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737 Pilot's Dream - V737 Overhead
Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.
|VRInsight V737 Overhead Panel
by Robert McDonald
V737 Overhead with Tilt Legs (included) [VRInsight]
Interest has been building around VRInsight, a fine hardware manufacturer located in Korea. One of the most sought-after hardware control surfaces has to be the 737 Overhead Panel and VRInsight has done a very nice job with their V737 OVHD (1,078 Euros or about $1,350 USD) in their tradition of giving outstanding bang for the buck. This panel is designed to emulate most of the functions in the Boeing 737 Overhead panel. The V737 works with FSX default 737s as well as the iFly and PMDG aftermarket variants including the NG and NGX, respectively.
From the Manufacturers Website:
Full functional inputs; 70 toggle switches, 9 Rotary switches, 2 Rotary encoders
- All switchable 96-annunciator LEDs.
- 7-Segment display for Flight ALT, Landing ALT, AC/DC Electric variables and duct flow
- USB 2.0 compliant connection for control interface
- All buttons and dual rotary knobs are close to real overhead.
- It is fully compatible with IFly 737 NG for Microsoft's Flight Simulator X and 2004
- Compatible with Microsoft Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7
Width: 36.5cm / 13.4"
Height: 4cm / 1.6"
Length: 28cm / 11"
- Weight : 4KG
- One year warranty
Front view showing the myriad LED status lights and switches of the V737 [VRInsight]
I was apprehensive about purchasing this device, only because I had been told by VRInsight that a few digital gauges were not yet functional with a particular aftermarket 737 Virtual Cockpit Overhead. VRI support is waiting on the second iteration of that aircraft's SDK (Software Developers Kit) to resolve this issue at which time VRI will release updated drivers. The SDK consists of programing code released by software makers to third-party developers to allow add-on hardware and software products from different companies to function properly together. Presently, the digital DC Gauges along the top row do not work with my aircraft. VRInsight support will fix this small item once version 2 of the SDK is made available.
One thing I did that really added a lot was removed the bolt-on side-mounted tilt-stand that ships with this device, and purchased the Ergotron LX Deskmount LCD ARM to suspend this panel about 12" above my desk. Sitting below it is the VRInsight MCP Combo II (Boeing) unit that I have previously reviewed here on AVSIM in the Members Review area, and my third VRI device, the exciting CDU-II FMC stand-alone unit. What this does for me is puts all my flight controls in a logical place off to my right and easily accessible, which improves my response time (flow) during flight operations.
The V737 Overhead plus MCP Combo II (Boeing) and CDU-II [R. McDonald]
Where the V737 Overhead shines: VRI was nice enough to now include the slip on toggle switch covers (rubberized) which gives a nice solid tactile feel when you're madly flipping switches. They include enough white covers to do the entire device, and for the creative out there, toss in a few RED and BLACK covers as well, though I didn't use those colors on mine.
Dark Charcoal is how I would describe this item - it looks BLACK here [VRInsight]
This device is scaled down, and is a lot smaller than a real 737 Overhead. I think VRI showed some brilliance there, as a full-scale 737 Overhead would be a problem for many of us who have space issues (or spouse issues). The Ergotron arm allows me to push this back out of the way if I need to, but I don't feel the need. Because the VRI 737OVHD is VESA-compliant, it works with standard VESA wall-mounts or desk-mount stands. I could write a pretty nice review on the Ergotron LX LCD Arm all by itself a stunning black and chrome, heavy-duty and solidly-built bit of kit. I read a lot of positive reviews about it on Amazon, and thus decided to trust it to suspend the V737 above my glass-top desk.
Some of the toggle switches seem just a tad close to their neighbors, I'm thinking of the Recirc Fan Switches and the LPack, RPack switches. Two of them actually touch at times with the rubber switch covers on. Not a huge thing, they function just fine.
This device is USB and electrically powered, and VRI tosses in a nice Blue LED light (USB) to hang off the top edge to illuminate nicely during night flights. The software to connect to your airplane of choice is via VRI Sim Software (included) which is simple enough to set up and implement.
My sequence of loading up FSX and accompanying hardware for a flight:
1- Load Rex Essential wait for all weather to load
2- Press FLY NOW in REX which then starts FSX
3- FSX auto-starts LINDA which controls my VRInsight MCP Combo II (Boeing) Panel
4- Once FSX loads, I load a flight and click go.
