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PSX Layouts: An Annotated Example

Started by Will, Thu, 4 Sep 2014 00:51


PSX Layouts: An Annotated Example

NOTE: If you read the thread below, you will see that the original Annotated Example went through a few iterations. That's not a bad thing, because the whole point was to show PSX's flexibility and customizability. But for the FINAL version of the 9pack file and the accompanying tutorial, don't follow the links in the thread; instead use this link:

The zip file in the link above contains two things: the final and definitive 9pack ("AnnotatedExample.9pack") and a slightly extended and finalized PDF version of this tutorial ("PSX Layouts- Annotated Example.pdf"). You can get to roughly the same place by following the ENTIRE thread below, although the link above represents a more direct route.

Thanks everyone, and as usual, feedback is appreciated.

This is a longer and illustrated version (scroll down for the pics!) of my original contribution to the thread about layouts. And it includes a substantially modified 9pack file (version2).

Before we get started, it's worth mentioning a few points.

First, this overly long post has screenshots of all nine layouts, resized to 500 pixels for better display on the Aerowinx forum, followed at the very end by a link you can use to download the 9pack file itself. It also includes a description of how this layout can be mapped to a hat switch (plus one extra button) on your flight controller for very intuitive use.

One of the real joys of PSX is how customizable it is. It's easy to create layouts and assemble them into your own 9packs. I don't expect that anyone will ultimately adopt my layouts as their own (although anyone can if they want); instead, this Annotated Example is to show one possible way to customize PSX. As soon as you get the hang of making your own layouts, you'll want to tinker around and come up with something that suits you. It's easy and fun. There is no one single best configuration.

Caveat: I am not building a home cockpit. I use PSX on one computer (a Mac) and one monitor, with 1920x1080 resolution, and with the Preferences > Basics > Start with maximized window option checked in PSX; also with Automatically hide and show the Dock checked in System Preferences on the Mac. This allows PSX to use the full extent of the display screen. While this 9pack works for me, your equipment or your needs will probably be different than mine, and that's fine; just see point #2 above about how customizable PSX is.

Finally, this document won't tell you how to adjust the views within an individual layout, dragging dividers between panes and the like. Instead, this document is intended to show one possible final 9pack configuration. For information on how to drag panes, refer to the PSX manual or Brian's excellent Getting to Know PSX tutorial which you can download here:

Okay, here are the screen shots. Follow along to the end to see how they can be mapped to your flight controller.

Each layout is suited for a particular task or phase of flight.

1. Takeoff/Landing
2. Cruise
3. Communications
4. Center Console
5. Left Seat Panorama
6. Right Seat Panorama
7. P6
8. Far Overhead
9. Overhead

1. Takeoff/Landing: This is intended for takeoff and landing or for any precision hand flying. The flight instruments (PFD/ND) are generously large and there is also a good view out the cockpit window, suitable for landing. I included some of the gear handle on the far right because I like to see it move as visual confirmation that the gear have been commanded to the correct position. Similarly, you can get visual confirmation of other critical levers like the parking brake, speed brakes, throttles, and flaps. There's enough of the MCP for you to work with the flight directors and autopilot. There isn't a CDU on this panel... so for that, see layout #2 below.

2. Cruise: Once you move past takeoff, FMC modifications become more likely, so this layout includes the left CDU. Also, in place of the throttles and speed brake, we now have the lower EICAS for monitoring aircraft systems. The ND and PFD are still fairly large and hand-flying is possible, but the flight instruments are a bit smaller than on the first layout to make room for the CDU. This layout optimized for flying in cruise on autopilot, although the flight instruments are still large enough to hold straight and level flight without much trouble. It's expected that you would move between this and the next layout from time to time, depending on what's important to you in the moment.

