Prosim737 running on a JetMax SKTQ cockpit

PROSIM737 AVIONICS SUITE

OVERVIEW

The ProSim737 Avionics Suite is a twin-engine jetliner systems logic and avionics suite developed for Boeing 737 type cockpit builders by ProSim Aviation Research (ProSim-AR). It is designed to simulate the aircraft systems, such as hydraulics, pneumatics (bleed air), electrical, fuel, flight management, autopilot, cockpit displays, and more to create a authentic simulator experience. It also allows the integration and interfacing of physical cockpit hardware into Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX), Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D (P3D), and Laminar Research’s X-Plane. ProSim-AR is based in the Netherlands.

This article is based on the ProSim737 version 1.42 official release. As of this writing, the latest official release version is v1.45.

ORDERING / PRICE (in Euros)

Purchased online at the ProSim-AR website – April 2015

€600 – Prosim737 3-in-1 modules non-commercial license

€50 – ProSim737 Flight Model non-commercial license

€650 – TOTAL COST

SHIPPING / PACKAGING

ProSim737 was ordered online and downloaded, so no shipping was involved.

The ProSim737 3-in-1 Suite arrives in a ZIP file containing multiple other ZIPped folders for all of the separate products, such as ProSim737 (the System), ProSimMCP, ProSimCDU, ProSimPanel, ProSimDisplay, and ProSimAudio.

ProSim-AR sells the CDU, Display, and MCP software separately, but I am not sure why. All three require the main System program to operate and are included when you purchase the full 3-in-1 option anyway.

DRIVERS / MANUALS

The ProSim737 Suite is technically a driver in itself. There are no other drivers needed.

There is a downloadable manual available on the ProSim-AR website. The last time I checked, the manual was written in 2012, but is still relevant. It is written in English and details the steps to install, configure, and update the ProSim737 Suite.

ASSEMBLY / INSTALLATION

No assembly is required, but the Pete Dowson’s popular FSUIPC interface library is required for ProSim737 and should be installed and setup first. ProSim doesn’t say if you need the “registered” version of FSUIPC, but I have it for other software anyway.

Installation of ProSim737 is simply to extract the downloaded ZIP file into a folder on your computer.

TIP: You should not put this folder within your “Program Files” directories as Windows UAC watches them way too closely. I just put it in the root of my FSX data drive.

I recommend downloading the Navigation database and terrain package from the ProSim-AR website. These will be used later to update ProSim737.

INTEGRATION / OPERATION

Getting ProSim737 Suite up and running is a little complex at first, but the manual details it quite well. Once you unZIP the downloaded suite, it has multiple smaller ZIPped folders inside containing each module. These contain the Windows executables needed for each module to run. UnZIP the modules you need and I will do my best to describe each of them.

ProSim737 (System)

This folder contains the main avionics/logic program for the ProSim737 Suite. ProSim737.exe must be running to connect everything else to your simulator. It also is where you select your simulator type (MSFS for FSX & Prepar3D, or XPlane) and startup mode (Cold & Dark, Ready, Start APU).

When ProSim737 is first run, you need to update the Navigation database. You give it the location of your flight simulation program folder and it will learn your sim’s scenery database (airports, runways, gate locations, etc). If you add or remove scenery, you should run this again so ProSim stays aware of your simulator navigation information.

If you run a FMC, you should also install the appropriate Navigation database here as well. The one you can download from the ProSim737 website is from 2011, but updated versions can be purchased from www.navigraph.com if desired. As long as all of your navigation tools use the same version, you should be fine. I highly recommend the Navigraph Manager software for this.

If you want the Terrain and Vertical Situation Display (VSD) to work, you need to unZIP the DEM folder from the ProSim terrain package (it will be about 1.4GB in size), then move that DEM folder into your ProSim737 folder. That’s it. You should now see relevant terrain data displayed when you push the TERR button on your EFIS.

Now comes the fun part! This ProSim737 main module is where you configure every interfaced hardware device you own. Every input and output must be configured here including all switches, potentiometers, levers, gauges, lights, numerical outputs, sounds, etc. If you run natively supported hardware devices such as from CPFlight, FDS, SimWorld, and others, you are going to save a TON of time as these just work right away by enabling the specific support option. My CPFlight MCP, EFIS, Complete Pedestal, Forward Overhead Panel, and Aft Overhead Panel worked perfectly as soon as I configured the COM ports in ProSim737.

