Aircraft Information - Pictures, etc. (and maybe a few parts, too)

A. L. Bentley Drawings has an assortment of structural drawings of WWII aircraft.

As of fourth quarter 2006 Boeing has resumed publication of Aero magazine. You can download pdf copies from the archive. 

Eric parks has compiles a nice set of Airbus A319/320/321 notes.

The Aircraft Resource Center is a model builder information site. It contains a lot of data to help builders boost the fidelity of their work. This is a goal shared by many 'pit builders, so the site may be of interest to you as well. Take a look at the "walk around" section for pictures of aircraft. The "stories" section isn't bad either.

The Airline Pilot's Historical Society (alternate link) parts out aircraft to fund charitable causes. Check out this site as a possible source of real A/C parts, or simply browse the site for its collection of photos. There are a great many photos of assorted control yokes, perhaps useful to those of you making your own. is a good source of internal and external airliner pictures is another source of pictures.

Aerospaceweb has some really nice cockpit shots.  Excellent reference site.

Air Salvage International is a UK based operation that parts out aircraft.  It appears that you may be able to get everything from bits and pieces to complete hulls.

Andreas Toepper's site has an extensive gallery of B757 and A320 cockpit photos, many with a measuring tape most thoughtfully positioned to aid the simpit builder.  (Thanks Andreas!)  If you're looking for dimensions, you should definitely check out this site. bills itself as the "largest website for avionics information".  Maybe, maybe not, but it's certainly a good place to start if you're looking for books on the subject.

Avitop.Com bills itself as an "Aviation Resource for the Aviation Community".  Check it out for, among other things, its large collection of aviation related links.

Avsoft -Aviation Training Solutions  offers paper and computer-based training supplies for Airbus, Boeing, MD, Embraer and Bombardier aircraft, among others.  You may be interested in their cockpit poster sets. is a German language site hosting a variety of Boeing 737 information. A/C salvage.

Bob's Aircraft Documentation seems to have a bit of everything.

Boeing 737 Management Reference Guide site is a preview of the B737 Management Reference Guide which have been written for professional airline and simulator pilots.

The Boeing 737 Technical Site is just that.

Chris Brace has put together a photo-rich site of interest to any simpit builder.  He shows details of an instrument gauge using an RC servo, as well as how to make a panel for an extremely professional looking radio stack.  He has pictures of a C-172 interior with a tape measure in the shots, for those of you searching for dimensions.  He's the only builder I'm aware of who is using "Phidgets" (PIC + USB + software + your stuff) in his simulator.  A really nice resource.

Clark's Precision Machine & Tool (CPMT) among other things makes military jet simulators.

Cockpit Italia is an Italian and English language site with information about cockpit building and civilian aviation in general.

Daco Products sells several photo resource books for use by modellers, but whose to say they aren't just as useful to pit builders? There are books for the F-16, F-18, F-14, T-38 and B1B.

Dauntless Software sells aviation training software.  If you look at the free download list you'll find an assortment aircraft checklists and handling notes.

Herman Lenferink is building a DC-3 simpit.  As part of the process he is collecting a great deal of information and posting it to his web site.  Visit the to read an evolving article on simpit construction and to see a great list of interesting URLs.

Desert Air Spares is an aircraft salvage firm that is a possible source of Boeing and Douglas commercial cockpits.

Here's a nice F-16 information page.

The FAA online library has a small number of aviation manuals.

The Federation of American Scientists has great deal of interesting information on their web site including this informative article on the F-16 Fight Falcon. Actually, they have information on a great many aircraft. Just go up a directory from this link.

Flightgear On-line is an excellent collection of pictures and articles about military flight helmets, masks and what have you. There's a fair list of links, too.

FLIGHTHELMET.COM sells a few aviation books, an occasional ejection seat, and a whole host of military flight gear.

Flightlevel 350 bills itself as "the world's largest database of aviation videos". You be the judge.

GLOBEMASTER US Military Aviation Database is an information server that contains all active aircraft operating units and air bases of the US forces around the world, including tail codes, maps, aircraft fact sheets and official links.

Damiano Gualdoni has put together quite a nice collection of helicopter and fixed wing A/C pictures., "Your C-130 Hercules Headquarter", is an excellent information site for Herky Bird fans.

The Dougherty Press is a source of training material for US Air Force under graduate pilot training.

Helicopters Only clearly has something to do with helicopters.  Some of those somethings are reprints of various pilot's information manuals (helicopter related, of course).  While they also carry sim flight controls and a (very) few chopper posters, Helicopters Only is primarily focused on non-sim birds and carries a wide variety of training and maintenance resources and guides.  Definitely worth a look from you rotor-heads. 

Helispot has thousands of helicopter photographs both internal and external.

Historic Aviation carries books, videos, art, models, etc. about both civil and military aircraft from days past.  It also has a few audio CDs of aircraft sounds.

For an outstanding list of aviation related links, visiting Holcomb's Aerodrome is a must.

If you're looking for detail information about a specific aircraft type, you shouldn't overlook the resources used by model builders.  The high end model builders are just as focused on detail as the high end simpit builders, and just as interested in detail.  HyperScale is one of the on-line resources model makers use.  

KiowaPilots.Com is "Your source for OH-58D related information".

The NASA Ames Research Center Simulation Laboratories has a web site definitely worth visiting. They have some really neat equipment pictured, plus post various white papers about their research. How would you like to work there?

The Navigation Systems Division web site of Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems has a variety of product pictures in its marketing literature that may be of value in planning your cockpit layout.

Jerome Meriweather's excellent site has an incredible amount of information about commercial airliner systems controls. 

Check out Laurent "Chameloon" Michelot's site for pictures and information about military flight gear.

Scroggins Aviation is a US based aircraft salvage operation that is a possible source of parts up to and including complete cockpit sections.

The Simbuilder's Wiki is an on line collaboration of home cockpit builders who are sharing their knowledge and insights about the hobby. 

SkyFilm Productions offers a variety of freeware and payware downloadable aviation videos.

Smart Cockpit is an online aviation reference for professional pilots. It is an excellent resource for flight simmers who want to pattern their activities after real world operations.

SwedBird Helicopters is a helicopters only site that focuses on gmax designs for flight simulator of various older model aircraft.

Bob Sanford has put together The Unofficial Airbus Study Site. Quite an undertaking! Take a look.

U S Cockpits has a growing collection of aircraft instrument panel photos.

The White 1 Foundation is a great resource for those interested in the FW109. Check the gift shop tab for FW109 engineering drawings.

Vipers in the Storm is "a diary of a gulf war veteran". It's also a very informative book about the F-16.

Vulcans in Camera started as a collection of Andy Leitch's photographs. It grew as other photographers added their pictures. It is a tremendous information source about the Avro Vulcan, and includes a substantial list of related links.


Aircraft Instruments - Simulated supplies very detailed mockups of aircraft instruments (currently limited to F-16 instrumentation).

Aircraft Instruments Technologies, Inc.  These guys build a lot of neat stuff, and their web site has pictures of the insides of their simulated analog A/C instruments.

Control Tech produces a variety of custom and standard products including some mil-spec A/C flight indicators.

Flight Illusion Simulator Systems has some very nice looking gauges based on stepping motors. 

FlyReal is a French site offering a very nice looking Airbus style glass cockpit. Better yet, it's freeware!

The Open Source Glass Cockpit Project is pretty much what its name implies.  It's based on OpenGL and addresses both Windows and Unix based sims.  If you have any thoughts about writing code for glass cockpits, you should check these guys out.

