than the T440.
D250: The project doesn’t require gluing any Styrofoam panels in place. But the D250 does include 1×8 boards. If your saw won’t cut 1×8 boards, you’ll need to get that done at the store when you buy them.
T440: The project doesn’t require you to cut any lumber wider than a 1×6. You do cut Styrofoam with a utility knife, but it is not difficult just a little time-consuming.

 

Home Flight Simulator for Sale

You have a lot of choices when it comes to your home flight sim project. I hope this comparison helps you.

FSX cockpit DIY instructions

These Builders Completed Their FSX Cockpit DIY Projects

This is the greatest difference between Roger Dodger Aviation and the other guys: my customers actually complete their projects! My online courses include instructions for each step of the project including video clips, diagrams, pictures, and printouts. You can build a FSX cockpit DIY project like these guys!

DIY Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim

First of all, look at this beautiful DIY Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim item #D250. It was built by Greg in Savannah Georgia, USA. This is one of my favorite designs because it is so versatile. Builders can create exactly the type of home cockpit they need to match their flying interests. You can install a yoke and throttle quadrant in the #D250. On the other hand, you can also use a HOTAS joystick and throttle or even a helicopter collective.

Pair the #D250 with the DIY Side Joystick Frame, or the DIY Center Joystick Frame, or the DIY Easy Helicopter Collective. These projects provide a sturdy mounting base for your joystick, throttle, and rudder pedals.

 

DIY Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim
DIY Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim built by Greg

DIY Triple Screen Flight Sim

The DIY Triple Screen Flight Sim, item #T440 is still my most popular DIY course. As a result, I get more T440 pictures than any other project. Two customers recently sent me pictures of their completed projects (see below). Wayne and Richard both build the same project but built it to suit their particular simulation requirements.

 

 

Help Spread the Word: FSX Cockpit DIY Projects

Don’t let Facebook bury these success stories! These men worked hard on their FSX cockpit DIY projects and deserve to be congratulated. When I post on Facebook, the message only goes out to 10% of my fans. Please LIKE, COMMENT, and SHARE to spread the word. If you are reading this as a blog post, please link to it or share it with friends. Let’s show these guys our community appreciates a job well done.

Virtual Reality Flight Simulator Games

Virtual Reality Flight Simulator Games – What You Need to Know

Virtual Reality Flight Simulator Games

There are two types of virtual reality flight simulator games. One type includes titles with native support from the developer. The other type includes titles that need third party technology to work with VR. Virtual Reality brings with it exciting possibilities, but also significant performance challenges for developers.

Why is VR challenging for developers? Frame rates. Any software must provide at least 60 frames per second in order to be used with VR, and preferably over 90. Flight sim software has always struggled to provide high frame rates because of the expansive and detailed environment it models. Consequently, the software choices come down to a trade-off between performance and features, and I’ll elaborate on that more next.

 

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Titles with Native VR Support

First of all, here are the flight sim titles with native VR support (as of Nov 2017): DCS World (modern military), IL-2 Sturmovik and War Thunder (both WW2), Aerofly FS2 (civil and military airplanes) and Elite Dangerous (sci-fi). These titles have good VR performance, which means they operate at high frame rates and look stunning.

The tradeoff is their limited features for flight simmers. They do not have global maps, weather options are limited, aircraft systems are not completely modeled, and they have limited choices in aircraft. Now before I get angry messages, DSC World is deeply detailed in aircraft systems and environmental fidelity, but only with the limited choices of aircraft and geographic area.

Furthermore, I’m not saying these virtual reality flight simulator games are undesirable. Each one is spectacular in its own way and the immersion is breathtaking. Indeed, once you try these titles in VR, you may never go back to a flat screen again.

Titles Without Native VR Support

The flight sim purists will point out that the titles I mentioned above were games, and the ones I discuss next are SIMULATORS. The three full-featured titles are Prepar3D, X-Plane 11, and FSX Steam. Can you fly these in VR? Yes, but only with Fly-Inside software and a Leap Motion device. Again, performance becomes a problem because these titles can’t hit consistently high frame-rates for VR.

Lastly, Dovetail Games’ Flight Sim World currently has no VR capability at all.