Some manufacturer hardware may require scripting and/or configuration file updates, such as the SIOC scripting used with Sismo and OpenCockpits. Other hardware interfaces such as those from PoKeys, Phidgets, and Bodnar are natively supported, but each input/output will have to be configured manually. Check the ProSim737 compatibility list and your specific hardware manuals for more details. The nice thing is that ProSim737 can detect your hardware and help you out. It can sense the last switch moved and let you assign it to a function and has an automatic finding tool for locating specific annunciator lights in your cockpit. This was very helpful in setting up the TexWorx interface board inside my JetMax SKTQ MIP.

You can also test inputs/outputs here, validate operation, add custom sounds, and assign actions to ‘gates’. Gates are what ProSim737 calls events/states triggered by the system logic such as, is hydraulic pressure available, is AC power available, or what the current flap setting is. When a Gate is active you can have it do an action, such as light an annunciator, play a sound, and more.

For example, I use the “Recirc Fan L Running” and “Recirc Fan R Running” gates to trigger a Phidgets relay board. These relays then supply power to two 12v fans mounted in the cockpit which keep me cool while flying. And since a Gate requires the correct flight system logic to occur, these fans only turn on when the aircraft has the correct power available, the respective overhead RECIRC switches are on, and the fans are not failed or disabled due to pack settings.

I originally wanted to be able to use my 737 cockpit hardware to also fly other aircraft such as my King Air and C172 when I felt the urge. I had the basic flight controls, such as yoke, pedals, throttles, landing gear lever, and flap lever, set up through FSUIPC. It worked decently, and if ProSim is running, it will even display a lot of the correct flight display information on the screens. However, there are some drawbacks when you go back to flying the ProSim737 itself while FSUIPC controls all of those things. The biggest thing I noticed is the time it takes for the 737 flaps gauge to extend/retract. If ProSim owns the flaps lever, they move accurately. If ProSim has to read the flaps setting from FSX/Prepar3D via FSUIPC, they move way too fast.

Ultimately, in my case, the only inputs not controlled through ProSim737 are my yoke/pedals, throttles, and the JetMax tiller. These are being run through FSUIPC directly. I can still fly other planes well enough; I just can’t use more of my cockpit hardware to do so.

ProSimMCP

ProSimMCP is the program that drives your Mode Control Panel (MCP) and related autopilot functions. It includes an interactive on-screen 2D panel if you don’t have any MCP hardware yet. You can even choose to display the Honeywell or Collins version. Otherwise, you select your hardware type, communication, and give it the IP address of the computer where the ProSim737 program is running. Optimally, ProSimMCP should run on the same machine as ProSim737, so use 127.0.0.1 for the IP (localhost).

ProSim737's ProSimMCP on-screen software interface. Collins version.
ProSim737’s ProSimMCP on-screen software interface. Collins version.

In my case, the ProSimMCP program runs my CPFlight MCP, EFIS, and my Complete Pedestal as they are all connected through the MCP. I did have to select the “CPFlight boards connected through MCP” check box in the main ProSim737 configuration options. It even turns all of the displays off when the plane is cold & dark.

Other hardware may require other scripts or configurations.

ProSimCDU

ProSimCDU is the program that simulates the operation and display of your Flight Management System’s (FMS) Control and Display Unit (CDU). It includes an interactive on-screen 2D panel if you don’t have any CDU hardware yet. Otherwise, it connects to your CDU hardware directly and you can run this on another machine over your network. Just give it the IP address where the ProSim737 main program is running.

ProSim737's ProSimCDU on-screen software interface.
ProSim737’s ProSimCDU on-screen software interface.

Once connected to actual CDU hardware, you can take the on-screen panel, remove the graphical buttons and frame, and move the display itself down to your hardware’s LCD. With my FDS CDU included with my JetMax SKTQ, I used a resolution of 800×600 and then used the “Line Setup Mode” to align the displayed information to the buttons on my CDU screen. Don’t forget to adjust the page title and scratchpad lines as well. And, you may even want to change the font to something smaller if text seems too wide for the display.

