Diy flight simulator stand

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More DIY Flight Sim Completions in the Expanded Customer Gallery

I added more pictures of DIY Flight Sim completions to the new expanded Customer Gallery. Note there are now three distinct examples of customers adding the popular Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS joystick to the #F DIY Center Joystick Frame.


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Thrustmaster Warthog and other Additions

Several customers modified the #F Center Joystick project slightly to accommodate the Thrustmaster Warthog joystick. They did this by shortening the center joystick stand by several inches and then bolting on the joystick. The Thrustmaster Warthog originally comes with a flat, square base which can be easily removed. Notice that the DIY Center Joystick Frame works well with Saitek rudder pedals because of their wide stance. You can comfortably straddle the center joystick to reach the pedals. Note the Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals installed on the #F, but you can also use the Saitek Cessna Rudder Pedals. I originally designed the #F project around the early model Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals, witch still work well. You can use the CH Rudder Pedals but they are difficult to use because they are narrow and makes it harder to straddle the center joystick stand.

Center Joystick or Side Joystick?

Check out Craig&#;s pictures in the new Customer Gallery 2. Craig created one of the most attractive DIY Flight Sim completions. He built the #F with a removable center stand and with side stands on both sides. He can now switch between a traditional center joystick and a HOTAS side joystick. Notice the D-ring fasteners he uses to attach the center stand.

DIY Flight Sim Completions: Modified DIY Roll-Away Flight Sim

Rob modified the #E DIY Roll-Away Flight Sim to match his needs and style of flying. He added an expanded mid-shelf for the Saitek yoke and throttle quadrant and a swing-out platform for the compact mini-keyboard. Also note the additional platform for the mouse and mouse pad. The Roll-Away Flight Sim frame is wonderfully mobile because Rob installed four castering wheels to it. Two of the castering wheels can be locked in place so he can comfortably use the rudder pedals without worrying about the frame rolling away. You should always use rudder pedals, they are an important part of DIY Flight Sim completions.


Beautiful painted PVC frame for HOTAS flight controls by Craig


How to build a home simulator

Over the years, many have asked me what is involved with building a home simulator and what parts might be needed.  As one may expect, there are not a lot of true "plug and play" systems out there, and the ones that "are" tend to be very expensive ($10,+) and in and of themselves are not truly plug and play.  Building a home simulator is not difficult, but will require some knowledge and/or ability to experiment and learn.  The purpose of this guide is to outline all the components one would normally need and provide some recommendations based on my own simulator experience.  So let's get going! (At the end you will find a table with parts, prices, and links).

Major Components

Lets start by covering the major components of a simulator:

  • A medium to high end gaming PC

  • A high quality p monitor, multiple monitors, or a nice 4k television

  • Joystick or Yoke

  • Rudder Pedals

Optional Add-Ons

  • External Avionics/Radios

  • External Switches

  • Virtual Reality (VR)

  • Gaming Chair/Seat

Gaming PC

The backbone of any flight simulator is the PC that runs the software.  As simulators have evolved over the last few years, the amount of computing power necessary has skyrocketed.  Not only do you want a fairly fast CPU, but you will want a good graphics card as well.  Many choose to build their own PC's for this, but for the less technically savvy, pre-built systems are available (I will recommend one below).  Plan to spend $+ on a good gaming system.  

While this is not a full on "how to build your own PC" tutorial, in general, you will want a system with the following specifications:

  • CPU - X-Plane in particular suffers from single threaded bottleneck (at this time), therefore you will want the fastest CPU you can buy such as the Intel k or k, both of which will get you 5Ghz speed on all threads.  For Intel CPU's, always look for the 'k' models as those are meant to be overclocked.

  • Memory - Most simulators will be OK with 16GB of memory, but I would recommend 32GB.  It also makes sense to get memory that is fairly fast, such as to Mhz.

