While the first generation panel was using lcd driven gauges and thus a classic setup, I did decide from the the next version on to switch to a glass cockpit and use the Garmin G1000 – common for the Baron and for the majority of current aircraft.
I did like using software driven gauges resembling mechanical movements of arrows, the G1000 instead is lcd equiped in reality ies aswell – so it decided it would be more realistic. Further more the possibilities of such a state of the art solution is more advanced than a traditional panel layout. Last but not least the Baron in reality has a much wider and higher panel than the Piper I am equiping. Thus fitting it with the full set auf gauges plus radio stack would simply not fit or demand for massive downscaling of the gauges – which I disliked.

Generation 2 with selfbuilt G1000

In the beginning I wanted to buy a prebuilt device for simulating a G1000. TRC was way to pricey, Emuteq was just partly backlit and did not really look too realistic – so still too expensive for such downsides. As there was no other solution available I decided later on to build it myself.
It was really taking months to design this G1000, get the right screens from China and find the right buttons with a click. It was not cheap and did really take a lot of planning since it was made out of 5 layers laser cut acrylic sheets.

The result was my generation 2 Baron G58 (the „G“ stands for the G1000 avionics compared to the B58 version). It was quite loaded with cables and input cards since I connected every button of the G1000. It looked really good and had a pretty good backlighting, with APEM buttons that give „click“-feedback and really expensive but great dual encoders from Leo Bodnar.

But all in all it took too much space of my limited area behind the panel that I wanted to free up for a linked yoke solution or a force feedback yoke. Further more the Flight1Tech G1000 Trainer software – actually not that cheap – did not perform stable. It really was disappointing to struggle with the software too much and I can not recommend it at all – also the support was not really helpful to solve the problems. Today I would use different G1000 software gauges, but then it turned out that I would go a complete different route for my new generation panel…

Generation 3 with iPads for the G1000

I did know about an iPad app with a G1000 already when I designed my selfbuilt one. At that time the developer did write about planning to build bezels, but it was too far away and actually sounding quite crazy using iPads at that time. When thinking to build a new panel and refurbish my own G1000 I came across a note that they have produced the first batch of bezels and begun shipping. I still was not completly sure if an iPad completely built into a bezel and thus a panel, just connected via WIFI and bluetooth is a stable substitute. But the solution did work well without the bezel and it just looked freakin‘ real – so I fell in love with the idea. Some months and many mails with the develeoper Li Chen later I had the first bezel in hands, soon after the second one and later also the audio panel.

There was not much information about other users to be found in the net – actually none – so it was some risk to be among the first ones ordering something that was that fresh and with just one guy developing it who is sitting on the other side of the globe. In order to support him – also from the viewpoint that his success ensures a continous development of this platform – I made an unboxing video that you can find on the left side.

The Apps are available for very little money in the Apple App-Store, incredible how much attention he paid on replicating this complex solution into something that sells for 20 bucks. Running it on self contained devices makes it possible for me to get rid of one pc that was running the avionics software before. Still it does not draw frames from the main pc since the gauges are processed of course through the iPads. The PFD is connected with P3D (it also supports X-Plane) via WIFI and needs the simulator PC to be in the same network, further more there is a small client that is executed on the PC to search, find and connect with the PFD app. The MFD is connected with bluetooth between the 2 iPads. It needs some steps that are not that time consuming, however it would be nice if there would be some auto-connection in the future to quit this step.

The hardware bezels are made – just – for this app – so they do not have much use if you use them differently. They are almost 1:1 retentions of the real units and connect via bluetooth. They are fully backlit and are the best I have seen so far as it comes to realism. There are some other providers making G1000 units currently, but I found this one to be the best looking. The quality and packing is excellent, it is also a real joy to „marry“ them with the iPads. More information can be found at www.simionic.net.

Wishlist for the G1000 apps:

  • There is just a very limited number of single engine training aircraft available to chose from. So for me being on a twin engine aircraft it needs some hoping and praying that I soon get a profile that supports my setup. There is also no turboprop and jet planned according to my information, so if you like a variety of aircraft there is currently just a very limited number available. This might of course change in the future
  • Native autopilot support. The G1000 app utilizes its own way to simulate the operation of an A/P. It does currently not trigger the FSX/P3D/XP11 A/P and thus just sends ailerons/elevator commands to the sim once it is in operation. This does feel like a good solution in the beginning, but turned out to have some downsides for cockpit builders like me. It does for example not allow to map a button on the yoke for A/P disconnection. Further more it does not trigger the autopilot mode of my Flight Illusion Force Feedback yoke – thus the yoke does not move and follow the directions while the A/P is engaged. This issue is not crucial for the operation of my sim currently, so I consider it to be something that I can live with in the next time but still I hope that it will be changed or adapted in the future. The developer of the app also made a first attempt to find a solution, but it unfortunately did not work out since the FFB yoke is based on FSUIPC commands that are not available through the iOS app at the moment running through Simconnect. Anyone having a working idea how to solve that please contact me as you could be considered being my new best friend:)
  • Realistic start-up screens when switching battery and avionics on
  • Auto-connection of the MFD with the PFD
  • Sounds that run on the simulation PC (terrain, traffic, minimums, 500 call-out, etc.) in the G1000 bridge software of the Simionic solution. G1000 sounds were something that I really loved on the Flight1Tech G1000 student software. Using the iPad speaker as output would not be the best solution since the bezel „eats“ most of the sounds and further more it would be necessary to get one audio feed to get into headsets – also interesting for video streaming. Triggering those would enhance the operations to a further new level.