I sold my Saitek gear and cockpit panel

I have been flying in my home simulator based on a Cessna 172 cockpit for almost two years now. My gear is focused on the tactile fidelity of a real cockpit, using a yoke and throttle quadrant and simulated gauges. Everything runs wonderfully with X-Plane 11 and is super easy to configure. This is probably the most common and well-supported gear you can get for a home cockpit.

Lately I have been wanting to fly other types of aircraft, including fighter jets, and the narrowly focused nature of my gear doesn’t handle the versatility I need. As a result, I have sold all of my current avionics (other than my rudder pedals) and am switching to a touch screen for gauges and a Thrustmaster H.O.T.A.S. ‘Warthog’ joystick and throttle for flight controls.

I have sold the following items as a package to a small airport in Michigan.

Saitek Pro Flight Yoke and Throttle quadrant.

Saitek Flight Instrument Panels (six gauges).

Saitek Radio Panel.

Saitek Switch Panel.

Saitek Multi-panel.

Volair Sim Avionics Cockpit Panel. Read this thorough review: https://www.avsim.com/home/reviews/hardware/review-avionics-panel-by-volair-r3904/

Saitek flight instrument panel
Saitek radio panel
Saitek switch panel
Saitek multi panel
Volair Sim avionics cockpit panel
Cockpit panel showing blanks

YouTube: X-Plane flight from Troutdale to Aurora

Recently I videotaped a simulated flight from Troutdale, OR [KTTD] to Aurora, OR [KUAO]. The aircraft was the default Cessna 172 with the Reality Expansion Pack installed.

This was on my home flight simulator, which runs X-Plane 11.25 on a Windows 10 machine with an i7 processor (4.2 GHz overclocked to 4.6 GHz), 32 GB RAM, and a GTX 1080i video card. I was getting an average of 31 frames per second during the flight. I use three 32″ flat panel monitors, Saitek FIP gauges, yoke, throttle quadrant, and rudder pedals. I also use Saitek radio, switch, and multi-function devices.

You can view the flight on YouTube here.

This was more a test of how to videotape and record audio of my flight simulator than it was to portray an actual simulated flight (so please forgive my flying ability, lack of ATC, etc.)

If you want to teach, here’s a great example

I recently decided to take up guitar again. I used to play back in the 90’s and gave it up when I traded my guitar rig (Epiphone Les Paul and Line 6 POD) for a laptop around 2003 or 2004. I messed around with bass guitar for about a year and had some fun with that, but I wasn’t playing it often enough to continue so I sold my bass.

Recently I bought another Les Paul and a Digitech multi-effects pedal and decided to try my hand at electric guitar once again. I was never very good at it, but I always enjoyed it.

Training videos didn’t exist the last time I had an electric guitar. My, how times have changed! With the advent of YouTube, you can practically watch videos explaining how to perform brain surgery in the comfort of your own home (where is Gary Larson when you need him?)

The first thing I searched for were charts of scales and chords. Those are easy enough to find and print out. The next thing I searched for were YouTube videos produced by guitar teachers. I found the best there is:

JustinGuitar.com

Justin has been teaching guitar for most of his career and is a natural. There are those who are great at something but can’t teach it effectively. There are those who are great teachers but not that great at the skill itself. Justin is both. After watching some of his videos and reviewing his web site (I’m now a member), it’s obvious he’s both a very hard worker and a genuinely nice chap.

Membership to JustinGuitar.com is free, although donations are happily accepted. His videos are freely available on YouTube, although I strongly suggest those that are interested in learning guitar sign up for a free membership and make a donation. Its cheaper than in-person lessons and you can watch them in any order you wish, as often as you wish, or watch the same ones multiple times.

One of the biggest advantages of setting up an account at JustinGuitar.com is the lesson plans. Justin maps out lesson courses based on your skill level and goals. Following the lesson plans are easy and you can check each lesson off as you complete them.

Justin’s teaching style is very approachable and he has an affable personality that makes the beginner feel very comfortable and at ease.

One of the things I’m impressed about the most, though, is Justin’s approach to teaching in general. It is thorough yet approachable, it is complete yet easy to follow, and it is encouraging throughout the entire experience. Justin not only has a knack for teaching, but he has an organized approach and method that I think would be a valuable lesson to anyone seeking to teach others.

Justin, good on ya!

Windows updates and maintaining a flight simulation system

After a recent Windows 10 update from Microsoft, many features of my flight simulator (running X-Plane v11.21) stopped working. Specifically, all of my Saitek Flight Instrument Panel (FIP) gauges stopped working, and my Buttkicker stopped as well.

To get the FIP gauges working again, I had to reset their USB power management settings. The Windows update reverts those settings back to their default state. Why does an operating system feel it has the authority to change user-managed settings like this? Turning their power management back to off is a tedious process.

The Buttkicker stopped working because the software that manages the sound signals stopped working and had to be reinstalled. It also changed the assignment of which sound device fed the Buttkicker its sounds. Again, why does Windows do this?

After a bit of tedious settings management and some more trial and error, I got everything working again. The simulator is running normally.

On the X-Plane side, after updating it, I noticed the Cirrus Vision default airplane starts off with its control surfaces defaulted to full-left, making it impossible to fly. Calibrating the yoke and rudder pedals doesn’t fix it. Finally, X-Plane 11.21 gives me a warning that my Reality Expansion Pack Cessna 172 won’t look right. I click the OKAY button and then fly it as normal. I can’t tell what’s different visually.

After going through all this, I’ve since disabled Windows updates. Having a tightly controlled system like this requires only modifying it when necessary, and random changes imposed by OS updates can cause a lot of headaches. I only use this system for flight simulation, and it is well protected behind dual firewalls, so I’m not concerned about security. I don’t even surf the web from that machine.