5- Once I'm at an airport with the plane at a gate, I open the Virtual CDU, then double click it to bring it out away from the instrument panel. Then I start the VRiSim software button to load VRiSim AFTER Linda loads so that the MCP Combo unit is driven by Linda in lieu of VRiSim software. Artem Crum and the Linda team offer Linda for FREE here on AVSIM! VRiSim drives the V737 Overhead and the CDU-II but NOT the MCP Combo II. Note: VRiSim recognizes and supports both the iFly 737NG and the PMDG 737NGX aftermarket planes.
To test the fun factor on the V737, I printed out the 2-page cold and dark and back to secure checklist procedures for the 737NGX including connecting to ground power, starting the APU, initializing the CDU (more on that in a separate review) pushback and engines start. After completing the flight, the reverse procedure to secure the airplane is easily done using this panel! It's huge fun to be doing all of that with real switches based on a scaled-down Overhead panel. Is it 100% perfect true-to-life? No. The dial gauges don't function (they are painted decals) which is my only real knock on this product. I guess the costs of implementing dial-gauges outweighed including them for realism. I would so love it if the EGT gauge worked but it is painted along with cabin pressure gauges, trim air, and several other items. There's still plenty of functional eye-candy and warning/status lights all over the place. When this baby powers on, it's like a mini Christmas tree there are a ton of status lights on the V737! Very appealing!
It's wonderful to have all the fuel pump switches operational, yaw damper, all the landing and taxi lights, as well as faithful implementation of the navigation warning lights. Even the Alt horn cutout and ATTEND call and GRD Call buttons work!
When you do your push and flip your packs off and your bleed air on and spin up those engines there is no denying the joy factor! Quite rewarding! I have the engine cutout switches assigned (Via Linda) to my Hotas Warthog Throttle Quadrant. Once the engines N2 climbs above 25, I raise the cutout switches and flip on the generators and turn off the APU - all of that going on via my operating the real V737 panel instead of the Virtual Panel via mouse-clicks. Is this a lot more fun and a whole lot faster process using actual hardware instead of the mouse? Unqualified YES.
If you can do this without killing your flight budget and if you mainly fly 737s, I heartily recommend you consider adding the V737 Overhead to your flight deck. It's more fun than I imagined it would be, and since I've added it, I always fly cold and dark and back to secure. No more firing up the plane with the engines running and ready to fly. So it increases both your enjoyment and your skill set, because now you're forced to do the checklist stuff, and if you have a switch in the wrong position, you incur the appropriate pain. When you have everything correct, it's total joy!
|Time Of Edit||Edited By||Edit Reason|
|16 July 2012 - 11:48 PM||Robert McDonald||The review was submitted and automatically approved.|
|17 July 2012 - 12:27 AM||Robert McDonald||layout|
|17 July 2012 - 12:55 AM||Robert McDonald||add pix|
|17 July 2012 - 12:59 AM||Robert McDonald||report format|
|17 July 2012 - 01:03 AM||Robert McDonald||report format|
|17 July 2012 - 02:32 AM||Robert McDonald||report card|
|17 July 2012 - 02:40 AM||Robert McDonald||report card|
|17 July 2012 - 05:11 AM||Robert McDonald||report card|
|17 July 2012 - 02:37 PM||Robert McDonald||report card|
|19 July 2012 - 07:15 PM||Robert McDonald||photos|
|24 July 2012 - 05:51 PM||Robert McDonald||add youtube link|
|05 August 2012 - 01:28 PM||Robert McDonald||mod slogan|
|05 August 2012 - 01:34 PM||Robert McDonald||photos|
posted on 10-28-2012, 5:08 AM by Andydigital
PMDG still hasn't released the updated SDK so no the DC gauges and door annunciation lights on the VRi Overhead still do not work.By the way you can find out what the EGT temp is on the Overhead, turn the AC selector dial all the way to the right past the TEST position then watch the digital display above it, it will show EGT and fuel temperature.
posted on 10-21-2012, 9:22 PM by Ulrich26
Hi Robert,great report!I am also thinking about ordering the VRI Overhead Panel, but Iam still not clear how wellmit works together now with thebPMDG 737NGX. Are the DC gauges working now? Any other glitches which you noticed meanwhile?Is the connection to the 737/ FSX really such easy like plug'n'play?I'd appreciate your comments.Ulrich