CPFLIGHT COMPLETE PEDESTAL

OVERVIEW

The CPFlight complete pedestal is a cockpit hardware device for flight simulation designed to replicate the communications and avionics panels found in the lower bay between the pilot seats in the Boeing 737NG. CPFlight is based in Italy and the product was shipped to the United States.

IMPORTANT! A working CPFlight MCP (sold separately) is required to use any of the modules listed in this article.

ORDERING / PRICE (in Euros, rounded up)

The pedestal was ordered in early April as a long list of separate CPFlight products which I was going to install into a FlyEngravity pedestal bay purchased elsewhere. Claudio from CPFlight said they sell the same bay themselves and offered to put it all together at no charge. I’ll take that offer, thank you!

€700 – FlyEngravity Pedestal Bay sold by CPFlight (APB500)

€750 – CPFlight 737 Fire Panel (FIRE737)

€400 – CPFlight 737 Communication Radio Panel  x 2 (COM737)

€400 – CPFlight 737 Navigation Radio Panel x 2 (NAV737)

€400 – CPFlight 737 Audio Selector Panel Set (ASP737CPFO)

€430 – CPFlight 737 Automatic Direction Finder Panel x 2 (ADF737)

€330 – CPFlight 737 Cargo Fire & Weather Radar Panel (CRGWXR737)

€215 – CPFlight 737 Transponder Panel (ATC737)

€300 – CPFlight 737 Rudder Trim Panel (TRM737)

€200 – CPFlight 737 Flood & Cabin Door Panel  Set (BRT737DC)

€56 – CPFlight 737 Panel Blanks (Various)

€4,181 – TOTAL COST before shipping

SHIPPING / PACKAGING

I ordered this pedestal and my CPFlight Forward Overhead Panel at the same time. The pedestal itself was built in only days, but it had to wait a few weeks to be shipped with the overhead. They were shipped via DHL and arrived 3 days later. All total, it still took less than a month to receive both.

The pedestal arrived in its own cardboard box, taped, strapped, and marked FRAGILE. The box was a little rounded off at the corners, but looked intact.

CPFlight pedestal arrived in a large cardboard box.
CPFlight pedestal arrived in a large cardboard box.

Once opened, I found the pedestal surrounded by packing peanuts and bubble wrap. However, there was not much gap between the box and the pedestal itself.

Peanuts and bubble wrap used to protect my CPFlight pedestal.
Peanuts and bubble wrap used to protect my CPFlight pedestal.

I removed the pedestal from the box and found the included power supply and data cable.

CPFlight pedestal wrapped in foam with power supply and USB cable.
CPFlight pedestal wrapped in foam with power supply and USB cable.

I wasn’t expecting what I saw next. The shipping box had obviously been handled poorly (again DHL let me down) and the protection between the pedestal and the box was not enough. This caused the entire bay frame to become warped and allowed one of the panel columns to fall and become stuck. It also scratched off some paint on the affected panels.

One of my CPFlight pedestal columns was damaged by DHL.
One of my CPFlight pedestal columns was damaged by DHL.
Another view of the DHL damage to my CPFlight pedestal.
Another view of the DHL damage to my CPFlight pedestal.

I removed all the panels, cabling, and set to straightening out the bay. I found that each of the three vertical CPFlight panel columns is its own separate rail assembly and the bay itself has no true “rails”.

Inside the FlyEngravity pedestal bay supplied by CPFlight.
Inside the FlyEngravity pedestal bay supplied by CPFlight.

I was able to get it almost perfectly square again with some “nudging” and a lot of swearing. But, since this bay does not use fixed DZUS-type rails, the panel columns just sit on these very narrow strips of metal. I needed to make the ledges thicker, and I searched for solutions. Eventually, I decided to use aluminium foil strips and it worked out great!

The quick fix to my CPFlight pedestal using aluminium foil.
The quick fix to my CPFlight pedestal using aluminium foil.
The aluminium foil worked great on my CPFlight pedestal.
The aluminium foil worked great on my CPFlight pedestal.

