If you are a gear head and like to buy stuff, get into flight simulation. I’ve seen home-built cockpits for Boeing 737’s that are practically indistinguishable from the real thing, and cost well into the six-figure range. Yikes!
My rig is substantially more modest than that, costing just under $7,000, including construction materials (which were insubstantial compared to the high-tech stuff).
Here are the highlights of my system:
- Intel i7 7700k @ 4.2 GHz, overclocked to 4.6 GHz
- 32 GB RAM
- GTX 1080Ti video card with 11 GB VRAM
- 512 GB SSD main drive
- 4 TB hybrid data drive
- 8 TB USB 3.0 backup hard drive
- (3) 32″ flat-panel monitors (non-4K)
- (2) USB powered hubs
- APC 1500 battery backup UPS
- X-Plane v11.x from Laminar Research
- Windows 10 Home
- 22″ Planar touch screen displaying all dials, gauges and switches running Air Manager by SimInnovations
- Saitek Pro Rudder Pedals
- Thrustmaster H.O.T.A.S. Warthog stick and throttle
- Buttkicker Gamer 2 vibration transducer
I also wear a HyperX Cloud X headset, connected with a ROCCA Juke USB sound card adapter, when flying with air traffic control (VATSIM).
This simulator rig is built into a standard closet in a spare room. I originally used corrugated plastic panels above and on the sides to make it feel enclosed; it’s open in the back. I’ve since rebuilt the entire cockpit enclosure to have side walls where I’ve mounted two of my 32″ flat panel displays (roughly in the same position as windows in a Cessna 172), with a roof overhead.
I originally used Saitek avionics and switch panels mounted in a VolairSim cockpit panel. I sold all that to a small airport in Jackson, Michigan and switched to a H.O.T.A.S. system with all my cockpit gauges displayed on a 22″ touch screen monitor.
The bulk of the expense was split evenly between the computer system and the various avionics and control devices. I purchased the system custom built from X-Force PC based in North Carolina. They build the test rigs for Laminar Research, so I knew it would be built with optimum reliability and performance. It was a great decision, as the price wasn’t much different than if I had built the system by hand with the same hardware.