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Instrument panel | CCU housing

How I build my own cockpit ?

Left instrument panel:

After building the kit instruments it became time to let the monitor disappear and to put the instruments in to there final position. Besides the urge to find out how it would be to fly with the real instruments became ever greater.

The first thing I did was to get behind the computer and started drawing the whole thing. Only a question of knowing what we wanted and avoiding to waste materials and having to make things twice.
The first thing I designed was a brace to attach the instrument on the panel. Normally you could attach the plastic housing of the instrument to the panel but than you have to glue the housing of the instrument together. By doing this it would be almost impossible to open up the instrument again if something would go wrong. I simply think of, changing a lamp or something else. Besides the plastic cement will be degrading after some time and the instrument would fall apart after some years. Not a nice sight if you stand up on a morning and find all the bits and pieces of the instruments on the ground. To avoid all these problems I invented these braces.
The brace exists out of sheet metal from 1.5 mm in this we made a hole of 80mm. 4 little holes (2.5mm)were drilled in ,with a equal distance of 65mm from each other. In these hole we made M3 thread with a tap tool. Then we only had to put in two more holes, one at the top and one at the bottom to attach two studding's of 3mm. These studding's were cut in different lengths according to the different instruments. The only thing to make is a plate from 1mm thick and 10 mm wide to put at the end of the brace so now you can put in the instrument and keep it al together.

techbeugel beugel beugel2

The second part is the actual front panel itself. Again I made a technical drawing first to see how to position the instruments and to see how far they needed to be positioned from each other taking the braces in to account. After putting it on to paper I meticulously put the whole thing on to a 1.5mm thick aluminium plate. This was not so easy as it looks. On the computer it is easy to put four holes in a equal distance from a centre point. But to do the same with a measuring-staff and a pair of compasses is something else. Besides it is very important to do this with great precision otherwise the holes in the braces don't fit in to the holes of the panel. If this is not the case you can throw it al away and start all over again.
After everything was put on to the plate I first marked all the position were to drill the holes with a driver. Then all the centre holes were drilled and we started to cut out the bigger holes from 80 mm where the instruments would come in to. Before we started doing this we first made a test to see if the diameter was correct. This because it is hard to see if the knife of the cutting tool is positioned a 100% vertical or not. So better to try it out first than to be taken by surprise.

After all this went well we drilled the other holes. Now the moment of truth was there. One by one the instruments were put in and with some minor adaptation to the braces all fitted perfectly. What a big relief.

panel1 panel2


Central Control Unit housing:

The last step was to make a housing for the fragile Central Control Unit. For this I choose for a acrylic plate of 4 mm just lick the radio stack. For this we also made a technical drawing first in full detail.  With this design in hand we first cut out all the pieces and then glued them together. To attached the lit I made 4 triangles from a hard plastic and tapped in thread of M3 so you could fix the lit with screws. At the side of the housing we made some holes for the USB cable and the power supply connector. The print board is attached to the housing with 6 nylon insulating spacers to prevent the print board from being bend when you put in the different connecters. The housing is then attached to the front panel by means of two L shaped plates.

ccu1 ccu2


The next thing to do is to take it all apart again so you can paint it nicely. After all is dried out it can be put in to its final position in the cockpit.

The next day I took out the old wooden panel and the monitor and attached the brand new panel. The result may be seen. The one who can tell the difference between a real panel of a DC3 or this panel must be a real connoisseur.  

panel3 panel4

After everything was neatly connected to the computer I started to make some test flights to see how it was to fly with 'real' instruments. I must admit at first it was very hard. I was used to looking at on screen and now I had to look at the outside view on the screen and to the instruments on the inside panel. But after a while it wasn't a problem any more. Navigating with the instruments became much easier. I'm very satisfied with it and I know I will be having a lot of fun with my cockpit


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© Verley Jan 2007-2017 original text from 2003 translation Jan Verley