However, I am quite disappointed in the poor treatment my package received from DHL, and to a much lesser extent, the non-rigid box and thin packing protection that CPFlight used. In the end, all ended well, but it could have been better. If you want to see how DHL can be even worse, check out my JetMax delivery.

DRIVERS / MANUALS

No drivers are needed as it uses your existing CPFlight MCP to communicate with the computer. I didn’t receive any manuals, but there is not much here that would require them.

ASSEMBLY / INSTALLATION

My CPFlight complete pedestal all put back together.
My CPFlight complete pedestal all put back together.

The pedestal was completely assembled right out of the box. After I fixed up the shipping mess, it looked quite proper!

Inside, each module has two 5-pin sockets on the back. Multiple modules are then “daisy-chained” through each other and end up connected to the FLOOD/PANEL dimmer panel. A very long 5-pin cable was included to then connect the dimmer panel to my CPFlight MCP. The included power supply also connects to the same dimmer panel and powers the entire pedestal.

NOTE: The power supply has a European-style Type C plug on it. It does not come with adapters for other countries such as the Type A plug we use here in the US. I bought a universal power strip on Amazon to connect it. It appears any 6V DC (1150mA) power supply can be used as long as the barrel plug connector for the MCP has the correct polarity and size.

INTEGRATION / OPERATION

The pedestal comes alive when powered and connected to a working CPFlight MCP. It can then be tested with the same MCP Hardware Test software.

NOTE: Only connect/disconnect CPFlight modules when they are not powered or connected to USB.

All panels are mounted to custom rails using replica DZUS fasteners, however, others have mentioned that the holes in the panels are a little smaller than real DZUS. So, if you want to use authentic DZUS fasteners, you would have to very carefully drill out the panels. I did not bother as it looks fine as is.

The following is a detailed description of each panel, and then the pedestal as a complete unit:

CPFlight 737 Complete Pedestal modules with backlighting and lights test mode.
CPFlight 737 Complete Pedestal modules with backlighting and lights test mode.
CPFLIGHT FIRE PANEL (FIRE737)

The CPFlight Fire Panel is quite impressive. The three Fire Handles lock/unlock electrically when triggered, can be pulled up and turned both ways, and the override unlock buttons underneath them all work correctly. The LEDs inside the handles light up bright red and you can’t miss them. Even the two OVHT DET switches are the correct center-locking type and must be pulled up to select A or B. The Fire Panel uses push-to-test annunciators to test the light behind them, a very rare feature in any cockpit hardware. This matches the real aircraft and CPFlight overhead panels operation exactly. While the three green bottle squib test lights do work, they are not push-to-test.

CPFlight 737 fire panel handle lighting test.
CPFlight 737 fire panel handle lighting test.

The Fire Panel is fully supported by ProSim737 and PMDG, but other software support is quite limited. And unfortunately, FSX only natively supports a few functions such as triggering the fire handles, and the bottle squib test lights.

CPFLIGHT COMMUNICATION RADIO PANEL (COM737)

There are many variants of real 737 radio panels in use today. The CPFlight version is a replica of the standalone VHF radio, not the newer combination VHF1/2/3/HF/AM radio like seen in the PMDG 737NGX. This panel is fully supported by FSX and most avionics suites, including ProSim737 and the PMDG 737NGX, however, ProSim737 has not modeled the COMM TEST button yet.

The numbers are easy to read and use a non-dimming segmented LED display in a golden color behind smoked plastic windows. The concentric knobs are machined and painted aluminium, which feels quite robust, but I believe they are little bit smaller than the real thing. The encoder detents are positive and accurate. A little bit of backlight bleeds through between the numbers and around the window edges, but nothing annoying. There is a small jumper on the back to tell the unit which device is replicating (Captain or First Officer). Overall, a very nice product that performs perfectly!

