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Build Your Own Boeing 737 Simulator 274

crux6rind writes "This guy built his own Boeing 737-700 simulator in his garage. The simulator uses elements of a retired Continental B-737-100 along with other genuine Boeing 737 avionics and system components. The simulator will be of the fixed-base variety (no motion, just outside visuals), using Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000, interfaced with R&R Electronics' EPIC system. This system allows you to interface switches, lights, buzzers, gauges, digital readouts with virtually any PC flight simulator out there."
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Build Your Own Boeing 737 Simulator

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  • Boat (Score:4, Funny)

    by buck_wild ( 447801 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @10:56PM (#6197025)
    So who'd rather fly a boat than a sexy Stealth?
    • Re:Boat (Score:3, Informative)

      by mnemonic_ ( 164550 )
      The B-2 Spirit would probably have inferior handling characteristics to a 737 in terms of top speed, turning rate and radius, and climbing rate. It probably has a higher maximum altitude and no doubt much longer range, inherent to the flying wing design. The F-117 Nighthawk would probably be a bit snappier, though I've heard it's pretty "wobbly" ("Wobblin' Goblin").

      Neither would compare to flying a supersonic fighter.
      • It's always interesting to see these people trying to build cockpits, etc. using microsoft flight simulator, and they always end up with a couple of computer monitors, and some attempt to get more than one screen working with it.

        At work, we have simulation software which allows you to connect arbitrary numbers of computers, monitors, projectors, cockpit switches, etc. to a simulation. LCD screens with dials on? No problem. Put a panel in front of them with cut-outs, and they look like real instruments. Mu
      • Yeah, I'm sure flying stealthbombers is what every flight sim fan's dreams are made of. Try something more logical (and sexy), like the F-22 []. Or, if you still can't get over your bomber fetish, at least comprimise with an FB-22 [].
    • Re:Boat (Score:2, Funny)

      by ummcdou4 ( 469863 )
      Try getting parts for a stealth though!
  • Kaboom (Score:5, Funny)

    by NETHED ( 258016 ) * on Friday June 13, 2003 @10:58PM (#6197037) Homepage
    He paid 25,000 - 30,000 USD for the stuff currently. I figure thats about how much this slashdotting will cost him in bandwidth.


    but this is uber cool anyway. I had a difficult time understanding the timeline of the pictures, but still, very cool. As an avid Sim Pilot and a student pilot, this is the holy grail of sim-ers.

    • Re:Kaboom (Score:5, Informative)

      by NETHED ( 258016 ) * on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:10PM (#6197104) Homepage
      spare him!!

      Uploading the gallery right now
      MIRROR HERE []
    • If he paid so much for this... Why not just buy a real plane... Some of the new kit planes could easily be had for this sum...
    • I love it! I wish I coulda bought stuff of my old airline's 737-100 (the last -100 that flew in america, we called it "death jet")

      I love flight simming, and got to play with some of the real stuff when I worked for the airlines, cool stuff. Best part was once sitting jumpseat on an A320 Lufthansa flight, I resisted the urge to tell the pilots "hey, that's just like Microsoft Flight Sim!!"

    • He paid 25,000 - 30,000 USD for the stuff currently

      Yeah, of course he could've invested that money in a formal pilot training, but there's nothing quite as much fun as pretending, is there? ;-)

      Btw. there was a similar article many moons ago on /. but I suppose since its more than 3 minutes ago that wouldn't count as a dupe.
  • by philhy ( 532776 )
    boy that /. effect is no sim...
  • DOH! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:03PM (#6197065) Homepage
    Build Your Own Boeing 737 Simulator - if you happen to have a spare 737 lying around to build it from!

    • Here's my recipe for a Space Shuttle simulator:

      1. acquire real life Space Shuttle cockpit (finished external nose cone and thermal tiles optional)
      2. replace key parts of the instrumentation with a keyboard, joystick and some monitors
      3. install this []
      4. ???
      5. profit
  • whats more amazing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by papasui ( 567265 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:04PM (#6197074) Homepage
    is that he can fit it in his garage.
  • by mrsam ( 12205 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:04PM (#6197075) Homepage
    Does the simulator keep track of how fast the virtual airline is burning up cash, and how long before they go bankrupt?

