All conditions in the world


I don’t really know what I have done to deserve it, but at Christmas Santa came with a new soldering iron. Probably I had been whining about my old one far too much so to get some Christmas peace a soldering iron was a good alternative.

Probably about the same scenario occurred around my birthday so my wonderful wife with kids gave me this digital laboratory power supply. Now I really have all the conditions in the world to be able to do a good job in the rebuilding of the simulator.

And a lesson to learn. Everything, just about anything involving a hobby project of this size takes extremely much longer than I thought.

My first video

My first video, this is the space I will rebuild the simulator, most of it will be rebuilt and hopefully become somewhat better.

The renovated space for the sim.

There is something about this hobby that makes you build something, and then redo it again after a while.  I develops slow and steady and knowledge expands and the lowest level quality increases for each new knowledge that comes, but my approach to the rebuilding it again will be a little different.

Only parts with decent quality I can accept will remain and be mounted, and with that I hope this rebuild behavior disappears.

The beginning again.


Okay, so the plan for this weekend was to build a greenhouse for my wife. However, it turned out that the weather was too bad so after quick decisions we emptied the storage room which will be the space for the simulator and the renovation really started.


The surface before renovation


The house is built in lightweight concrete so we installed plasterboard in the roof. Futhermore we covered the walls with OSB boards, a type of pressed and glued wooden boards. So mounting of shelves, hooks and more becomes super easy. Painted evrything and added new parquet.

Fresh paint and door relocated, the space where the simulator will be built.


My wife has come across an old unused kitchen from her job, which I got installed. Will be added more units on the opposite side door at a later date.

3D Printer installed.

So, still waiting for the postman with spare parts for the 3D printer. In the coming week, I hope to make time for further storage and pick up tools and machines.
For now I’m looking on all the opportunities that pegboards provide, Thingiverse again is a gold mine, more on that later when the printer is back in business.

CNC update.

An update about the CNC milling machine. Assembled the parts I have yet to receive. Still waiting for the rest from China. I am very pleased with the design so far. Feels stable and the IO cards are in place with the socket for the transformer.
The size of the bed is 300mm x 600mm. The bottom plate will be made out of plywood 12mm thick. Squeegee protection on the sides will be detachable, so it is possible to cut slightly larger items in sections.
Looking forward to the day I can show a video on the machine in action.


It feels like I’m all over the place with my projects, but waiting times that this hobby entails makes it almost impossible to start at one end and end at the other. Multiple projects are the progress I will keep. The upgrade of the 3D printer is almost done and then I will continue to print the parts to the gear leaver handle.

One thing after another…


I have had my 3D printer for just over a year now, and it has worked absolutely superbly. Until a few weeks ago. It started crashing into the bed and it turned out it was a circuit board that had broken. Instead of buying new I upgraded to my Wanhao Duplicator 9 to the MKII kit and Antclabs BL Touch sensor which includes a new circuit board. Since then, the printer has been struggling with stuck plastic. Researched the web and instead of troubleshooting and fixing I also took the opportunity here to upgrade the machine with Bondtech extruder but when I removed the print head I simultaneously broke the hotend, so now I sit again waiting on the mailman for a new swiss hotend.


Furthermore, I will soon start renovating the room which will be the dedicated simulator room and the remaining areas will be used as workshop, with 3D printer, CNC milling machine and soldering station. At present, we are still cleaning out all the old crap we have accumulated over the years.


For MIP I have cut out the backplate, and the frame that will hold the construction together is assembled. While I wait for the new hotend I will continue with the CAD drawing and clean in the upcoming simulator room.

Progress is sloooooow…


Progress is slow but it’s just a matter of getting used to it, this hobby is slow. The job of 3D printing and CAD the MIP continues. The printer is currently working on a new gear leaver handle and mechanism. The body itself is just printed, the tube, the wheel and the trigger will be sanded, spray filled and painted in several steps. More on that when i can take pictures to show.

The CAD drawing is largely measured, adjustments are made to ensure that everything really fits. The space between the gear leaver, the standby instruments and the upper eicas screen is really tight and the range of small screens of 4:3 size is really limited. But I’m chasing on.