3. Communications: The flight instruments are again smaller than the above layout as we now need more room for other things, but they are still clearly visible. This layout is optimized for flying on autopilot while needing to pay attention to communications. Thus the left and center radio tuning panels, as well as the left audio control panel are here, so changing VHF and HF frequencies is possible. The center CDU is available for use with ACARS. You can access these communication options while still watching the flight instruments and while seeing enough of the MCP to command the flight directors and autopilot to hold the proper course. It's expected that you would move between this and the previous layout from time to time, depending on what's important to you in the moment. If a visible horizon is important, it's only one layout away. Meanwhile, this layout lets you work with ACARS and the radios while still keeping watch on the flight instruments.

4. Center Console: This includes the full center console with audio control panels, radio tuning panels, interphone, passenger signs, rudder trim, printer, and the like. You'll use it mostly for pre- and post flight duties, although the flight instruments are here so you can use it in cruise when you need to, however there is no view out the windshield. Like the panel above, all CDU's are accessible here.

5. Left Seat Panorama (one large pane): This is the view from the Captain's seat. It's useful for perspective in the cockpit, as well as for looking at left-seat-specific equipment such as the autobrakes selector and the hydraulic brake pressure indicator. It's also a quick and intuitive way to adjust the Captain's ND and PFD displays, both with MCP controls (for ND information display) and side panel controls (for brightness, etc.).

6. Right Seat Panorama (one large pane): Similar to layout #5 above, this gives a perspective of what the First Officer sees from his seat. It offers quick and easy access to items unique to the right side, such as the alternate flaps and gear, the ground proximity warning controls, and the beloved HDG REF switch. It's also a quick and intuitive way to adjust the First Officer's ND and PFD displays.

7. P6: There is an enlarged stabilizer trim indicator on the left of the layout, in case you have trouble reading the stabilizer trim setting on the Takeoff/Landing layout (#1 above). There is also a view of the whole flight deck, in case you're curious about what the view from the jumpseat looks like. The P6 circuit breakers take up the rest of the layout.

8. Far Overhead: Maintenance switches are on the left and the P7 circuit breakers are everywhere else.

9. Overhead: The primary and secondary EICAS are on the left along with the EICAS mode switches. The right CDU is here as well. The remainder of the layout provides a generously sized overhead panel on the whole right side. The EICAS displays are here so that you can follow changes in the aircraft systems as you manipulate the switches on the overhead. For example, you can start the engines here and watch the start sequence without moving to another layout. (Move the fuel control switches to RUN on layout #1, then move here for the rest of the start.) You can also change settings with the electronics, hydraulics, pneumatics, etc., and see the results on the EICAS just to the left.

Okay, so here's how this all comes together. Consider layout #2 (Cruise) your "home" view.

Set a hat switch on your flight controller like this:

Any convenient button, which we'll call the HOME button: layout #2 (Cruise, your "home" view)

Hat switch UP: layout - (decrease)
Hat switch DOWN: layout + (increase)
Hat switch LEFT: layout #5 (Left Seat Panorama)
Hat switch RIGHT: layout #6 (Right Seat Panorama)

Your "home" view shows you the cruise layout, with medium-sized flight instruments, primary and secondary EICAS, and the left CDU. You can always get back to this view immediately with the press of your HOME button.

The home (a.k.a. Cruise) layout is in the middle of three layouts that are each optimized for a specific flight phase or task. We'll call these the three "flying layouts." Using the hat switch's UP button moves you from the home layout to the flying layout with biggest flight instruments, which is perfect for takeoff or landing (or for hand flying with precision). Using the hat switch to move DOWN from "home" takes you to the third flying layout (Communications), which has all three CDUs and the left radio and audio panels, but also flight instruments, the MCP, and the view out the cockpit.

So to repeat: from "home," pressing UP on your hat switch goes to the flying layout with big flight instruments, DOWN goes to smaller flight instruments and communications equipment. UP for takeoff and landing, DOWN for communications.

