Can you build a sim on a small budget?
Yes! Check out my first sim 1! You don't need a full Boeing 737 cockpit to start with. Begin with small projects like the 737 MCP or radios. (The throttle assembly is a pretty massive undertaking but an exceptional build project!). Add the realism as it matters and where you need it. If you decide this is your hobby, continue to expand with the various systems. Unless you are sure and have a little money aside, do not jump straight in with building a full size cockpit. That's going to be expensive at any level and very much time consuming.
Sim 1 is how it all started for me. The wood/timber and the monitors were free which was a great starting point. I also started out with PMDG . Which is the cheaper, but less comprehensive software package for the 737 simulation systems. This is a great budget option. This sim only cost $600. This was mainly spent on Arduinos, electrical components and a CNC! I actually started out building the Boeing 737 MCP (Mode Control Panel-Autopilot). Once I saw that I could control a single LED from PMDG, my mind exploded with the possibilities. This was only made easier with MobiFlight software. This is an interface program that communicates the digital inputs and outputs of electronic components to the the flight sim software.
This sim, I fondly now call the "baby sim". It was made smaller than the real thing to fit in our old house. The captains side was full size, but the F/O side was non existent. This single fact ultimately ended in its demise. It was a fantastic project and I really wish I had not destroyed it, but I needed the parts for sim 2!
The problem came when I had friends around to have a go/flight in the sim. I would load a scenario up where the 737, was at 2000m in altitude and ready to land. What I soon learned was that people lost interest very quickly when they kept crashing. To be able to have a full dual control cockpit would be pretty cool!
Sim 2 started to get more serious, realism came to the fore front, but not excessively. I still wanted a budget sim, but actual size. So I got together wit