Cockpit

Toner Transfer

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I’m still not happy with the dash so time for the fourth iteration. This time I designed it in CAD using OnShape.com, including all of the labels. To fabricate it and apply labels I thought using a tuner transfer method might be nice.

First the wood was vanished and sanded smooth. I only had A4 size toner transfer paper so I had to print multiple pages to cover the whole dash. PosteRazor was very helpful in printing the pages, just don’t forget to mirror your CAD image before printing.

Starting with the center bottom page I taped it to the board and used the wife’s iron to transfer the toner. To align the next page I pushed T-pins into various reference points.

Pins to mark index locations
Pins to mark index locations

Those same reference points were poked through the paper.

Pins to mark index locations
Pins to mark index locations

Then using the holes the next page was aligned using multiple reference points.

Aligning the transfer paper
Aligning the transfer paper

Then the page was tapped in place and toner transferred with the iron. This process was repeated until the whole dash was completed. The nice thing is if you mess up just sand off the mistake and try again!

Since all the holes were marked with toner it was really easy to cut out all of the holes precisely where I wanted then.

Toner transfer also marked hole locations
Toner transfer also marked hole locations

I might want to add some more text or switches before I complete the airplane so for now I am leaving off the final coat of varnish. But once completed I plan to add a couple of coats to help protect the toner from abrasion.

Preview of final dash
Preview of final dash

I recently started working on the electrical wiring and quickly discovered that most 12v USB phone chargers emit RF interference like crazy. When tuned to around 132Mhz the interference makes reception impossible. Anyone know of a decent priced charger that does not emit tons of RF?

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Dashboard Take Three

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Lurking on ETLB forum I stumbled across a post from Brian about his V-Max dash that had some rubber insulators between the fuselage and the dash. Makes sense to me, reducing the amount of engine vibration that reaches the gauges is a good thing. So I decided to do the same thing.  Ordered some rubber vibration isolation mounts.

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Vibration isolators

These isolators have M5 threads and are about 5/8″ in diameter. The rubber section is also about 5/8″ high.

Next I created three triangular brackets using some RS-1 and 1/8″ plywood. 

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Dashboard Bracket

The dash panel is attached to the brackets using two bolts. By using bolts I can easily replace the dash panel in the future should I ever install different gauges.

The most important thing to remember is that the dash panel and anything attached to it must not touch any part of the airplane. Any wiring or tubing that is attached must be loose and free otherwise it will transmit vibrations to the dash.

Because of that I mounted the trim adjuster to the fuselage using an aluminum bracket, this way vibrations are not transmitted to the dash through the stiff cable.

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Pitch trim adjuster bracket

Since the dash is angled I made a shim so the adjuster can be mounted at the same angle.

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Pitch trim shim

The notch is to clear the front spar carry through bolt.

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Pitch trim adjuster

The hole is the dash is made about 1/4″ diameter larger than the adjuster knob so it does not touch the dash.

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Clearance for pitch trim

Mounting the dash this way will make it easier to inspect and maintain these components.

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Rear of dash panel

On the right side the bolts holding the EIS in place are also used to attach the dash panel to the bracket.

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The final result looks great.

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Completed dash

Now I just need to take it all apart so I can varnish the panel and brackets.

Cockpit Opening

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This whole time I have been contemplating what I wanted to do with the cockpit opening. I decided to round over just the top edge and paint the top and sides white.

I think it looks nicer and brightens the inside a bit even with just one coat of prime.

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Turtle Deck Opening

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I happened to have a piece of 1/8″ plywood scrap that was the perfect size to make a panel for the turtle deck opening. After cutting it out and varnishing it I think it looks great.

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Turtle deck panel

The slots are for the seat belt shoulder harness.

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Turtle deck panel seat belt

This does sick out past the rear spar carry through so I glued a block to take up the gap.

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Panel support block

To hold the panel in place I glued a tab on the back of the top.

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Panel retaining tab

Two studs were added at the bottom to hold the panel in place.

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Panel mount stud

Two thumb screws attach the panel.

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Panel retaining screws

Seat Broke

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I’ve always wondered if the seat was strong enough, turns out its not. The seat is made from plywood with an RS-10 glued underneath to keep it from bowing. While sitting in the airplane I heard a crack when the RS-10 broke away from the seat on one side. To prevent this from reoccurring I added a bolt on each side of the seat.