If your CDU hardware can display colors like mine, you can enable the “Use color” option. You can even customize the on-screen colors. To do this, find the config.xml file in the ProSimCDU folder and edit these two lines:

<smallFontColor>White</smallFontColor>
<largeFontColor>White</largeFontColor>

NOTE: You must use the color name, not hex or RGB values. You can find a example list of color names at Amar’s Android Tech page.

I run ProSimCDU on my avionics PC and over the network to my main ProSim737 machine and it works perfectly. The CDU display is on all the time, even when cold & dark, so I am not sure if that is a “design feature” so you can access it any time for convenience or a bug within ProSim737.

ProSimDisplay

ProSimDisplay is the program that simulates all of the MIP displays. It can also show other gauges, instruments, and non-MIP information such as Stabilizer Trim units and Six-Pack indicators if desired.

ProSim737's ProSimDisplay software. Here displaying the upper Captain's PFD/ND.
ProSim737’s ProSimDisplay software. Here displaying the upper Captain’s PFD/ND.
ProSim737's ProSimDisplay software. Here displaying some of the many gauges available to choose from.
ProSim737’s ProSimDisplay software. Here displaying some of the many gauges available to choose from.

You need to create a separate copy of the ProSimDisplay folder for each physical monitor you wish to display on. Then the individual ProSimDisplay program in each folder can be tailored to show the information you need. All of them just need to be configured to point at the IP address of your main ProSim737 machine, and this can be done over the network as well.

In my case, I have three ProSimDisplay folders on my avionics PC: one for each LCD monitor in my MIP. Each instance of the ProSimDisplay program was moved to the desired monitor and set for full screen. I then selected the instruments I wanted displayed:

Monitor 1: PFD and ND

Monitor 2: ISFD, RMI, and primary engine indications

Monitor 3: Secondary engine indications

You will likely need to adjust the size and location of each display using “Display Setup Mode” whereby the specific instruments can be added, removed, re-sized, and relocated using mouse and keyboard shortcuts. This is only needed once and the settings will be saved for next time.

Recently, the ProSim team added the ability to display weather radar from Active Sky Next on the ND screens. It is quite detailed, accurate, and even updates correctly when I adjust the gain/tilt from my WX module in my CPFlight Complete Pedestal. This is an exceptionally realistic feature, thank you ProSim!

prosim9

Overall, the main displays are accurate and use nearly perfect colors, fonts, and graphics for the 737. I do not have Display Unit (DU) dimmers connected, but I understand ProSim737 can support them and dim the DU displays accordingly.

My Avionics PC currently runs five monitors. They include these three MIP monitors, as well as the LCD display on my CDU and a 19″ touchscreen monitor used for the ProSim Instructor Station and Aivlasoft’s Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) software. I have not suffered any stutters, lag, or artifacts in any of the ProSim737 displays running in this configuration.

ProSimPanel

ProSimPanel is the program that displays the status of various hardware panels in an interactive 2D format This includes options such as the overheads, MIP, and pedestal. If you don’t have the specific hardware yet, this allows you to interact with virtual switches, knobs, and buttons with your mouse and still fly the bird. But, if you do have hardware components connected, your hardware input will override any actions you take on the 2D panel.

ProSim737's ProSimPanel software. Here displaying the upper MIP panels.
ProSim737’s ProSimPanel software. Here displaying the upper MIP panels.
ProSim737's ProSimPanel software. Here displaying the forward overhead panel.
ProSim737’s ProSimPanel software. Here displaying the forward overhead panel.

The only configuration for ProSimPanel is giving it the IP address of the ProSim737 main program and selecting which panel to show. This means it can also be run over a networked PC. Also, the ProSimPanel folder can be copied many times and used for displaying multiple panels at once, even the same panels on multiple machines. I found this very handy when testing the entire ProSim737 Suite before buying it.

Once I installed the relevant hardware in my cockpit, I now only use ProSimPanel to verify that hardware is working correctly. If it matches what ProSimPanel is displaying, all is good!

ProSimAudio

ProSimAudio is the program for adding your own sounds and for playing those sounds from a different networked PC if you’d like. All it needs is the IP address of the main ProSim737 program. You run ProSimAudio on the PC which has the sound card where you want the sounds to come from and it must remain open to play them.

