It was a momentary idea when I browsed some simulation dedicated webs. I like and enjoy various flight simulations, however my primary interest belongs to Il-2 Sturmovik. My simulated flying started originally with MSFS 3 (in 1988!!) with pure keyboard control. Almost immediately I found that when you want to feel more realistic you have to use some analogue (continuous) control device. MSFS 3 can use mouse to simulate flight stick, what for the first time improved my feeling of reality and also aircraft behavior got better. After some time there came the fall of communist regime in my country (Slovak republic) and with improved economics I purchased my first home PC (some Intel DX2 ;-) ) and later a real joystick. My immersion to sim flying dramatically increased with it but also a demand for more precise controls had revealed. I found differences in quality and endurance of various control equipments. Gradually I started to use throttle control together with stick.

In one period of my pilot's development I started to fly helicopters with full realism setting. That was point when I found a chopper cannot be flown without pedals. I didn't find any brand to fully suit my needs so I built them
on my own. As far as for a joystick/throttle my last acquisition is Thrustmaster Hotas Cougar; I'm mostly satisfied with it. It was upgraded thank to Cubpilot with contactless Hall sensors with almost endless life and perfect stability. Pedals are equipped with Halls as well.

That gear gave me quite high level of flight realism and precision over aircraft control.
However sometime in 2009 I got the idea to build a cockpit to achieve more authenticity of feelings with aircraft handling. Thank to my father I like (and have some skill) to build various home appliances and gadgets so the cockpit building posed an attractive challenge for me. So I started :-)

The first thing to start with is a thorough study of various cockpit constructions on Internet. There are some useful links I found:

http://www.ctv.es/USERS/matradi/cockpit.htm

http://mypage.direct.ca/b/bsimpson/byoc~1a.html

http://www.wildfire-productions.com/atd-homemade/

The first one surprisingly gave me the most valuable ideas how to begin a construction while all another brought me the courage and high respect to all builders. So I purchased an old car seat (Czech made Skoda), placed it on the floor and started to measure with help of usual home objects posing as imitation of pedals, side panels etc.


        First of all I decided to make "average" cockpit without close resemblance to any particular type. I fly second war propeller fighters most of time so I wanted something what will make me to feel like in Messerschmitt or Spitfire (at least with my eyes closed :-) ). Another important thing is correct placement and proportionality in relations between seat, pedals, stick, throttle and screen in front of me. The screen size was picked up according "golden rule" also mentioned in the first link: usual field of vision when you do not move your eyes is about 45°. That gave 22" monitor in my case with about 76 cm distance from my eyes. Gradually I begun to draw the whole situation. I used Google SketchUp what proofed to be of an excellent help for me. This way I made a drawing of cockpit step-by-step with all important measures. You can download it here.


So far so good…

In the next step I extracted the shapes of main component boards to know how much material I need. Material is MFB 18 mm thick (in pieces 2x1 m), raw surfaced, so it needed later at least two layers of fast drying varnish. Side panels, front panel and front cover board is black coated 18 mm MFB (the most right board in picture). SketchUp file here.


I purchased the boards at Baumax-x with advantage that they are able to cut any rectangle shape for customer with millimeter precision so I had to make at home only necessary cuts (the most dirty work especially in living room :-) )
The boards are connected together with wooden pins and screws. Details can be seen in pictures. The building started from the base board.  Internal space for seat is 60 cm wide, from this we can derive points for holes where wooden pins will be inserted to lock into vertical side boards. Note that my construction is a bit asymmetrical (middle line where the seat should center is 40 cm from left but 42 cm from right side). This has a "historical" reason, from my first analyze it seemed that amplitude of joystick at the right side will need 2 cm more space. Also for 18 mm MFB I counted roughly 2 cm. After drilling the holes and gluing the pins in base board I attached roller legs on the lower side.
Vertical side boards have a connecting pins on outer surface to connect to side "elbow" panels and side parts of the front panel. Backfront board (it's not included in SketchUp drawing, however it's dimensions can be simply extracted) has also two pins on each vertical side.
Here you can see the basic core after assembling and painting with nitrocellulose varnish.
In the next step I mounted side horizontal panels, supported with lower half ribs. Again the correct shape can be derived from SketchUp drawing.
The half rib with panel creates a cradle for the throttle or joystick. Bases of cradles are made from dumped pieces of MFB. Its thickness must be counted in the shape of a rib.

Then the side parts of sloped front panel were mounted, also connected with wooden pins. The outer outline is in fact elliptical (cylinder cut) however circle is a good approximation.
Middle part of front panel is a support
for keyboard. It is mounted on so called piano hinge and supported with furniture latch in two possible positions.
The keyboard is held in place with two clamps.
Basic construction is finished by mounting of upper desk and cradle for monitor from which I dismounted the leg.
Originally I didn't intend to have any avionics in cockpit. But since I wanted to place the computers in front part (right in front of pedals) I had to resolve how to start and reset them. I use two comps, FreeBSD firewall and main station with windoze. The left panel is a solution, all necessary controls are wired there.
Controls comprise two capped switches (to reset comps
:-) ) and other components, everything can be ordered from www.aviationmegastore.com for instance. Panel is made from Perspex and coated with special printable films (look for Lomond brand).
The bottom foil is black and white on clear film for light masking and the top is the same motif in navy blue on white transparent film to look naturally in day light. Films are self-adhesive. The back side of Perspex is sanded for better light dispersion. The panel is illuminated from the back side with white led stripes powered from 12V ATX source of one comp.
Another series of LEDs (they can be cut in series by three) are used to illuminate the keyboard.
With new cockpit I reconstructed my pedals too, they are fitted with wheel brakes (obviously with Hall sensors). They are wired to connect directly to Thrustmaster HOTAS Cougar so I can utilize its calibration and programming features. And finally... here is the result:

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