  • GPU (Graphics Card) - Likely the most expensive part of the PC.  Most systems will have at least an nVidia GTX or better, with most newer systems being the RTX or better.  Recommendation is RTX  You will want to get one with multiple graphics outputs (usually a mix of HDMI, DisplayPort, Mini-DisplayPort, or USB-C) to power all the monitors we will discuss later.

  • Hard Drives - With the price of SSD's (Solid State Drives) coming down, the recommendation here is to have at least one SSD for the operating system, another for your simulator, each being at least GB in size (you can also do both on the same drive if desired).  Additionally, if you wish to add ortho-scenery to your sim, you will need another drive at least 3TB in size (can be a standard hard drive, but recommend something with higher RPM).

  • Power Supply - When adding high end components above, make sure you have at least watt power supply, if not watt

  • Cooling - Make sure your system has adequate cooling, particularly the CPU.  Water cooling is recommended for CPU

For those that would prefer to simply purchase a system, RealSimGear sells a pre-configured system which can be purchased HERE.  We also partner with X-Force PC, they have a variety of other system configurations you can choose from.


Once you have your gaming machine, the next thing you will need is a screen of some sort.  There are a couple of ways to approach this:

4K Televison - Many customers have started using 43" - 55" (or larger) 4K televisions.  These provide a superior amount of screen space, at 4K resolution, for 1/3 the price of a ultra-wide monitor (mentioned below).  You do sacrifice refresh rates as most will only do 60Hz as compared to or Hz on the gaming monitors, but for a simulator 60 is more than adequate.  THIS is one I personally use.  Of note, you can also use 3x of these to get degrees of vision.

Single standard screen - If you simply want visuals out the front, and are happy with a FOV (Field of View) of less than 90 degrees, get a good 24" or 27" (or larger) computer monitor.  You will want to make sure it supports at least x resolution and its recommenced to have a fairly high refresh rate, Hz or better.  One example I personally use, while not real high end, but works well is made by Viotek.  You can certainly go higher end with Samsung or LG or HP or , but not sure you really get much more for the money.

3 Screen - If you are looking for more FOV and want to have some side views, most go with a triple screen build.  Simply take the screens listed above and buy 3 of them.  For this, you probably want the 27", simply to cover the appropriate amount of real estate.  Be advised, getting the triple screen setup to work properly can be an exercise, but plenty of YouTube videos out there to assist.  Also, with this layout, you may want to consider a 3 monitor stand such as one of THESE.

Single screen ultra-wide - A new player on the high end monitor field is the Samsung 49" ultra-wide!  At around $, its not cheap, but does provide unparalleled FOV out the front (albeit not much to the sides without starting to look strange).

Projectors - Its also possible to use one or more projectors for those really serious, I personally do not have experience here, but did want to mention it as an option

Joystick or Yoke, Throttle, and Pedals

Now that you have your base system, PC and monitor, the next thing you will want, is some way to actually control your simulated aircraft!  Whether you choose a Joystick or Yoke, is likely personal preference and/or desire to match a real world aircraft.

Joystick - If you primarily fly aircraft with a side-stick (such as the Cirrus SR20/22, Airbus liners, or any other with a stick) a couple of options are:

  • Higher end - While I have not used it, a lot of folks swear by the HOTAS.  It's solid and dependable.  You would need to purchase pedals separately.

Yoke - If your primary aircraft use a standard yoke, there are a couple of options I can recommend (and make sure whichever you choose, you get the throttle quadrant that matches the type of aircraft you fly):

  • Lower end - CH Products makes a decent one, Saitek (Logitech) another, and the newest player is Honeycomb.  I personally have the Saitek package, Yoke, Throttle and Pedals, it has worked well for me for a number of years.

  • Higher end - While I have used the Saitek for awhile, I am moving to a higher end yoke.  The go-to recommendation is the Yoko Plus (their newest),

  • Ultra high end - If you have money to burn, and want the best quality possible, check out the Precision Flight or Brunner yokes.  Each will set you back almost $ (and tha'ts without a throttle or pedals).

