Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cockpit Dials.

Yes, its been a long time since my last post. Lets just say I've been busy.
But, I did manage to sketch out some rough dials in Sketch-up. I'll be turning lumps of steel on a metal turning lathe to produce the housing for my cockpit dials. Then I will control the arms using servos, that will link up to the computer via USB.
here, have some pictures.

Told you they were rough :P
But it gives you a simple idea of what I want to achieve.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Primer done.

Now i've sprayed it, I've realized that the extra care taken with the filler and all the sanding and polishing of the Aluminium was really worth it. It could do with another light sand, just to get rid of any slight imperfections such as runs and marks, I'll do that when I get some more primer, giving the several coats that are on now time to dry and harden.
Heres some more pictures. (Click to see enlarged)

Not much space.

So, now I've got my side panels cut out, beaten and gaps filled in with a special bonding filler (not your usual filler). I sanded them down, and now its time to spray the first coats in gray primer.
I didn't have anywhere to do it, as it was raining today, so I did it in our boiler room/storage cupboard. "Don't spray my shoes!" she says; So I went slightly crazy on masking everything up with tape and newspaper. It did its job though.
So, enough mumbling, heres a picture.
(as always, click the image to see it larger)



Okay, so to cool the PC, I need fans. I thought about having three fans on either panel, 2 at the bottom the pull cool air in, and one at the top to push hot air out. I bought the fan grills of eBay (one of which, differs to the others) and I bought all 6 translucent green, fast-ish fans from a local computing shop, they were the cheapest I could find.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A few other modifications..

Just to add, I also heightened the head rest to make it more of a spitfire style, and I grinded off the rudder pedals, and welded a bar across, However, this needs re-welding as it is creaking when I put weight onto it. I'm planning on a simpler design for the rudder pedals, which you will see evolve.

The start of the covering..

So, as soon as I got home from getting the aluminium, I decided to start covering the wood. I started with the base and back board. This didn't take much covering, and I pot-riveted it into place. Then I started on the sides, these were considerably more difficult, and there were two sides and they had to be perfect and neat. I siliconed these into place, with the occasional pot-rivet.

Bad Pictures.. Hopefully in the next couple of days when I complete the covering I will take some better ones.

Aluminium ^.^

So, I wanted to cover my wooden chair in some sort of metal, to give it more of a tinny feel, like a spitfire, of course. I thought sheet aluminium would be best; Thin, easy to work with, light.
I found the best place to get it, off caravans! So this morning, I went up and took half the entire roof off a caravan. Someone isn't going to be happy, but I certainly am! :D

It was quite badly painted as you can see, with normal paint, this will need sanding off for the spray paint to stick.
As you can see, there is a perfect, shiny side, and a more weathered, painted side. I'm having the weathered side up, as it saves me from having to buy Aluminium primer, which is expensive and difficult to get hold of here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rudder Pedals failure.

Today, It was time to finally fasten my rudder pedals to the chair. I wanted to feel some tension against my feet as I pushed against them, as well as them springing back to its normal position. For this I bought a 200mm Gate Spring. I welded it next to the rudder pedal on the steel frame. It turned out to be too strong! I couldn't push against it, I was pushing so hard that the nail actually tore the soft rudder pedal metal.
I tried stretching the string, but that didn't work either. Back to the drawing board for me! Cause I'm totally stuck for Ideas.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


For display, I only wanted something Cheap, and whats cheaper than free? I acquired these monitors from a local school, But they were old. And I mean, old. They were dirty, They were faded yellow, They had some broken and some missing stands. So I decided these required a make over. I took the monitors to bits, and Cleaned off all the dust and built up dirt in the shower. I then let them thoroughly dry out, because any moisture = bad paint job. after that, I didn't bother with primer, I just went straight onto spraying them a satin black. Got through three cans to do all 4 monitors (one spare). Overall, I'm happy with them. Once I get my flight simulator fully set up, it will be then I decide to upgrade parts of it. But for now, these will do fine.

Rudder Pedals.