When you reach the top of the three flying layouts, the UP button then tilts your view upwards as if you were tilting your head up towards the top of the cockpit. First there's the overhead, then the far overhead beyond that (and finally P6, although this isn't really like moving your head up in this one instance... oh well).

Similarly, moving DOWN from the third of the flying layouts will shift your view downwards in the cockpit from the flight instruments to the center console, with both of the radio tuning panels, the center CDU, the passenger signs, and the rest of that panel. It is like looking down though, in that there isn't any view out the windshield.

Moving LEFT on the hat switch goes directly to the Captain's panorama, so that any time you need to see the Captain's unique equipment or when you want to adjust the Captain's flight instruments or lights, it's always just one press of your hat switch away.

Ditto with the RIGHT button for the First Officer's panel.

If you ever lose your place, just tap your HOME button and you're back to your "home" screen and you're looking at flight instruments, EICAS, and the left FMC. From there, you can cycle again as needed.

For preflight and postflight activities, you'll be making use of the overhead (layout 9) and the center pedestal (layout 4). These are always two taps from the home layout. So if you want to see to the overhead, you get there from home by hitting UP, UP; and if you want to get to the center pedestal, you're there by hitting DOWN, DOWN.

So most preflight controls can be accessed with UP, UP, or DOWN, DOWN. Easy!

I've found this to be really intuitive. In fact, it takes much longer to read this than to get used to using it.

One last advantage of this setup that's worth mentioning: everything that's clickable in PSX is represented here in a pane that's large enough for you to hit it easily with your mouse. No hunting with a microscope for tiny switches, and no needing to zoom a pane before you can use it. The smallest controls that you may need to click with your mouse are the fuel control switches (layout #1), and they're no problem.

You can download the 9pack here (right click, and hit "save target as" or "save linked file as"):

I hope this is useful! Feedback is appreciated.

Edit HH: Links updated.
Will /Chicago /USA

John Golin

GREAT tutorial Will!
John Golin.


Nice hat use concept, it really works well when combined with the right screen layout order.

If you have some macro capability you can make the Home button do numpad 0 + numpad 2 back to back in case you messed around with another views to reset the views and go to home screen via a single press.

Hardy Heinlin

I find all layouts fine except for the first one which is supposed to be designed for hand-flying:

For my taste, the PFD should be under the middle of the visible windshield area, i.e. under the runway. The EICAS section could be smaller, the gear lever may be off-screen; seeing the clock to the left, and having the PFD centered, is much more important, in my opinion.




Hardy: Okay, but this is far as I'm gonna go! (grin)

Everyone: The reason I posted this version here in a reply to Hardy is to demonstrate how easy it is to configure new layouts in PSX. It took longer to upload this post than to make the new 9pack. So get to know the PSX display design philosophy, and you'll see how powerful a tool it is.

New version:

Old version:

The 9pack with layout #1 changed, so that the PFD is more in the center, and the EICAS is smaller (top picture):

(remember to right click and save)

Edit HH: Links updated.
Will /Chicago /USA


I have been fiddling around trying to get a good layout(s), must admit I haven't mastered this altogether so far!

Good tutorial helps me!

Version 03 is really good for me.

I really like the hat concept, will try this later.

Thanks for your work Will.


Hi Will,
I went with your layout a while back; it is really great. Thanks a ton.
A request. Any possibility of your post as a PDF? I'd be happy to do it and host it with your permission.
Many thanks again.
Greetings from the mountains of Northern Thailand (VTCC),
Chris Stanley.

John H Watson

Engine start seems to be one of the trickier tasks and may need a few layouts:

You have to contact the ground for clearance (pedestal or glareshield PTT), set the packs to the correct config (overhead), pull the start switch (overhead), watch the indications (EICAS), lift the fuel cutoff lever (thrust quadrant) and keep your hand poised there throughout the sequence, continue watching the indications (EICAS), and make sure the start valve closes (light out on the start switch at 50% N2/N3, overhead), continue watching the indications until stable (EICAS).



