Howto:Build your own Panel or Cockpit - Communicating with the Simulator
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There are a number of options for communication between the cockpit and the simulation software. The primary methods used today employ USB and Ethernet. The exact protocols and data formats used depend on the interfaces provided by the specific simulator software.
Flightgear includes a Telnet Server that provides read and write access to most of the properties needed for a cockpit. At startup, Flightgear can set up one or more Telnet ports. Telnet messages are formatted as text. Messages sent to a Flightgear provided telnet port can either get or set a specific named property. Values of the properties are either boolean, integer or floating point, but are represented in the message as UTF-8 characters 0-9 and period. While there is a subscribe function, not all of the properties can be subscribed to, due to a limitation within Flightgear's current programming model.
X-Plane provides access to properties through a UDP server.
Two commercial packages provide interfaces to Prepare3d. WIDEFS and FSUIPC. An open source alternative was last worked on in 2014.