The word avionics is the combination of two words: aviation and electronics and refers to the electronic systems on board the aircraft.
The type and style of avionics found in a Boeing 737 aircraft varies enormously. Often there is a combination of modules from different suppliers (GME, Gables, Honeywell, etc).
Avionics are just as important as the MIP. If your disappointed with your selection then your enjoyment level will plummet. More importantly, any instrument you purchase must be of the highest quality to ensure trouble free operation. Some builders opt to make their own instruments - some from genuine Boeing aircraft parts, but as indicated in the MIP segment above, if your not keen on electronics and have good working knowledge in this area, then this will be a daunting task.
It's Easy To Buy More Than You Need
It's very easy to become carried away with instrumentation and spend a small fortune on standby instruments and avionics modules (panels). Therefore, a step/phase approach is a good idea when working through your requirements.
For instance, I'm not implementing the overhead panel until the last stage of the project. In the interim, I'll use some Go Flight GF-T8 button modules I already own to simulate certain overhead functions which I believe are important, such as landing and navigation lights, until development and implementation of the overhead panel. I also intend to use a Go Flight GF-T8 module to simulate various FS commands that are often used and activated by the keyboard; this will reduce keyboard usage to the minimum.
I have installed the following B737 style avionics & gauges to the MIP and center pedestal:
- Main Control Panel (MCP Pro) - CP Flight - MIP
- EFIS Pro - Captain side - CP Flight - MIP
- EFIS Pro - First Officer side - CP Flight - MIP
- Radio Navigation Radio (NAV 1) - FDS - Center Pedestal
- Radio Navigation Radio (NAV 2) - FDS - Center Pedestal
- Radio Communication Radio (Comms VHF 1/VHF 2) - FDS - Center Pedestal
- ADF Radio (ADF 1) - CP Flight - Center Pedestal
- ADF Radio (ADF 2) - CP Flight - Center Pedestal
- Transponder module - CP Flight - Center Pedestal
- Cargo Door Module - CP Flight - Center Pedestal
- Weather Radar Module - CP Flight - Center Pedestal
- GF-T8 toggle module - Go Flight- landing lights & other FS functionality only until overhead panel - side panel mounted to MIP side
- Fire Suppression Panel - Genuine 737 part - Center Pedestal
- Rudder & Aileon Trim module - CP Flight - Center Pedestal
- Audio Control Panel (ACP) Captain side - Genuine 737 part - Center Pedestal
- Audio Control Panel (ACP) First Officer side - Genuine 737 part - Center Pedestal
- Panel lights module - Genuine 737 part - Center Pedestal
- Hobbs meter (throttle hours) - mounted at rear of pedestal
- CDU / FMC - FDS - Captain side only - MIP
- 737 Flaps Gauge - Genuine 737 part - MIP
- 737 Brake Pressure Gauge - Genuine 737 part - MIP
Module Compliance can be Important - back-lighting
The main reason for trying to maintain compliance with avionics is that different manufacturers produce their modules differently. The biggest difference is size, installation, front plate material, connection set up, back plate colour, and back lighting. FDS, CP Flight, SISMO, Open Cockpits and several other companies produce modules that are identical in size to their real life Boeing counterparts, however, each company uses a different connection set up, system board and card for set-up and back lighting. Whilst, the connection set up can be easily worked around, back lighting often cannot.
For instance, CP Flight use LEDS for back lighting whilst FDS use real aircraft bulbs (Integrated Back Lighting). Personally, I prefer the IBL back lighting as this is identical to that in a real Boeing aircraft. But this comes at a cost - IBL lighting with real bulbs runs very hot and draws a considerable amount of power. Mixing various IBL and LED modules can create a light imbalance which often can appear disconcerting. This said, often it's not possible to only have one brand of avionics, so a compromise must be made.
It must be remembered, that real aircraft rarely have the same lighting or avionics suite installed. Often there is a mismatch as newer items are retrofitted. Therefore, a lighting imbalance is not unrealistic.
The modules I have decided to use are manufactured by Flight Deck Solutions and CP Flight. Other modules will be genuine Boeing 737 parts converted for FS use. In time, it's hoped to replace many of the reproduction modules with real modules converted to FS use.
Mode Control Panel (MCP) & EFIS
My set up does not use the dedicated MCP and EFIS designed by Flight Deck Solutions. A communication mix-up at the time of ordering led me to believe that FDS were no longer producing these units. Therefore, the MCP and EFIS units were the Pro seriesd supplied by CP Flight in Italy.
The center pedestal is the storage bay located between the cockpit seats. It's where the various avionics instruments are housed. It is connected to and located directly behind the throttle quadrant. Depending upon your nationality and training, the center pedestal maybe referred to as the:, avionics bay, aft electronics panel or a P8 (although the term avionics bay is technically incorrect).
The pedestal incorporates radios and communication systems, navigation, sensors, and indicators such as weather radars.
Three-bay B737-500 Center Pedestal
Inside the pedestal are mounted various hardware modules that are required to operate the installed avionics. Any interface cards not mounted within the pedestal are mounted on the forward section of the throttle quadrant. The wiring is routed forward of the pedestal and quadrant to connect to power sources and the computer.
One pleasing aspect of using a genuine item, apart from nostalgia, is the use of DZUS rails. These rails lie just below the lip of the pedestal and allow for the attachment of avionics modules. A module is dropped into/onto the rail and secured by two or four DZUS fasteners. The use of these fasteners and rails allows for easy placement of avionics modules, or if no module is used, then a blanking plate.
Towards the rear of the pedestal is a genuine B737 light dimming panel in which there are two panel switches. This switch will be used to control the back lighting of the throttle quadrant, pedestal and genuine 737 modules.