Friday, December 28th, 2007

Home (Desktop)Cockpit Construction Begins…

There has been progress in a number of areas with the project.   For one, I recently started building the desktop simulator cockpit.  I’m looking forward to not having to use the keyboard for most controls!  The goal of this build is to construct a ‘cockpit’ that can be moved onto my desktop for use with FSX.  It needs to be big enough to contain realistic looking displays and controls, but not so big that it’s obnoxious and can move it away when I use my desktop computer for other things. The general layout is based on the Boeing 737-800, although I’m not trying to make an exact replica and am making some changes as needed to suit the project as needed.  There will be a very abbreviated overhead panel (lights, seatbelts and basic engine controls) that will attach to the main structure although the layout of this is still being designed. 

Another major goal is to keep costs to a minimum and recycle old bits from around the house as much as possible.  I’m happy to incorporate some old computers I had lying around into running the display panels.  Those displays, by the way, will be running FsClient and FsXPand from Flyware Simulation.   

 The majority of the cockpit is being built out of wood and will then be painted to match standard Boeing colors.  Wood is easy to work with and I’m fortunate to have a full workshop in our garage (usually used by another member of the family for building musical insturments). 

The controls will consist of an array of pushbuttons and toggle switches.  I’ll post a lot more about the electronics side of all this later.  I’m also currently experimenting with methods for making backlit labels for all the buttons and will post those results soon. 

There will be a lot more details in the near future, but here are some photos of the early stage construction:

 Cockpit Side Panel
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This is one of the side panels that will go on either end of the cockpit’s main panel.  The back (left) will remain open to allow easy access to the electronics whislt the main panel will attach on the right side.  The flat bit off to the right will contain more controls and electronics underneath and serve as a mounting point for the flightstick. 

Layout of the border around the primary flight display openings.
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This shows the beginnings of the front panel.  The three openings are for the primary flight displays and the annunciator bar.  The openings are then surrounded by a frame.

Clamps holding the frames around the primary flight display
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After an application of Gorilla Glue, clamps were added to hold the pieces in place.  Prior to gluing, the wood surfaces were wiped with a damp cloth as the added moisture helps set the glue.  When using hte Gorilla Glue it’s important to apply strong pressure to the pieces as the glue expands about 4 times it’s original volume during the curing process.  If the pieces aren’t tightly held in place they could be pushed apart by the glue!

Initial test of primary flight display 
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This was an initial test of the primary flight display.  I was essentially just making sure that the holes were the right size to match up with the display.  However, even with this basic test it already starts to look like a cockpit! 

Much more to come…


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