Fitting Custom Screens to the MIP

The journey has just begun, or as we say in german: Der Weg ist das Ziel. After adapting the nicely made upper part of the Boeing 737-800 MIP from SISMO Soluciones to the original Boeing 737-300 MIP stand below (see this post), the next task was to outfit the whole thing with proper electronics.

I have started with the MIP LCD displays and the FMC’s. Most cockpit builders use regular monitors and connect them to multiple regular PC’s. There are two uncessary parts in such a setup:

  • Monitor Case: There is no need for it as the monitors sit behind the MIP case anyway. The original monitor case further creates an artificial distance between the MIP glass and the monitor itself. It would be good to have the displayed content as close to the front of the MIP itself to avoid shading effects when viewed from the side.
  • One PC per Flight Display: There is no need for so many PC’s since the flight displays require a minimum amount of CPU/GPU power. They do not display 3D content. They however need to react in real time to the simulated contect. A delay of 100 milliseconds between aircraft movement and the reaction of the artificial horizon would be very hard to fly. So a 25-50 frames-per-second update frequency of the primary flight display and a maximum of 10-20 millisecond delay would be a good target.

The solution was to buy monitor screens and HDMI driver boards instead of the full monitor. With the variety of sellers on Ali Express this becomes rather simple. I’ve chosen the following models:

  • Captain and First Officer CDU: 1920×1080 18.5″ G185HAN01 and the HDMI driver board M.NT68676
  • EICAS CDU: 1680×1050 15.4″ LP154WE3-TLB2 and the HDMI driver board M.NT68676 (please select correct display model for its firmware and cables to match)
  • FMC CDU: 640×480 5″ LCD module including driver board (seems to be out of stock, you may ask the seller why)

For each of those displays I’ve selected a Rasperry PI (3B for FMC or 4B for the CDU’s) which runs XPOpenGC. First tests showed a very good performance within above specs. Rasperry PI’s use little power, are cheap, can be administered remotely and can be easily stowed in the center part of the MIP base.

You may find the following images helpful in case you build your own cockpit:

The Captain Side CDU: the monitor nicely fits close to the MIP case. You can also see the HDMI driver board and the monitor control buttons, which I have put to the back of the MIP, just in case I need them during operation.
First Officer side CDU. Same Procedure.
EICAS CDU was a bit more difficult. Due to the size and lightness of the monitor, it is a laptop screen, It needs to be handled with care. I also glued the top and left hand side in order to avoid stray light entry, especially from the gear annunciator and the EDC above. You also see the ISFD wires which had to fit the monitor mount.
The quality of the Full HD MIP displays is quite astonishing. You also see a fully functional WXR display.
Here you see all three monitors and one FMC in operation. The second FMC will be built once the MIP has proven to be free of bugs.
The three Rasperry PI 4B minicomputers in the center lower CDU bay. The lower CDU will possibly never be built since the B737-300 does not have space for it.