From the very beginning of this project, the simulator was designed to run on a single PC with simplicity and reliability being the foremost design ingredient. The following describes how the computer is configured. The Boeing software used is from PMDG and is the 737-800NG model, (without virtual cockpit). The Sim-Board interface solution comprises of a Master module and a 64x8x8 Input module from www.flightdecktechnology.com These purpose built modules provide an excellent interface between the hardware of the simulator and the FS software, they have proved to be very simple to use and are highly recommended. I will be adding an output module soon for MIP annunciators.

The computer is a 2.4 Ghz quad core with an Nvidea 8800GTS PCI-e video card hooked up to the digital Matrox Triplehead2go device. The last major components are the EFIS and Mode Control Panels from Italian company, CP Flight. These units are simple to use and they operate the PMDG software very well. I highly recommend these scale replica components above their counterparts as the CP Flight units are fitted with a front face built by Engravity and it lights up like a Christmas tree with the FS lighting selected. They also allow for future expansion and the addition of CP Flight radio modules. I believe it is worth paying the little extra for these units, see www.cpflight.com


Visual display method

With the Matrox Triplehead2go device set to “stretched mode” across three monitors, the desktop resolution of the computer becomes 3072 x 768 as opposed to the standard resolution of 1024 x 768. (It is 3 times wider). 1280 x 920 is possible but lowers frame rates. With three monitors plugged in and the computer running, the FS2004 program is run in ‘window mode’ and appears stretched three times wider than usual. The right hand edge of the main FS window is clicked and dragged to the left until it is only displayed on monitor number 1. Monitors 2 & 3 now go blank. Monitor 1 sits to the left of my simulator and the feed to it is also sent to my high definition projector for the main front view. Monitor 2 sits behind the Main Instrument Panel, (MIP) in front of the Captain’s position and monitor 3 sits behind the MIP in the centre. The feed to monitor 2 also has a splitter and this feeds a fourth monitor behind the MIP on the First Officer’s side. (Captain and F/O receive the exact same display). This is a little unlike the real aircraft where the pilots can have displays set individually, but it is totally useable and still looks great. (The left hand CP Flight EFIS unit controls all aspects of the PMDG Nav display and is a joy to use).

The main instruments on the PMDG panel eg: Attitude indicator, Navigation display and EICAS display can be clicked on and enlarged when the 2D panel is open. The open GL format of these instrument displays means they can be resized to any size without the quality of the display being adversely affected. These displays are now dragged to the right and placed in position on monitors 2 & 3. They are resized to fill the square apertures on my MIP and the replica Boeing panel comes to life. The panel now displays instruments which are very similar in appearance to the software offered by Project Magenta but without the expense. Radio, FMC, Overhead & Throttle windows are toggled to display on the main screen, (monitor 1). This is fine as their appearance is usually temporarily. The only time I use the PC mouse is to turn on the TCAS and program the FMC, most of the time the mouse isn’t required. This is a very cost effective way to set up a glass cockpit display with excellent reliability and ease of use. A description with pictures was published in the September issue of Computer Pilot magazine.