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DCS F18 Hornet Cockpit Panel Toggle Box Part 3

So the First incarnation of the F18 Hornet USB Controller was designed as a “multi box” combining elements from both the left and right panel.

Now the next step is making a Right Replica panel. This will mean the 3 Elect Panel Switches, Environmental Panel, Interior Lights panel and the Sensor Panel.

The layout of these will be replicas of the real right panel, so the positioning will be perfect for those relying on Muscle memory, IE VR Cockpit Pilots.

After some work this expanded the size of the Panel Box out to 310mm high, and still keeping the standard 152mm wide.

Went through an did a dry fit of the toggles and Potentiometers (currently awaiting more rotary switches)

Then I throw the Top engraved panel on, this still has masking tape on at this stage to help keep it protected from my grubby fingers, but you can still see quite clearly the layout.

Seems a bit more work to do as a few leds aren’t shining in the right spot. I will also be raising the plate 3 mm, this will help diffuse the backlight more and reduce the hotspots.

Once I get the rotaries in I will be able to get back to it and finish this bad boy off.

In the mean time I’m starting mock up an idea for a F18 UFC panel to complement this next.

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F16 ICP Project Log Part 3

Whilst awaiting some parts I went back to the drawing board on my original design

Firstly the Design has been modified so the USB Port is at the back. this presents a much cleaner option.

Also based small change was added where the keys were rounded as seen here

Lastly I have made a change that no longer requires a Potentiometer to adjust the brightness.
This is shown here by holding the WX Key and using the dobber up and down to change the brightness in stages.

Some of the latest orders and all Future orders for the ICP will include this feature.

As you can see in the pictures, the positioning of the text is sometimes a little wonky, I do the best I can, but this stage I have not found a better way to get it aligned. Overall it still looks great, but one of the foibles I have yet to overcome.

I will update on that once I have a noodle on it hopefully.

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F16 ICP Project Log Part 2

Had limited time at the moment, but managed to make more progress on the F16 ICP Controller

First thing was to make some amendments to the buttons! correctiong the 5 “CRUS” button, and also making the ENTR key a bit higher to match the real world F16 ICP.

Next I twas time to have a look at the thumb-wheels and see what I wanted to do there, I decided for the moment at least to go White Acrylic, and I went for a COG Design which will allow the thumb to easily get traction to turn the wheel. I am using DShaft potentiometers so this make it easier to mount. This is made to be 6mm thick.

Then Looking at the DCS toggle I figured I’d go for 20mm High and will align with the toggles (unsure on the real world, but this works for me)

Putting the unit into its enclosure, after prototyping in MDF the final product shown is Matt Black Acrylic.Below is a pic of the guts, I of course needed a Pot to control the backlighting and an arduino for controlling.

Once we mount the plate in,I am not “Bolting” it in, I using a friction fit with the top plate, it holds it well enough while making it easier and less stress on any acrylic parts when physically screwing it.

Most people may not want this just sitting flat on their desk like this, so I went for a keyhole mounting at the back plate so it can be affixed to any surface with 4 M4 screws and slotted onto them.

The default mounting for me will be a MDF frame it sits in, and can use the 4 keyholes as well.. I worked on it sitting at 70 Degrees, this is what I found optimal.

Now I get it all plugged in and lit up!

I am going to be working on the light leakage to the sides of the wheels, (although it does look cool to me) with perhaps some thick reflective tape and next is some software coding.. Now that DCS Viper is released, I’ll look at HID as well as DCSBIOS.

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F16 ICP Project Log Part 1

The next thing Tekcreations is working on is the F16 ICP Panel

So far I’ve worked out the buttons, they are 1.6mm engraved ABS that I have glued to 4.5mm Opal acrylic, then glued to 3mm acrylic for the lip to hold in place. This gives me the height I am looking for in my unit for the keys. .

These keys will be going into a Middle plate, made of Opal Acrylic that will be used to diffuse the light evenly.

On top of that plate we of course need some engraved text! this is where the holes are a tad smaller on this which “captures” the keys with their “lip”

I have made up a PCB for the unit, and a self contained enclosure, currently MDF whilst Prototyping
More pics of this to come soon.

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DCS F18 Hornet Cockpit Panel Toggle Box Part 2

I have been continuing the process of adapting my generic toggle box and expanding on it to make it a larger unit with specific Cockpit Controls for use DCS F18 Hornet. I am at the stage now the unit is basically feature complete

So after a bit of playing around I got my PCB’s for the 8 way rotary switches in, no way did I want to deal with 8 Inputs just for a rotary switch.

The PCB is setup with 7 Resistors bridging the pins of the switch with VCC GND input, and a single Analog out. from the centre pin.
I have a new solder rework station now, so instead of the frypan I used previously for SMD soldering, I am using the heatgun which is much more useful 

Once soldering on we are left with the below.

One thing I will incorporate on a future PCB build will be some onboard LED’s to avoid any shadows caused by the PCB.

It took a little noodling to get my Arduino code right for the Resistor Ladder, but now I have it sorted these work a treat using just a single analog port.

Now they are in, I have got the Box fully assembled and tested and working a treat with DCSBIOS.
There is a little lag with the webcam recording so the delay is quite minimal from when the switches are flicked.

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DCS F18 Hornet Cockpit Panel Toggle Box Part 1

I have been adapting my generic toggle box and expanding on it to make it a larger unit with specific Cockpit Controls for use DCS F18 Hornet.

