PC connections, USB and VGA
<< Click on picture
It is important to keep main USB controls (Keyboard, Mouse and Matrox)
connected directly to PC, in order to maintain control during a power failure
and be able to make a proper shutdown.
<< Click on pictures >>
By wiring this way, the only thing always on power is the battery (needs to be).
Only main outlet (P4), battery (P3) and PC needs to be turned on before
flight (picture right). All monitors and other equipment is then automatically
turned on as well, and lights can be operated from switches inside the cabin.
All the P's are outlet strips or extension cords. (All outlet strips with an on/off
switch are allways set to "on", except for the main P4.)
Max load this initial setup: 1000 Watts (with this particular equipment).
Max load with new PC: 1400 Watts, still well within my limits.
My SimPit Plan
<< Click on picture
This is a model of my Pit. I didn't think anyone would be able to make head or
tails from my old drawings, so I went ahead and created this model instead.
I used 3/4" plywood for most of the project. The best material I could get
(cabinet grade). Don't try to save a few bucks on a sheet of ply, the aggrevation
of trying to use second rate materials is simply not worth it (it warps, splinters
etc. etc.), good material is also a lot easier to paint (saves you paint too).
I wouldn't recomment to use anything less than 3/4", since there's a lot of weight
sitting on this. This is also why there are so many risers under the monitor shelf.
If not supported properly, even 3/4" will warp over time with this much load.
For some of the smaller pieces I used 1/2" ply, and for backing 1/4".
You'll notice that a lot of the smaller details are not on here. That's because
those are the kind of things you'd have to invent as you go along (as did I).
A word of warning: Even the best material WILL warp, when left in your
garage (or anywhere else for that matter). Get it "fresh" from the pile (check
to find the straightest pieces) when you need it, and as you need it. May cost
you a couple of extra trips to the lumberyard, but saves you a lot of trouble
trying to get a piece of ply that's bowed in every possible direction to fit into
SimPit 3D Model
(wmv format, is bigger and
can be downloaded)
SimPit 3D Model
Download SimPit Model
(for Google SketchUp)
(TO DOWNLOAD MODEL:
RIGH-CLICK LINK, THEN
CLICK "SAVE LINK AS")
Download Google SketchUp
If you don't know SketchUp
already, I recommend you try it
out. It's VERY easy to work with.
Will allow you to see this model
in 3D, check it out from every
angle and measure, and you can
then change it to suit you.
You can use this software to
create you own simpit, I wish
I had known about this before
I created mine!
This video was created with
a trial version of Fraps, then
put togeter in Windows Movie
Maker. Lost something in the
translation I guess, so the
quality leaves a lot to be desired.
Planning a layout
<< Click on pictures
The whole idea was to make a simpit that would house all the equipment and
controls that we had already, plus all extras that we could think of getting down
the road. It also needed to have room for all the little nicities that one might want
to have at hand during long flight hours (cup, ashtray, maps, phone, music etc).
And it should be as comfortable as possible for the users in the household.
I started out with a bunch of sketches. Fortunately all the vendors are very good
at putting exact measurements on their website, so it's easy to account for the
equipment that you don't actually have yet. Even so, I found it VERY helpful to
make cardboard-mockups of almost all of the monitors, controls etc. (especially
since I didn't have all of them at the planning stage). Then I stack and hang them
up all around me (using whatever aids are at hand), to get a feeling for how to
place the individual pieces.
In doing so, I soon had plenty of changes to my plans. Controls need to be within
easy reach, or they don't do you much good. A yoke needs to be set as low as
possible for a comfortable grip (and to render as much room above as possible
for monitors), but also needs to make room enough for your legs moving freely
with the rudders.
I also realized that standard monitors (3:4) were not the best choice, they tend to
be too high for comfortable viewing (but that's a personal preference), and giving
that widescreens are now the more common and less pricy, it was an easy choice.
