Building a simple panel with various
switches is not as difficult as it may seem. It doesn't have to
be expensive either. We'll build a very basic panel here to give you and
idea on how it's done and some ideas in designing your own
Materials for making the panel can be just
about anything that is rigid, plastic, metal, wood or hardboard.
For this example we're using the cheapest material of all of
these choices, hardboard.
Hardboard can be bought from the local
Home Depot type store for around four to six dollars for a 2' x
4" sheet. You'll want as thin as possible.
This material is easy to cut with a
handsaw, power saw or jig saw if you have one available.
The first thing is to determine what size
panel and what controls are needed. In this case we'll be using
a panel size that is interchangeable with the popular GoFlight™
modules. This gives you the ability to mix panels on your
project. On the prototype HomeFlite cockpit this is the size
panels we used. Here is a link for the panel measurements.
In the photo you
can see the panels after we cut them out. I made individual
panels as well as one panel with the holes for all the switches
I need. The switches will consist of toggles, push buttons and
rocker switches. These are commonly used in aircraft to control
lights, landing gear, and on/off circuits.
The easiest way
to make square cut outs is to drill smaller holes in side the
outline and square them up with a Dremel tool or a flat wood
types of inexpensive switches can be purchased on Ebay in bulk
quantities from 2 to 100+ depending on what you need.
These do not need to be aircraft grade switches.
The switches shown
here are full sized not the miniature type, the choice is yours.
When using the miniature switches you'll want to use a thin
material so the shafts will fit through the material so the
locking nut can be attached.
The holes sizes for
the standard toggle switches is 1/2" and for the buttons and
round rocker switches it's 5/8". The size of the square depends
on the size rocker switches you plan to use. The switches that
fit the 5/8" holes can be configured any way you like.
Once you have the
holes drilled it's just a matter of painting the panels the color
of your choice and mounting the switches. Enamel gives a good
be accomplished in a couple of ways that are inexpensive. One is
with clear embossing tape that produces white letters the other
is by dry transfer of letters. I'll attempt both methods and
update the newsletter when the lettering is complete.
The dry transfer
letters are ready made for aircraft panels by Spruce Specialty
which is a company that deals in homebuilt aircraft. If your
panels will be black the easiest is an embossing gun with black
tape that produces white letters.
Wiring and Emulators
The switches panels are normally wired
into USB emulators that provide the signals required to activate
the commands in the flight sim. They eliminate the issue of
continuous key presses and can be programmed. Another invaluable
piece of software is
FSUIPC which opens up Microsoft
Flight Simulator to many commands that aren't possible
with the keyboard alone. Links to suggestions and other ideas
are below. Give it a try and happy flying.
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Easy Build Plans for Beginners
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