Pedals - While not strictly necessary, having pedals increases the immersion as that is how one typically steers the aircraft on the ground, controls the rudder on takeoff/landing/in-flight, and provides for differential and progressive braking.  If you choose the Saitek or CH Products above, I recommend simply getting their pedals.  If you are getting the Yoko, PFC, or Brunner, (or just want to upgrade from standard Saitek), then the MFC Crosswinds are the way to go.

Simulator Software

The next obvious piece you will need is to choose a simulator platform to use.  There are two predominant packages out there, Prepar3d (P3D) and X-Plane that are used for general aviation and airliner simulation.  There is a 3rd, and newer software, DCS, that is more focused on military aircraft.  There are certainly pro's and con's to each software, which could be debated at length, I will leave it to you as user to research and choose one that you feel best meets your needs (disclaimer I have both P3D and X-Plane, and prefer X-Plane).

Once you have made it here, you will have a fully functional simulator system that can be used to simulate all sorts of aircraft, scenarios, weather, etc.  Now comes the fun part, Add-ons!  One does not need Add-ons, but they can greatly enhance your flight simulator experience.

Hardware Add-Ons

If you generally fly aircraft that have a G suite, we have a replica G hardware product.  If you fly aircraft that have steam gauges but with a GNS, GNS, GTN, or GTN, we have those hardware interfaces as well.  If you want something that closely resembles a Cirrus Perspective, TBM, or Epic E, we have a full G/GCU/GFC/GMA package.  Finally, if you want a TBM add-on, there is a nice switch panel by M9 Aviation that pairs well with the G package above.  We also have a complete TBM package that bundles these items together.

There are also other products out there as well such as Saitek switch panels and radio panels that can complete your physical cockpit.

If you want to mount everything into an actual panel replica, you can get a tabletop avionics panel from Stay Level Avionix, Flight Velocity or VolairSim.

Software Add-Ons

This part of the topic is vast and much too much to cover in this article.  But safe to say, you will likely start investing in software add-ons to your simulator, whether it be new aircraft or scenery, or perhaps functional add-ons like real world traffic, simulated ATC services, the sky is really the limit.  For X-Plane, is the go to site!

Virtual Reality

Most of the preceding sections assume you are building a simulator where you have all the controls at your fingertips.  While the introduction of the RealSimGear hardware makes it feel like you are in a real airplane, putting on an Oculus Rift S puts you INSIDE the airplane!  The immersion is unbelievable, however the level of realism for pressing buttons and turning knobs is still somewhat clumsy.  Using VR does require a higher end PC, but the specs I outlined at the top, should be sufficient (stay with the RTX or better).  

Example Parts List

Videos of Example Simulator Setups

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding how you can build your ideal simulator.

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With Star Wars: Squadrons on the way, it’s time to build the cockpit of your dreams

Star Wars fans let out a collective gasp when Electronic Arts announced Star Wars: Squadrons in June. It looks every inch like the first-person, in-cockpit space combat game that fans have been waiting for since the original Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: TIE Fighter classics. Even more exciting is the fact that it will be compatible with modern flight sticks, throttles, and virtual reality headsets — including PlayStation VR. Squadrons is scheduled to be released Oct. 2 on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. That means the clock is ticking for you to build the dedicated cockpit you’ve always wanted.

I’ve spent part of the last few months of quarantine tinkering in my garage, refining my own flight simulation setup for use primarily with Elite: Dangerous. As designed, this same rig is also fully compatible with DCS World, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, Star Citizen, and War Thunder. I’ve also built it with an eye on Microsoft Flight Simulator, which is expected to arrive later this year.

Here are a few creative solutions I found for making a video game cockpit — also called a “simpit” — without breaking the bank, as well as a couple of must-have items to take your build to the next level. I’ll finish things off with a complete shopping list of everything I’ve included in my rig as pictured. Even if you’re not going whole hog with a VR headset, there’s still plenty of great information below.