It's hard to beat Project Magenta for realism in glass cockpit displays.

You know, I just had to list Microsoft in this section as well.  Go to the FS support pages and find the panels SDK.  Actually, if you probably ought to look at all the SDKs.  They are perhaps not the easiest docs to digest, but there's always the forums to turn to if you have questions. (Try Avsim.)

ProMFD panel software is a shareware offering by Robert Prather.  [Alternate link]

The Real Cockpit is a Dutch company that sells general aviation simulations.  After something of a false start, they now appear to be ready to sell smaller simulation components on terms a bit more attractive to home simulation enthusiasts.  Marketing through Simkits, they are now selling kits of parts for the flight instruments and control electronics used in the Real Cockpit consoles and simulators. converts real aircraft instruments to instruments for use in home flight simulators.

Sea Gull Simulation Systems & Parts is a new (formed in 2004) Dutch start up planning on producing simulated analog flight instruments starting with the basic six for general aviation, then moving on to units styled after Airbus backup instruments. Their timeline calls for first shipments in the first quarter of 2005.

Simtek, Inc. makes instruments and control panels for use in commercial and military simulators.

Simulated Aircraft Instruments is Bob Paige's site that offers various air-core movement based simulated flight instruments and instrument kits. 


Aircraft Manuals - Military and Commercial

Aerotecdata sells original and color copies of a wide variety of aircraft manuals.

The Bell Helicopter web site is an outstanding source of information. You'll find massive product specification manuals in pdf format.

Books2cd has a variety of military manuals.

CHQ Software sells CD versions of many military manuals including flight and maintenance manuals.

Check out eFlightManuals for CD reproductions of military and commercial flight manuals.

eMilitary Manuals has military manual collections, military publications, technical manuals, field manuals, gun and weapon manuals, survival books, war and world history books on CD's, downloads, and DVD's.

Essco Aircraft carries a very wide variety of training and operating materials for a host of aircraft.  This is the place to start at if you're looking for a set of flight manuals for a commercial aircraft.

Flight Manuals On CD is a New Zealand firm that sells PDF versions of flight manuals.

The Free Bird Virtual Fighter Wing site has a great many resources for the Falcon 4 crowd including an F-4 manual, downloads and military F-16 manuals.

Impact Pilot Resource Store carries a wide range of training supplies for commercial pilots flying Boeing, Airbus, and other equipment.  Their materials include books, videos and high resolution panel posters.  Check these guys out!

Integrated Publishing produces CD and paper reproductions of a variety of flight and maintenance manuals including some military ones.

Leading Edge Libraries publishes  FMC User's GuideBig Boeing FMC User's GuideB737 Cockpit Companion, and B737NG Cockpit Companion.

Liberated is a collection of free US military manuals.

MilitaryManuals.Com offers collections of new and historical US government manuals.

Military Media Inc. offers various military manuals in both CD and paper reproductions.

Pentagon Publishing has picked up a number of military manuals including some aviation manuals, and makes them available in CD format.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has an archive division that holds extensive collections of old plans, manuals and engineering drawings. This can be a fantastic resource if you plan on simulating older aircraft.

Bill Stack has written a number of books on flying that specifically have the flight simmer as an audience.  You can see his offerings at Top Skills 

If you're interested in flying Boeing big metal, you should check out the University of Temecula Press for a number of Captain Mike Ray's Unofficial Boeing check ride guides covering 737, 747, 757, 767....

Warbird Parts and Memorabilia carries an assortment of reprinted training and flight manuals.   Of course manuals are just a fraction of what they have.  What they are really into is parts. 

Warbird Relics offers an assortment of WWII memorabilia as well.  They also have a significant collection of AAF and RAF manuals.

Watkins Aviation primarily supplies flight gear, but the also have reprints of a few military flight manuals.


Aircraft Supplies

Aircraft Spruce and Specialty  Focuses on the homebuilt aviation community.  A good source of sheet aluminum, throttle components, aircraft instruments, etc.  

Airparts, Inc. is another vendor servicing the hobby aviation community.  They are another source of sheet and extruded aluminum.

Boeing has a couple of retail surplus outlets, one in the Pacific Northwest and another in the southern California area. I don't think you're going to find a B747 in the "scratch and dent" section for $25, but you never know.

BPB Surplus carries a small collection of military and commercial aviation surplus.

Check out Sim Werx for surplus aircraft items, and high quality sim parts.

Trade-A-Plane is both an on-line and an in-print newspaper(?), greensheet(?) that offers all things aircraft related.

Wicks Aircraft  Another good source for the homebuilder aviation community.


CAD Software

Let me put another plug in for planning.  Big projects have big mistakes.  Take the time to really think through what you want to end up with.  You can do it on paper, or you can do it with software.  You just need to do it.

Autodesk 123D is a free solid modeling application based on the professional Autodesk drawing app.

DeltaCAD is a low cost 2D package costing about $40, and having a free trial version.

DoubleCAD XT is a drawing application with functionality similar to AutoCAD LT. You can download a free version. This is by IMSI, the same people who publish TurboCAD.

DraftSight is a free 2D CAD package for PCs and Macs.

Google Sketchup is a 3D drawing tool available in a free, limited-capability version, and a far-from-free highly capable version.

Mayura Draw is a shareware ($39 registration fee) vector drawing program worth checking out.

PRO/Desktop Express is a reduced feature version of PRO/Engineer, a professional CAD program. It is available as a free download. (Thanks to Jari and Tuomas for discovering and bringing this to my attention, respectively.)

This has evolved into the CREO Elements/ Direct Modeling Personal Edition.

QCad is a low-cost 2D CAD system for Linux, Mac and Windows.  

TurboCAD, by IMSI, is a 2D/3D drawing application available for PCs and Macs. The professional version is rather pricey while the "deluxe" version is more moderately priced. Older versions are available through Ebay for less. Versatile and powerful. I use this a lot.


Control Loading

Control loading is applying a restoring force in response to movement of the control. It can be as simple as a spring, or a rather more complex computer controlled force feedback system from one of these companies:

Aeronautical Systems Engineering makes digital electric control loading systems.

Frasca International, Inc. has a line of commercial flight simulators for small to medium size aircraft. They also market control loading systems.

Immersion Corporation develops haptic technologies for use in several markets including gaming, automotive and medical.  Immersion's "TouchSense" technology is inside many of the force feedback gaming sticks and yokes on the market today.

Servos and Simulations, Inc. makes both motion bases and control loading systems.

Wittenstein Solutions, Inc. carries control loading components and systems.


Mechanical & Electro-Mechanical Things

All Electronics really is (mostly) an electronics store.  I listed it here because they have a number of small stepping motors that appear suitable for use in do it yourself gauges.  Some have small gears already installed.  Other motors types, magnets and  other odds and ends are also carried.

American Science and Surplus has whatever they have today, tomorrow may be different, but generally will have some small motors, a few gears and bearing, a bit of electronics, handfuls of....

AstroSyn makes motion control systems and components including permanent magnet stepping motors.  This site has extensive technical catalogs on line .

Balsa Products is a hobby supply company selling the normal hobby supplies like RC servos.  They also list replacement gear sets for servos.  So, if you're looking to build your own gear reduction assembly, check these guys out.

Berthold Marx is a European supplier of gas springs, a very useful device if you're building your own sim flight controls.  Gas springs provide damping as well as linear resistance, giving your flight controls a much more realistic feel.

Budget Robotics is a company formed by Gordon McComb, author of  Robot Builder's Bonanza.  On this site you will find a small assortment of interesting and useful goodies including: small motors, plastic gears & gear boxes, RC servos modified for continuous rotation, and a reasonably priced optical rotary encoder.

