January 5, 2018 at 3:33 pm #3306
My goal: A closed shell of a Cessna 172/182 look a like with 180° outside view.
I don´t need a 1:1 replica with every switch and button. My personal requirement: functionality, a nice look and immersion. As I´m not a pilot nor have I ever been in a real world Cessna, I don´t have any comparison or standard in mind how the actual cockpit has to look or feel like. Thus I decided to go for some Saitek/Logitech panels first as they work OOTB immediately and do the job. If I stay with the sim thing, I might replace the Saitek gear step by step in the future.
On the other side I want to have a nice visualization so I´ll go with 2 projectors and a curved wall instead of the otgs build with two 32″ screens.
I´ll build the MIP first and the shell around it. So I start with a lot of different builds in mind (thank for the inspiration) and work my way as it suits my needs. This website has been a great source to me so I´d like to contribute as well and give some practical advise regarding woodworking and maybe lower the mental barrier to simply start the project.
Width: 1200 mm
Height: 470 mm
Panel/Glareshield/supports: 10mm MDF (I´d go with 15mm now)
Other supports: 15mm birch plywood
Tools: Table saw, router, jigsaw, disk-, spindle- and orbit sander, drill press, drill, clamps, mitter saw, some hand tools.
Minimum tools you should have: a track or circular saw, a jigsaw and a router.
Unfortunately I started taking pictures after the panel was already cut to size including the glare shield, so there is a little gap in the process at the beginning. I printed out the Mip in a 1:1 scale, attached it to the wood and used the jigsaw.
The glareshield is also made of 10mm MDF and rests on top of the MIP. By cutting a notch of approx 12 mm in width (10mm for the thickness of the wood + 2mm spare for the leather covering) and 5mm in depth using a 12mm router bit it´ll give the structure some stability later on and it makes the attachement a lot easier. No need for corner brackets.
To make the glareshield follow the curve of the MIP, I did some kerf cuts on the table saw, leaving about 1mm of MDF. The tighter the radius gets, the closer the cuts. This allows you to bend the wood. If you want to follow this method you really have to treat it like a raw egg as it becomes very fragile with every cut you add due to the thin material left. Google „Kerf cutting“ if you want to see how it works. If you don´t have a table saw, you can also use a circular saw, a track saw or even a router in combination with a guide rail.
On the backside of the GS I glued thin stripes of MDF on top of every cut connecting the wood on each side so that the GS will keep it´s shape and gets sturdy. It´s not a beautiful solution at all but as it´s not visible to the viewer I don´t care. On the front side I used filling compound to close the gaps which adds stability and makes the edge look nice. Now you need some patience to let it all dry. After sanding it down (orbit sander, 180 grid) it slowly starts to look like a MIP, finally.
The GS will be covered with black artifical leather. So it´s time to add some holes and notches on top to hide the wiring of the panel illumination:
tbc.January 5, 2018 at 3:37 pm #3312
Initially I used a 4mm drill and also a 4mm router bit for the grove. Depending on the thickness of your wires I´d recommend to use at least a 5mm drill and a 6mm router bit which makes it easier to hide the cable.
Here you can see the side cover, again made of MDF. Before giving it the shape, I started off by cutting one long stripe of mdf on the table saw. On the router table I made a notch of 10mm on one edge and cut it to half afterwards. Use some sticky tape to temporarily put the two stripes together and you´ll end up with perfectly identical pieces. I used a bandsaw to cut the raw shape and a spindlesander to finish the contour. If you don´t have a bandsaw, you can use a jigsaw or again a router.
Again another grove cut, this time on the backside of the MIP. I´ll attach some birch plywood there as a stand for the yokes and some other devices. The big advantage of cutting the grove(s): You can attach everything without screws, thus no holes in the panel front, no additional filling / sanding and again it adds stability to the structure. Here you can see the result and already the cuts for the yokes.
