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The Virtual Patriots aerobatic team contacted me with a question about the Portable Aviation Combat Simulator or PACS as we call it. PACS has a side mounted joystick and the question was: how can you install the joystick in the center?
In addition - they saw pictures on our website that showed a flight simulator with a center joystick. How did we do that? By the way, this is the old Air Combat Training Simulator. We build this long before we started the DIY flight sim videos.
First of all, there is something to consider when talking about flight simulators and joysticks.
If you've ever flown or sat in an airplane capable of acrobatic flight, you notice quickly that the pilot has to be capable of some acrobatics just to climb into the seat.
Well, we didn't want our flight simulators to be difficult to get in and out of - and we definitely didn't want anyone to trip and fall. That's why PACS has a side-mounted joystick.
But in the early days we experimented with a center joystick. The one you see here was actually on a hinged lever.
It worked like this. The lever would hang vertically from the instrument panel, so you could get in and sit down. When finished flying, you pulled this cord, and lowered the joystick so you could get out easily.
This worked ok, but I don't think it would work for a virtual aerobatic team because the hinge has a little bit of play in it which is not ideal for precise maneuvering.
Fortunately, we can easily modify PACS with a center mounted joystick.
We can extend the existing frame forward and up, and attach a joystick to it.
Here is the original seat frame.
Unbolt and remove the seat. We're going to remove the the two 90 degree elbows on the front of the frame. We assembled this with self-drilling screws, so disassembly is easy.
Right here we replaced the 90 degree elbows with T shaped connectors. This is a 3" length of pipe, a 90 degree elbow here, another 3" length of pipe, and another 90 degree elbow. In between is a 4" length of pipe to connect to the other side. On top, is a 1x6 board, cut 6" long and attached with deck screws.
We also applied strips of industrial strength Velcro for the joystick.
Now replace the seat.
And attach the joystick with Velcro.
Make sure the joystick is in a comfortable position for you. You may need it a little farther away or higher. If so, just replace the proper pipe with a longer length, then secure everything with self-drilling screws.
Notice you will need rudder pedals with a wide stance like the Saitek or Logitech pedals.
It will be a little more difficult getting in and out of the simulator now.
When exiting the simulator, it's easiest to back out.
If you want to get a better look at these pictures of our previous simulator, they're on our website. Click the link in the show notes. Some of these pictures have never been published before. The transcript for this video is also posted there.
And here's a link to the Virtual Patriots Aerobatic Team. They have really excellent videos.