The Box is longer, and will take the most common controls and use DCSBIOS to map Directly to DCS F18 Module

First up the box with base plate lit up, just want to check the light is evenly distributed which to the eye it pretty much is perfect. (The camera is a little less forgiving)

Next We place the middle plate to hold the Toggle switch and Potentiometer Locking nuts along with the engraved top plate.

Flick the lights on and we can see that in bright daylight the green backlighting shows through quite well. There is a little patch on the bottom corner that isn’t lit, but in the darker environment it shows up fine. I will still look at LED placement to fix this if I can.

Now we look at the problem, it is a bit of a spaghetti with the wiring

The reason for this is I was trying to adapt a Control board from my F16 ICP Project. This really won’t do as the placement is not ideal.

The solution is of course a custom PCB for the Toggle Box. Now I don’t want to get stuck in the same boat here so my logic is to make a generic shift register breakout board that I can use in pretty much any project.

I figure 2 shift registers per board gives me 16 inputs which is more than enough, and we have the capability to daisy chain these together. Another Feature to add in is a few extra jumpers to draw off VCC and GND, that can be used for potentiometer inputs, rotary encoders etc, reducing the cables to just being the Inputs to the arduino.

After a bit of designing and Manufacture we get the below beauty.

These look and work pretty great so I will look at selling this populated for those interested in Shift Register Breakout boards for their Flight Simulator Projects.

While I was at it, I was looking at the Rotary Switches, this box had 3 rotary switches, totalling up to 15 inputs required. I thought I would get a little smarter and decided to use a Digital to Analog converter using a resistor ladder, this way each switch only requires a single Analog input. I thought I would make a PCB as well for that to mount to the Rotary switch to make things cleaner. I will post up that progress next.

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Making Flight Simulator Cockpit Panels Pt8

Finally Got the Yellow Stock in I was waiting for to do the Cockpit Panel Hazard Stripes on the F18 Hornet Panels

The stock is 0.1mm thick with an adhesive back. Firstly I need to figure out where to apply it to, so I do a quick VERY light engrave on the plate after engraving the text.

Now I get the adhesive material peel of the back and apply gently over the area that will be cut out. then give it a vector cut with just enough power to cut through the yellow material.

Now I weed out the cut material and we are left with the below,

Give it a bit of a cleanup and finish the rest of the panel and we are done.

I think this method is much better, i still need to do a bit beteter on the application, the smaller piece above moved when I weeded it out, so I will be more careful next time, but overall I think this is a fantastic solution.

Now to keep working on the Master Arm Panel and how I plan on doing that, along with a few options for the Rotary Jettison switch

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Flight Simulator Generic Toggle Switch Box Part 3

So the Screws have came in for the Generic Toggle Switch Box , it was harder to get black pan head screws locally then it should be.

Now we are securing the panels down we get a nice finished look to the box. This below is going to be the “Standard” Sizing, enough for 4 rows of toggle switches.

This unit is feature complete from the mechanical side of things, just doing a bit of tweaking on the software to act as a HID device joystick button. Also as an option I have DCSBIOS working as well, but obvioulsy harder with it not having “Generic Controls”.

Now I am working on a Larger Unit, this will be F18 Specific and utilse DCSBIOS. This is going to be larger, and as part of this I am spending a bit of time redesiging the guts to make the unit much more rigid.

What I have come up is utilising the DZUS Rail holders more for support by giving them an L shape, and also I am Capitalising on this design to add in a cross brace. This has 2 purposes, 2 reinforce the Sides to reduce flex and also allows a convenient place to mount the LED Strips. Below is the mockup.

These are actually quite a solid bit of kit now, so I’m thinking instead of just a Generic Toggle Switch Box I am going to offer just these boxes up for sale in kit form for those who are building a pit and want something to mount panels even if they aren’t mine, as these are all standard DZUS Spacing. I migth take a segway on this train of thought and look at angled side panels as well.

Also this can be more than just a Toggle box, Below I am experimenting with mounting of a Push button and LED, it wll look quite smart in the final product.

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Making Flight Simulator Cockpit Panels Pt7

Been a little bit busy with a few R&D Projects, but have managed to squeeze out a few more plates mainly the F18 Hornet KY58 Panel.

KY58 was not certain what do do for the Fill, but I think I have sourced a decent 6pin DIN panel mount that I’m waiting to arrive, I sized the hole appropriate to that. Found a few different versions floating around, but chose the one that is in DCS.

Also squeezed in a cheeky little Video Panel as well

Currently I am working on the Master Arm Panel, just currently trying to work out what to do with the AA A/G buttons and the best way to handle that, but still keeping it generic for anybody interested in getting plates.

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Making Flight Simulator Cockpit Panels Pt6

Ok I have gone through and done some more work on F18 Hornet Panels , first up the ECM panel

Here I went for some Mattisse Acrylic paint to infill for the hazard striping. This looks better than the spray paint I think. I have some thin adhesive material on back order, but until that comes in to experiment I’m happy withthis result.

Here is the ELectrical Panel. I have a stepper motor gauge on order to play around with before I do any housings etc for this panel

Flight Control system panel done, just need to get a flip toggle cover, but the sizing I went for matched all the standard ones I saw online.

Exterior Lights redone

Ground Power, here the NATOPS didn’t show “auto” , but DCS does.. without knowing why NATOPS has it missing I went for whats in DCS .

APU sorted, this is one that will need the post paint on the bottom plate to mask off I believe.

Interior Lighting done..

Next panels to work on is the Master Arm Panel and KY58 and the comms F18 Hornet Panels