Here are the rudder pedals that I bought off eBay for £23.25 with P&P. They have hydraulic arms for the toe breaks already fitted, So I need to somehow make the actual rudders go backwards and forwards. I was thinking maybe a small shock absorber of something like a minimoto, or some other sort of spring. I was going to use some exercise machine dampers.. But I decided that they were to strong to push against for rudder pedals, and they didn't give the necessary spring backwards.

Harness Makeover.

Okay, So I bought an old aeroplane harness buckle with connectors off my good friend Geremy for £20, with some old Land Rover seat belts glued to it. First thing I did was rip the seat belts off, then got on with taking the harness to bits. It was very scratched and old, and had stickers peeling off it. I took the back off to find a huge amount of dirt and dried up grease, along with four ball bearings. I put them in a jar along with the nut and bolt that held it together. I cleaned the inside with lighter petrol and a tooth brush, then got on with spraying it. I gave it a light sand, as well as etching all the stickers and dirt off with petrol again, then sprayed it in red primer. After leaving that overnight to dry, I sprayed it in some left over red gloss.
After re-greasing it, I put it back together, and was wowed with the results!

Chair Updated!

Now you can see how I didn't really stick to my plans. I'm not a planning sort of person, I can plan things, but If I think it would look better a different way, that doesn't mean I'll drop everything and go back to the drawing board, I'll just adapt on the way, and I think thats one of the things that will make this project great.
The holes in the side are not only for carrying by, they are for threading the harness through, which will be fastened to the bottom corners of the seat.

If you are familiar with the Spitfire seats, You will know that the base of the seat is slightly bucket shaped. The best way I could reproduce this was to round the back into the base and a bump at the front. I tried steaming the MDF, but it only wanted to go one way, Up. I think though this gives a bucket feel when you sit in it, and will look alot smoother when I cover it in Aluminium. You can see the steel pipe that the Rudder pedals will be bolted to on the outsides.
Here you can see the spacious PC Enclosure, along with its drawer runners that are simply pot-riveted to the frame. You can also see here why I was a week on welding, grinding, sanding and polishing the old rusty box-pipe. I got it to clean up fairly well.

A Brief Explanation.

Okay, so my Plans for building are:
To start from the seat, and attach everything on to it; Simply by welding 1" steel square pipe to the seat, and then slotting in 1/2" pipe and bolting it in place. This makes it easy for disassembling in-case of transport. I was going to buy a "Whitley Bomber" Seat off ebay, a plane that was around that era. But, as it was going for a high price, I decided to replicate my own spitfire seat, out of wood, and then coated in sheet aluminium, to give it that.. Tinny feel.
In order of building.. I'm going to build:
Seat -> Rudder pedals -> Trim wheel -> Controls -> Chassis lever -> Blind flying panel -> Then a shell to hold it all in.

Here are some simple plans a drew up, Not brilliant, and the final version is slightly modified from them, but you get the idea..

Photobucket Photobucket

I know the Images are not brilliant.
Basically, I've built a PC enclosure underneath my Pilots seat, to keep everything compact and organized. The seat is going to be the core of the whole sim; Everything will attach to it and everything will run from it. The PC enclosure basically is a steel frame, with a Checker plate tray on runners, on which I will mount my motherboard, HDDs & PSU. On each sides of the tray holes will be cut all the way through the seat and fans will be mounted. Not drawn on the plans, but still included, a "ButtKicker" Will be installed. Basically, all this is is a compact device that converts sound to vibrations, e.g The harder the sound, the harder the vibrations. To give you a true feeling that your actually flying the plane. There will only be one cushion on the seat now and that will act as a head rest. I will custom-make it out of leather, with foam stitched in strips.

Aims and Objectives.

Aims and Objectives

> To build a realistic Flight Simulator cockpit that resembles a Spitfire Mk IX.

> All features should function, Including controls and gauges.

> To build at low budget.

> To run the Simulator through Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 with a Spitfire Add-on.

I’ve been building for the past week or so now, and have only just decided to keep track of my progress via a blog. I’ve already done a little bit of work to the seat and rudder pedals. (I’ve welded a frame for the seat and I’ve welded two bars at the front on which to mount the rudder pedals)

This flight simulator is a huge learning curve for me. As you will see the flight simulator progress, you will see the standard of my work also progress.

I’ll try keep updated with photos and other media as much as I possibly can.