Stay Level Avionix (SLAVX) was founded by John Albers with the specific intent to make simulators more realistic and add that professional touch to home-built sims. John ended up doing a lot more than that.
With it, a well-organized pack of Ziploc bags with Allen bolts and wrenches for the equipment it was designed for. Note that buyers will likely have most of the fasteners, so this is already a first “above and beyond” feature which hints at the level of quality of this panel. In general, the panel shows great attention to details, such as small rubber pads below the base, not to scratch the desk (the heads of all base-mounted fasteners fall below their profile). Fit and finish shows on the glareshield which is clad in a material not dissimilar to what you would find in any GA aircraft, and in the quality of the paint.
For this review, we built two custom components. The first was a small desk to host the panel, the pedals, a display, and the computer. Our workshop guru took about an hour to come up with a design made from one sheet of melamine-finished particle board and another hour to cut it and assemble it. The result was a desk smaller than normal, ready to host the panel and accessories. The second was a small control panel (see below). We used three primary controls from Virtual Fly, which we recently reviewed in three posts: YOKO+ yoke and TQ6 quadrant, which were fitted on the panel and RUDDO+
pedals which we bolted to the base of our desk. We used the YOKO desk clamp to secure the entire assembly to the desk and the Z-shaped pedestal to mount the throttle closer to the yoke as it would normally be on an aircraft. We saw some installations of the SLAVX panel with the throttle quadrant all the way to the right, but we did not find that realistic at all. The TQ6, twin-engine assembly fit perfectly on the pedestal which, in turn, bolted right on the base portion of the panel, thus “hanging” down below the edge of the desk in a very standard position. The only small negative in the pedestal itself is that it tends to wobble a little. This is caused by the quadrant being bolted only at the base of the pedestal and not also at the back, which would make it more solid, the difference being a couple of holes and bolts. Users who are fastening their quadrant over the base will not notice this.
After the controls, we attached the G1000 suite, which fit perfectly in the cutouts provided. For this review, we also built a small panel with the additional controls we thought were needed for some serious IFR training work. The slot provided in the panel is meant to host either a Saitek Multipanel, which provides an autopilot, flaps, trim, and an autothrottle switch or switch panel, which provides a gear extension lever, a startup/magneto switch and several assorted switches. Because we wanted a combination of these functions we found it easier to make our own. Our Lab made a small Saitek-size panel with, in order: Key switch, battery and avionics switches, light switch, parking brake, and flap lever. All interfaced into a USB board and configured as such. Paired with a 1080p 50″ TV monitor, the net result was very a functional simulator rivaling commercial offerings costing many times as much.
On the topic of cost, the panel is in the $500 range, a price point not dissimilar from other professional products of this type. This is a product that should appeal to flight schools and integrators that want to anchor their sim into a solid panel, that is aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting. SLAVX panels are well designed to adapt to a variety of existing controls and come in a variety of combination to fit all needs. We would also like to see a design that sinks the yoke cabinet entirely into the profile of the panel, making it move forward toward
the pilot. This, however, has as much to do with the standard design of cabinet-enclosed yokes than with the panel itself.
In closing, the SLAVX panel is as good as it promises to be. The sim we assembled with it is great to look at and makes all components mounted on it robust and well-positioned. For these reasons, the SLAVX panel earns the AFSBI Seal of Approval.