In the meantime, I intend to enlighten other cockpit builders, who have helped me in some way (probably without even knowing about it). The first video I ever saw on a homemade simulator was a video I came across on YouTube totally random.


Neale Hargreaves a British guy who has built a full mock-up Boeing 737-800NG branded as KLM. In his first video, he shows his entire sim that he built out in a shed. I watched the video countless times to the extent that my wife responded in the style of “if he can do one, you can too!” and that was where the idea of my own cockpit building started.

Back to the drawing board


Now 2mm aluminum sheet has been purchased. Currently sits with Fusion360 and measures in so everything fits. I am completely novice in Fusion but teach me slowly but surely.


Furthermore, I have previously made a gear leaver of plumbing parts and springs. The result was not to my satisfaction, so I turned to the 3D printer and printed out a gear leaver. The measurements were bad and overall the feeling was not right. So now I give Karl’s design a chance and hope for better results than before.

Link to 737DIYSIM gear lever on Thingiverse.

I will also fill the space in front of the screens with glass or clear plastic. The holes in the MIP backplate surrounding the screens are made slightly larger to fit the glass. The joint is covered with MIP screen frames.

Before dismantling


An image from the simulator as it stands today, MIP backplate in 5mm MDF wood, and no faceplates. I’ll make them in aluminum instead.

Unfortunately, the panels from flightsimulatorparts are not super quality, but it was the first thing I bought and simply did not know better. They get off to a start, can always be replaced afterwards. The buttons are 3D printed, sanded and painted. The standby instruments in the picture above are from the same 15 “screen which shows the upper eicas screen.

I came across 3 flightillusion gauges and thus will switch to these. I know they are not the right instruments for NG but they are too cool, so i am going to fit them anyway. My mission now is to find a screen small enough to fit between the instruments and the landing gear lever.


I hope I can find the time of the week that comes and meet my friend with the industry sized CNC Router, to cut out all the holes in the new MIP backplate.

Main Instrument Panel

Planning MIP with the parts I already have. Using the measurements from marcuspilot.com and the same technology as Karl from 737diysim.com. He builds an absolutely amazing simulator in mostly wood, if you haven’t seen his blog and videos check them out! He is also kind enough to share a lot of his measurements and these are exactly the ones I will use.

The frame is made of wood, MIP backboard as well as MIP faceplates will be made out of aluminium. The panels acrylic plastic I recycle my old ones from flightsimulatorparts, at least initially. The quality of those panels is not the best but the dimensions are good and the degrees of rotary switches right so they will get off to a good start.


I will build the entire main instrument panel as a single unit, where lower MIP and glarewings, autopilot and EFIS all sits together. Mounted with IO Cards on the backside for easy access. To run LEDs Phidget64 Cards will be used, naitive dim control without using resistors is just fantastic. Inputs will be controlled with OpenCockpits MasterCard. 72 digital inputs per card, and 3 cards per usb cable I get very far. In addition the outputs can be used for relays. Servos with GSA card to run Flightillution gauges standby instruments and flaps. Steppers and 7-segment displays are run with Arduino Megas. Everything is mounted in a package controlled with 5v, 12v and a usb cable. At least that’s the plan the entire MIP on 3 cables + monitors.

Tools

Sometime during a cockpit build comes the need for a 3D printer. Maybe not a must, but a terribly helpful one. I turned on a D9 with a 300x300x350 printbed. It has been a faithful servant and helped me to print buttons, boxes and tools.

But pretty soon into the building, the 3D printer is not enough, a cnc cutter would do much of the job better. I found on thingiverse a Polish guy Nikodem, who has made and shared a printed milling machine. Very popular and looks really promising. Designed for milling in wood and plastic but many users have also succeeded in milling aluminum. So with the help of the 3D printer I now build a DIY Dremel CNC.

All printed parts are ready. Waiting for ordered parts from Asia. At present the world is in the Covid-19 crisis so transport takes longer than normal. But I hope I will be able to get the parts home soon so I can assemble the machine and start testing CNC before the summer. Meanwhile, I get help from a friend who already has a bad ass 1×1 meter industrial machine.