 

Using Virtual Reality in the Real Word

Once you strap on a VR headset, that is your new world. Forget using keyboard commands, you can’t see the keyboard. You may even lose track of your mouse or beverage. Everything must stay in the same place so you can put your hands on it without looking. This is why I strongly recommend a framework to hold your controls in place, like the DIY Side Joystick Frame, the DIY Center Joystick Frame, and the DIY Easy Helicopter Collective. These projects are for serious flying, so they include a mounting point for rudder pedals.

Add a trackball mouse, because it is priceless for VR flying. Use a drink holder and note it is hard to drink from a regular travel mug while wearing a VR headset. Use a cup with a straw. Also, set up a fan because VR headsets are warm and they make you warm too.

How to Build Your Own Helicopter Simulator

How to Build Your Own Helicopter Simulator Controls

When you try to fly helicopters with regular HOTAS flight sim controls one thing is perfectly clear: a throttle is definitely not a collective. A legitimate helicopter collective control is essential if you fly (or are learning to fly) helicopters. Unfortunately, retail collective controls are surprisingly expensive. Consequently, I created an online course that shows you how to build your own helicopter simulator controls.

 

The DIY Easy Helicopter Collective

This project does two major things. Firstly, it allows you to use a standard HOTAS throttle as a collective. The PVC pipe framework suspends the throttle vertically and connects it to a collective lever via a linkage. Most noteworthy: you don’t have to modify the throttle because the linkage straps onto the throttle handle without harming it. You can adjust the sensitivity of the collective by moving the linkage. Also, you can adjust the collective resistance with a friction knob.

The second thing this project does is make it easy to switch back to airplane configuration. Maybe you still want to fly an airplane once in a while. You can add the optional throttle stand and easily move the throttle for a HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick) control configuration. Best of all, you don’t have to change the control assignments in the flight sim software. It’s so easy! It’s also easy to build your own helicopter simulator collective. That’s why I named this project the DIY Easy Helicopter Collective.

 

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Online course

I produced an affordable, online course that shows you how to build your own helicopter simulator collective. I show you how to build this project with inexpensive materials from your local home improvement store. We’ll be working with PVC pipe, lumber, paint, and other materials.

This comprehensive course includes:

  • Video clips
  • Full text instructions
  • Diagrams and pictures
  • Pipe frame maps in US and Metric measurements
  • Printouts

You can view the course on nearly any device even smart phones and tablets. See the full curriculum and a free trial at this link. Most noteworthy, the DIY Easy Helicopter Collective course is available now at a new lower price!

If you bought DIY flight simulator build plans from a 3rd party vendor

If you bought DIY Flight Sims products from a 3rd party vendor

What Happened to the DIY Flight Sim downloads?

All DIY Flight Sim products are produced by me, Matt Thomas, here at Roger Dodger Aviation. These flight simulator build plans were originally sold as downloaded products. The customer would buy the instructional videos, manuals, and templates, and then download all contents in a big zip file. The customer would then open the files on a PC to view all the content.

That was a great idea in 2007, but not such a good idea 10 years later. Customers wanted better access to the content, and modern e-learning was the answer. With online tutorial courses, a student doesn’t have to sit through a giant video or sift through a 100+ pages of flight simulator build plans. I re-formatted all the content so each step in the building process has a short video clip, and the illustrated instructions for that step only. The plan drawings and printouts are presented with that step, instead of buried in an appendix.

You can now access the DIY Flight Sims courses with any device, even tablets and smart phones. This means you can bring all the instructions with you to the garage or workshop when you work on the project.

DIY Flight Sims made a huge leap forward in 2017.

 

How to Get the Updated Flight Simulator Build Plans

If you purchased an old Download version of a DIY Flight Sims product, you can get a free update to the new online course. The flight simulator build plans are in a better, learner-centered format, and many courses have additional material now.

Want the update? Simply email me at DIYflightsims@rogerdoger.net and tell me what product you bought and what email address you used. This will help me track down your order. Also tell me where you bought it if you purchased from a 3rd party vendor. I’ll send you a coupon code that will give you free access to the course.

New online courses are available for the following products:

 

What Happens When You Enroll

You will have access to the original content for that product, but in the new format as an online e-learning course. I’ve updated and improved some of the projects, so you also get any new material that I’ve added. In addition, you also get a monthly notification of any future updates I make to the products in the Roger Dodger Insider. Finally, you also get free access to Builder Academy, which is where you learn all the basic skills for building DIY Flight Sims.

Happy building! Happy flying!