"Control of Stepping Motors - A Tutorial" by Douglas Jones is an in depth description of stepping motors, how they are driven and how they respond dynamically.

Danaher Motion has on-line spec sheets for many small stepping motors.

EASY STEP'n is an apparently self published book aimed at the hobbyist interested in stepping motors.  The book is not available from regular book stores.  You can buy it from the author's web site, or selected electronics parts suppliers, such as Jameco.

Herback and Rademan carries a wide and varying selection of surplus electro-mechanical and scientific items.

Images SI Inc. is an eclectic collection of, well, stuff. Among the inventory are some motors and gear boxes that might be useful in building simulated A/C instruments.

K'NEX is a brand of plastic children's construction toys.  It is possible to buy replacement gears for the toy sets.  Although these gear sets may not have the smallest backlash, they are quiet inexpensive and you may find them useful for prototyping and experimenting. 

Lin Engineering: "step motor specialists".  Check out this site for basic technical information, motor dimensions, etc.

McMaster-Carr is a major supply company with hardware of all kinds including gears and motors.

Metals Depot is an on line source for small or large quantities of metal.

Middlesex University Teaching Resources sells materials useful to design and technology teachers.  As you browse this site you will find many items to fire your imagination including several different types of inexpensive plastic spur gears.

Minebea Electronics is the manufacturer of NMB stepping motors.  Site has on-line technical documents.  If you have a stepping motor with an part number starting with "PM", there's a good chance these guys made it.

Mitsumi, of course, manufactures various PC peripherals, they also manufacture components used in them, such as solenoids and stepping motors. 

MSC Industrial Supply is a source of motors, tools, industrial knobs, hoses.......

Nippon Pulse Motors makes a great many small stepping motors as well.  If you have a stepper with a part number beginning with "PF", "PFC" or "PJB" it's likely a Nippon Pulse Motor product.  Check out this site for technical information about it.

OnlineMetals is a great source of metal for your projects. Good prices, good service, a personal favorite.

Pololu offers products for the robot enthusiast. The inquisitive simpit builder will note that their selection of Tamiya gear boxes offer possibilities for use in auto-throttles.

Precision Scale Model Engineering carries all sorts of model making supplies including gears and small motors.

RobotZone carries a fair assortment of mechanical goodies for the robot hobbyists. Of particular interest to the flight simmer may be the assortment of gears. RZ carries a line of Delrin, 48 pitch gears that mount on the splined shaft of an RC servo. This could be of great utility when making various gauges and indicators.

Servo Link is the best source of plastic gears I have found.  They don't have the broadest range (they carry 36 and 48 pitch only), but their service to me was excellent.  Oh, and they also carry sprockets and chain.

Small Parts is a firm specializing in prototyping supplies.  They have a wide variety of high quality, if slightly pricey, mechanical goodies, and have low minimum orders.

StepperControl.Com sells a variety of PC based stepper motor systems. They also sells parts. If the surplus avenues to finding motors close, these guys are an option.

Stock Gears, Inc. carries a very wide ranges of plastic and metal gears, in addition to vast piles of other goodies.  They are in the process of getting their on-line catalog and ordering system working.

TechMax projects a small web presence of surplus odds and ends.  They appear to have a fair assortment of small motors and ball bearings.  Some of the motors have gear heads.  Check this place out if you're building sim instruments (servo style) or are perhaps thinking about an auto throttle project.

Thomson Airpax Mechatronix is a major OEM supplier of stepper motors and gear-head motors.  You probably won't buy directly from these people, but their web site has on-line technical literature. Ball Bearings, NationSkander California Corp sells a wide range of small bearings that you might find useful. In particular, they carry very small bearings at relatively reasonable prices. You can buy through their site, or through their listings on Ebay.


Electro-luminescent Panels

All Electronics has recently picked up a number of EL products and is offering them at attractive prices.

Being Seen Technologies sells flexible electro-luminescent light products in flat and cable shapes. A distributor of E-Lite Technologies products.

Cooltronix carries both EL panels and EL wire.

E-Lite Technologies makes and sells LARGE format electro-luminescent lighting systems. They sell a variety of standard size "FlatLite" systems, will make custom sizes, or you can buy in bulk. They have widths up to 24 inches and lengths up to 240 feet. E-Lite also sells power supplies, inverters and wiring components.

Edmund Optics carries a few EL products.

EL panels used for backlighting LCDs are carried by Elfa.

Light Tape UK Sells electro-luminescent products.

Luminous Film sells various electroluminescent panels and inverters. A distributor of E-Lite Technologies products.

Lumitec Ltd. is a Swiss manufacturer of electro-luminescent strips and panels.

Science Kits and Boreal Laboratories has an Electro-luminescence Experimenter's Kit (WW30825-08).



Electronic Components & Supplies

3DMatrixVision Corp. supplies small format LCD monitors for use in avionics.

AEI Components carries a wide variety of small LCD monitors both packaged and open frame.

AcceleVision is a wholesale supplier (?) of mobile entertainment systems. They have a great many small LCD displays.

Action Electronics is one of the few, small suppliers of electronics parts that still lists very small gauges of magnet wire (smaller than 30 AWG).  Why would you care?  Maybe you're interesting in making your own simulated aircraft instruments using air-core movements.

All Electronics carries a variety of electronic and non-electronic goodies.  Not a full range supplier, but rather a store with an interesting blend including many surplus(?) items.  Well worth checking out. carries a changing inventory of surplus items.  They have carried and may now carry random stepping motors and very fine gauge magnet wire.

ApogeeKits Electronic Kits and Tools is a U.S. distributor of Velleman kits.

Apollo Displays carries LCD display goodies.

B. G. Micro, the Electronics Mecca is a small  mail order business that carries a small but respectable assortment of electronic goodies.  Among the to be expected chips, capacitors and switches, you'll find cold cathode fluorescent lamps and a few motors.

Buerklin OHG, Die ganze Electronik.

Caltron Industries, Inc. manufactures a variety of LCD flat panel displays. Some of them are small and available open-frame (without a case). They might work in your CDU project.

Cole Instrument Corp. is one of the few manufacturers of concentric shaft dual optical rotary encoders.  Options include adding a concentric push button switch.  Expensive, but you can at least admire the pictures.

Conrad Electronics and Technology is a major mail order supplier to European addresses. And here for Dutch.

Data Display AG, source of LCD graphic displays.

Data-Modul sells point of sale terminals, various small monitors, and Grayhill rotary encoders.  This site has both English and German language sides.

Debco Electronics, Inc.  is another of the few suppliers of very small gauge enameled magnet wire that sells in small quantities.  (Do you know how many MILES 8 pounds (a standard industrial quantity) of 38 AWG wire is?  Debco will sell you a quarter pound, which is probably quite enough.)  Debco carries a small assortment of other electronic parts as well.

Digikey Broad line electronics parts distributor.  On-line catalog with good service.  These guys carry the Lite-On BLUE 7-segment LED displays.

Display Technology in the UK and Distec GmbH in Germany  is a European source of flat panel displays.

EarthLCD.Com bills themselves as "The world wide LCD source".  You be the judge.

EIO Supplier of surplus LCD display panels and modules.  Models offered change frequently.

Electronic Goldmine carries lots of surplus goodies including motorized potentiometers, LEDs, and small text format LCD displays.

ELFA is a major Swedish electronics supplier directly marketing to Norway, Denmark, Finland, Poland, and of course, Sweden. ELFA markets in several other countries through resellers.