CPFLIGHT NAVIGATION RADIO PANEL (NAV737)

Like the communication radios, there are many variants of the 737 navigation radio panel. The CPFlight version matches their communication radio design, which is perfectly fine by me. It also matches the NAV radio found in the PMDG. This panel is fully supported by FSX and most avionics suites. ProSim737 does not support the NAV TEST button yet. The rest of the panel is the same as the communication panel I described above.

CPFLIGHT AUDIO SELECTOR PANEL SET (ASP737CPFO)

The Audio Selector Panels (ASP)/Audio Control Panels (ACP) are based on the modern design. Older ASP used levers to control volume, these use rotary knobs. They are only sold as a pair and are linked with a ribbon cable. Therefore, any action on one will change both. This is because FSX only supports one audio selection interface.

As FSX also only supports two microphone inputs, only the VHF-1 and VHF-2 MIC SELECTOR transmit buttons are functional. They do both have working LED indicators and feel pretty good. The non-working buttons don’t move or light up at all.

Feeling repetitive, FSX also does not support separate audio output volume controls, so the CPFlight ASP receiver knobs are also limited in operation. The working options are VHF-1, VHF-2, NAV-1, NAV-2, ADF-1, ADF-2, and MKR. They do light up quite brightly when selected, and do activate the matching audio output, but none of them control volume. Also, they feel “loose” and wobble a bit, but this is because they are not true potentiometers, just cosmetic plastic caps over a static button. The other knobs do not push in or light up.

Finally, the R/T-I/C switch, the V-B-R selector, and the ALT/NORM switch are there, but most avionics suites do not the support their intended functions. According to CPFlight, they are only supported by the PMDG 737NGX and iFly737. There is no MASK/BOOM switch as it wouldn’t be supported anyhow.

CPFLIGHT AUTOMATIC DIRECTION FINDER (ADF737)

The Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) panel matches the COM and NAV radios in design and is what you would find in most 737s out there. The small knobs are plastic, but work just fine. There are additional LED indicators in the window that display the current ADF/ANT setting. This panel is fully supported by FSX and most avionics suites, including ProSim737 and PMDG. The rest of the panel is the same as the communication panel I described above.

CPFLIGHT CARGO FIRE / WEATHER RADAR PANEL SET (CRGWXR737)

The Cargo Fire and Weather Radar panel are sold as a set and are linked to each other with a ribbon cable.

CPFlight has done a superb job here including little details such as the working plastic safety cover over the Cargo Fire discharge button and the dual-lamp white/red ARM switches. The small plastic knobs are injection molded plastic here, not metal. Sadly, the DETECTOR FAULT annunciator in the Cargo Fire panel is not push-to-test like the main fire panel, but it does light up correctly.

Details on the CPFlight Cargo Fire and Weather Radar modules.
Details on the CPFlight Cargo Fire and Weather Radar modules.

I have seen a ton of different weather radar panel designs and they all offer the same basic features: mode, gain, and tilt. PMDG uses a similar model, but the important features are still there. The knobs are also injection molded plastic, instead of metal. While smaller knobs on other panels can get away with no dark indicator lines painted on, these knobs should have them, but don’t. There is a square white light where the Ground Clutter Suppress (GCS) button should be and the BELOW CAL light works, but I am not sure if either is supported by any avionics suites.

When ProSim737 recently integrated weather radar, the CPFlight weather panel worked right away. I simply pressed the WXR button on my EFIS and the weather panel came alive, no hardware changes needed. Now, I can change the knob selections and I get the correct results on my displays.

CPFLIGHT TRANSPONDER PANEL (ATC737)

The transponder panel is a replica of the older non-keypad version, but matches what you would find in the PMDG. The transponder code selection, ident, and modes are all are supported by FSX, ProSim737 and PMDG. PMDG supports the TCAS test button, however, ProSim737 has not modeled it yet and FSX never will. Other avionics suites have mixed support.

Details on the CPFlight transponder module.
Details on the CPFlight transponder module.