The throttle for instance, needs to be in whatever height makes it comfortable to
use. I found that the standard setup for this particular throttle (flat on a table) is
rather uncomfortable, puts a lot of strain on your wrist, but tilting it in a 45° angle
makes it very easy to use (although more challenging to build in).
All the other GoFlight modules are 7.25" wide, either 2" or 4" high, and you'll
need to have a 3-4" spacing behind them for USB cable etc. I downloaded the
pictures off their website, resized and printed them, glued them on cardboard, and
voila, you have a mockup. (Grab them here if you want them >>>>>>)
You will need to spend some time in the airplanes you fly, mapping out which
controls you presently use on the panels (with mouse or keyboard), to plan out
which modules you might need to access those same controls.
The more you use a control, the closer to you it needs to be (i.e. Throttle & Trim)
so you can use it without even looking at it (you're busy flying). And you need to
make sure everything is lit enough for you to find the knobs and switches you're
using. That's one reason I chose the Deck keyboard. It's rather more expensive
than other keyboards, but it's extremely well made, exellently and apropriately lit
(this can be adjusted to taste), and it's short! Every inch is precious real estate in
a simpit - even if you have room to make it bigger than I made mine, your arms
can only reach so far, setting natural limits for the size of your pit.
Another thing you need to consider in your layout, is access. No matter which
shape and form your simpit will be, you need to have access to all the vital parts.
Space available to you will probably dictate some of your design, but you need
easy access to your main switches (you don't want to have to climb all over the
thing to get it up and running every time you want to fly), and you need to be able
to add or change a component, change a faulty cable, or just plug/unplug things
for testing, without having to tear the entire simpit apart.
One more thing to consider is, that hopefully your SimPit will give you joy for
many years to come. Unfortunately, some equipment might not last you "many
years". So you need to consider that you might need to exchange a monitor for
instance, in which case the way you built it in could make this prospect more or
less difficult. I just opgraded my PC, not really realizing how much bigger (in
physical size) this new one is. Fortunately for me it just fits in the back where
the old one was, but I should have thought of this beforehand. It's impossible to
take into account all what the future might bring, especially when it comes to
computers, but planning ahead goes a long way.
Yes, it does take quite a bit of planning beforehand. But what else are you gonna
do all those long winter evenings while you're waiting for your savings to reach the
level of your goals??
Paint and decor
<< Click on pictures >>
Paint and decor is of course optional, and very much a matter of preference and
taste. I will say this though: Painting makes the whole thing look nicer, makes it a
lot easier to clean, and hides an awful lot of sins (as in not-so-straight cuts or other
Also worth consideration is, that with a bit of paint and some decor, your work
suddenly changes from an odd looking box to a simpit. It looks more plane-like,
and will probably also make it more palatable for any non-flying members of
I'll say this once again: It's REAL important that you do your homework when it
comes to power consumption. Having your simpit flip your breakers when you
start it up, or having your simpit crash in mid-air because someone is starting a
vacuum-cleaner or a hairdryer in that circuit-area, is not much fun.
Find out how much power is available to you in the area you are putting your sim:
(NB: this is for USA)
Code only allows any circuit to be loaded 80 % of its rated load, and to be sure
there is absolutely no fire hazard, the 80% rule should be followed.
A 15 Amp circuit can carry only a total of 1440 watts, which is 80% of the
1800 watts found by mulitplying the volts times amps,15 x 120 x 80%= 1440.
A 20 Amp circuit can be loaded with 1920 Watts (120 x 20 x 80%).
Once you know the ampeage in the area, calculate how many other things are
or will be using power in that area (lights etc), subtract that from the total Watts
available, and you have your magic WAFS number (watts available for simpit).
Next you need to calculate if your planned simpit's power consumption is equal
to or (preferably) less than the WAFS. The equipment you already have should
be marked with the wattage, if not look it up on the manufacturers website. Same
procedure for equipment still on the wish list. Once you add it all up (and don't
forget all the little extras, such as lamps, clocks etc) you will know if your desired
simpit can actually run within your WAFS. If not, it's time to call the electrician.