You can find things like these to buy as well. They usually run about $60 (from what I found). In the spirit of "I'll do it myself because it's cheaper and I decide what the design will be," this project will cost at most half of that (depending on the price of the poster (mine was $20) and the other supplies).
Please let me know what you think of and how you would improve on this Instructable.
Step 1: What You Will Need
*cockpit poster (plane of your choice. Keep in mind that a Boeing 700 series has an overhead part too)
*science fair display board (I will refer to this as the "display board")
*glue, tape (optional) and cutting tools (sharp cutting tools, a razor blade or exacto knife would be recommended)
The poster you should be able to find online or at your local airport's supply shop.
Step 2: Putting It All Together
1. Place the poster on the display board and decide where you would like it located (i.e. centered, off to the left like mine, etc.).
2. Cut the poster in a straight line along the fold of the display board. This will effectively remove the creasing when the board is folded for storage/carrying.
3. Apply glue to the display board in the area where you will be placing the biggest part of the poster. Attach the biggest part of the poster and make sure it is square (i.e. parallel to the edges of the display board).
4. Let the big part dry for 2 - 3 minutes so that you don't accidentally move it out of place.
5. Apply glue to the display board in the area where you will be placing the smaller part of the poster and attach it to the board.
6. Allow them to dry and there you have it: your very own desktop Cessna 172 dashboard.
Step 3: Final Product and Future Improvements
*cut it off and just have the dashboard
*decorate it to look like the view from a Cessna in flight
*(what I will do) add checklists and little things to keep in mind while you're up there flying
Going forward, I would do a better job of cutting the poster. I would also consider laminating the pieces and sticking velcro on their back. This would allow me to buy multiple cockpit posters (Cessna, Piper, etc.) and create a practice dash for the plane I need.
Thanks for following along and Happy DIYing!
(This project is also available at http://www.dannyvacar.ca/blog/2008/03/09/projects-make-a-desktop-cessna-172-practice-dashboard/ with some what larger images)