The display is 5 digits and includes indications for transponder selection ATC 1 and 2. Code selection, Ident button, and Standby Mode should be compatible with IVAO, Squawkbox, and VATSIM. The rest of the panel is the same as the communication panel I described above without the jumper on the back.

CPFLIGHT RUDDER TRIM PANEL (TRM737)

The rudder trim panel consists of the large molded plastic Rudder Trim knob, the rudder trim indicator display, and two guarded aileron trim switches. The knob is injection molded and painted, except where the label allows the backlighting through. The label is a thick sticker and looks like it could wear or come off with heavy use. The aileron trim switches have shaped handles and the guards are thick plastic. All functions should be supported by FSX, ProSim737, PMDG, and most avionics suites.

CPFlight Rudder Trim module.
CPFlight Rudder Trim module.
Rudder Trim module in the dark. Photo courtesy of CPFlight.
Rudder Trim module in the dark. Photo courtesy of CPFlight.

The rudder trim indication display is a backlit dot-matrix LCD in a very cool royal blue color. It is crisp, easy to read, works correctly, and can indicate the OFF position.

CPFLIGHT FLOOD & CABIN DOOR PANEL SET (BRT737DC)

The Flood/Cabin and Cabin Door panels are only sold as a set and are linked via a ribbon cable. This panel is required to control the backlighting in the pedestal and is where the included power supply is connected. The pedestal modules must all eventually connect back to a CPFlight MCP, but you can use the four 5-pin data ports on the back of the panel as a “hub” to connect other modules and the MCP.

TIP: I recommend providing power to both the MCP and the pedestal. While the MCP “can” provide power over the data cables, there is quite a bit of power draw with a fully-stocked pedestal.

NOTE: There is a USB port on the panel, but it is not used. CPFlight used to sell a version of this panel (BRT737USB) that allowed you to connect the pedestal directly to the computer and not need the MCP, but they have since discontinued it.

Lower section of the CPFlight pedestal.
Lower section of the CPFlight pedestal.

The FLOOD dimmer potentiometer is real and has usable screw terminals behind the panel, but it does not do anything. It would normally control the light inside the upper part of the forward overhead that shines down on the pedestal. I have seen people use these terminals and some circuitry magic to do just that, so I may give it a shot in the future.

The PANEL dimmer potentiometer controls the backlight dimming for all connected pedestal modules. It is standalone and works anytime the pedestal has power. As of now, it is *not* controlled by any avionics software, and works independently than even the connected MCP’s own backlighting. This means I have to remember to turn it off when leaving the sim.

The STAB TRIM switch works, but is not connected. In the real plane, this switch is used to override the column cutout safety switches. Column cutout is where commanded trim from the yoke is opposed by physical force. For example, you trim up, but are pushing down. This can cause the column cutout switch to activate. Most, if not *all* cockpit builders will never recreate this ability. If someone did want to go that far, the switch would need to be wired to an interface card (from FDS, Bodnar, PoKeys, Phidgets, etc) and also supported in your avionics suite.

The amber CAB DOOR UNLOCKED light is also there, and can be connected to an external switch via screw terminals on the back of the FLOOD panel. Close the contacts, the light comes on. If you have a cockpit door, this would be a great feature to implement.

CPFLIGHT COMPLETE PEDESTAL

Using default FSX, the pedestal will run via your CPFlight MCP and the FS_COM plugin you should already have installed. If you use a separate avionics software, such as ProSim737 or Sim-Avionics, you will configure it through the included MCP interface.

I use the ProSim737 Avionics Suite exclusively now, and my only ProSim737 configuration steps were to enable the “CPFlight boards connected through MCP” option in the ProSim737 main configuration. That’s it!

Overall, the entire CPFlight pedestal is very rewarding to own and use. All of the modules are authentic enough in look and feel, the operation is correct, and the details are numerous!

Aft side of the FlyEngravity pedestal bay. Note the missing circuit breakers.
Aft side of the FlyEngravity pedestal bay. Note the missing circuit breakers.

