Wanna Fly a Boeing 737? click here :o))

 05/01/09 New Panel Images Added UPDATED Tuesday 5th Jan 2009
 e-mail us 
Quick Find:

   737NG.co.uk - Re-Writing/Using the Modified PMDG 737 Panel.cfg File 

Ok,I am getting so many e-mails about setting up the PMDG for use in the cockpit that it was becoming so time consuming answering them all my project was starting to get delayed.  So I decided to upload a sort of step by step description of how I did it.
Please remember that you cannot get the PMDG to display the EICAS / Standby Instruments and Rotary Flaps Gauge realistically, so that is the reason for using the second networked computer. It runs a program called FsXpand / FsClient which allows me to configure my EICAS Screen with the required Instrumentation.   You can run this setup on one computer, but positioning all the Instruments, Switches and Control Panels on one monitor makes it very cluttered and unrealistic.


Understanding Your Screen     My Screens are set for 1280 x 960 resolution (the same as the PMDG Panel File. see the size statement in the panel file) and this is the standard I will use for this discussion.  If you are using a higher resolution, you will have to make adjustments up and vice versa.
Ok given that i have a Screen Area of 1280 x 960, that means that I can map any given point on my screen by giving it an address containing 2 numbers.  The vertical point and the horizontal point separated by a comma.  The base position is the top left hand corner of your screen which has an address of 0,0. The lower left hand corner will have an address of 0,960.  The top right hand corner has an address of 1280,0 and the bottom right hand corner is 1280,960.   Getting the idea ?    So you will be able to 'map' any point on your screen by giving it an address.  e.g. 50,120   1000,50   168,200 etc.

Understanding Gauge & Bitmap Size    OK now you understand mapping your screen, you will also need to understand getting the gauges the right size.  If you look in the PMDG737 panel.cfg file, you will see in the  PMDG_MAIN_PANEL section that all the Instruments &  Controls listed contain a string of 4 sets of numbers.  The first 2 are the mapped position on the screen of where the top left hand corner of the gauge will be positioned and the last two are the size of the gauge.  Increasing these numbers will make the gauge bigger and decreasing these numbers will make the gauge smaller.   Get the idea?
Understanding FS2004 Windows & Saved Flights
When you save a flight in FS2004 containing more than one view, it will save the information and position of the windows in the flight file. My experience is that as FS2004 is 'twitchy', that is it doesn't always do things you expect it to, saving and opening flights 'Windowed' is the best way. You can always switch to Full Screen when you are ready to start. See also the notes on switching to full screen at the end of this page.


The left monitor is simply connected with the right monitor thru a 'Y' cable to the SVGA output on my video card.



CHECKLIST For The STANDARD Configuration you will need a computer with two video outputs either on the same card or a machine having a second video card fitted and 2 x CRT or LCD Monitors.   On the BASIC Configuration You need a 2 Computer Network with the Main Machine having either a Dual Output Video Card or a Second Video Card Fitted and Configured. The First Machine is going to run FS2004 and PMDG737.  The second computer is solely to serve the centre Upper EICAS / Standby Instruments and Flaps Gauge. You will of course need 3 x CRT or LCD monitors.  On the EXPANDED version you simply need another Monitor to deliver PFD & ND to both sides of the cockpit.
Notes About The PMDG737 Panel.cfg.File Well what the panel.cfg file does is build the panel on screen with all the right gauges in the right places on the Bitmap of the Panel itself.  What I did was first to get rid of the Bitmap image and reposition the gauges, switches and instruments exactly where I wanted them displayed to suit my MIP.
The PMDG panel.cfg file, although pretty complicated is just like any other panel.cfg file, re-writeable.   Make a copy of your original panel.cfg onto your desktop.  Open it with notepad and explore it.  Do not change anything nor save it if prompted. Remember your FS and PMDG are working right now, so you can always restore the original file if things don't quite go to plan.
Exploring the Panel File..... You will see various Sections in the Panel file.   We are looking for the section which says 

[Window01] // PMDG_MAIN_PANEL
This is the section which presents the Main Instrument panel on screen when you load the PMDG737.   It is also the section we will alter to reposition the instruments.  You will also have to move the file named 
737NG_Main_Background_1280.bmp out of the Panel Folder so it does not display, but not at this stage.
Understanding the FS2004 Windows / Views.   FS2004 allows us to run several views which can be 'Undocked' and moved to a second monitor. We will be utilising this function to help achieve what we want.  Load your flight sim and choose the MSFS B737 making sure you are not in full screen mode..  You will see on your screen the outside view over the instrument panel.  There will also be a light panel at the top of the screen.   The two panels are actually windows overlayed on the outside view.  Take the cursor over the top panel, right click and select 'Close Window'.  See it's gone.      FS2004 will only allow you to Undock Windows in 'Windowed' Mode, so make sure you are there.   Right click the window containing the Instrument Panel and select Undock Window. Move this window onto your second monitor.   Resize both of your cockpit windows until they fill the respective screens.  Now hit Alt + Enter and you should have a full screen view out of the Cockpit & one of the Instrument Panel on the lower monitor. You Do ! Great, You don't ? Go back and check everything.

FS2004 Outside View
The EICAS Display is being served from the 2nd Networked Machine running FsXpand /FsClient.

   Load FS2004 in windowed mode and select the PMDG737 with the main panel showing. Undock the main panel and move it to the second monitor. Make sure you are in 'Windowed' Mode and save the flight. Mine is called default.  Also make sure that the flight is saved as the Default Flight.  So you now have a startup flight which loads the PMDG in two views.  One has the front outside view and one has the Main Instrument Panel. It's time to get serious.  We have to get the Instrument Panel Set Up how we want it.  Shutdown FS2004. From the Panel folder, move the 737NG_Main_Background_1280.bmp to a safe place for keeping. This prevents it from being displayed even though the panel.cfg file will ask for it. Restart FS2004 and look at what you have displayed on your instrument panel. Hopefully just the gauges and control/switch panels. Remember 'Mapping' the screen? Remember re-sizing instruments?  This is where you put it into practise.  You have to modify the panel file to suit your own personal needs. No 2 setups will be the same, some people will want to set out their instruments all on one screen, some people will want to use a second networked computer for the EICAS, some people will want to add a third monitor for the full 5 display type cockpit.   So what do you do.  First, save your original panel.cfg file to a safe place for keeping.  Next you can either make a copy of it and edit with notepad or to get you started, click here for a copy of my modified panel file.   This file does not include the standby or EICAS instruments as I get my centre display served from a networked computer running
FsXpand / FsClient.   But at least it will give you a start to help you understand what is going on.