Saturday, 15 September 2012

Consoles and config files

I measured up for the pilot-side and centre consoles today, and modelled them in Trimble SketchUp while we watched Strictly (obviously I put the laptop away for Doctor Who).

The idea is to improve stability (make the whole thing wobble less) and also have somewhere to store and rest the keyboard on my left and the mouse on my right. The throttle quadrants will also be fitted to the centre console. If this works I'll add another console on the right of the co-pilot.

Looking forward I will also be able to store a military style throttle on the left, perhaps fixed to the top of the console so it can be lifted out and turned over when neeed. Similarly, the centre console is big enough to store my Microsoft Force Feedback 2 joystick. This old beast can be placed on the top of the centre console when required for modern military sims, or on a board in my lap if I fancy a bash at the Hun in RoF or CFS.

The problem is the width of the centre console. It needs to be 30cm wide to hold the FF2 and with the current office swivel chair I'm using I think this is going to crowd me and impede access to the pedals.

I even took the arm off the chair to gain a few centimetres, before realising that the arms hold the back on! I put it back quickly.

A couple of solutions spring to mind. I could always increase the width of the cockpit a little, or I could get a narrower chair without the annoying arms. I'll have to measure up the width of the seats in my knackered old 1996 Vectra. It can't last much longer and I can knab them before the old girl goes to the scrapyard.

One of the things I'm really enjoying about this whole cockpit building process, is that you try stuff, and if it doesn't work you just try something else. As part of my centre console ponderings I am now thinking about extending the console in under the cockpit as a more stable centre support. I'm pretty sure this the way forward, so I'll have to modify the design before I go and buy the MDF next Saturday.

I also thought some more about my switch panels. I am now going to put the engines controls (2 panels) on an overhead which I can fix to the slope of the attic roof.

I'm also going to use rocker switches for the Master Battery and Avionics, and probably both alternators, which should fit either to the left of the yoke or going down the left of the instrument monitor.

I may put the Radio/GPS switch and possibly Autofeather there too.

Again I stayed up far too late, fiddling with the panel configs for my favourite aircraft. These have been modified to allow the main or IFR panels to display correctly over 3 screens, and be undocked and moved to my instrument monitor. I've described the changes in this post.

It took me a couple of hours of fiddling and testing to get the following aircraft working:

C172 (I always start with this one.)
Mooney Bravo (Hugo's favourite)
King Air
Beech Baron 58
DH Beaver

The only problem I found was a weird one. When I was working on the Beaver I tried to place it on a water runway at Kenmore Air Harbour, but it ended up in the middle of some buildings. I tried with the Goose as well and had the same problem. It was 2am by this time so I gave up and went to bed, more than satisfied that the rest of the aircraft were working perfectly.

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