One piece I am less than satisfied with is the pedestal bay housing. It is made from decent 2mm welded aluminium and is the correct size and shape and colors. However, the mounting surfaces for the panels are crap. According to the FlyEngravity website, it is supposed to come with DZUS-compliant rails and the CPFlight modules should mount right to them. So, I am not sure why different rails and thin vertical strips of metal are used here instead. Basically, the panel columns are only held in place by their own weight. Luckily, they do not move around under normal use, but I fear I am going to have another panel drop inside at some point and possibly damage something.

Lastly, while there are some placards and replica connections on the rear of the bay such as a phono and XLR jack, I am shocked that FlyEngravity could not include at least dummy circuit breakers. They just leave the four holes empty. For €700, even with DZUS rails and breakers, I do not see how they justify that hefty price.

SUPPORT

I had numerous email exchanges with Claudio at CPFlight for a month before purchasing this product. He speaks Italian, but communicated well in English, answered quickly, and was always friendly even through a barrage of my questions.

After flying for a bit, I did notice where one of the encoders on the right NAV radio would not change the frequency. This made navigation a little tricky and dual-autopilot landings impossible. I worked with Paolo via email and we determined a small drop of extra solder was shorting two pins on the microprocessor. Without my asking, he quickly replaced the board at no cost. That is great support!

SUMMARY

Review of CPFlight 737 Complete Pedestal by my737ng.com

I really enjoy replacing any mouse/keyboard action with the “real” thing and the CPFlight pedestal does this exceptionally well. When I laid out my timeline and budget for building my cockpit, the pedestal was really far down the list, even after real pilot seats. However, I had the opportunity to package this fully pre-built pedestal with the overhead when I placed the order and that made it a very reasonable choice. It also helped that I really didn’t want to mock up a temporary wooden pedestal with my Saitek panels in it!

As for the hands-on, it is something to behold! Common tasks such as setting radio frequencies and transponder codes are a whole new experience and I love it. I am at the point now where I know just where to reach and what to do to get what I need. Preflight procedures such as the Fire Panel and Cargo Fire tests are fantastic now and feel incredibly realistic.

I have not been disappointed one bit with the operation or quality of the CPFlight pedestal modules. They all perform admirably with no errors, messy driver installs, or quirky custom scripts. And, the integration with ProSim737 was painless and very quick, only taking a few mouse clicks.

The hardware itself is top notch. The modules use sturdy aluminium frames with engraved acrylic face plates. Each panel has a rear metal cover so no electronics are exposed. There are so many small details that show they really took the time to make a quality product and the price reflects that “you get what you pay for.”

The backlighting is warm white, evenly diffused, and matches my other CPFlight devices. I just wish it was triggered by the appropriate aircraft power availability and not completely standalone.

The 5-pin data cables connect snugly and do not come loose. Because they can daisy-chain the entire MCP/EFIS/Pedestal group together, the whole thing only takes up a single USB port on my PC. And as I keep building, those USB ports are becoming more and more valuable!

Like my other CPFlight hardware, this is another fantastic addition to the cockpit building adventure and should be on your short list when considering an avionics pedestal. And while I am not impressed with the FlyEngravity bay and I wish the panel backlighting worked more realistically, I still give the CPFlight Complete Pedestal a solid 9 out of 10 for the quality and support that CPFlight provides.

2 thoughts on “CPFLIGHT COMPLETE PEDESTAL”

  1. Hi, first of all I to let you compliments for its stunning realization, then I wanted to have some information if possible. I purchased a few months ago the 737SKTQ of Jetmax including Overhead panel, now I wanted integrate the panel with various indicators of pressure, temperature, etc … the Opencockpits, I wanted to know if they are compatible with the SKTQ, and if they work even without the card SIOC seen that in my case I do not use. I allowed myself to to ask this because I saw his creation on the website then definitely knows more than me. Thank you

    1. I am not positive if the OpenCockpit gauges would fit in the JetMax overhead panel, but I would imagine so. You would still need the SIOC interface though. I recommend asking Peter at JetMax about it.

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