Choose a platform

Photo: Katie Hall for Polygon

Right now, EA isn’t giving all the details on which peripherals will be compatible with Squadrons. It mentions PlayStation VR and Oculus-brand devices by name in its FAQ, and says the game will be compatible with other headsets as well. There’s also a full list of system specifications for the PC you’ll need to run it, both with and without VR. EA promises more information on which flight sticks and HOTAS (hands-on throttle and stick) solutions will be fully compatible sometime in the future. Polygon has reached out for more details.

My recommendation if you’re starting from scratch is to build your cockpit around the PC. That’s because there are already plenty of games that you can play on PC right now that can make use of a quality simpit, so even if Squadrons comes up short when it finally gets released you’ll still have some excellent games to play.

For my PC setup, I’ve opted for the HTC Vive Pro, mainly because that’s what was sitting around in the Polygon library when I started the build. There are plenty of excellent options right now for VR, and we’ve detailed all of the leading devices in our Half-Life: Alyx buying guide.

HTC Vive Pro

Prices taken at time of publishing.

The HTC Vive Pro Starter Kit includes the VR headset, two Steam VR base stations, and two Vive controllers.

Choose a flight stick, throttle, and pedals

On PC, the two most popular commercial flight sticks on the market right now are the Logitech X52 and the Thrustmaster TM. Both are sold with a matching throttle, and both feature a special twist axis on the stick itself to let you simulate a rudder. I’ve used both of them, and recommend them highly. The Thrustmaster also has a matching pedal assembly, which attaches directly to the throttle and looks great. You can purchase all three components together in a bundle. The Logitech G Pro Flight Rudder Pedals, on the other hand, aren’t quite as elegant, but they get the job done.

If you’re looking for an upgrade, consider the Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS. The system has been in production for a long time, and for good reason. The $ set has lots of metal components, and plenty of switches for even the most demanding sims. Paired with the Thrustmaster TPR pedals, you’ve got a setup that can take a lot of punishment and last for years to come.

Thrustmaster TM

Prices taken at time of publishing.

Thrustmaster’s stick and throttle system “has been designed for advanced fliers looking for comprehensive, realistic controls as an alternative to using a mouse and keyboard.”

Get a comfortable chair

Photo: Katie Hall for Polygon

Next, you’ll need a seat. My recommendation? Go to a junkyard. Car seats are perfect for building a simpit, and just about any seat you can fit in will do. I pulled mine out of a Ford Taurus, just before donating it.

If you don’t have a junker sitting in the driveway, racing seats are pretty easy to come by on Amazon and fairly inexpensive. You’ll also find a decent selection at your local auto parts store. The benefit of buying a new seat is that it will likely be easier to mount than a junkyard car seat. New seats will have mounting points that are leveled off, designed for universal installation. The seat from my old Taurus, on the other hand, required some ugly wooden shims to get it to sit right.

If I had to do it over again, I’d likely go with something like this Jegs offroad seat, which comes with a flush mount and a spring assembly that allows you to slide it back and forth once it’s installed. You could also use the seat from an old office chair or a modern gaming chair. Just be sure that whatever you choose allows you to sit leaning backward a bit, especially if you plan on mounting rudder pedals.

JEGS Off Road Seat

Prices taken at time of publishing.

Repurpose an old car seat for your cockpit, or pick up a new one.

Find a mounting solution

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The next part is the hardest, and that’s fitting it all together.

For my build, I just used extra wood that I had lying around in the garage. The lower frame is all 2x8-inch pressure-treated timber that I had left over after building a garden. It’s meant to be used outdoors, which is overkill. But as a result, it is extraordinarily heavy and doesn’t move around. For the platform on top — where the seat gets attached — I used the solid top from an old dresser, but I could have just as easily used more of the same pressure-treated timber.

The important part is to make sure you extend your lower frame behind the seat by a foot or two, so that you don’t tip over backward. Mount your seat with some sturdy bolts, and you’re good to go.

The fiddly bit is attaching the flight stick and the throttle. All of the flight sticks that I’ve included in this piece have holes built into them to allow you to permanently attach them if you want to. You could slap together some hasty armrests, drill a couple of holes, and call it a day. But I actually found a much more elegant solution.