Now I just need a variat of your 9 pack to suit my X-Plane10 out-of-windshield visuals :-)

Thx for the excellent tutorial!


Thanks everyone, for the comments.

John: Everything for engine start can be accomplished on layout #9, except for the fuel control switches. Those are on the layout immediately adjacent layout, which is one DOWN button away, no hunting. (I'm using a PTT button on a flight controller, and not in the graphical cockpit.) I agree, it's a complicated sequence.

funkyhut: I will go ahead and make a pdf. It will take a day or so, since I need to resize the screenshots.
Will /Chicago /USA


Greetings from the mountains of Northern Thailand (VTCC),
Chris Stanley.


Quote from: John H WatsonEngine start seems to be one of the trickier tasks and may need a few layouts:

You have to contact the ground for clearance (pedestal or glareshield PTT), set the packs to the correct config (overhead), pull the start switch (overhead), watch the indications (EICAS), lift the fuel cutoff lever (thrust quadrant) and keep your hand poised there throughout the sequence, continue watching the indications (EICAS), and make sure the start valve closes (light out on the start switch at 50% N2/N3, overhead), continue watching the indications until stable (EICAS).


Take screen 9, add a split to the upper right side where the upper panel is and drag the fuel cutoff switches into that space. Perfect spot for it as everything else is already there.

You have pack controls, beacons, eicas messages cancel/recall button, engine start switches, upper and lower eicas displays for duct pressure & engines, fire bottles, power panel for post start cleanup, etc.


In Brian's tutorial he makes reference to some possibility of flickering when the frame size is not the same, but for me, who will be using PSX with X-Plane 10 for the outside visuals, I need to make a specific layout occupying only the lower half part of the screen, so that in the upper part the X-Plane 10 window can be seen. On the remaining 8 views I will have only PSX visible occupying the whole 1920x1080 of my monitor, and the layout fully expanded to cover the whole monitor.

Does this mean I can experience flicker due to this unheaven layout dimensions?


I've played quite a bit with layouts, of all shapes and sizes, and I've never seen any flickering.
Will /Chicago /USA


Hi Will,
Thanks for thread.... gave me some more ideas too.

@John - this was like a puzzle for me - I thought I was there - 4 frames nicely zoomed and arranged and then I forgot something.... drag.... arrange..... It's an art  :D




Hi Will,
just preparing holidays in nice, cote d'azur, france, I prepared also my laptop with your  PSX Layouts.
It is quite amazing.

Thank you for your engagement.



Danke, Horst!

I ended up taking Ray's advice (thanks, Ray!), and I moved the start switches to the panel with the overhead so that the entire start sequence can be completed on one layout, with no switching necessary. If you're interested:

The 04 version will be the one I use for the pdf, when I finally make it.

Edit HH: Link updated.
Will /Chicago /USA


I can't take any credit, I just happened to be reading Mike Ray's 747-400 Pilot Handbook and was going through the manual engine start process and the only thing missing was the fuel cutoffs. Adding them meant I didn't have to remember what screen they were on!  :mrgreen:


Hi Will
Version 04 is excellent.  I have just  been practising engine start up after getting the  ATC instructions to push back. And now doing a push back. Feel like a real pilot if only. Excellent job on these layouts Will, have helped me such a lot.  Off the throttle now so can have a drink.

Phil Bunch


I am enjoying your layouts - please keep them coming!  I learn something from new revision, and also benefit from their improvements.


BTW, I learned the hard way that one should not name a layout file as shown below, or the file will be ignored by the instructor page in PSX:

textTEXTtext.9pack - more text.9pack

Instead, in this example, one must remove extra ".9pack" character strings in the file name, changing this example file name to:

textTEXTtext - more text.9pack

Apparently, the file name parser in PSX stops at the first ".9pack" text string, and then PSX ignores the file if it has additional ".9pack" character strings in the file name.
Best wishes,

Phil Bunch