Hello SimHQ! I'm Renic, and I'm new around these parts. I've been lurking this and other forums for quite a while, gathering intel and drooling over all of your amazing creations. I've built two "pits" before, but they were junk compared to the things I've seen here. So I'm stepping up my game and I'm going to try and make something worthy.
First, some history. This was my first pit, Moya. She was basically a big closet.
She was big, heavy, and immobile. I had grand plans for her, but I failed her in the planning stages. I came up with a "gooder enough" design after settling on PVC pipe and 1/8" ply for the frame and skin.
I used about 90' of 1" PVC pipe, six 4'x8' sheets of 1/8" ply, and scrap 3/4" ply that was lying around my garage. Made the seat from an old desk chair, more scrap 3/4" ply, and more PVC. The chair's arm rests were able to raise out of the way of the door.
Here's an internal view after she was "completed":
I stopped work on her after I realized that my design was sorely lacking. I had no space for panels of any type, the seat was just plain wrong and uncomfortable, and she was just too big overall. So I went back to the drawing board. I came up with a new design that was basically Moya 2.0. I deconstructed Moya and out of her burning remains was born Aurora.
I fixed the weight/mobility issue and had spots where I could put some panels, but the seat and comfort issues were still there.
So instead of heading right back to the drawing board, I slept on it for a few months. Mostly because I was unemployed at the time and had no funding, lol.
My goals for a pit are varied:
While I would love to build a replica pit, I want it to be generic. I don't have one specific sim that I fly, and I fly a lot of space sims as well, so something generic works well for me. Originally I wanted a pit that could double as an everyday workstation for computing, hence using an old desk chair for the seat. Now that I have a dedicated workstation, that idea is thrown out the window.
I also want the pit to be enclosed. I don't have the resources to be able to get awesome multi-displays or projectors, so if I can close myself off while I'm flying in my garage, my immersion will be less broken. Also, I want to be able to mount a panel above the seat, to get that futuristic "Millenium Falcon" feel of throwing switches and mashing buttons above my head.
Once I stumbled upon the amazing Akers-Barnes Cockpit designs, I decided that I would use that as a base, and build an enclosure around it. I started off by modeling every part in the plans in Google SketchUp.
Then I assembled the parts to complete the model in SketchUp.
Then I made very rough models of my HOTAS and threw them on the model along with an approximate size monitor and seemingly accurate models of Thrustmaster's MFDs.
Today I made an approximation of the shape that I want to achieve for the enclosure. It's nowhere near final, and is just to get the feel for how it will possibly end up.
I went ahead and bought two sheets of good quality 1/2" ply, and I've started marking them up with the plans.
I feel that this pit is going to come out much better than my previous two attempts; one, due to the experience gained from my past projects; two, because I've chosen what seems to be a very good design to build upon; and three, because I'm taking my time and planning things much better.
Wish me luck, fellas!