The team at OpenWheeler sells prefabricated racing rigs for PCs and consoles. They look excellent, and feature solid all-metal construction. The company also sells kits that allow those same racing seats to be converted into flight simulation seats. Those kits come with heavy, pre-drilled mounting plates for Logitech and Thrustmaster equipment. They’re fully powder-coated, and nearly indestructible.

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

OpenWheeler’s mounting plates attach to a matching black metal tube, which is designed to slide over a bright silver metal arm. That means you can move the throttle and the flight stick up and down to get them in just the right position. The standard kit sold on Amazon only comes with enough parts to make a complete assembly for one side or the other, so be sure to reach out to the manufacturer and let them know you need two silver metal arms and an additional pair of tension knobs for your build.

Combined with a seat that moves back and forth, these OpenWheeler mounts will allow me to easily adjust the whole setup for different games and accommodate different-sized players.

Flight Simulator mount kit

Prices taken at time of publishing.

OpenWheeler sells kits that include everything you need to mount your HOTAS system to an existing OpenWheeler brand seat. If you’re building your own rig, however, you might be short a few parts. Contact the manufacturer via Amazon and they can help you out.

You still need a desk

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon and Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Even with all the buttons on your flight stick and throttle, even with a VR system, you’re still going to need a monitor and a keyboard. That means you’re also going to need a desk.

Luckily, I have a recipe that ensures it’s actually one of the least expensive parts of the build.

First, start with a desktop. You can get the Ikea Linnmon, like I have, for just $ Alternately, you could get a nice big solid piece from your local hardware store, or slap something together with scraps you’ve got lying around the house. Next, I recommend adjustable-height legs. Again, Ikea offers an affordable solution in the Olov at $ each. That’s a whole adjustable-height work surface for less than $

Adjustable height gives you three advantages. First, you don’t really need a monitor arm if you can’t afford one. Just raise the desk itself until you reach a comfortable height. Second, it gives you enough room to work the pedals underneath. Third, if you plan on playing Microsoft Flight Simulator when it comes out this year, you might want to remove the flight stick and replace it with a yoke. Yokes, like the Logitech G Flight Pro, traditionally mount to the front edge of the desk, so this design can effectively serve as an adjustable dashboard to mount a yoke onto.

Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

Finally, you’ll want to think about adding a keyboard tray. You can just put the keyboard on the desk and lean forward to hit the keys, but that tends to break the immersion and will eventually do a number on your back. It’s also really hard to do in VR.

I opted for a sliding, articulated keyboard tray by Regency, which moves forward, back, up, and down with a single tension wheel. At around $80, it wound up costing me more than the desk itself. But it slides out of the way when I need it to, allowing me to get up and out of the simpit. It also lets me lower the keyboard down onto my lap when I’m typing articles for work.

Right Hand Keyboard Tray

Prices taken at time of publishing.

A keyboard tray mounts to the underside of your desk and slides out when you need it.

Parts list

That’s it! Hopefully you found some or all of these tips useful. Below is a list of all the hardware included in my home office simpit — minus the wood, screws, and the Ford Taurus. I included some notes on why they’re excellent choices for your build. Note that there are a few items that went into my build that are no longer manufactured. I recommended replacements for those as needed.

If you’ve got questions, drop them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to offer some guidance.