    And, of course, no airplane cockpit is complete, these days, without a Breathalyzer.
    • by BWJones ( 18351 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:12PM (#6197110) Homepage Journal
      Does the simulator keep track of how fast the virtual airline is burning up cash, and how long before they go bankrupt?

      I know this is funny, but the interesting bit is that those airlines who have standardized on a single airframe type (say, the 737) are actually doing quite well. They only have one type of aircraft to train crews on, one type of aircraft to purchase parts for, one type of aircraft to pay gate fees for etc...etc...etc...

      Now, I am no fan of flying on Southwest, but it does make for a compelling business model.

      • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Saturday June 14, 2003 @05:44AM (#6198209) Homepage
        This is the area which has made Airbus popular enough to unseat Boeing (in terms of aircraft shipped per year, I think it was either last year or this year that they went ahead for the first time).

        Because they had the advantage of starting from scratch fairly recently nearly all of their aircraft have common cockpits, common handling characteristics, common spares and other things designed to save the operator money when running a mixed airbus fleet.

        This is great for people like BA and American who operate short and long haul fleets, as it gives them the chance to be able to interchange pilots, mechanics and some parts between the A318 (tiny, ~100 seats) and the A380 (huge, ~800+ seats) without retraining.
    • You forgot the guns. THE GUNS!
    • UAL is actually reporting that they may re-emerge from bankruptcy sooner than expected, possibly next Spring. They're planning on launching another budget carrier to compete directly with jetBlue, which is the only carrier whose revenues have increased since 9-11.

      P.S. personally I doubt that they can match jetBlue's free satellite TV on A320's with *all* leather seats + blue potato chips + low prices. UAL will give the new carrier the backing though to compete on international routes though, jetBlue cur
    • $30k for a flight simulator and all he has to snack on are moldy peanuts...
    • It sounds like this virtual airline [] will be running out of cash very soon.
  • he couldn't build a Beowolf Simulator to keep his site from getting /.ed

  • Smithers, I've designed a new plane. I call it the Spruce Moose, and it will carry 200 passengers from the New Yorkâ(TM)s Idlewild airport to the Belgium Congo in 17 minutes!
    • Burns: We can take the Spruce Moose! Hop in, Smithers!

      Smithers: But sir....

      Burns (pointing a gun at Smithers): I said, hop in....

  • A Continental jet cockpit? How ironically funny [] if he could make it Linux-powered...
  • Give credit where credit is due. This and others are in the current June/July 2003 issue [] of Air and Space Smitsonian [] magazine. Links from the artcicle: You're welcome.

    Let's try not to Slashdot 'em too badly.
  • Taking it away... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stoney27 ( 36372 )
    So how long do we give the Feds to come in and determine that it is in National Security interests to confiscate the hole thing.
  • to practice how to land.
  • One year ago. (Score:4, Informative)

    by bflame ( 21224 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:23PM (#6197171)
    Iwas just over a year ago /. had another article just like this about a guy who built a 747 cockpit. []

    Check it out.
  • by dmerchant ( 681401 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:23PM (#6197177)
    There are some 200 people (over a dozen using real aircraft fuselages) who are building home built simulators of aircraft and other things. I am helping to build a F-15C simulator, for more information see the July issue of "Smithsonian Air and Space". The task is really quite involved many of the people within the /. community would find that this is a very engaging hobby. One that involves every skill they ever learned and forces them to learn new skills as well. The very idea that these people are doing case mods that look like aircraft to run some of instruments would interest the /. community.
  • A 737 is a cute little plane... Remember when Slashdot covered [] this guy's [] 747 Simulator?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I plan on pumping some fat unix administrator full of helium and tethering him above my computer.
  • 'nuff said.
  • He Spent 30K (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PPGMD ( 679725 )
    I can buy you a gem of a Piper Cherokee for that, then you would be flying for real.

