Links

This page is a reference to vendors, sites for hardware, software, electronics, etc that I have found helpful during my build or to the hobby of flight simulation in general.

Sections:

Community Forums


Builder Sites


  • Flaps 2 Approach – WilloW has put together an amazing repository of knowledge in building and running a 737 NG simulator.  His detailed explanations and shared experience of things we all are going to cross sooner or later has helped me immensely.   Highly recommended!
  • 737ng.co.uk – Another really detailed resource for real 737 NG cockpit building.

Flight Simulators and Software


Some of my favorite Flight Simulator Software and Scenery designers:

Simulators

  • Lockheed Martin Prepar3dhttps://www.prepar3d.com
    • My current and most used sim.  Probably 95 percent of my flights are done in it.  I probably have thousands of dollars tied up in addons for it now.
  • X-Plane 11http://www.x-plane.com
    • It has steadily been improving and version 11 really stands out, especially at night.  Probably my next most used sim, maybe 3 percent of the time.
  • AeroFly FS2https://www.aerofly.com
    • A budding simulator, especially for virtual reality.  It will be exciting to see where they take it but for now it’s not complete enough to use as a complex aircraft sim.  I probably use it about 1 percent of the time, if that.  For now.
  • Dovetail Games Flight Sim Worldhttps://live.dovetailgames.com/live/flight-sim-world
    • A fairly new release to the flight sim community, FSW has its roots in Microsoft FSX.  They’ve done a lot of work to improve it but the community hasn’t jumped on board with it yet so I’m waiting see what happens.  This is another 1 percent of the time sim for me.
  • FSX – I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention good old Microsoft Flight Simulator X (and previous versions).  It was abandoned some time ago and picked up by Dovetail Games.   It’s a dated platform now and while Dovetail is trying to resurrect it, I don’t see much of a future when Prepar3d is out there now.
  • Digital Combat Simulator (DCS) – https://www.digitalcombatsimulator.com – This is primarily a combat simulator and a really good one at that.  It’s world engine has been highly raved about, the aircraft are study level, and the military campaigns are quite complex.

Scenery

  • FlightBeamhttp://www.flightbeam.net
    • In my book, the top large airport designer and Mir is just an all around nice guy.  I own all his products including KSFO, KDEN, KIAD, and KMSP,
  • FlyTampahttp://www.flytampa.com
    • Renowned for their hyper realistic scenery and attention to detail, FlyTampa is at the top of a short list of top quality large airport developers.  I own many of their airports including KFLL, KBOS, KMDW, KTPA, TNCM, and YSSY.
  • FSDreamTeam (FSDT)http://www.fsdreamteam.com
    • Another high quality large airport designer who has created some of my favorite airports like KDFW, KIAH, KJFK, KLAX, and many more.  They also have a great ground services package called GSX which I highly recommend.
  • ORBXhttp://www.orbxdirect.com
    • ORBX is probably one of the most well-known developers in the Flight Sim community.  They have a huge selection of smaller high quality airports, and have worldwide scenery enhancements like FTX Global and Vector landclass.  This basically supercharges all your scenery by replacing it with high quality, region specific land textures in the right spots, roads where they belong, and so much more.  I have a ton of their products and when I’m not flying my photo scenery, I’m always using their textures.
  • MegaSceneryEarthhttp://www.megasceneryearth.com
    • I am a photoreal scenery flier.  As much as I love ORBX products, I just don’t feel as immersed as I do with photoreal scenery.  I want to look down and see what I would see in real life.   The latest Version 3 MSE products are very high quality and low impact on your frames.  Unfortunately, you don’t get much 3D scenery because photoreal scenery tends to mask everything underneath.  But man, does it look good!
  • Black Marblehttp://blackmarble.chrisbelldesigns.com
    • Black Marble adds accurate road lighting across the entire world and it looks amazing!  Really turns Prepar3d into another sim.  Because photoreal tends to hide most 3D objects I turn it off when flying at night.  Then Black Marble is able to truly come to life.  Just be warned, you need a strong CPU and video card to take full advantage.