EBV Electronik is a large European distributor of electronic components. The site is multi-lingual and information rich. Their distribution area covers Europe and the UK.

Farnell, Broad line supplier of all things electronic in the UK.

Go Tronic is a French supplier of electronic components and gear.

Grayhill manufactures switches, rotary encoders and control products.  In particular the make dual deck, concentric shaft rotary encoders with push switch functionality on the inner shaft.  Check out this site for technical information on their products and a list of distributors selling the products.

Jameco Electronics Perhaps the best place to buy small stepping motors.  Jameco is a relatively small parts house, but they have a reasonable line of products and have always offered me outstanding service.

Knitter-Switch is a German firm specializing in switches.  If you check under "rotary switches" on their site you will find a clever unit that generates pulsed switch closures on one pole when the switch shaft is rotated in one direction, but not the other.  Turning the shaft the opposite direction results in pulsed switch closures on another pole.  You might consider using this sort of switch rather than a rotary encoder, which requires a bit of interface electronics

Kwality Photonics Pvt. Ltd.  A Indian supplier of blue seven segment LED displays.

Lextronic: a French electronics supplier.

Lite-On Electronics manufactures a broad line of opto-electronic products including blue LED displays.  Check out this site for technical information and the full product line catalog.  Go to Digi-Key to buy. is the Internet marketing arm of AZ Displays. Check these guys out for both character and graphic LCD display panels.

Maplin Electronics has several stores spread across the UK plus a nice web site.

Marlin P. Jones & Associates carry an assortment of electronic components, magnets, small motors, magnet wire, switches,...

Matrix Orbital supplies serial interface LCD modules

MCM Electronics supplies a variety of consumer electronics items and parts.

Merconnet is a Canadian firm with offices over a good portion of the globe. They sell consumer electronics. They may be a good source for small LCD color displays for use in your CDU simulation.

Mendelson Electronics Company, Inc. handles surplus and liquidation sales of assorted goodies including electronics, knobs, and motors.

Miller Technologies is an LCD display source with a wide variety.

The MP3PlayerStore.Com sells several small format television LCD monitors that may have some use as displays in simulated CDUs.  The resolution may not be up to VGA standards, but with the availability of video out graphics cards and the low price of these monitors, perhaps they are worth considering.

Mouser Electronics Another broad line electronics parts distributor.  On-line catalog with good service.  Has knobs similar to Airbus style, and low cost Miyama illuminated push button switches.

Oatley Electronics is an Australian "supplier of kits and surplus electronics". They carry a few stepping motors.

Ocean State Electronics carries a small offering of RF related components including small diameter magnet wire useful for winding air-core movements.

Omni Vision. Inc. is an industrial supplier of LCD and CRT monitors.  In particular, they supply small size units that are difficult to find through normal retail channels.

Parts Express Electronics Interesting assortment of consumer electronics repair and overrun(?) items.  Source of LCD display modules, cameras, amplifiers, what have you.

QualityKits is a Canadian distributor of Velleman kits including some interesting USB interfaces.

The Qume Division of Hafra Elektronik GmbH sells LCD and CRT based monitors and terminals, some of which are relatively small, perhaps making them suitable for your glass cockpit project.

Rapid Electronics Ltd. is a UK based supplier offering a broad product line and having a good online presence.

RS Components is a UK firm selling a wide variety of items including electronics.

Scott Edwards Electronics, Inc. (AKA "Seetron") sells a variety of small LCD multi-line character displays.  Also shown on the on-line catalog are vacuum fluorescent (blue) displays that may be of interest to Airbus aficionados. 

Selectronic is a electronics supplier located in France.

Shinano Kenshi Corporation manufactures a variety of small motors including steppers.  Site offers on line technical data.

SMK Corporation manufactures a variety of switches, connectors and touch panels. What you might find of particular interest are the multi-way switches useful for hat switches, and the rotary pulse switches that pulse one terminal when turn clockwise and another terminal which turned counter-clockwise.

Surplustronics, located in Auckland, NZ, carries a varying stock of electronic parts and components.

Timeline, Inc. is a small firm that specializes in closeouts of electronic assemblies.  The product list changes frequently, so there is no guarantee that what you see today will be offered tomorrow.  They have carried small format CRT and LCD displays that might be suitable for a homebrewed CDU/FMC.  Documentation is sometimes available, but we're not talking about a big time, supported product line here, folks.  Still, prices are low, and you might get lucky.  Check it out.

Tundra Electronics, LLC. carries an assortment of consumer electronics including small LCD video displays (5 and 7 inch models). Sale prices have been attractive in the past. These are a possibility for CDU and small panel displays if you can live with the lower resolution.

Velleman is a wide range supplier of electronic components to the European community.

Vetco Electronics carries surplus electronics in the Bellevue Washington US area.  


Flight Controls & Switches - Flight Rated

One or two of these firms price their products in a range approachable by the well heeled hobbyist. Mostly, however, these links are here because the sites provide technical information: dimensional data, wiring diagrams,  pictures, etc.

Cameron and Sons Aircraft sells stick grips.

Eaton is one of several manufacturers of aerospace rated switches and indicators.

Infinity Aerospace makes grips for small aircraft: homebuilt, ag, etc.

Janco: Aerospace goodie maker, now part of Esterline -Mason.

Jay-El is another manufacturer of aerospace-rated goodies.

Korry was the first to make illuminated pushbuttons with lamps replaceable from the front. Rather pricey for the home crowd, but an interesting site nonetheless.

Mason-Electric manufactures aerospace quality flight controls, switches, yokes and grips for both commercial and military use.  Has an on-line, pdf-format catalog with a great many dimensioned drawings.

Otto Controls has aerospace quality flight control grips, trim toggles, 2-way, 4-way, 8-way switches.

Peerless Electronics is a stocking distributor for a variety of commercial and milspec aviation knobs, switches, etc. 

StacoSwitch manufactures heavy duty industrial and aerospace switches. (Thanks, Trallucio for the link.)


Flight Controls -Recreational

Build Your Own Arcade Controls is an extensive resource for the DIY crowd pursuing home game consoles. There is a fair amount of info of interest to the flight sim hobbyist as well.

CH Products makes retail (gaming) yokes, joysticks, and pedals.  They also have an OEM (industrial) division.

Happ Controls manufactures and distributes controls, displays, and repair parts for amusement, vending, gaming, interactive and industrial systems. - Joystick Documents:  This is a great informational site by Tomi Engdal.

GoFlight makes radio stacks and mode control panels that works with MSFS98/2K/2K2, CFS2, X-Plane and Fly! II

Logitech makes keyboards, pointing devices, joysticks/gaming devices.


Precision Flight Controls, Inc. manufactures professional quality PC based flight training hardware.  These are not gaming items, rather they are heavy duty, rather expensive items targeting the flight training market. Still, you get what you pay for, and if you're looking for gear that looks real and has a professional feel about it, check these guys out.

Saitek gamepads, joysticks, wheels, PDA accessories, etc.

SimWare Simulations is a European (Brussels) hobby store carrying a broad assortment of software and hardware including controls, panels, pedals, etc.

Steve Hanley has some DIY helicopter controls at Steve's Helicopter Controls. He's also one of the people behind DodoSim, a very realistic B206 addon for MSFS.

The Stickworks is another really good information resource about PC game controllers.

Thrustmaster manufactures a broad range of gaming controls including what has to be one of the best set of controls for fighter jet simmers, the HOTAS Cougar.  (A good resource for Cougar users is Cougar World)


Flight Simulation Events and Conferences

Avsim puts on an annual conference. Check the Avsim forum for current conference information.