  • I’ve been using this MSI GS65 Stealth, modified to 32 GB RAM with an extra 2 TB NVMe drive, as my main work computer since late last year. Coming from a desktop, I’m astounded that it can run VR as well as it does. It’s also nice being able to move any AAA game I want around the house.
  • The inch Dell SDG gaming monitor was a natural addition, as it features Nvidia G-Sync. The contrast is very high, however, and there’s no fine adjustment. That has caused me some grief in Elite, where most everything you look at is set against the deep black of space. But in just about every other game, it’s hardly noticeable. If I had my way, I’d have gone for the inch version instead.
  • The HTC Vive Pro is only the second VR system that I’ve spent quality time with after the original Oculus Rift. I’m a big fan of how it’s able to accommodate my reading glasses, thanks to a sliding front face on the HMD. The extra resolution is also handy when viewing buttons and dials on in-game instrumentation.
  • I can’t fly outside of VR without the TrackIR 5 and the Track Clip Pro. They translate minuscule head movements into dramatic changes in your field of view, letting you look up, down, and all around while seated in the cockpit. I first learned to love them playing DayZand Arma 3, where they give your character a neck that allows you to look in one direction and shoot in another. Now, whether I’m lining up my final approach in War Thunder or landing inside a space station in Elite: Dangerous, I consider them to be essential.
  • Pretty much any keyboard will do, but you’ll want to avoid a traditional mouse with the Regency keyboard tray in this build. I’m a big fan of the Logitech M wireless trackball, which gives you all the flexibility of a mouse in a very small footprint.
  • These Audeze LCD-GX gaming headphones are currently a reference set that I use as a benchmark for high- and low-frequency response for Polygon’s annual gaming headset roundup. The price point — $ when purchased directly from the manufacturer — is outrageous, but the sound quality is extraordinary. You might take a look at the Audeze Mobius headphones instead, which include head tracking (akin to the TrackIR) that shifts the in-game sound field all around you. I have a feeling it will come in handy when Microsoft Flight Simulator launches, but it’s tremendously effective in MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries as well.
  • The Sennheiser GSX is a stand-alone audio amplifier and digital-to-analog converter. I dig it because it allows me to set up a pair of satellite speakers and a pair of headphones, and switch between them with a single button press — without going into Windows’ audio settings.
  • I’ve tried cheap amps for driving my speakers, but recently switched to the Fosi Audio TB10A Mini Power Amplifier. All the click and hiss I was used to hearing is gone. My speakers are from an ancient surround-sound system, but try these Polk bookshelf speakers instead.
  • I really like Echogear monitor arms. Having used old-school Ergotron arms for a very long time, these are lighter and stronger by comparison. The price is also right at just $ each. They pair well with the AmazonBasics notebook tray, which allows you to mount your laptop off the surface of the desk and easily move it out of the way when you need to.
  • The desk shown above includes a white top — the Linnmon model — from Ikea, but other colors, sizes, and textures are available online. You can find table legs at Ikea as well. The Olov legs I used can be adjusted to roughly pub height, giving plenty of room below.
  • A single Anker seven-port powered USB hub ties all my various bits of tech together. I should probably get a second one. There’s also a port version that will allow you to power up to three additional devices that don’t need to be connected to your PC. The robust metal construction is ideal, especially if you’d like to mount it to the bottom of your desk to keep it out of sight.
  • I’ve always thought that the Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS and the Thrustmaster TPR Pedals were overkill, but after spending time with them for a few months, I finally see the allure. The metal switches are very satisfying, and after using my simpit as my primary workstation for the last few weeks, I have yet to break anything getting in and out of the rig.
  • Late at night, I use Luminoodle bias lighting to mirror the custom blue HUD that I’ve modded into my version of Elite: Dangerous. It’s nothing fancy, but it makes a big impact when you’re flying through space. There’s also a handy remote that lets me easily switch between red, yellow, and bright white to match whatever game I’m playing at the moment.
  • Of course, some rugged power strips are a must. You’ll need at least two, as well as a few 6-foot USB extension cables, some cable ties, and a few 3M Command hooks to keep your headphones and VR headsets tidy. Smaller 3M adhesive strips can also be used to mount other items — like the Vive’s micro controller — to the wall or underneath the top of the desk.

Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition

Prices taken at time of publishing.

The newest PC compatible flight stick from Thrustmaster is a replica of the stick used to fly the Airbus A It’s also fully ambidextrous, including hot-swappable buttons on the left and right side of the stick. If you plan to build a two-stick setup — perfect for Star Citizen or MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries — they’re just the thing.

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