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How I build my own cockpit ?

The construction of the pedestal:

The pedestal of the medium support (or: console) of the DC3 is very small compared to the current modern planes.  It consists of throttle, pitch, mixture, the left and right fuel selector buttons, the different trims and at last the carburettor heater valves.  We can build on the devices that do not function in FS98, but they don’t need working as there are: the rudder and the aileron-trim as well as the carburettor heater valves. 

How did I do it ?  The pedestal consist of a substructure and a superstructure.  We started working at the substructure.  First we made a frame on which a thin sheet layer can be fixed  later.  In the bottom part we also provide a frame to fix in the six potentiometers as well as a bracket (or: a clip) to fasten the springs that are linked to the different cables.  Each handle is fixed to the relevant potentiometer by means of a cable system.  We fix the frame of the pots in such a way that the cables run parallel in front of it. 
Then I started constructing the different sheets that have to cover the bottom part.  On the side is twice  a quarter of a circle and on it a corrugated upper part, in which an opening has been provided through which one can still reach the inside of the pedestal.  It is closed by a thicker circular sheet, assembled with 6 bolts to the outside.  You have only to close the front side and the substructure is completely finished.

The second part is the substructure where the different handles and the trim will be assembled. 
This really was a great challenge.  One has to know that the axle on which the trim and the handles will be constructed have to fit exactly with each other and that you only have a box of hardly 18 x 13 x 15 cm !  What’s more there has to be enough resistance on the handles so that they can hold position, whereas the trim has to be kept working in a supple way. Furthermore you have to fix an extra brake on the throttle; the potentiometer of the trim with its indication system has to be put in the box too. 
You can imagine, this is a big challenge, mostly due to the little available space.  The first concern was that the outside had to look as a real one.  The inside is less important: it doesn’t have to agree with the reality, because this is an endless work without a lathe.

First we started constructing the outside.
It is all made from 3 mm sheet-steel.  This steel welds well and is very strong.  Afterwards came the work in the inside.  To illustrate you this inside construction, I have made a draft.  A drawing tells you ten times more than a 100 words.  












I first looked for a tube to fix the handles on and for a fitting box on which the tube could turn.  Then the handle-levers were constructed, for which we used 5 mm sheet-steel.  Then cam the aluminium dividing sheets.  These aluminium dividing sheets are fixed to the metal handle-levers by means of copper rivets.  To make it possible to move each handle separately without taking any chance the others can move, the invention of the Teflon between pieces is appearing.
They make it possible that everything moves independently and, besides, greasing isn’t necessary and any noise isn’t heard.

The Teflon between pieces are held by a bar/rail at the back, in a way they can’t turn;  if they should do it, the system won’t work.
Pushing this all on a tube and fixing two springs at the outside , there’s enough friction to keep the handles on their place even when later, a cable + spring is constructed to serve the potentiometers. 
We finish the whole of the handles by connecting their arms with matching round buttons to the handle-levers.  This ends the construction of the handles.

Only the trim-wheel with matching mechanism will keep us busy.  The trim-wheel will be made from a sheet of 3 mm thickness and 15 mm width.  You make a circle out of it and you fix/fasten three  spokes on it, which are fixed in the middle to a axle.  To make it a bit antiskid we cut incises in it in the shape of a cross.  Like it is in reality.  We fasten the whole to the axle by means of a split pen.  A tandrad system is installed on this axle, by means of a wire-rail  it indicates the position of the trim and it also serves the mechanism of the potentiometer.  The whole is fixed to a kind of lid, which is screwed to the left side of the handle-box. 

When the assembling has been finished you can fix some protecting sheets and then paint it.  What is missing are the disc-potentiometers and the rotary switches for the fuel selectors.   We can take care for it later.  The painting finished I’ve assembled everything on its appropriate place in the cockpit and I could start thinking about connecting it to the computer. 

But this is a different story.  What I can tell now is that it works well and that it is a great pleasure to be able to fly in a cockpit constructed all by myself.  Though it is not complete at all.

pedestal1 pedestal2 pedestal3 pedestal4

To be honest, I’ve been constructing more than you can read about here; to give you a taste of it, I send you a picture hereby.  So you can indeed see how a cockpit under construction looks like.  Let’s suppose you can see a dashboard and the Static DC3 Flight Simulator is almost complete


This article has been written in a few hours, but, to give you an idea, the construction of this pedestal has taken almost six months.  Two years I’ve already been busy realizing my dream. 
So, if you want to construct a cockpit, don’t bother about time, only sustain and believe what you dream about.


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© Verley Jan 2007-2017 original text from 2002 translation Joan Pacquets