International Flightsim Convention hosts gatherings around the world. Check their site for event summaries.

ITSEC, the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference is an annual professional conference. 


Flight Sim Forums

Many people participate in hobby flight simulation. You can find many of them visiting sites like these. Drop in and say "Hi", get your questions answered, and answer some of theirs.

Air Cockpit "le forum des constructeurs de simulateurs". A French language forum for cockpit builders. An active site with pictures and talented builders.

Avsim Good starting point for all things flight sim.  Daily updates.  Very active, multi-threaded forum.

If you want to drop in on the German F-16 simulator community, check out

Check-Six.Com is a French language flight simulation forum.

Cockpit Builders is a tight knit community which focuses on DIY sim building.

The Dutch Flight Simulator Site offers information, downloads and a forum.

Escuadron111 is a Spanish language site focused on fighter aircraft simulations.

Falcon Chile

Falcon UK

Fighter Ops has a pit builder forum

Fly Engravity has a builder's forum. - Flight Simulator is a French language forum mostly focusing on MS Flight SImulator.

Freeflight Design Shop is an excellent resource for MS Flight Simulator enthusiasts wanting to learn modelling.

Flight Sim has a great "how-to" section in addition to its forums, reviews and news.

FSCB is the Flight Simulation Club Belgium, hosting a forum and information.

The Flightsim Network has a forum covering a variety of topics included a nicely attended conference area for cockpit builders.

Flight Simulator Nordic: news, information, forum and links. is a German language site offering tips, a few products, a respectable list of links, and of course, a forum.

Frugal's World was a good source of news and editorials about simulation and gaming. It had a large forum area. Sigh! Frugal's is no more.

Fly Away Simulation is a portal to flight sim news, information, a forum, chatroom and store.

Take a look at FS World for news, an FS2k2 forum, reviews and FS Radio, net radio dedicated to simming.

The guys over at G2Interactive host a forum for F4OIR and F5.

There is a small support forum at Gadroc's Workshop for helios.

The Home Cockpit Software Developer Team offers freeware, payware, and a small forum all focusing on home cockpit projects.

Hovercontrol is a meeting place for flight simulation enthusiasts using the helicopter models in MSFS.

KiwiSim covers all types of sims.

MyCockpit is probably the largest English language forum dedicated to the flight sim cockpit/flight deck home builder. is a Spanish/English language site offering tutorials, a forum and links.

The Philippine Flight Simmer's Group has a small forum and chat area. Visit and make it bigger.

simHQ is a very broad based simulation resource.  Pretty much any simulation topic is addressed, aviation, tanks, warfare,... 

simFlight Network - lots of news and more. In particular, there is a thread specifically for Pete Dowson's FS Modules. If you have a simpit or are planning one you very likely use or will use one of Pete's modules; FSUIPC, WideFS, etc. Please check this forum if you are having difficulty. There's a good chance you'll find a solution, and it will cut down of the email Pete has to sift through. There is also a Cockpit Builder's Forum.

Simpits has a very good list of links, as well as some how-to info.

The Viperpit forum is the best English language for F-16 simulator enthusiasts.

Virtual Flight is a Brazilian forum and news site.

The Virtual Italian Air Force focuses on Falcon 4. This Italian language site carries news, Falcon installation and operation information, and has a forum.


Flight Sim Magazines

Computer Pilot has seen a lot of growth recently.  PC Aviator, Inc. acquired both Micro Wings and Flight Simulator World, merging them with Computer Pilot which is now published monthly.

PC Pilot  A UK-based magazine focusing on the needs the flight simulator enthusiast.

Rotorwash Magazine is free, pdf format e-zine. Registration required.


Flight Simulators, Commercial

There are a few items offered by commercial manufacturers that a hobbyist might buy, but the real value in these sites is the information they offer. Browse them. Get a few ideas.

Advanced Simulation Systems carries a broad range of simulation products ranging from individual controls and panels up through complete systems.

Aero Simulation, Inc. makes specialty simulators to contract.

Alsim is a European manufacturer of flight training devices and visual systems.

Atlantis Systems International provides training solutions for the aviation industry.

CAE is a major Canadian supplier of flight simulation components and systems.

Command Fliteware, International is building up a nice collection of panels, software and other flight sim goodies. 

cueSim has acquired Motionbase.  The new web site presents a meager amount of info on the combined company's products.

Electronica Mecanica y Control, S.A. (alternate link) has the "Real Simulator" project under weigh with the goal of creating a "hyper realistic flight booth" based on an F-16 that goes so far as to incorporate a 6-DOF motion platform. They have an extremely impressive set of rudder pedals available now with an Aces style seat coming soon. The site has both English and Spanish language sides.

Fidelity Flight Simulation, Inc. offers "smaller" full motion flight simulators.  Their systems make use of X-Plane from Laminar Research.

Flightdeck Technology is an upcoming UK firm planning to provide both professional and hobby flight training devices and sims.

Frasca makes a wide variety of simulators and flight training devices for helicopters and general aviation aircraft.

High Rev Simulators is a small firm that focuses on military fighter sims. Outa my price range, but the site's well worth visiting. (It's my understanding that they don't sell to hobbyists.) They show the steps taken to make molds from flight hardware as they duplicate the controls.

Link Simulation and Training is the "Link" of the original Link trainer.

LFS Technologies offers a range of linux-based flight sim products and services to both the professional and hobbyist.

The Merlin Flight Simulation Group is comprised of two flight sim companies. Merlin manufactures small full motion simulators.

Micro Cockpit is a European firm that manufactures custom simulators for both big and small customers.  They have an ongoing Falcon 4 related F-16 project that looks extraordinary.  Micro Cockpit is a European distributor for EPIC products.

Pacific Simulators is a newly formed New Zealand company that grew out of a garage hobby sim project. 

ReaSim, LLC is an R&D and systems integration firm focusing on high tech solutions to government and commercial simulation and training. This small web site has a number of interesting that may suggest DIY approaches to simpit construction 

Viper-Pits is a product of Advanced Computer Concepts, a firm offering commercial grade F-16 simulators.


Flight Simulators, Open Source

The Flightgear open source flight simulator project is a very broad collaboration aiming to develop a flight simulation framework for use in academic, research and personal projects.  Both source code and binaries are available. The code will run on a variety of platforms including Windows and several flavors of Unix.

The Open Source Glass Cockpit Project is pretty much what its name implies.  It's based on OpenGL and addresses both Windows and Unix based sims.  If you have any thoughts about writing code for glass cockpits, you should check these guys out.


Flight Simulator Companies having a Specific Focus on the Hobby Market

Admittedly, this is a clunky title. I wanted to highlight these companies because they are a unique resource for the hobby flight sim builder. They are generally started and run by aviation enthusiasts and offer a small product line of specialty, hard to find sim components. I did not want these listings to get lost among all the others on this page.

Aerosim Solutions builds custom simulator components in Australia.

Aircraft Controls Engineering (ACE) makes a realistic, column mounted 737 yoke.

C-Tek Flight Controls makes custom helicopter flight simualtor controls.

Cockpit passion offers Airbus style sim parts.

CockpitSonic "The supplier for simulators and parts".

CPflight produces Boeing and Airbus styled hardware for flight simulation.

Creative Cockpits manufactures full scale model kits for the Spitfire and Messerschmitt 109 cockpit sections.

CSI Cockpit Simulations has back lit, replica panels for various commercial aircraft.  CSI also carries keyboard encoders that handle four rotary encoders as well as a single rotary encoder KB encoder.