Although the connection is quite strong I ended up cutting two triangle mounts for additional support. If you wonder about the cut in the middle of the triangles: It makes it easier to clamp everything down square (= time saver & precision).
tbcJanuary 5, 2018 at 3:42 pm #3318
The yoke fits tightly and it´s time to draw the final panel layout on the MIP. As you can see I printed out 1:1 scale copies of the panels. With some sticky tape you can easily move them around to check the position before you draw any lines. I also glued in the wires for the lighting on top using hot glue and cut two supports on the backside (not attached yet for earsier handling of the panel).
On the picture, the GS rests without any additional support due to the notch…
Now it´s time to draw the lines and make all the cuts for the panels. I used a jigsaw to make the cuts and a Multi Master with a delta sander to make small corrections if neccesary. For straight cuts with the jigsaw I clamped down a level and a sqaure and used it as a rail guide.
Keep in mind: measure twice, cut once!
Whenever you are drilling in wood, you should clamp a sacrificial piece of wood to where the drill bit will leave the wood on the other side. This avoids tearout and gives you nice and clean holes.
tbcJanuary 5, 2018 at 3:46 pm #3324
To mark the holes for the multi panel I attached the panel with some sticky tape and used a 4mm drill bit as a punch mark.
Next the GPS panel. I bought a 7“ touch panel on Amazon (50€). First the cut in the front, in a second step a 45° edge with the router and finally a 6mm deep groove on the backside according to the size of the panel to make it come closer to the front using a router.
tbc.January 5, 2018 at 3:53 pm #3330
Time to drill some holes for the Gauges. I decided to make 70mm holes in diameter using a hole saw. It´s quite a cheap tool (about 12€) which you can attach to your drill. panel.
The edges will be quite rough so I used the router with a 45° bit to clean the edges and add some detail to the panel (or use sandpaper and your hand:))
For the annunciator panel I only used the router with a follow/contour bit. This gives you a perfect result but needs some more preparation. Therefore you create a guide in advance which you have to attach precisely to where you want to make your cut. The contour bit will follow the edge of your guide and leave a perfect cut including nice rounded egdes. Any mistakes on the guide will show up here as well so invest some time in your guide and it´ll pay off nicely.
tbc.January 5, 2018 at 3:59 pm #3336
Now it´s time for some sanding again. I´m using 120 and 180 grid paper with the orbit sander to clean the MIP front from any glue/leftovers/etc to make the surface smooth. Don´t forget to clean all the cutouts as well (use your hand ;))
As I´m looking for a very nice surface finish, I´ll treat the front with a primer first. The primer fills tiny holes and scratches and also closes the surface of the MDF. MDF tends to soak away color in no time thus it´s really neccessary to use primer or a base coat first, otherwise the surface will not look good and you´ll be disappointed. I found some primer in a spray can and I used it up till the very last drop as the MDF soaked in the primer. It´s important to take care of all the edges and change the spray angle and direction so everything gets covered. While the MDF soaks in the primer it´ll start to raise the wood fibres on the surface and especially on the edges.
It will look and feel ugly but wait for the result after sanding it down. After 6 hours of drying I used 400 grid paper and the orbit sander again and now the surface finally feels smooth. If you sand down too much and you can see the wood again, don´t worry, it´s soaked and shouldn´t be an issue. If you want to do it the safe way, you can apply a second layer of primer and add another round of sanding which will make the surface even more perfect. For the gauges I used 240 grid and the good old hand.
I applied the acrylic paint with the compressed air spray gun and gave it at least 2-3 layers of paint including one in-between sand-down. If you follow this simple steps you´ll end up with a very nice surface.
tbc.January 5, 2018 at 4:04 pm #3343
By the way: I´m using MDF for the front because it already has a very plane surface and no wooden structure at all. You could use plywood as well but if you want to get rid of the wooden structure you´ll have to fill and sand the whole surface various times otherwise it´ll look like wood no matter how much paint you apply.
Did I say artificial leather before? What a pain in the a**!
