Building a home flight simulator shouldn't be complicated or difficult. Not sure where to start? We can help! In this article we will go over the basics of building a home flight simulator. For a more in-depth review check out our more detailed How to Build a Home Simulator.
What is your goal?
Is your goal to stay proficient in IFR procedures and load your flight plans? Or maybe you enjoy flight simulation as a hobby and want the most realistic experience. Here are two questions to ask yourself at the start:
● What is my end goal? Know how you want your simulator to look, and start out with basic equipment you can add to over time.
● How much room do I have? Will I need to move my setup on and off a desk? Consider a compact set up using our stands and flight deck.
Let’s get started.
Flight Sim Setup
Are you a pilot or a simulator hobbyist? Your setup will be contingent on this question for you to get the most out of it. Are you trying to replicate the cockpit of the plane you fly most often, or are you looking for maximum compatibility with different sim aircraft? We have a list of supported aircrafts with our products here. Also consider the space you have, and that all your mounting hardware will configure with one another. We have a great range of mounting options for our products, or you can look at alternative panel options - we like Flight Velocity and Stay Level Avionics panels.
The biggest cost of setting up a flight simulator is the computer (see below). Once you have the basics controls (also see below), you can begin adding accessories. You can start with a basic setup for around $1044 (excluding a computer and monitor) as shown in this article, and build on it as you go.
The most popular flight simulation programs are X-Plane, P3D and Microsoft Flight Sim 2020. X-Plane 11 comes at a lower cost and generally requires less add-on purchases to use, so is a good place to start. Many of our products are now compatible with MSFS 2020, and you can read more about that here.
A gaming PC is usually the most expensive part of a simulator set up. A gaming PC varies significantly in price from $1300-$3500 and beyond. We recommend a PC with these specifications. Generally, any PC will run a simulator program, but the performance will vary based on the CPU and graphics card.
Monitor choice is generally determined by available space. Having a good field of view is important, therefore 4K television can be a great option. Multiple screens can also be set up to show side views (for example a 3 screen set up), or you can look at a curved ultra-wide gaming monitor (like the Samsung 49") or even a projector.
There are various options for controls - starting with a yoke or joystick/sidestick option. There are many to choose from, and a good way to narrow down your choice is to consider how realistic they feel, and what additional switches are available on the controls. We like the Honeycomb Yoke as it includes ignition, master control and avionics switches, removing the need for a seperate switch panel. The Honeycomb Yoke works well with a set of Logitech Rudder Pedals to provide rudder control. Another good option is the CH Eclipse Yoke as it has thumb rudder pedals and throttle controls built into it, so no rudder pedals are necessary.
Setting up your home flight simulator doesn't have to be complicated. We have a lot more helpful information on our website, or you can reach out to us if you still have questions. We also offer awesome technical support if you need help getting your RealSimGear products setup - just let us know!