DuoPanel is a source for various printed circuit board projects like FSBUS.

emuteq Emulation Technology builds/sells fight simulation hardware like radio heads.

Flight Deck Solutions is probably the poster child for sim hobbyist makes good. All manner of products for Boeing and Airbus home sim hobbyists. (Also see JetMax)

Flight Sim Electronics is the source of the Xinterface, a USB joystick controller.

Flight Systems Ltd. offers items for F-16 sims including some very hard to find switches.

FlightSimParts supplies "Parts and info for flight simulators".

Fly Engravity offers assorted parts for both Boeing and Airbus style sims.

Gold Medal Sim Parts offers Boeing, Airbus, and Cessna parts. Most appear to be wood. A few a cast metal.

HISPAPanels offers a growing assortment of Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and custom panels for use in simulators.

Opencockpits is the home for IOcards.

Paccus Interfaces BV makes joysticks with hydraulic damping and force feedback.

PolDragonet Flight Simulators is a Polish site offering a growing list of B737NG sim parts.

PLUGnFLY is developing products for low cost flight simulators.

ProSimParts offers relatively low cost Boeing-style panels for flight sim hobbyists.

Routech is a Romanian company which produces simulator yokes and flight grips for assorted aircraft.

Ryan Aerospace makes a range of fixed and rotary wing simulators. Some are targeted at gamers.

Ruscool Electronics makes components for both commercial and home sims.

SC Simulation Products used to offer parts for F-16 and A-10 sims. There have been some changes. I don't know what's planned.

Sim Samurai offers plans and parts kits for an assortment of hobby flight sims.

Simparts has "parts and accessories for home cockpit building".

Simpit Technologies is a New Zealand company specializing in multiplurpose simulators. They have some nice looking, wide field of view display systems.

Simquip is an Australian source of Boeing and Airbus simulator parts.

SimVionics makes backlit panels for big iron sims.

The Simulator Store is a source of information and parts for people who are interested in F-16 and F-18 simulators.

Sismo Soluciones S.L. offers a small but growing line of B737NG sim products.

Skalarki supplies parts for Airbus sims.

Throttletek Aviation Simulation Technology develops and markets flight simulation products.

Viper Panels makes incredibly realistic light plates for F-16 sims. This is Mike Williams' company.


Fresnel Lens Sources

Fresnel lenses can boost the sim experience by moving the image on your monitor to optical infinity, as well as, making the image larger. If that makes no sense to you, take look here and here. If you are planning to use a large lens directly in front of your monitor, you will be most successful looking at companies that supply health care aids for the visually impaired. These are companies like Maxiaid and Independent Living Aids. Both are listed below along with a few competitors. Please let me know if you find a good source not listed here. Thanks.

AWI Industries in California, USA lists a wide variety of Fresnel lenses on their site. 

Although not an optical house, you shouldn't forget Ebay. Fresnel lenses do show up there from time to time. has a fantastic assortment of Fresnel lenses. Sadly the largest appears to be 10" x 10". Still, if you're experimenting, this may be the place to start looking.

Alltronics lists a couple of large (30" x 40") Fresnel lenses for use in solar furnaces. No information about the quality. Look in the "lenses" section.

Edmund Industrial Optics  is a good source of large, high quality acrylic fresnel lenses.  Also has some on-line tutorials about optics.

Ideal Shopping Direct, a UK based on-line store,  occasionally carries large "magnifiers" which are, in fact, plastic fresnel lenses.  When in stock, it is listed in the "Help at Home" on-line catalog. 

Independent Living Aids sells a variety of plastic magnifiers.  Look for "frame magnifiers".

JML Optical Industries is another good source. 

Maxiaid.Com offers several different sizes of TV screen enlargers that appear to be plastic Fresnel lenses.  Look in the low-vision portion of their on-line catalog.

Office Depot carries an 8 1/2 by 11 plastic fresnel lens called a page magnifier.  It not the greatest quality, but for a price of just a few dollars, it provides a cheap way to start experimenting.

R. C. Simulations carries a 25" (diagonal) fresnel lens for UK£59.95.

Worldwide Vision Webshop sells a variety of screen enlargers.


Hardware Information Reviews, Opinions & News.

Say you're thinking about upgrading your system or maybe you're really tempted by the latest and greatest video card and while you don't really need it, it sure would be nice, or maybe...  Bottom line is, you want to make an informed decision, but can't bear to wait for the next issue of your favorite PC rag.  If so, check out these guys:

AnandTech bills itself as "your source for hardware analysis and news".  Well, personally, I think you need to decide that, but in any case it's certainly a a very, very good site.

Also check out Ars Tecnica with a byline of "the pc enthusiast's resource".

CNet offers product reviews along with shopping and techie news.

Extreme Overclocking Articles, news, etc. for those who wish to push their PC to the limit.

ExtremeTech: hardware, software, news, reviews, tutorials,...

[H]ard|OCP carries news and reviews of gaming systems.

HardwareZone: more news reviews & previews. "UK technology news and reviews".

Hot Hardware tests and reports on "only the hottest hardware".

PCWorld magazine's site has a lot of good info on it.

Tom's Hardware has great reviews and comparisons of mobos, processors, video cards, printers, etc.


Head Mounted Displays

A Survey of Augmented Reality. Ronald T. Azuma in Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, Vol. 6, No. 4, pages 355-385; August 1997.  (link URL is to a pdf file.)

Kaiser Electro-Optics has a wide variety of display systems including HUDs and display engines in addition to the head mounted units.

Microvision produces miniature display and imaging systems based on micro-miniature optical scanners on silicon chips.  Pretty cool!

Recent Advances in Augmented Reality. Ronald T. Azuma, Yohan Baillot, Reinhold Behringer, Steven K. Feiner, Simon Julier and Blair MacIntyre in IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Vol. 21, No. 6. pages 34-47; November/December 2001. (link URL is to a pdf file.) is a vendor of 3D and virtual reality goodies.  The site also has an interesting table listing and briefly describing commercial and military head mounted displays.


Interface Electronics

Active Wire, Inc.  makes and sells a variety of PC interfacing products including USB.

Allegro MicroSystems manufactures a broad range of power integrated circuits. just the thing for interfacing your micro controller to a motor.

Beta Innovations is a supplier of high quality USB interfaces for flight sim use. BI also supplies Key Board Studio, an application that can send a sequence of keystroke Windows messages to your flight sim software in response to switch activity.

Beyond Logic is an information site about interfacing to personal computers.  You'll find a great deal about serial and parallel ports, as well as USB and other topics.

Leo Bodnar has a basic UBS interface configured as an expanded HID joystick device. It has 8 analog axes, 32 buttons and a hat switch. He is selling the chip alone, as well as a basic board hosting the chip. ("HID" refers to "Human Interface Device" class USB devices.  Windows includes basic drivers for HID classes, so you can use Leo's chip without having to worry about driver software).

CH Products has an OEM site that has heavy duty industrial products. Of particular interest is the USB kit, but all the OEM product are worth taking a look at.

Igor Cesko's page has a lot of interesting stuff for anyone who likes home brewing their own interface gear.

CSI, Custom Sensors Inc. carries a variety of USB adapters: USB to serial, USB to gameport, USB to PTR, etc.

CWAV offers a pair of USB development boards along with a variety of free software.

Delcom Engineering offers programmed USB interface chips, development kits and software based on the Cypress CY7C63001A and CY7C63101A chips.