I first used spray adhesive to glue things together. As expected, straight edges / surfaces are not a big deal, but the round ones are. I started in the round area and worked my way from there. Beside the glue I used a compress air nail gun to attach the leather on the non-visible side to give it a better hold. It needs quite some force to smooth out the edges. With four additional clamps, a small scraper and a lot of swearing and sticky fingers I managed to at least let the visible side look good.
Meanwhile the GS is also covered and it was way easier. Instead of spray adhesive, I used double-sided adhesive tape. Now even the round parts are looking really cool. I wouldn´t recommend to use spray adhesive. Go for some good quality (carpet) double-sided adhesive tape and you´ll be surprised how fast easy it is.
tbc.January 5, 2018 at 4:10 pm #3353
As I didn´t plan the whole process (recommendation: don´t do it …plan first…) I had to do some adjustmens to the MIP to build the stand. The MIP now rest on 4 corner posts connected by two beams of approx. 5x4cm. To make it rest on the beams I cut out two slots in the triangle supports.
Still no screws needed as I used the same technique to join the beams. Due to the tight fit it even stays in position without any glue + it will be perfectly square! Anyways I´m gonna use 3 bolts to connect the stand to the MIP 😉
You can easily do the cuts on the tablesaw, with a tracksaw/circular or even on a bandsaw. I wouldn´t use a jigsaw due to safety reasons but it could work as well… Just set your depth and make the cuts close to each other. When you are done, simply remove the chucks with your hand and clean the surface with a chisel or some sandpaper.January 5, 2018 at 4:14 pm #3359
This was also the start for the framing of the shell.
tbc.January 5, 2018 at 4:21 pm #3366
For the illumination I´m using red and white LEDs. I did wire up everything temporarily as I´m waiting for appropriate wires. Although it´s just low current I´m not going further into detail here. The LEDs are connected to an On-Off-On switch so one can choose between white, red and off.
I attached all the Saitek panels with some M3 screws which I spayed black (cheap black matte spray paint in a can). Just take a scrap piece, drill some holes and start spraying.
Final result:January 5, 2018 at 4:31 pm #3373
Finally I found a 18.5“ widescreen monitor on ebay (10€, yesss) to fit between the GS and the yoke. After ripping off the housing I first glued the box containing the electrical stuff to the backside of the panel with some hot glue.
To mount the panel, I took two MDF cut-offs with a notch from the building process. I used the bandsaw to make them fit the thickness of the panel. Afterwards I glued in one piece on the left side to hold the panel:
To the right, there is a straight piece where I glued in two M3 screws before attaching it to the panel. On top of this there is a second piece, again with a notch, which clamps the monitor panel to the mip by tightening the screws (I still have to clean up the wire mess ::)
For the instruments I´m using Airmanager and Airplayer. Airplayer is temporarily installed on an old Samsung NC10 netbook. I struggled a bit at the beginning because Airplayer requires Opengl and the damn Intel 945 Chipset only supports 1.4. I tricked Airplayer into using mesa 3d (software opengl) which makes it a bit laggy but for the beginning its fine.
I can´t recommend to start the MiP before you have the monitor. I did so and had to compromise on the instruments. By simply placing the yoke a few cm deeper I could have had all the instruments. But due to the limited height, I had to take the 18.5“ wide screen which is not wide enough to show all instrument. I´ll add some saitek instrument panels some day for that.
I also glued in the 7“ touch panel (Amazon, 50€) for the garmin navigation. At first it gave me a hard time regarding software settings, but meanwhile it works with FSX and XP11 perfectly. The only trade off: At least for now, I need to set the 7“ screen as primary monitor.
That´s it for now. As soon as I make further progress, I´ll keep you updated, if you like this kind of information. Take care and have a nice weekend!January 6, 2018 at 8:19 am #3390Basement Fly GuyKeymaster
This is a beautiful panel and a wonderful series of posts. GREAT WORK and thanks for this contribution to the forums.
N15JG On PilotEdgeJanuary 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm #3415MartinParticipant
This is a nice job Marco, I will be following your progress!!!
"Keeping the skies fun and safe"January 8, 2018 at 7:13 pm #3428Peter SpencerParticipant
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