Here are some more great scenery developers in no particular order…

Utilities

I have found these utilities useful in my simming and building experience…

  • Navigraphhttp://www.navigraph.com – This is one of those MUSTs if you’re doing airline flying.  It keeps your aircraft navigation databases updated with the latest Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs), Standard Arrivals (STARs), airport, and route information.   As part of their subscription you can also get their iPad and desktop charts app.  Well worth the money!
  • PFPXhttp://www.flightsimsoft.com/pfpx/ – A comprehensive and valuable flight plan and dispatch generation tool.
  • SimBriefhttps://www.simbrief.com – An amazing online route planning and dispatch tool, similar to PFPX, but donation-ware.  I LOVE this tool.  It’s web-based, very user friendly and works fantastically.
  • Topcathttp://www.flightsimsoft.com/topcat/ – A very detailed and useful aircraft takeoff and landing performance calculator.

Avionics Software


This is the heart and soul of your sim.  Without a good avionics software that you enjoy using and is simple you’ll just get frustrated all too quickly.  Since I am building a Boeing 737 simulator, here are the current choices available.

My best recommendation is to trial all your options and find out which one you are most comfortable with before you commit.  These are not inexpensive packages.  You can expect to spend up to $1000 USD, likely more.

  • ProSim737https://prosim-ar.com
    • This is the Boeing 737 avionics suite I currently use.  It is constantly updated and supports a HUGE amount of hardware that continues to expand.  Their developers listen, and are active on their forums.  It’s the easiest software I have used to set up and configure and I can’t say enough good things about it.  It is also well supported by a large community user base making finding answers much easier.
  • Sim Avionicshttp://www.sim-avionics.com
    • This is the primary avionics software developer that FlightDeck Solutions partners with.  This was also the original software I tried many years ago but unfortunately my personal experience wasn’t so good which led to my discovery of Prosim and I haven’t looked back.
  • Project Magentahttp://www.projectmagenta.com
    • I have little experience with this avionics suite.  It is probably the oldest avionics suite I can remember.  I can’t really talk about it since I haven’t used it, but I contacted them a while back about a sizeable project and was rather turned off by their responses so I ruled them out.  I’ll leave it at that.

Online Flightsim Stores


While I generally like to order directly from the developer so they can keep more of their money (scenery development takes a LOT of work and a LOT of time), here are some of my favorite stores I buy from occasionally…

Replica Simulator Parts


By no means a comprehensive list, and in no way am I sponsored by any of these.  These are just sites I have found through my research that sell replica flight simulator parts for enthusiasts and who I have found either potentially useful or who I have bought from before (as indicated).

Unfortunately for those of us in North America and Australia, most of these parts come from Europe so there’s always higher shipping costs and the conversion of Dollar to Euro.   So keep your eyes open on the forums and places like eBay for good deals locally.

In alphabetical order:

Real Aircraft Parts


These vendors provide real aircraft parts.  Some can be very expensive.  Many are used equipment.  So you just have to call around to see what you can work.

Electronic Parts and Components


Here are a bunch of places specializing in electronic parts, components, boards, etc.  Keep in mind that some of the product vendors above, like FlightDeck Solutions, Sismo, CPFlight, Opencockpits, etc sell interface boards as well.  So do your research to determine in advance which cards will suit your needs best.

  • DigiKeyhttps://www.digikey.com -Huge selection of electronic components
  • Leo Bodnar Electronicshttp://www.leobodnar.com -Various controller boards compatible with ProSim.  I bought a BU0836X USB card for some potentiometers I wired.  Great card!
  • Newarkhttp://www.newark.com -Another huge selection of electronic components
  • Phidgetshttps://www.phidgets.com -I bought a couple of cards from these guys.  A relay card and LED card.  Great stuff!  Compatible with ProSim.
  • PoLabshttps://www.poscope.com -I bought some PoKeys 57E cards for various switch, LED, 7 Segment, and potentiometers.  These cards are really flexible.  Compatible with ProSim.
  • Powellhttps://powell.com – I found more of my Honeywell locking toggle switches here (make sure to compare prices)
  • Peerless Electronicswww.peerlesselectronics.com – Even more Honeywell locking toggles here (compare prices)
  • Sager Electronicshttps://www.sager.com -I found some of my Honeywell locking toggle switches here (make sure to compare prices)

Computer Hardware


Places to buy parts and pieces for your computer.  No real magic here.  You probably know of these already.

Builder Reference


Sites I’ve used to find reference information on various parts and pieces of the sim.