    *shrugs* That's about how much I have spent on all my flying minus the money I made by doing a little instruction and commercial flying.
    • Screw the piper, for 30gs you could get yourself a ready to fly Loehle P51 Mustang replica []. Or if building's your thing then the airframe kit for the 5151 is only $10k (add engine, instruments).

      I don't understand these people that spend BIG dollars on building a heavy-iron simulator, I could understand if they built a light plane sim if they have a disqualifying medical condition (like me, I'm insulin-dependant), but why do people have this fascination with flying LONG stretches, mostly over sea or so hi

      • True but it isn't certfied. Personally my dream home built is quite a bit more, Lancair 4P Turbine. Hehe at least 300kts cruise.
      • Just out of curosity(sp) whats the maintance costs of your plane, I'm guess it gets big pritty quickly.
        • Hah, my plane, hah, yea, I wish buddy. I can't even afford to fly my clubs plane at the moment, let alone buy one of my own.

          However, to answer your question. Like anything, the more you use your plane, the cheaper it is "per hour" to use it. Microlights/ultralights are self-maintained which reduces the costs.
    • Where do you get a Piper Cherokee for $30k? Maybe used, but from what I've seen of airplane pricing (IANA pilot, but my dad is), all $30k will get you is a good share of a plane at a flight club.
      • Trade a plane. $32k is what I sold a IFR PA-28-140 for, a real gem, I loved flying it.

        And I have quite a few other ones for around that price, mostly the two seat models. You can find quite a few C172s for that price too.
      • Well, if you can get the fuselage and maybe the engine for $30k, I'd say that's a damn fine deal...

        Of course, I expect that little to none of the avionics, radios, or much of anything else is included. Would have to buy all of that later.

    • hmmmm, $30k? hell, i'd just take 6 months off from working, boring simulator be damned
  • I Love it but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ratso Baggins ( 516757 ) on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:37PM (#6197232) Homepage
    Instead of the lame little (even at 21inch) CRT, why not get a reasonable LCD projector and a screen a few feet in front of the beast and look out the windscreen at it? Like they do with some real simulators...
  • by mnemonic_ ( 164550 ) <> on Friday June 13, 2003 @11:41PM (#6197249) Homepage Journal
    This isn't any more of a full blown simulator than any of the other cockpit building projects. Flight sim enthusiasts have been building their own cockpits using EPIC cards for years- one person even used an old F-15 nose section that was rotting away at a museum and refurbished it completely.

    Building F-16 cockpits is pretty popular, interfaced with Falcon 4.0 which is easily the most realistic combat sim all around (yes, Flanker 2.5 and Il-2 probably have better flight models). Here are some current F-16 cockpit projects:
    http://home m/

    One convenient thing about building an F-16 cockpit is the Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS joystick & throttle, which are exact replicas of the HOTAS system used in the F-16; all metal and accurate down to the lettering next to the buttons.

    Again, this is not an uncommon thing in the flight sim world. Some go as far as purchasing flight suits and helmets to wear while flying in their virtual worlds.
    • And they laughed at that guy that Anarchy Online guy []...

      Seriously though, sounds like a lot of fun (and money). Now maybe I need to get a Sherman tank or a King Tiger in my back yard as a Day of Defeat [] simulator!
    • Again, this is not an uncommon thing in the flight sim world. Some go as far as purchasing flight suits and helmets to wear while flying in their virtual worlds.

      Now that's just fucking sad. Then again, some people buy shirts with gold bars on the epaulettes, WWII replica flying jackets and the like just to fly their Cessnas. That's fucking sad too.
  • Didn't I see this here about a year ago? Or am I remember ign things about the XPlane project that this guy happened to be linked to?
  • Well, Fine! I'll go build my own simulator.

    With Black-jack...and hookers.

    In fact, forget the Black-jack!

    Awe, screw the whole thing.
  • It is well known that terrorists use flight simulators to learn how to fly the aircraft they hijack. This one is inexpensive enough for terrorists to build themselves, and uses off-the-shelf Microsoft technology.

