Frequently Asked Questions
Where did you buy that cockpit?
If only it were that simple! – I didn’t buy it, I built it myself
It’s all 25mm SHS 1.6mm walled steel, a mix of 10/12/17mm plywood, 4?mm MDF, 3mm acrylic/plastic and paint.
All of the cockpit panels I designed myself and laser cut in my garage. All of the switches and buttons are cheap ones I bought from eBay and Aliexpress.
There is only a few real specialised items that I splashed out on, & whilst I am intending to design/build my own versions of those, circumstances causing too much of a delay were untenable to the projects continuation.
How much did it cost?
Thats the number one question I get asked!
Unlike warthog project – I didn’t do a very detailed breakdown of my costs, most of my materials was scrap or non -structural packing ply that I scrounged up over the last few years & stockpiled until I was ready to begin construction.
The planning & preparation have been occurring sporadically over the past ~6<8 years or so… some of the stuff I have been holding onto for even longer than that.
During that time, I have been collecting stock like scrap & offcuts of plywood sheets, either free or as cheap as i could find, trying to be as frugle with my retirement $$$ as possible, when purchasing new I have normally waited for heavily discounted sales or releases of newer generations of gear, then purchased last gens kit at a reduced price.
The most expensive parts of the cockpit are as follows:
|HP Reverb G2||2nd hand||AUD$500|
|Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS suite||2nd hand||AUD$450|
|Thrustmaster TPR pedals||2nd hand||AUD$400|
|Tek Creations Keyboard Unit (without screen)||New||AUD$248|
|VKBsim Left hand SCG grip on Gladiator||New||AUD$150|
|VKBsim Right hand SCG grip on Gladiator NXT||New||AUD$165|
|Virpil Twist throttle Collective with UH-60 grip||New [a birthday present for myself]|
(20% discount from virpil panel competition)
|Total Controls – Apache MPD frames x 2||New||AUD$450|
|K-51 collective||New (shipped)||AUD$436|
|electronics – Nextion screens (x4) |
7.0″, 5.0″, 3.5″, 2.4″
|electronics – custom PCB EUFD||New||AUD$14|
|electronics – custom PCB MFD||New||AUD$28|
|electronics – custom PCB TEDAC||New||AUD$19|
|APACHE AH64 Throttle Panel CAD||New||AUD$104|
|most expensive component, by far is the G-seat||mixed||see below|
|steel SHS 25x225x1.6mm||repurposed from other projects||AUD$250|
|5-point racing harness||New||AUD$68|
|electronics – 24VDC motors x3||2nd hand||AUD$435|
|electronics – 12V DC power supply x2||2nd hand||AUD$50|
|electronics – driver controller cards||New||AUD$480|
|electronics – rotary sensors||New||AUD$190|
It took a lot of work over many different mediums to get it done, I learnt how to weld properly from a TAFE teacher on weekends, (poorly executed) woodworking, acrylic cutting & engraving, PCB design & manufacture… & painting, you have no idea how much I hate painting….
Why not just use VR?
I wanted to provide a better CPG experience than can be achieved in VR, for the CPG I don’t feel it is as important, as you spend the vast majority heads down…. real world this might not be the case & the pilots would share the heads in/out workload as each performs specific tasks, however in DCS… & with budgets & technology limitations…. the CPG is in 2D only.
I do actually use VR in this cockpit- I have an HP Reverb G2.
Both VR and physical cockpits with large screens have their pros and cons, and I enjoy both.
I don’t think VR has replaced physical cockpits… just yet. But I hope AR (Augmented Reality) isn’t too far away & affordably in reach in the not too distant future.
What video game is that?
DCS World, with the AH-64D Apache module.
I do fly other DCS modules (sometimes) in this cockpit as well, namely;
- Ka-50 BlackShark 3
- Mi-8 ‘Hip’
- UH-1H ‘Huey’ ( Iriquios)
- A-10C II (my favourite fixed wing jet)
- AV-8B Harrier (I learnt this prior to attempting to learn the A-10C)
- F/A-18 Hornet (the DCS ‘all-rounder’ I have but fly very infrequently).
Upon their release though, I daresay I will be keeping to the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior & CH-47F Chinook, for the very simple pleasure of flying.
Why the Apache?
I have always wanted to fly helicopters & once I left the military & got a decent paying IT job, I could afford to do my CPL(H). I should have stayed in school & gone the military pilot route, but I wanted to jump in puddles & blow shit up, so off to grunt school I went.
The Bell 206 jetranger is the largest helicopter I ever flew (iRL) & I always had a thing for them anyway, So I am only occupying the apache until the Kiowa Warrior comes out…
& don’t forget the chinook….
What are the specs of your PC?
This changes only occasionally. it only gets upgraded every couple of years or more. I am never on bleeding edge technology, it’s impossible to afford & ages too quickly.
Right now (as of 2023) it is:
|PLT PC||CPG PC||Stream PC (IBM ThinkCentre M910q)|
|MB: ASUSTek TUF GAMING B550M-PLUS (WI-FI)|
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D 8-Core Processor
MEM: DDR4 64 GBytes
GPU: NVidia GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
|MB: Gigabyte Z370 HD3|
CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-8400 CPU @ 2.80GHz Processor
MEM: DDR4 64 GBytes
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB
|MB: LENOVO model 310B|
CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6400T CPU @ 2.20GHz
MEM: DDR4 32 GBytes
GPU: Intel(R) HD Graphics 530
|Cyclic: TM Warthog|
Collective: Virpil twist w/UH-60 grip
How do you get the gauges displayed on your other monitor?
The software used to output the gauges on the Main Instrument Panel is called ‘Helios’. Link is below, and again- I’m not a developer or sponsor, It’s open source and programmed by members of the DCS community. I link to it only because it is what I use, and it just plain works.
Can you play other games in your cockpit?
Yes and no. I can fly basically any game that has HOTAS controls and VR support whilst sitting in the cockpit and using a VR headset.
From the PLT station the A-10C is the nicest to fly, I can utilise the 2x apache MFDs & the TM warthog throttle.
I need to utilise a mouse though as I would need to map out a heap of hybrid panels & add them into the cockpit, also I have no CDU yet,( but will have for the CH-47F).
I don’t own or run any other simulator software.
DCS is it for me, as nothing really models Rotary Wing aircraft well enough.
How do you connect the switches and buttons to your PC?
All up there are three USB cables from the cockpit to the computer. Each console has a powered USB hub in it, and those hubs are connected to commercially available USB cards, such as cheap Arduino Clones for DCS-BIOS + others running MMjoy, & some custom made boards running Freejoy .
Find out more…
Can you build me one ?
No. you most likely couldn’t afford my hourly rate or the materials to buy one new, all that & I don’t deal with people very well, so I am well & truly not suited for retail…
but I could envisage selling this one & beginning another/new build adventure.
It would just be the pit only, not my controllers (sticks, collectives, pedals & G-seat), but all the panels & instrument dashes would be included.