You can add .wav files to ProSimAudio. If you chose, you can add some basic sound processing such as fade in/out and continuous play here as well. Then, back in the ProSim737 main program, you can add these sounds as events and trigger them with any input/output state or gate condition you choose.

For instance, I had my own Pack sounds I wanted to use:

  • I added the sound file locations in ProSimAudio first.
  • Then, in ProSim737, I created an ‘Audio Addon’ event.
  • Then I assigned the Audio Addon event to the “Pack L operating” and “Pack R operating” Gates in ProSim737 so they would only play when they should. This means aircraft power is available, pack switches are on, bleed air is available, and packs are not failed or disabled. This is another example of why the Gates feature in ProSim737 can really be fun to use!

I ended up adding many custom sounds for use in ProSimAudio, some from my other aircraft folders and some I found online. I then used Audacity, a free sound editing software, to create fades, adjust volume, and combine these sounds to my liking. I didn’t realize how much the sound environment is a huge part of flight simulation and truly deserves as much attention as your visuals. Now, I may have to get some of these ButtKickers everyone is using. Ok, maybe after I find some used 737 IPECO cockpit seats!

Instructor Station

The ProSim737 Instructor Station (IS) is a web-based interface for controlling aspects of the simulation. As it runs in any web browser, I can pull it up on my iPad over my wireless or via my touchscreen monitor next to the cockpit.

ProSim737's web-based Instructor Station interface on the Services page.
ProSim737’s web-based Instructor Station interface on the Services page.

The Instructor Station allows you to view/control many things, such as:

  • Customize the cockpit functions to your liking. This allows you to adjust options such as GPWS callouts, F/D cues, fuel gauge style, engine indications layout (over/under or side/side), map orientation, door logic, etc. This also lets you put a virtual stabilizer trim gauge on the upper or lower DUs. Since my JetMax throttle quadrant does not have a working stab trim indicator, I use this feature on my lower DU screen during takeoff.
  • Adjust passenger, cargo, and fuel loads/weights
  • Store and recall up to five weather conditions
  • Select from preset weather (aka the default building storms, gray and rainy, fair weather, fogged in, etc.)
  • Paste in formatted METAR information and inject that weather
  • Look up local weather by station ICAO code
  • Change visibility conditions (Normal, CATI, CATII, CATIII)
  • Change time of day (Current, Day, Night, Dusk, Dawn)
  • Create custom aircraft positions
  • Store and recall up to five aircraft positions
  • Create basic flight plans and company routes
  • Select from the three preset Quickstart modes: Cold & Dark, Ready, Start APU
  • Add/remove Ground Power/Ground Air
  • Open/close all the aircraft doors. Only some of these sync with FSX/Prepar3D models, but they will accurately trigger the overhead annunciators
  • Start/stop a basic pushback (straight, left right)
  • Display an overhead moving map with optional data overlays to include VORs, NDBs, ILS paths, Airports, Lo and Hi Airways, Fixes, Airspace boundaries, and your programmed route (if available)
  • Display current and pending failures. Allows removal of active failures. And allows you to trigger over 125 different failures immediately.
  • View ProSim737 operating values, such as timing and system load.
  • Shutdown all connected computers running ProSim modules This is a function you have to enable in each module first.

The ProSim737 Instructor Station is quite useful and needs to exist somewhere in your cockpit. It is just too handy to live without!

ProSim Flight Model 2.0

The ProSim Flight Model is a custom FSX/Prepar3D aircraft available for purchase from ProSim. It has been meticulously modified to work perfectly with their ProSim737 avionics/logic. It has working lights, an accurate flight model envelope, and reacts as I would expect a real 737 to: with a bit of response lag, but slippery as heck.

ProSim737 Flight Model aircraft and house livery.
ProSim737 Flight Model aircraft and house livery.

If you use ProSim, I would recommend using this matching flight model. There is even a ProSim forum post containing dozens and dozens of popular liveries to fly with!

ProSim737 Suite as a whole

Once I got ProSim737 all talking, it has been pretty spectacular ever since. I wrote a simple batch script file to fire up all the needed ProSim modules on each PC and I can go from dark room to preflight procedures in about 3 minutes. I don’t fly a real 737, and the only comparison I have is my PMDG 737 NGX, but so far everything works and feels right.