Desktop Aviator offers some nifty, low cost USB  switch interfaces, as well as, some avionics switch boxes patterned after Cessna functionality. In the owner's own words, you can "Tweak your Flight Time with our Cessna Avionics Panels. An Inexpensive Flight Simulator Add-on that re-creates the Realism of Actual Flight." The site also offers a growing list of tutorial articles of interest to the flight sim hobbyist.

DLP Design offers the FTDI USB interface board.  The site also has a copy of an article originally published in Nuts & Volts showing how to use it. offers a daughter board ($70US) that supports Ethernet, has an internal TCP/IP stack, and a 16 bit port.  The site has app notes and sample code.

Peter Cos and his compatriots over at Flight Deck Solutions have a USB based interface system called TEKWorx/FDS. 

Flight Illusion has expanded their product line to include an I/O module, the "GSA-10".

Future Technology Devices International, (FTDI) makes the FT8U245AM integrated circuit which contains the core circuitry for a USB interface.

Gigatechnology Pty Ltd a.k.a. Ravar Pty Ltd is an Australian firm with a couple of neat USB interface products.  They offer drivers and coding examples as well.  Take their USB I/O 24, their driver, a bit of your own VB or VC++ code, toss in Peter Dowson's FSUIPC and FSUIPC_User.lib and you've got yourself a USB link into MSFS.

Hagstrom Electronics has a couple of products to interface keypads, switches or RS-232 to a PC keyboard port.

Marius of Marius Circuits has created a circuit board for a simulated CDU. The board connects to an Opencockpits USBKeys card. Marius made use of the Hispapanels FMC for the CDU, but, as he points out, you could make your own if you wished.

Ross Meeks (aka LazerPotatoe) has written a tutorial on "Creating a SIM Panel". It makes use of a commercially available USB game controller from Ultimarc and a software utility called SVMapper that converts changes in switch positions reported by the game controller into key strokes that are sent to the simulation application.

P. I. Engineering makes programmable key pads, in particular, they are the manufacturer of X-Keys.

Padix Co. Ltd. is the manufacturer of the Rockfire line of game controllers.  Of particular interest is their RM-203 USB to game port converter.  You can use this to interface your homebrew flight controls to your PC through a USB port.  Check out the specs on this web site, but do a web search for a source with a good price.

Phidgets are "physical widgets for prototyping physical user interfaces."  These are USB interface modules offered in a variety of sizes.  Phidgets, Inc. (and PhidgetsUSA) has a library of free driver software for their products.  

Pololu offers products for the robot enthusiast, but of particular interest to the simpit builder are the servo controllers that will allow 8 or 16 RC servos to be wired to a serial com port.

R&R Electronics Home of the EPIC interface card.  

Rabbit Semiconductor has microprocessor core modules with built in Ethernet.

Siteplayer is another source for small modules / daughter boards that provide a programmable micro with Ethernet connectivity.

TINI: Tiny InterNet Interface looks like a fairly powerful reference design by Dallas Semiconductor for connecting anything to an Ethernet segment.  Programmed in java, accompanied by lots of on-line resources and with a price as low as $50US, this little board deserves a look.

Velleman produces a number of useful kits, for example the K8055 USB Interface . Velleman kits are carries by a variety of electronics suppliers.

Vetra Systems, Inc. sells PC keyboard interfacing products.

The USB Organization is where USB device manufacturers register their vendor ID and product IDs.  The organization coordinates these registrations, assuring each is unique.

WeedTech is not specifically targeting the recreational flight sim market, but the have some pretty neat, modular I/O units that you can stack onto the serial port.  Prices aren't outrageous, and you get some software too.


Keyboard Encoders

Audon Electronics has several models of keyboard encoders.

Blue Side Up has a keyboard encoder that handles four rotary encoders.  He also sells mechanical rotary encoders with an integral push switch.

CSI Cockpit Simulations has keyboard encoders that handle four rotary encoders as well as a single rotary encoder KB encoder.  CSI also carries back lit, replica panels for various commercial aircraft.

Hagstrom Electronics sells several models of keyboard encoders that scan arrays of switches.

You'll find a keyboard encoder along with a variety of other simulator related items on the German ITRA site.

Opencockpits offers a USB keyboard encoder called USBKeys.

P.I. Engineering makes a variety of useful PC peripherial devices including the X-Key programmable keyboard.


Lens-Collimated Display Systems

Bugeye Technologies, Inc. is a Boeing spin-off commercializing display technology originally developed in a study for military fighter sim visual display systems. Since the Bugeye boys are specifically marketing to the cost-conscious video game arcade segment, the system prices should be a bit lower than expected from the DOD. Maybe even low enough for us. Check it out.


Mirror-Collimated Display Systems

CAE is a major Canadian supplier of flight simulation components and systems.  The site has some basic sales info about the display systems.

CockpitSonic offers basic mirror collimated displays.

Display & Optical Technologies, Inc. fabricates many of the collimating mirrors used in commercial flight simulators.

Glass Mountain Optics makes modular mirror-collimated display units that can be used individually, or arranged side by side for panoramic views. A note on their web site indicates they sell recreational quality components for use by experimenters.

Q4 Services LLC services collimation mirrors for simulators. They both repair mirror systems built by other firms and sell their own products.

SEOS Displays, Ltd.  makes reflective collimated displays and components. 

"Aluminised Mylar as a Flux Collector" by Maurice Gavin. Originally published in the May, 1979 issue of Sky & Telescope, it has recently been put on the author's web site

"Membrane Mirror Based Display for Viewing 2D and 3D Images" by McKay, Mason, Mair, Waddell and Fraser discusses stretchable membrane mirrors developed at the University of Strathclyde. Well worth reading if you have any interest in mirror collimated display systems. Also by the same authors is "Stereoscopic Display Using a 1.2-M Diameter Stretchable Membrane Mirror".

"The Varifocal Membrane Mirror" by L. Van Warren is available on the web here.


Motion System Information

Aeronautical Systems Engineering makes relatively low-cost 2-, 3- and 6-DOF electric motion base systems. 

A Motion Flight Simulator, On the Cheap is a very informative site about building a motion base, well,,,, on the cheap.

Classicsim Motion Base describes a 3-DOF (pitch, roll & heave) hydraulic motion system.

"CW" has built a couple motion base simulators, one for a two DOF (degree of freedom) Beech Baron flight simulator and another for a car sim. He is working on five DOF concept. His site is "CW's Homemade motion flightSim cockpit".

DIY 3-DOF Flight Simulator Motion Cockpit is a seriously interesting site describing an advanced hobby level motion system capable of pitch, roll and heave.

Flightgear has a 3-DOF flight simulation chair that is operated by air pressure. Not exactly DIY, but interesting nonetheless.

Full Motion Simulation 

InMotion Simulation is a commerical supplier of "low-cost" motion platforms.

Motion for Simulators is a Belgian company supplying motion bases.

Motion Platform Simulator describes a light weight, 2-DOF (pitch and roll) flight simulator which uses a pair of electric motors.

Roland van Roy has a very information-rich flight simulation site with a must-read section on motion systems.

Simulator Motion, Home built motion platform contains a link to YouTube of a video demo-ing a test of software extracting data from flight simulator X.

X-Sim Cross Simulator Software offers "universal and free software to control pneumatic and hydraulic self-made simulators with up to 4 axis..."

YouTube is a popular posting site for people experimenting with motion systems. Try using search terms like "motion" and "simulation".


Multiple Monitor Displays

Check the Microsoft support page for your particular (MS) operating system.  The multi-monitor wizard does not support all makes and brands of video adapters, so you should check to see that yours is on the list.