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Seat support cracked
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Added bolt to reinforce

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Elevator Trim Tab

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Searching the Internet for some ideas for the elevator trim tab lever I stumbled across a much better idea for a trim system than an ugly tab. The Aeroconversions Trim System is quite simple and not very expensive so I ordered it. It works by adjusting the tension on one of two opposing springs. One spring pulls the elevator up, the other down. Adjusting the tension on one spring will cause the control sick to move.

The first thing I did when it arrived was modify it so it can be adjusted easier.  Picked up a few parts from the hardware store.

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Drilled a hole into the trim dial.

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Put it all together and now have a little knob that makes it much easier to operate.

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After climbing in the cockpit to test different locations for mounting the trim dial, I decided that the best location is on the dash. Since I need to use my left hand to operate it the only logical place was the left dash right where my switches are located.

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Looks like it’s time to make a new dashboard, I was not quite happy with the first attempt anyway.

Compass

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Since electronics can fail when you need them most, mechanical backups can be a life saver.

I did not want to put a compass in the dash since that would place it closer to electronics that will interfere with the compass. Found this pedestal mount compass that will be easy to mount to the canopy deck.

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Pedestal compass

It did require a couple washers between canopy and compass on the right and left screws to account for the curve of the canopy. With the compass installed the dash is looking nice.

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Compass installed

Navigation Tablet

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I purchased a tablet to use as a navigational aid. The free Avare app is one of the best apps for pilots that I have seen so far. Now I just need a mount to hold the tablet.

I glued a few scraps together to make a block to support the mount.

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Block for tablet mount

After locating the position I drilled four holes in the dash.

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Four long 6-32 bolts hold the mount and block to the dash. I purchased this mount from Proclip, their mounts are some of the best you can find.

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Proclip mount for nexus 7

With the mount in place the tablet was attached and Avare loaded.

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MiniMax dash with tablet running Avare

Push to talk

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The push to talk button will allow me to transmit on the air band radio. Having a convenient way to transmit and making it look attractive is my goal.

I used my hobby knife to cut a pocket in the plastic plug that goes in the top of the control sick.

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Control stick cap

The switch was installed and attached to the plug.

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PTT switch

I drilled a small hole near the bottom of the control stick.

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Hole for wire to exit

Added a grommet for the wire to exit.

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Rubber grommet

Finished product looks good.

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Finished control stick with PTT switch

Instruments and Switches

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With the fuselage nearly completed I started working on the gauges and electrical system. Using some 1/4″ plywood I started laying out the dash.

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Once everything was in place the dash was cut out. Three corner blocks were made and bolted to the dash board using threaded inserts. Wax paper separated the blocks from the board to ensure only the blocks get glued.

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After a little bit of sanding to get the dash sitting at the correct angle the blocks were glued to the fuselage.

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Empty dash

Since the dash is not glued in place I can easily removed it and  replace it should I ever decide to modify the layout. Mounting the components was much easier with it removed so the three bolts were removed.

The toggle switches were not long enough to fit through the 1/4″ plywood so I used the router on the back side to remove some material in that area.

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Cutout for switches

All of the switches were mounted.

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Switch connectors
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Toggle switch covers

The two red ones will control the redundant magnetos. This allows me to turn each off, one at a time, to ensure each ignition system is working before flight. To stop the engine both switches will must be flipped at the same time. The blue ones will control items like the radio, auxiliary power etc.

The next component to install is the engine information system (EIS).

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Engine information system

This monitors engine temperature, fuel level and various other important things. If it detects a problem it will alert the pilot by activating the warning light.

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Warning light

Next I installed some USB charge ports and a cigarette lighter port. This should be sufficient to power any accessories.

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Power for accessories

The keyed switch needs a small block glued to the back of the dash to keep the switch body from rotating.

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Block to help support ignition switch

This switch controls the master power and engine starter.

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Keyed ignition switch

Last are the two most important gauges. The air speed indicator. The airplane needs about 28MPH just to fly and is designed for a top speed of 90MPH. Flying too slow or fast could be fatal.

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Falcon air speed indicator

The altimeter simply tells us how high, above sea level, we are. Airspace restrictions can vary by altitude plus there might be mountains or towers requiring an altitude change.

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UMA non-sensitive altimeter

The dash was bolted to the fuselage to check the fit. Hooking up wires and tubes will be rasy with the cockpit opened.

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Back side of dash

It looks good with the cockpit closed.

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Dash with canopy closed

I will also have a compass but it’s currently on a UPS truck somewhere. When it arrives I plan to mount it on top of the canopy deck in the center.