I’ve been trying to juggle my free time lately between playing games, writing and my top-secret side-project: building a simpit! “Simpit” is short for “simulation cockpit”, an environment designed to replicate the cockpit of a vehicle, such as an aircraft or car. Now, I don’t play many flight sims or even car racing games, but I do love me some space fighter and giant robot action! So I embarked on building a fully-enclosed box to play games in.
I’m pretty happy with the overall results – it certainly feels like a cockpit of some sort when you are sitting in it. In hindsight it could have been a little narrower (and maybe a little shorter), but I used MDF sheets of 900 x 1200mm to minimise the number of cuts I needed to make (and thus increase the chance of everything looking symmetrical!). Also, I didn’t want to replicate a classic fighter plane cockpit, where everything is very close together with little wiggle room – I didn’t see that as particularly comfortable for hours of video game play!
The structure is basically a box 900mm wide and just a little longer that 1200mm long (due to the angled front and back) and 1200mm high. The front of the box has a hinged door where the computer and other hardware sits – the door makes it very easy to access everything and switch out stuff if needed. I saw a lot of simpits where the computers were tucked in behind screens or beneath desks, which just looked like a nightmare to deal with if something needed repairing. That front section is divided from the cockpit by a wall where the monitor is mounted . This shortens the space, adding to the sense of enclosure, but allows for plenty of leg room underneath. You access the cockpit by a large side hatch. The opening is big, which makes getting in and out very easy. The chair is an office chair I picked up from a second-hand store (great find!) and is very comfortable.
The exterior needs some detailing (a tail number, kill markings and some nose art, but otherwise is done. The interior is pretty close to done, too. I had all these good intentions of fitting LED switches and dials and things to add to the feel, but in the end some random electronic bits and some simple LED lights do the trick. Exposed conduit and wires add to the feel of a working piece of machinery, over a sleek thing with everything tucked away. Game play simply uses a standard wireless mouse and keyboard (though I am pretty happy with getting the keyboard mounted at an angle, which I find comfortable, and looks pretty cool!
I have to give a big shout out to my Dad, who is far more capable with power tools than I am – this may still be in the very early stages if it wasn’t for his assistance. 🙂 It was a great project to work on, and I really enjoyed investigating simpits built by other fans of space simulators and giant-robot fighting games. I also took for inspiration plenty of screenshots from Mechwarrior Online, Star Wars cockpit builds and screenshots from Battlestar Galactica (the Viper is a very cool machine).
Now, a new project. Maybe some actual writing….