The Shetland Flyer has a good overview article about WidevieW along with some impressive pictures of the multi-monitor system Rory Gillies has put together with it.

WideFS, FSUIPC, the FSUIPC SDK and other useful Peter Dowson utilities are available from Enrico Schiratti's site.

WidevieW, This is the download site for Luciano Napolitano's wonderful freeware program and documentation.

WidevieW support board is moderated by the Luciano Napolitano himself.  It is hosted by the Escape Airlines Pilot's Lounge forum.


PICMicro References

Micro controllers have become the universal glue that can hold all the assorted pieces of your sim together. They can emulate keyboards, become the heart of a simulated instrument and interface between this and that. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once there you will find these inexpensive items to be invaluable.

Crownhill Associates is a UK firm offering a PIC Basic compiler.  There are a few other PIC related goodies there along with a forum. (Alternate link.)

DIY Electronics has a vast array of electronic kits including several micro controller device programmers. Often, the kit documentation, including the schematic, is available on the site. You can't generally order through the site, but it does point you toward a retailer local to you.

FS Bus is a German language site describing a PIC micro-based project that interfaces switches and LED displays to a PC running MSFS.  Nicely done, quite informative, and includes downloads.

Nigel Goodwin's site offers an excellent opportunity to introduce yourself to the PICmicro.  He has compiled a handful of tutorials, as well as, presented designs for simple hardware experiments to accompany the tutorials.  But wait! There's more!  Nigel has also written and made available for free download, an extremely versatile programming module called WinPicProg which can drive a variety of simple PIC programmers.  There is also a schematic for one such simple device.

HI-TECH Software markets a variety of C language compilers and cross-compilers. The also offer a freeware,  "lite version" of their ansi standard C compiler for PIC micro controllers.

IC-Prog is a very versatile Windows application by Bonny Gijzin for driving an assortment of device programmers. If you're looking for freeware to program your PICs, you should check this one out.

The JDM Homepage is the source for schematics of some very simple, very inexpensive device programmers by Jens Dyekjaer Madsen. 

The MicroChip web site is of course a major, major reference.  Besides finding all the data sheets here, you will have the opportunity to download a free integrated development environment which includes an editor, an assembler and a simulator.

Check out microEngineering Labs for Basic and C compilers, prototyping tools, serial LCDs and programmers for PICmicros.

Newfound Electronics is a small company that makes and sells the Warp-13 PIC programmer. Comes with software, occasional firmware updates, and works with Microchip's MPLAB.

OOPIC, Object oriented PIC modules.

Olimex has a number of micro controller programmer options, links to programming software, and prototyping boards. Not limited to PICs.

The PICALL site by Bojan Dobaj describes the PICALL and P16PRON devices programmers and the PICALLW windows software that runs them.

PICLIST.COM is a shared collection of projects, comments, notes, issues, solutions, links and what-have-you related to PICmicro controllers and similar devices.  There is a lot of good information, but it is likely to be confusing for the really green PIC-newbie.  A visit to Nigel Goodwin's site first might help.

Myke Predko is the author of a variety of books on micro controllers including Programming and Customizing PICmicro MicrocontrollersMyke's site offers a schematic for, and software to drive, the "El Cheapo" PICmicro programmer.

Reynolds Electronics offers compilers, books and a large number of tutorials/projects related to PICs.

Spark Fun Electronics offers several types of micro controller programmers as well as prototyping supplies.



Cyro Plastics Manufacturer and supplier of acrylics.  Has an on-line information warehouse covering properties of plastics as well as techniques of working with them.

Reflective Security, LLC is a US supplier of acrylic front-surface and partially-silvered mirrors.

Nielsen Enterprises sells several thickness of aluminized Mylar for greenhouse use. Looks pretty good for experiments with flexible membrane mirrors too.

The Plastic Shop is a UK supplier of all sorts of plastics including first surface acrylic mirror.

Professional Plastics has a very broad product line.

TAP Plastics Supplier of various sheet, rod and bar plastics, casting resins, aluminized Mylar, etc.

Unites States Plastic Corp carries a broad range of plastic material and plastic products. They have a good web site with online ordering, and offer a print catalog for those who prefer snail mail.


Projection Systems

Check out Audio Visualizers site for the build your own LCD projector project.  It has some basic information along with a few links to others project web sites. 

Precision Flight Controls has entered the sim projection system arena with its wide area Visual Wrap display system. The pictures on their site look really nice. sells projectors, screen, lenses and accessories.  There are also tidbits of information distributed throughout the site.

Stewart Film sells curved screen virtual reality projection systems. 



Ejection Site has a wealth of information on ejection seats.

Hellseat 2000  is a DIY, modular fighter jet cockpit.

Check out Jacco Van Schaik's blog for his sim seat II tutorial.

Martin Schmitt has an incredible F-16 simulator and has posted TurboCAD drawings on his site.

Matt Wietlispach's site  (new site link) shows you what talent, perseverance, and, I suspect, a very tolerant significant other can do.

Playseats B.V. markets to the racing sim crowd, but could be used for flight sim just the same.. 

Summit Racing Equipment sells seats for use in cars. They work in sims too.

The Tactile Feedback System V2.0 is a commercial product incorporating motors into a seat that are used to produce vibration under the control of a special controller or a sound card.


Space Flight Simulations

I grew up reading science fiction, Heinlein, then Niven, and now Weber's Honor Harrington series.  (and a whole lot in between)  So of course I just have to list these:

BC3000AD is of course the home of the Battle Cruiser series of space warfare games.  Battle Cruiser Millennium is the latest release in the series. 

Binary Star, Ltd. offers a simulation of the space shuttle.

Eagle Lander 3D is a simulation of the lunar landing portion of the Apollo 11 mission.

Earth and Beyond is an on-line role playing game by Electronics Arts.

Exoflight is advertised as "the ultimate space flight simulator".  This site also has a forum on space flight simulation.

Freelancer, offered by Microsoft, is part first person shooter and part RTS.

After 10 years as THE OS/2 space game, Galactic Civilizations is making it to the PC domain.  This is a RTS game, and while there is some space warfare, diplomacy, trade and politics have a large part.

ILM: Isis, the Lunar Module is a LEM sim by Ivan Scheers.

Off-world Resource Base (by Strategy First, Inc.) is a strategy game based on the premise of two worlds competing for asteroid belt resources.

Orbiter is a "free space flight simulator"  with realistic orbital dynamics.  The site has a forum.  [Alternate link]  Check here for Orbiter add ons.

Austin Meyer of X-Plane is getting into the space simulator business.  Space Combat is now available from the X-Plane site.  It's pretty basic right now. But that makes it cheap, and Austin says it will grow.  Check it out.

Star Wars Galaxies is a massive multiplayer game set in the Star Wars universe.

Starry Night sells the Deep Space Explorer space sim.

Unistellar Industries is a group of the most amazingly creative, ambitious and productive space flight sim hobbyists you will find.


Throttle Quadrants

Beechhurst Industries designs and manufactures electro-mechanical control systems for aviation (throttle quadrants, landging gear switch simulator, etc.).  Check out the site for a variety of pictures of some very nice products.

Flight Level 8 is a personal site with a number of pictures showing the construction details of throttles, gear switches, and flap levers. Definitely worth a look.

Norbert Bosch has a very informative site for those of you contemplating your own throttle quads. Lots of nicely comments picture showing the construction of his own engine control set.

Sim Hard has built and may sell a very nice looking motorized throttle quad for a simulator.

The Virtual Reality Aircraft Company produces modular flight controls for hobby sims.  Sold as kits, these items promise to boost the overall flight sim experience.