You just decided for an exciting new hobby which can greatly enhance your skills and knowledge in many interesting areas – if you are just willing to.
When you decide to build up your own home cockpit, planning becomes a highly important factor. Your early decisions will greatly affect, if you have to deal with lots of workarounds or modifications in the later progress of your project – or not. That’s why it is important to become clear about the limiting factors in this hobby. Those are: Time, Money and the Grade of Realism.
When people hear that I’m building an Airbus A320 Cockpit in my basement they often ask “When will it be finished?” Okay, first they mostly don’t believe it 🙂
Well, to be honest – a home cockpit is not a project that is finished within one year. Even if you’re buying a complete Simulator, you will first have to learn and understand, how the aircraft and its systems work. This project can be a life companion and it can open you doors to many interesting areas, for example Online-Flying (But more about this in a future post.)
The duration of your building phase is mainly affected by the DIY-factor. If you want to (or have to) create many parts by yourself, you will definitly need much more time. But don’t be discouraged though! A true home cockpit project will never really be finished, because there’s always something to improve. And that’s what I’m answering people to the above question. The sentence “The journey is the reward” fits it best.
Many decisions during your home cockpit project will be influenced by the fact, if money is a good friend of yours. Even if many builders tend to say: Home cockpit is a very expensive hobby – My opinion is that you can easily go pro in every hobby with the latest equipment and materials, if you are just throwing enough money at it. But I can guarantee, you will definitely have less fun and recognition when choosing that Option. Alternatively, you could just buy what’s essentially necessary or what makes a lot of sense. My post #3 Make or Buy will deal with that challenge.
As you are building a Simulator, your aspirations on realism have a big impact on the amount of time and money you will need to spend. For example, here are some options how you could realize your home cockpit in cost-descending order:
- > 100,000 Euros: You can buy a complete retired genuine Airbus Nose-Section from aircraft-recycling companies like AELS
- > 50,000 Euros: You can buy a complete replica cockpit from suppliers like Vier im Pott or Opencockpits
- > 200 Euros: You can buy OEM Airbus parts or replica parts from suppliers around the world like Skalarki-Electronics or Opencockpits
- > 50 Euros: You can buy the instrument panels, buttons, switches and backlight from suppliers and mount and connect them by yourself
- > 25 Euros: You can create even the panels and the korries by yourself from acrylic glass and paint
To bring it all together: The less money you can invest, the bigger becomes the DIY-part and the more time you will need to make substantial progress. But needless to say – making things yourself is much more interesting than just buying parts! 🙂
My personal opinion is, that a combination of buying and self making will get you the best experience out of this project. My post #3 Make or Buy will give you a detailed view on which things are suitable respectively easy to make, and which parts may be better purchased.
Requirements to You
You may ask, if your skills are sufficient for this? Here’s a list of knowledge-fields that are mainly touched by a home cockpit project:
- Woodwork (Sawing, Screwing, Glueing, Filling, Painting)
- Computer Skills (Installing and Configuring Software and Hardware)
- Electricity (Wiring Components, being fairly familiar with Voltage, Amperage and Resistors)
I think the fewest will consist about expertise in all three areas. As my profession is IT, I first had to appropriate the other fields. I think everyone can do it, if he or she is really willing to do this.
Struggeling and Motivation
Take it as a challenge to expand your skills. Of course I’ve had failures, too. Learn from them, learn from others. Share your project in home cockpit communities, maybe meet with other enthusiasts and improve your skills step by step.
If you don’t feel like cockpit building some day, or you don’t make significant progress over weeks, just let go for some time! Do something completely different. After some time passed by, get it on again with new energy and you will find a solution for your problem!