Boy builds a full-scale Cessna Cockpit with Oculus Rift & Arduino

It is a wonderful lesson of life that 17 year old maker and inventor Aidan Fay teaches us with his incredible Cessna 172 cockpit project. After having been forbidden of flying solo by the FAA because of medical condition, he decided to fight for his dreams and built his own full-scale flight simulator using an Oculus rift, an Arduino Mega and various other components.



Arduino Cressna_2

Arduino Cressna_3

Passionate about aviation, computer science, electrical, mechanical and aerospace engineering, he has been building machines, mechanisms and interfaces from a very young age. However, his obsession for flying didn’t stop growing since the time he received a free copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator at the age of 8, told his mother to Make:. Not wanting to let himself down by his medical issue and willing to obtain his private pilot’s license, he decided to build an oculus rift based cockpit simulator from scratch, using standard and affordable components:

« Carefully designing and assembling the parts, Aidan wired the controls and switches into circuit boards. He used MDF and acrylic from the local hardware store, along with high tech components such as Arduino microcontrollers and used, disassembled joysticks he found for sale online. He even found actual airplane rudder pedals on eBay, as well as a real yoke, the airplane’s steering mechanism. » Make:

Arduino Cressna_4

The project, in fact, started with a prototype in 2014 when Aidan bought an Oculus rift. He created his first flight simulator the “WWII Simpi“ but not satisfied with the experience immersion, he decided to develop it further into an entire cockpit. Moreover, he wanted it to be a Cessna 172 cockpit, the one he was learning to fly on.


Arduino Cressna_5

Over the time, Aidan got to ameliorate various features such as the “Force Feedback Yoke“ to make it more realistic and truthful to the Cessna cockpit. He therefore had to replace the initial joystick to a yoke: « … which would simulate control loading (stiffer controls at high speeds) and realistic elevator trim. » he said.


Arduino Cressna_6

Arduino Cressna_7

After having invested more than 200 hours in this project, he is now able to practice flying whenever he wants to. Allowing him to live an experience very close to real conditions. Beside this personal training, Aidan is studying at the San Diego High school in California and takes flight lessons with an instructor until he is able to fly over the world by his own. Hopefully, really soon.

Visit Aidan Fay’s personal website to find more pictures and follow the various steps of his cockpit project.


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