DIY Helicopter Simulator Controls, free upgrade to online tutorials

DIY Helicopter Simulator Controls | Free Upgrade to Online Tutorials

What is the Upgrade?

The F331 DIY Easy Helicopter Collective is one of my favorite projects because it fills an urgent need in the flight sim community. Try to find a helicopter collective control for a reasonable price. You will not find one, they are all hundreds of dollars. My DIY Helicopter Simulator Controls are still, after several years, the most cost-effective solution for home flight sim pilots. My tutorials show you how to build a framework from PVC pipe. You then attach standard HOTAS joystick/throttle and rudder pedals. The new, upgraded version of these tutorials are completely online and can be accessed with any device. No more cumbersome downloads!

 

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How do you get the Upgrade?

This new online version is FREE if you’ve already bought the F331 DIY Easy Helicopter Collective. Email me at DIYflightsims@rogerdodger.net to get your upgraded version. Be sure to tell me what email address you used when you ordered so I can look you up. Then, I’ll send you a coupon code that will allow you access to the online lessons for free. You can then build your own DIY Helicopter Simulator Controls and get flying… and hovering.

 

More about the DIY Helicopter Simulator Controls

Have you ever tried to fly a helicopter with a regular flight sim throttle? It’s not enjoyable. There is a reason why helicopter controls look different than airplane controls – they ARE different. Once you try a helicopter collective, you will never want to go back to a regular throttle. When you use a collective, the movement is completely natural, you don’t have to even think about the controls any more, just make the helicopter do what you need it to do. I could never hover, or even land a helicopter before I built my collective. Now everything is easier.

Below is a demonstration of the DIY Easy Helicopter Collective, among other things…

 

Innovative DIY Cockpit and Flight Simulators in the Customer Gallery

I’m always impressed by the many ways my customers modify the DIY Flight Sim projects to meet their needs. It’s one of the best things about this gig. Customers change the home cockpit plans a little or a lot depending on their needs and resources. Check out these innovative DIY cockpit solutions from the Customer Gallery.

Rich’s Quad Screen Flight Sim

My customer Rich built a T440 DIY Triple Screen Flight Sim and installed an additional screen for the flight instruments. This creates a stunning degree of realism because your instruments are positioned close and you focus your vision outside to see the surrounding environment. Similarly, I demonstrated a quad display setup with the DIY Deluxe Desktop Flight Sim and Air Manager powering the instruments.

You can see Rich added four Saitek switch panels and the K140 DIY Airliner Keyboard Mod. Do you think that is a Go Flight TQ6-ADV throttle quadrant? It’s not. It might be two Saitek throttle quadrants with after-market replacement handles attached. You can find such handles from FlightSimPM and others for your own innovative DIY cockpit.

Quad screen flight sim with switch panels, throttle quad by Rich
Quad screen flight sim with switch panels, throttle quad by Rich

Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS for Flight Sims

You can also see more usage of the Thrustmaster Warthog joystick and throttle with these projects. Here George modified the F331 DIY Easy Helicopter Collective to also include the Thrustmaster throttle. He can use it to simulate airplanes or spaceships in its shown configuration. He can also relocate the throttle to a platform below the collective handle and effectively simulate helicopters. Here is another example of flight sim builders buying quality hardware to equip their creations. Most of all, he built the whole simulator in a closet and included triple screens and Thrustmaster Cougar Multi-Function Panels (MFPs) for this innovative DIY cockpit.

Home flight sim helicopter collective, triple screens by George
Home flight sim helicopter collective, triple screens by George

A Very Special Triple Screen Flight Sim

Customer Ron built his T440 Triple Screen Flight Sim so it would fit on his desk. Keep in mind, the original plans are for a self-standing frame. Ron was able to modify the frame extensively so it fit neatly on his corner desk. He also added the Saitek yoke and throttle quadrant that we see so often in home flight simulators. Finally, the virtual cockpit you see there is from a Lockheed Constellation which is exactly what we use in the flight sim I built for the National Airline History Museum.

Desktop triple screen flight sim by Ron
Desktop triple screen flight sim by Ron

More Innovative DIY Cockpit Solutions

Enjoy these other customer projects that I recently added to the Customer Galleries. More multi-screen projects and more modified frames for HOTAS and helicopter collectives. In addition, I have many more pictures to add to the gallery and I hope to do that in the coming weeks. Happy Landings! 

If you like this post, please leave a comment. That will enable the mystical internet algorithms to spread it to more people.

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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

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