How a flight sim cockpit helps me to flee on a regular basis life (in a figurative sense)

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Enlarge / The Obutto R3v that’s in the corner of Lee’s office. The two small dark plastic trays on the wings are just that and are a great help both for scribbling notes and for holding food and drinks.

Lee Hutchinson

One of the great things about working from home is that you have a lot of freedom to set up your home office the way you want, whether you perfect your PC setup to make it more comfortable for long days with Zoom meetings or buying weird niche gaming accessories for after-hour fun. Now back at Orbital headquarters, Ars Senior Technology Reporter Andrew Cunningham is interviewing Ars employees about the devices they are using to turn the “home” into the “home office,” starting with Senior Technology Editor Lee Hutchinson and its complicated flight simulation setup.

What’s that thing on your desk / part of your setup / etc that you want to tell me about?

I think it would be the Obutto R3volution cockpit.

What is it for?

It forms the basis on which my gaming PC setup is built. It gives me a place to sit and mount peripheral devices (such as joysticks, throttle, wheels, pedals, keyboard, mouse, monitors) in a way that is conducive to flying or driving. And it’s pretty convenient too.

Was it an impulse buy or one of those things you’ve been thinking about for a long time?

A bit of both, I guess – I’ve thought I should get one for years, but the actual buying process has been pretty impulsive. I was in the mood and bought it because my buying discipline is basically zero.

Tell me, someone who doesn’t know anything about Flight Sim, why this is cool and why I want one.

There is nothing wrong with playing flight / driving simulations at a desk. There are all sorts of great types of clamps that you can use to mount joysticks and throttle controls on a regular desk, and they work really well.

But a cockpit setup can be a lot more convenient if you plan on gaming sessions lasting several hours. It gives you options of where to mount things and what to mount – you can configure a side stick setup if you are flying an aircraft whose flight controls are set to IRL this way (such as an F-16). , or center stick if you are flying a center steering aircraft (like most other fighters). A cockpit is also easy to swap out, so you can change your physical control setup from airplane to helicopter to car to Elite: Dangerous Spaceship by simply moving a few parts.

The cockpit takes up a lot of space but is comfortable and puts you in a more “natural” reclining position for steering and driving, and it’s really nice to have the controls for your plane or car or whatever where they are “supposed to” be. are “to be.

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  • The Obutto R3v that’s in the corner of Lee’s office. The two small dark plastic trays on the wings are just that and are a great help both for scribbling notes and for holding food and drinks.

    Lee Hutchinson

  • Pilot perspective, more or less. On the left is my old Thrustmaster Warthog Throttle and on the right a VKB Gunfighter III Base with MCG Pro handle. On the empty mounting plate under the monitor, if I were racing cars, instead of flying spaceships and jets, I would attach a wheel.

    Lee Hutchinson

  • Still one of my favorite purchases: the Slaw Device RX Viper rowing pedals.

    Lee Hutchinson

So often when I make a big purchase, or find a new song, or play a new game, it always mixes with those associative memories that I can never think of a thing without thinking about what was going on when I did it first found. So tell me what was going on in your life when you got it?

Associative memories are in abundance – mostly from Elite: Dangerous, that’s what I usually play (DCS is a distant second because I’m only interested in that area). Elite is a weird game that doesn’t have a lot of game play – it’s more of a spaceship flying simulator than a traditional space combat simulation or something like that. You spend a lot of time doing everyday things – docking and undocking, moving cargo from A to B, working out profitable trade routes, collecting minerals, designing your ship (s), that sort of thing. But because I play Elite in VR, it feels less like a game and more like a place to spend time. For the past two years it has been damn palliative to have a place like this to escape to.

Did it pull you deeper into any bastard rabbit holes? Is there anything cool you learned about while researching or while learning how it works?

Yeah, it really pulled me deeper into the hobbyist’s rabbit hole. I think I am buying flight control peripherals like most other people are buying shoes at this point in time. Once you’ve broken the proverbial seal and assembled a huge cockpit in your office, buying a replica F-14 handle specifically for your DCS adventures doesn’t seem crazy at all.

I’m not sure if this type of rampant consumption is actually healthy, but it was definitely a good distraction while the world burns.

Have you seen other setups that make you jealous? What is the maximalist version of a flight simulation setup? For example, I’ve seen the setups of people who are WEG in racing sims, and they are … intense.

I’m solidly mid-range when it comes to my flight setup ambitions – I have a gaming cockpit and some flight peripherals. However, there are people who go beyond that. For example, you can spend five numbers (each!) On these guys’ high fidelity SIM peripherals. And to call my Obutto cockpit a “cockpit” is really silly when you can simply buy aircraft cockpit components that are true to the original, actually redundant military cockpit trainers or go full “scuse me while I kiss the sky”. crazy and call Boeing and get a bid for the real thing right away. The only thing holding you back is your own fears. (And bank account.)

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What memories do you have with this thing?

I play elite a lot, but zooming around on real planes in DCS has really helped me stay centered over the past year. In the worst moments of lockdown, I retreated to this cockpit. I pulled down the VR headset and loaded a mission I had created in the editor where I took off in the Tomcat at about 30,000 feet altitude with the plane sliding down and almost empty of gasoline and the infinite fuel cheat was activated. Brake the throttle all the way, wings back, and watch the airspeed indicator spin like crazy clockwise. Mach 1 comes and goes, and I tip my nose up 60 degrees and shoot up, and escape the world at the top of a piercing, glass-shaking shock wave.

Align yourself with Angel 65 as the sun breaks the horizon and buttery orange light touches the cockpit. The simulated world spreads underneath while the turbofans keep working and propel the jet faster and faster.

Mach 2 is a distant memory as the airspeed indicator hovers on a really ridiculous number and the sun is now flooding the cockpit. I look over my shoulder back at the graceful fuselage of the F-14 and the spreading twilight behind it, and right then, just for this moment – just for this moment there is no pandemic. There is no stress at work. There are no politics, no worries, no arguments or any other junk that preoccupies my day.

It’s just me racing the sunrise And that’s good enough.

Offer picture by Lee Hutchinson

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