Several companies produce 737NG Main Instrument Panels (MIP) and each company offers different design options. Basically, you have the following main options - some with and without instrument integration.
- Full MIP with low panels & CDU (Double Seat Training Device (DSTD)
- Full MIP (desktop version) without lower panels & CDU
- Half MIP with low panels & CDU (Single Seat Training Device (SSTD)
- Half MIP (desktop version) without lower panels & CDU
Which to purchase will depend on what level of realism you are intending to replicate, your budget, your time and ability to fabricate lower sections (CDU bay, etc) and most importantly your available floor space. Floor space is often a forgotten phase of your research. Saying it will fit and “she’ll be right mate” often doesn’t cut the mustard.
My old generic flight sim was set up very neatly within a small alcove of a room I call the “utility room or yellow room”. The room’s gets its name from the colour of the walls and its use – as a place to pack bags for trips, sort gear out and so forth.
Initially, I decided that a half MIP with lower panels and CDU would be ideal for my purpose; the new sim would fit perfectly into the alcove area and replace my existing sim. Granted a half MIP is only a one- seater and wouldn’t be as realistic replication of a two-seater aircraft, but the space savings are considerable – sometimes you need to compromise. Fly Engravity make an ideal half MIP which you can add to as space and budget dictate. However, the half MIP doesn’t come with full ICS (instrument integration) meaning you must wire it up yourself; for me, a somewhat daunting task both skill and time wise (I'm happy to play electronics expert, but would prefer to start small and work my way up to a larger project such as wiring a full MIP)
LEFT: A half MIP (SSTD) set up exceptionally well. Just because you don't have a DSTD doesn't mean you cannot have realism (photo courtesy FDS copyright).
Flight Deck Solutions produces a half MIP with full ICS, lower panel and CDU. But, at the time of writing this MIP is only a very special order. Therefore, if I was to have full ICS, I had to “bite the bullet” and purchase a full MIP with lower panels and CDU opting to construct a dedicated room beneath the house to set up my new simulator. In the long-run I know I'll be pleased with choice!
Please be aware that the companies mentioned are but two of several companies that manufacture MIPS.