There is even built-in logic for Ground Power availability and operation of the aircraft doors. If you start cold & dark and turn the BATTERY switch on, the doors will slowly open one by one automatically. If you press the GRD CALL button on the forward overhead, after 30 seconds or so, Ground Power will be connected to the aircraft for you automatically. Then, when you turn on the Anti-Collision lights during your Before Start procedures and before pushback, the doors will close and the Ground Power will be disconnected for you. Be sure to have your APU running and on the bus!

TIP: If you use GSX or AES for ground services, please note the ProSim737 door logic does not trigger the actual doors on the plane, just within ProSim737 itself. This causes grief with ground services add-ons looking for open doors in the sim. So, you still need to open them manually within the sim yourself to use those add-ons properly, and may even want to disable the ProSim737 automatic door logic entirely from the Instructor Station ‘cockpit setup’ options.

I am trying not to repeat the information you can easily find on the ProSim737 website, but there are minor features others might find interesting: such as being able to add throttle lever position indicators to the N1 gauges so you can match non-motorized throttles to the current auto-throttle settings, or messing with pressurization settings even though they have no real effect in a typical home simulator environment.

The modeling of all aircraft systems is quite thorough and accurate, even down to little things like the electric hydraulic pumps overheating when the fuel gets too low in the wing tanks or high ambient outside air temperatures causing the window heat to trip off.

The autopilot is fully modeled and the Flight Directors and Flight Path Vector (FPV) functions work great. ProSim737 does support a fail-passive Single-Channel autoland capability, but does not support a fail-operational dual-channel coupled LAND 3 autoland with ROLLOUT and FLARE yet.

I know many real life 737s lack fail-operational autoland, but the PMDG 737 NGX add-on aircraft can do it, so it is possible in flight simulation. Sadly, this feature was requested by customers over two years ago and we are still waiting.

SUPPORT

ProSim737 is actively supported via their online forums. New releases and beta pre-releases are constantly being developed and distributed to the community. I have seen good interaction between the ProSim team and it’s users to improve the software, increase hardware compatibility, and fix bugs and other issues. But, it is not perfect, as some “known issues” have been sitting unresolved for a very long time (even years).

It was also on the ProSim forums that I discovered the amazing ProSimUtils addon created by ProSim user Humberto Miguel (wpslider). This add-on creates additional CDU screens to support external services like IVAO, ACARS, METARS, importing pre-built/imported ‘company’ routes, and more. Once I get it all figured out, I will likely write something up on ProSimUtils as well.

SUMMARY

ProSim737 was up against Sim-Avionics when deciding which avionics suite to run in my JetMax-based cockpit. I am sure they both serve well in the flight systems and logic department. However, ProSim737 supports more hardware, has a bigger user base, and costs about half as much. This means more development, more updates, and more support infrastructure, for less money.

There is even a FREE demo version of ProSim737 available for download. It will run for 30 minutes at a time, then it must be restarted. This is a great option for new users who want to test compatibility and functionality before buying.

Unfortunately, I am experiencing a few nagging software bugs I hope they resolve soon:

  • First, the way ProSim737 drives the gauges in my CPFlight Forward Overhead Panel is just too slow. They end up at the right readings eventually, but lag behind even the ProSimPanel virtual gauges in speed of movement. As I tested the CPFlight overhead panel outside of ProSim737 and the gauges move plenty quick,it seems up to ProSim to solve.
  • Second, I noticed that the Cabin Alt gauges are not showing the correct values in flight and found out this is has been a known issue for years.
  • Third, the VHF-1 and VHF-2 receive ACP indicator lights on my CPFlight Aft Overhead Panel are reversed.

In the grand scheme of things, these are not deal breakers, but I sure would like to rely on my overhead panels!

In the end, there are only a handful of 737 avionics suites out there designed for our little community of home cockpit builders. And even fewer of them are still being developed. The remaining options are not cheap, but I believe value has a price. ProSim737 is faithful to the real aircraft, looks great, and simulates aircraft systems extremely well. However, with the software bugs I’ve experienced and the time it seems to take to resolve others like them, I give the ProSim737 Suite a respectable score of 9 out of 10.