    This confirms what we already knew: Microsoft is responsible for terrorism. I think it's time we locked up Gates and Ballmer under the Patriot Act.
  • Build one of these and stick it in the front of this []
  • about flightgear (Score:2, Informative)

    it will run on linux, mac, and of course the hated and feared os ms windows. it is free to d/l but is 23$ a disk for a copy of all the variations, documentation, and as much north american sceenery as possible. $15 for one of the sceenery disks and $70 for the set of 8
  • More interestin info can be found at this interesting /. thread about a "guy building a 747 simulator in his backyard! []"
  • Home-built 747 Simulator [], and we all know that 747's are the real bad boys of the sky.

  • I suspect he'll be 'detained for questioning' any day now by the feds.
  • by KezMaefele ( 527550 ) on Saturday June 14, 2003 @02:13AM (#6197763)
    I work in the flight sim business developing software. I was in the commercial side of things (Lear, Cessna, 777, etc) for a couple of years and most of the host software is written in Fortran. Now I am in the military side of things (Apache, Commanche, F18, etc.) Fortran and Ada form the basis for much of the host code. It is an ugly depressing world down in the bowels of the host code for these high tech sims. The Visuals, networking (HLA), and newer systems are starting to propogate towards newer code. It is interesting to see the mish-mash build for such huge projects. CGF (computer generated forces), SAF, IOS (instructor operating staions), are typically of a more modern paradigm, but they interface with Ada and Fortran code that drives the host simulation. You have never seen so many global variables in you life. GOTO's abound. It is a wonder to me at times how the systems work at all. But diligence and hours and hours of trainer time seem to work out most of the bugs. I usually get 10 or so hours a week on a trainer and most of the time don't even fire up the engines and fly it around. At first it is the ultimate video game, but after a while, it is just a job and deadlines have to be met and my code must work. Flight Sims are amazing engineering projects involving hundred of engineers and millions of lines of code. It is imposible for one engineer to know the inner working of all the systems (although I think my cubie might). It is definately an exciting and satisfying industry to get into as a young engineer or software geek, but be prepared to get out that old FORTRAN book from your freshman year in college because you will need it. Oh yeah, and brush up on your Ada. And you better know Unix/Linux. Windows don't play in the real time sim world. All of our systems are progressing from proprietary Unix systems (SGI-IRIX) and the like to Linux (RedHat). Host, visual, IG, networking. All of it eventually will be Linux based PC systems. The cost savings are too important to ignore. And we have the inhouse know-how to run on any system. Why not the cheapest?
  • I was watching the Discovery channel, and saw a show about pilot training or something, and it compared the American training sims (with real cockpit controls, digital displays surrounding the pilot, etc) and Soviet ones (where the viewable area around the pilot was broken down into 6 or so sections where the picture on each section was actually printed on a roll, and the rolls would all scroll back and forth with the pilots movements to try and provide a realistic setting for the aircrafts movements).

  • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Saturday June 14, 2003 @03:32AM (#6197969) Homepage Journal
    In my six years at Boeing (and I'm told that, given the layoffs, I did well to last that long), I was fortunate enough to be able to 'fly' the full-motion 747 sim, as well as the fixed-base 737 NextGen.

    Although the full-motion is definitely what I'd class as a "wild ride" in terms of convincing one's senses (ever try to land a 747 on only two engines?), I found that (much to my surprise) the fixed-base sims can produce many of the same sensations, simply by the projected movement on the window displays.

    In other words: When I went into a climb in the fixed-base unit, it still felt like I was tilting up despite the fact that there were no motion components to move the cab around. Same thing when I went into a turn. I caught myself leaning into it, and feeling like it was really happening, just as I did during my private pilot training.

    While fixed-base may not provide the full experience, it most definitely provides enough to effectively fool the senses if it's done right. And it sounds like this fellow did it right.

  • by Cyclone66 ( 217347 ) on Saturday June 14, 2003 @01:32PM (#6199960) Homepage Journal
    You can buy your own simulator here []. The "Tropos" system even uses a custom ATI Chipset.
  • This guy [] built a replica space shuttle cockpit, complete with missions to run.

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.