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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
After a bit more Playing around with the design, I discovered that firstly 3 DZUS holes high for each toggle row was just a little 2 tight, so first thing, is I increased that to 4 holes high (38.10mm)
Then upon a bit of reflection I felt that it definitely was a bit overkill having the plates interchangable for each row, so I ended up settling on make it 2 rows of switch per panel. This meant each panel was 8 Dzus high.
So time to get cutting new base and middle plates mount the switches and we end up with this.
Shortly after engraving the 2 top plates we are now starting to look like below.
Definitely taking better shape and looking much nicer. Note that white line between the plates will practically disappear once its screwed down. I have had to order some black m4 bolts from EBAY, the local hardware has nothing but zinc and I’d rather not go the route of spray painting bolts !
Now to throw in some LED backlighting to see how this looks,and it definitely pops looking smexy.
Next up is getting these nuts in when they arrive, and getting the bolts on the inside and some cable routing.
Something I have had on the back burner for quite a while now is a Generic Toggle Switch Box that is as modular as possible. As part of my effort making panels I took the opportunity to get this off the ground as it shares a few features.
Something I wanted to be able to offer is a Generic Toggle Switch Box for those flight simmers who don’t want full specific panels, but still be modular in a way.
I did a bit of thinking and thought I would do the initial concepts below. Able to swap and change positions of switches where practical Able to have a customisable top plate that can be swapped out showing various control names Able to be Back lit.
What I have come up with utilising the design of what I am going to be using my own F18 panels. A box that is confirming to DZUS standards. It will accept a panel 146.05 wide, and be the Standard DZUS 9.525 hole spacing.
A quick mockup is below, the Box is MDF that when close to finalising I am deciding if I will vinyl wrap (carbon fibre perhaps) or enamel paint for a nice finish. The “rails” are 3mm acrylic that I will tap for an M4 bolt to secure the plates on.
The plates I am thinking to be as convertible as possible will only be 3 DZUS holes high (28.575mm) and will hold 4 toggles / rotaries etc.
This will be made up of a 3mm bottom plate to secure the toggles etc to, then a 3mm middle plate to space capture nut, then a 1.6mm Engraved ABS top to give a nice white surface.
One of the biggest problems, being generic is I had to come up with what I would engrave the top plates with by default, below are some of what I came up with that are relatively standard across most aircraft.
The plates with multiple will line up like below
Obviously being modular means there is a thin gap between each plate which I’m not sure I can eliminate, but if clients required and knew there exact layout I could do larger or a single plate to avoid that look.
The Benefit of this box being DZUS spaced is that my standard fighter plates can also be dropped in as well, and this is what I will be using to build my own personal simpit as I don’t have the space for a full cockpit build.
Some thoughts are to work out, how high do I do as a standard (currently 15 dzus holes high ~ 150mm) I think that’s a good starting point, but obviously can customise as much as required.
This box was a rough Mockup, I have a new one cut and waiting for the glue to Dry, once that’s done I’ll work out how I mount the LED strips for backlighting, and also work out how I will handle the cable wiring.
The next part of panel construction I am working on is how I tackle the Hazard striping for the F18 Hornet Panels.
A perfect example of this is the F18 Hornet ECM Panel. This Panel has Yellow white striping around the ECM JETT button.
The white is obvious , I will laser engrave that, and the yellow is obviously going to be paint of some kind. but how do I do it?
First up I get a bit of scrap and laser engrave the white sections with a raster engrave (Ignore the horizontal black lines I was tweaking the power for another purpose.) This gives us the white lines with the black diagonal strips to separate out the pattern.
Next we apply some low tack tape (Painters tape) over the design.and do a vector cut at VERY Low power (just enough to cut the tape) on every second diagonal box This is where we are going to paint.
After this we strip of the bits we just cut to show outlines to paint
I have a few things I’m going to test and the first is good ole rustoleum rattle can yellow spray paint. Lets give that a hit of 2 light coats.
Once the paint is dry we peel of our Masking Tape and voila we are left with the below.
Not bad, but not great, but definitely a good start. I did Initially try spray painting over the black, but it looked so bad it doesn’t deserve to have a photo. I think the next step is I need to widen the black strips inbetween the colours, and do 2 lighter coats to avoid the paint pooling.
I might also look into some Tamiya Enamel model paint and trial painting that in by hand (still keep the masking) and see how that looks.