ProSim737 imagery by ProSim-AR. my737NG.com is not affiliated with, maintained, authorized, endorsed, or sponsored by ProSim-AR.

14 thoughts on “PROSIM737 AVIONICS SUITE”

  1. Could you explain more on how you connected the fans to the relay board? Also when I search for phidgets relay boards it comes up with many different versions, which one do you have?

    1. I actually took the fans down for a bit until I put in a second 12V power supply, so I will likely write up an article on when I put them back in. I use a 1014_2 PhidgetInterfaceKit 0/0/4 relay board with the 3802_1 Acrylic Enclosure. I ran negative 12V ground (-) to both fans, and positive power (-) through a fuse to the Common contacts on two of the relays. Then, out from the NO (Normally Open) relay contacts to each fan. Within ProSim, I used the Recirc Fan L and R gates to trigger these relays appropriately. Not only does it cool the cockpit, but it kindly reminds me that my “passengers” are also without air during engine starts.

  2. This is a fantastic read and very helpful. I just ordered my Jetmax unit your reviews are very insightful.

    Is there any reason why you went with ProSim over Sim Avionics?

    Are they equal products or does one offer something over the other? Currently, Peter has suggested to go with Sim Avionics.

    Any input would be very helpful.

    1. Thank you for your comments! I chose ProSim737 because it was cheaper, has much more active forums, and based on what I’ve seen, better support. Also, ProSim737 has a lot of built-in drivers to support most of the flight sim products on the market. Peter asked if I was going to use Sim-A as well, but he has a direct business relationship with them, so it makes sense.

  3. Hi. What an excellent read. Can you tell me if Prosim737 is compatible with Prepar3D_v3_Professional_Plus_3.0.10.14945?
    If so which version of Prosim737 is best to use? I’m sorry if this question has already been answered elsewhere but I have not seen it. Thankyou.

    1. Yes, it is compatible. I had ProSim737 working just fine on Prepar3D v3.0.10.14945 (v3.0). I now run v3.1.2.15831 (v3.1), but I am currently testing out the latest v3.2.3.16769 (v3.2).

      I would always go for the most recent public release of ProSim737, currently at v1.46.

      1. Thanyou very much for your prompt reply! I will follow your advice for the most recent public release of ProSim737.
        Would the v3.2.3.16769 (v3.2) of P3Dthat you are testing be 64 bit by any chance? – or probably its still a bit premature but will be developed eventually. Thanks again. SW.

        1. No, P3D v3.2 is still 32-bit. The only 64-bit flight sim I know of is X-Plane from Laminar Research. I doubt even Lockheed Martin wants to spend the kind of money and time it would take to convert P3D to 64-bit. IMO, it would be smarter to just start over from scratch and try to make all the existing FSX/P3D market add-ons backwards compatible or convert them somehow.

  4. I am a SA user for a Jetmax base and overhead. The SA software will configure 95% of the jetmax automatically. When you insall the Prosim software (which I am thinking of testing) do you have to configure everything manually? Thanks (great site!)

    1. Yes, the JetMax MIP lights/switches are programmed manually in ProSim. I don’t have the JetMax overhead, so I can’t answer that one. However, I do know that ProSim natively supports the FDS boards, MCP/EFIS, and radios.

  5. Thanks so much for the great detail in here. Really helpful.

    I have a question for you.

    My understanding is that the way to set up Prosim is for it to communicate with the “flying PC”. Is there a way for it to send information to a second PC which also has the flight sim program installed?

    I will be using Prepar3D and building a cockpit with 5 PCs. 2 for avionics and 3 for visuals. I am trying to find the best solution for Vatsim, and intercom. My plan is to instal vPilot twice (not networked) on two different PC’s. One will be set to transmit on COM1 (captain), and the other on COM2 (f/o). However, for this to work, I need Prosim (or FSUIPC?) to send the COM2 frequency setting to the second PC which has F/O’s vPilot installed on it.

    Any thoughts on how to make this work?

    TIA

    Sunil

    1. I would install ProSim on the same PC as the Sim software. Anything outside that can communicate with FSX/P3D via SimConnect will be reflected by ProSim as well. I’ve never used vPilot, but if it communicates with P3D directly, ProSim will see the frequency change, and vice versa.

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