what do I need for my home flight simulator cockpit?flight simulator 2020

WHAT DO I NEED FOR MY HOME FLIGHT SIMULATOR COCKPIT?

Flight simulator games seem to be making a big comeback - casual combat flight sims like War Thunder and Elite Dangerous, as well as the more hardcore Microsoft Flight SImulator 2020, X-Plane 11 and Prepar3D, are finding an increasing audience. These flight sims almost always play better with a full flight simulation cockpit, however building such a cockpit is no easy task. To guide you through the jungle of possibilities, we put together a guide that explains exactly which parts you need!

A flight simulation cockpit can be as advanced or simple as you want. How many instruments, extra screens and control panels are needed also largely depends on which games you want to play: for Elite Dangerous only a flight stick is sufficient, while for Flight Simulator X, X-Plane 11 or Prepar3D a more complete cockpit with yoke and throttle quadrant is better suited.

flight simulator home cockpitflight sim home cockpit

FLIGHT STICK AND YOKE

The basic part of any flight simulator cockpit is a flight stick. Flying with mouse and keyboard is possible in all flight simulator games, however, to get the best flight simulator experience a flight stick is more authentic. Which is of course the reason for building a flight simulation cockpit at all.

FLight sticks come in two flavors: yokes and joysticks. Yokes are more often used for commercial airliners or civil airplanes like a cessna 172. A yoke can turn ninety degrees to either side to make the plane roll, and can be pushed forward or backward to push the nose down or up. Joyticks actually do the same thing, but are a lot more compact and often cheaper.

Joysticks
On the left a stick, on the right a yoke
Because yokes are most common on airliners and light sports aircraft, these airplanes are often chosen for 'serious' simulators such as Flight Simulator X (FSX), X-Plane 11 or Prepar3D. Logitech (formerly Saitek), Honeycomb and Virtualfly make yokes for the PC.

There is considerably more choice for joysticks, which is mainly due to the aircraft where control sticks are usually found: fighter aircraft. Joyticks are therefore widely used in combat simulators such as DCS World and IL-2 and arcade simulators such as War Thunder and Elite Dangerous.

Popular choices for a joystick are the Warthog Flight Stick and the T.16000M from Thrustmaster.
For those who are buying the throttle quadrant separately, we recommend the following options: - Thrustmaster TWCS Throttle
Thrustmaster Warthog Dual Throttles
Saitek Throttle Quadrant
GOFLIGHT TQ6 Throttle Quadrant
 
 

THROTTLE 

Not only to give the plane direction with a stick or yoke is useful, but to create lift and move the plane forward, you need a throttle. This is the second basic part required to create a simple flight simulation cockpit.

The combination of the throttle and a flight stick is quite common for simple flight simulators and is indicated by the term HOTAS, short for Hands On Throttle And Stick. Because of this popularity, most sticks are bundled with a matching throttle, based on the models found in fighter planes.

HOTAS
For yokes on the other hand, there is no current model which has an build-in throttle. Since yokes can often be found in simulation cockpits built for commercial aircraft, manufacturers such as:
Thrustmaster TWCS Throttle 
Thrustmaster Warthog Dual Throttles  
Saitek Throttle Quadrant
GOFLIGHT TQ6 Throttle Quadrant

throttle quadrant for flight simulator
rudder pedals for flight simulator

PEDALS

Pedals operate the rudder on an aircraft (the nose wheel on the ground) and the tail rotor on a helicopter. Some flight sticks have the ability to simulate the movement of the pedals by turning the handle counterclockwise and clockwise. If there is no room for pedals in your setup, this spin is a reasonable alternative, but it's less authentic than actually being able to press a pedal.

Unlike a flight stick / yoke or throttle, pedals are optional for most flight sims, especially combat simulators like War Thunder. However, they are highly recommended in more serious simulators like FSX and X-Plane and Prepar3D. Pedals are a must when simulating helicopters, because the precise movement required when operating a helicopter cannot be reconciled with the rotation of the flight stick.

Like the other parts of a flight simulator cockpit, you can spend hundreds of dollars on pedals, especially if you have a few custom made by a fellow hobbyist. On the other hand, on the affordable side of the spectrum, are the LogitechG Saitek Rudder pedals , TPR Rudder System , Virtual Fly Ruddo +.

COCKPIT PANELS

With all the above parts you can already simulate the most common actions in an airplane, but much smaller things such as changing frequencies or folding out the landing gear are still forced via a keyboard. In addition, the instruments, such as the Primary Flight Display and Navigation Display, will also have to be displayed on the bottom of the screen. This partially obscures the view of the surroundings, or gives the need to purchase an extra screen.

To solve this problem, there is now a wide range of panels: a collective name for modules with physical instruments and controls that you can build into your cockpit. Thanks to these panels you don't have to remember dozens of keyboard shortcuts and your screens are free to show the view from the cockpit, instead of an instrument panel.

Logitech, GoFlight, Cockpitcraft and Virtualfly have the widest range of panels, with the Logitech panels being affordable, compact and quite simple, while GoFlight, Virtualfly and Cockpitcraft have a wide collection of panels you can choose from. The Logitech panels are plug and play and only require a USB connection. The GoFlight modules, on the other hand, require a little more expertise to set up, but provide a much more authentic experience. The big disadvantage of that extra authenticity is the cost: a complete GoFlight simulation cockpit can easily cost a few thousand euros. If you want to take it a step further then you can even buy actual parts of a real Boeing 737 or Airbus A320

home flight simulator cockpit by saitekhome 737 plug & play cockpit

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