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Guest Matt_Thomas

Videos: Building with PVC Pipe

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I made a couple of DIY videos about building flight simulator enclosures from plastic PVC pipe if anyone's interested:

 

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Really quite cool.. I like the light weight nature of the PVC and it's availability. I like that you used liquid nails too. I hate that other stuff. Good for plumbing though as you want to get that connection working (make sure it's working) fast...You can also use PVC for so many other things too.. From Yokes to Helicopter controls. For helicopter controls I used the underground sprinkler system piping as well. You can screw that stuff together as opposed to glue. So if it isn't right or you need to swap out parts later (switches and the like) it's not glued and you can take it apart swap out stuff and put it back together. For helicopter controls like the Collective you can use an outdoor junction box that go on plastic conduit tubing. They come in various shapes and can mate up with other tubing by again screwing it together.The PVC could be a good choice for making dual controls as well. I hadn't thought of that but I'm beginning too. I'm planning a two seat Cessna TU206G. The PVC if planned correctly would make a good platform for dual Yoke and Rudder controls..?? Hum! it's light weight cheap and easy to work with. You can run control cables through it as well (Yoke - Trims/AP/PTT Rudder - Toe Brakes). There would need to be some mechanical parts though for the actual pivot points. I'm planning on getting the mock up Cessna Yokes from Simkits. Your local Lowes or Home Depot is where I get all my DIY sim stuff. Everytime I go there I'm looking to see what new equipment my sim can use at the hardware store ;) If you spend some time in the Electrical or Plumbing department your imagination can go a bit wild.Some tips while shopping for sim stuff at your local hardware store...1 - Bring a measuring tape. Yep I've done the old trick of going to the Tools department and 'Borrowing' a measuring tape and putting it back of course when I'm done. When I'm in need of measurements for something and forgot to take mine. But the store will be happier and you will be too if you take along your own.2 - Bring pad and pencil (pens can run out of ink - right when you need them most). You never know when inspiration will hit and you see something and go Oh Ya. You will want to write that down. Along with prices and measurements of items. Store websites are getting better at including more of their stuff on them but not everything is in there yet and if you aren't an electrical or plumbing contractor you won't know what's available. So writing it down will save you a return trip and speed the DIY cockpit design process along a lot quicker.3 - Don't be afraid to ask for help. Even though they may not see your vision as what the product your looking at can do. Find out about adhesives or painting anything you are going to be building with. So you know the complete picture when you finalize your plan and start buying stuff. What paints work with what plastics and so on.. Krylon plastic paint works for most plastic BTW. What prep work you need to do before gluing or painting and what the paint is going to cost if you want to paint your project. Paint and Adhesives can be found in the paint department BTW.Just some handy tips from a sim guy that's been to and fro a few times.

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Good tips, Ronson.And let's be proud of our projects! Sometimes a store clerk may politely ask you what type of plumbing project you're doing. Be proud, stand tall and say, "I'm not working on the plumbing, I'm building a two-seat Boeing 747 flight simulator cockpit with projected screens and a 2 degree of freedom motion platform." (for example)

Matt,I smiled a lot seing your videos... :)Nice ideas so thank you for sharing... :( Al
Great! Glad you liked them!

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And don't forget: measure twice, cut once!I wish I could make a specific cockpit, but since there's so many aircraft to fly and I'm obsessed with them all, the best to be done was to make a generic cockpit setup that satisfied function insterad of form: It's very comfortable and also serves as a great web-surfing perch. The only thing I need to do is move the throttle quadrant closer towards the yoke so the reach-factor is improved, but since a Saitek Switch Panel rests between the Saitek Yoke and its Throttle Quadrant, it's time to get my X-acto hacksaw out, cut the switch panel (*Gasp!) vertically between the red masters and their neighbouring wsitches, then between the cowl flap switch and the light switches and join the two with a horizontal cut, then move theleft half to the left side of the yoke. Forgive me, but I gotta make this functional and ergonomic. Updates to follow!

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As a person who has built their own homesim platform (from a PVC frame, nonetheless), I highly recommend you build it out of Furniture Grade PVC like this for three reasons:

  • You dont need to use half as many tees and elbows as shown in your build.
  • Its UV protected so it won't degrade in light (yes, even flouresncents cause PVC to degrade)
  • It looks much better and can be purchased in Black (sorry, no Boeing Green, I am afraid).

You can get it directly from Formufit online or Home Depot (online only, but free ship to their stores).  I built a 707 cockpit using PVC as the frame, then laid FRP wallboard (what you see in bathrooms) across that and cut and sealed them together.  I'll post some pics once I find them.

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