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jnr641802

747(ish...,) o/head on the cheap

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I have just finished my pmdg 747 fs9 based 747-400 basic/generic-ish o/head and at less than £300 and a lot of patience you can enhance your cockpit using zero programming/engineering skills(if I can do it anyone can...).For the o/head I use 3 x Bu0836x cards for inputs only,no outputs.The cockpit was originally going to be a 737 but I always preferred the 747-400 and it has ended up as a 737 shell/cp flight mcp/efis and the rest inc throttle/yoke is 747 ish(throttle /yoke home made and about £15 in bits to make) but all in Boeing grey as I was not striving for an exact replica of the real aircraft.I need one more Bu0836x card to get the fire handles working and a couple of other switches .I use the tedious method of 5mm thick white acrylic sheet /sticky letters/paint/remove letters(tweezers and magnifying lens required...) 4 metre led strip lighting for backlighting.I use a fourth bu0836x for some pedestal switches/nose wheel/gear/747 eicas panel( simple to make).So it does not have to cost the earth to get a bit more realism out of your simming,all you need is time................ :( .regards Jim

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Wow, if you were US-based I'd offer to pay you to make me one of those!

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It really is very easy to do,the most boring part is setting up the lettering.I made/wired the whole overhead in about 3 weeks,I'm retired :( and have lots of free time,and finished/installed approx 1x panel per day,zero skills required,just input cards and fsuipc mouse macros. regards Jim

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Not as much spare time, but do you think you could do a write-up as a tutorial here, on how you did everything? That would be an awesome service that we could all benefit from! I'd probably try it if I knew a little more about it.

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Nice, Did you take pictures during the process?

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I'm really pleased that there is some interest in my 'cockpit on the cheap' .It is very easy to throw crazy money at these home cockpits and a quick visit to Mycockpit.org will give you an idea how much money can be spent on the ultimate exact replicas (mostly 737ng) that are being constructed.I was tempted to spend many many thousands myself on professionally engineered components/panels/yoke/throttles etc but I was happy with just a reasonable representation of the 747 and wanted to see how cheaply it could be made.If you are an Autocad expert and have access to or own a cnc machine you may want to look away :( as your panels will be 100% better than mine!.Unfortunately I did not take any o/head build photos.How to make:Firstly make a 3 x bay (as with the 747-400) wooden frame for the overhead to house the panels.Mine is 20 inches fwd/aft by 26 inches left to right which is approx 6 inches shorter than the real one and approx 5 inches narrower so space was tight.I have my cockpit/ shell in a 9 ft x 9 ft room so have had to adapt the size,if you can afford the space build the o/head bigger as it is easier to get all the lettering spacing correct if you are not fighting for space.To make the panels you need :1) A piece of white (NOT opal) 5mm thick acrylic sheet ( mine comes from ebay),start off with an A4 piece .Using a jig saw or electric mitre/chop saw cut your first panel to size.Start with a simple one like the nav /beacon etc panel for example.Drill the holes for the toggle switches (I use 'Rapid ' in the uk for all the switches they average about 50 pence uk each).Now drill the mounting holes for the panel in each corner.Now lightly sand the acrylic panel to smooth the edges and sand the side you intend to paint so that the paint sticks better.2) Apply your lettering. I get mine online from a model supplies business in the uk called 'Barry's Model lettering',I use 4mm arial bold in white,but I may switch to black next time as it is probably visually easier to apply against the white acrylic background. Each sheet comes with letters/numbers/lines/arrows /fwd slashes etc etc.I also order a blank A4 size piece so that I can use a coin/button etc to cut out backlighting circles which some toggle switches have on the O/Head.You will need a good pair of accurately made tweezers to remove the lettering from the sheet and a load of toothpicks to help remove the middle of for example the letter 'o',and you will also need the toothpick to manoeuvre the letters to where you want them.When they're lined up to your satisfaction press the lettering hard using a tissue to help it stick hard.3) Spray any aerosol paint primer onto the face with the lettering( I use an auto acrylic primer) .I found that the red oxide Rustproofing ones stick to the acrylic panel best but also used regular primer in grey and it was fine.I give it 2-3 coats and leave until dry(maybe overnight).When dry apply 2x coats of aerosol top coat (again acrylic auto paint) although others I'm sure will do .I use Boeing grey RAL 7011 Matt finish from an online company (Autopaint.co.uk in St Helens uk which mixes it for me £8.00 per can approx) .4 ) When the paint is dry ,6-8 hrs I find is enough,It's time for tweezers/hobbyist Magnifying lens if possible and remove all the lettering.If occasionally while removing the lettering the middle of an 'o' etc also comes away with the tweezers then dab some top coat using the end of a toothpick to repair the damaged letter.I then use a toothbrush /soap/water on the surface when finished to get rid of paint flakes.5) Attach your switches and screw to the wooden overhead frame you've already made.Solder or crimp on the wires.I use the Leo Bodnar BU0836x card ( approx £50 for 32 switch inputs plus axis controls etc)for all the inputs,there are probably cheaper input cards around but these are so simple to use, no soldering or screws,and are read by flightsim as a game controller i.e joystick/throttle etc so no software required.Buy a registered copy of FSUIPC approx £20 ?? and using the Mouse Macro facility available with the registered copy of fsuipc assign the mouse macros(not that hard really If I can ,anyone can believe me...) to the switch action you want and voila you have a working overhead switch,now repeat for 130+ switches........it is actually very easy and suddenly you realise it's all done!6) Backlighting...I use led strips. (as I can't be bothered wiring individual leds)It needed 1x 4 metre length uncut for the overhead.I run the strip from left to right at the back of the overhead facing towards the back of the panels obviously :( and support the strip using sticky tape at various points.The overhead basically has five runs (like one long 4 metre snake if you see what I mean....)of the tape ( approx £30-40 ) which gives more than enough light for all the panels lettering .I hope this is of some help to you and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask.Also if you want a realistic boeing -ish yoke for £15-20 approx, that is also quite easy and needs no engineering skills to make(just wood /drain pipe/couple of bolts/ potentiometer /slide potentiometer) and adds a bit more realism to flying without spending much money ,however I don't pretend it will ever be even slightly near as good as a bought one(Ace make excellent ones) or as good as some of the beautifully engineered home made ones that some builders have constructed.regards Jim

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Looks great, I will probably use some of your techniques for my cockpit.

 

Pete

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Hi Mr Jim...really a titanic work!!!...looks very nice , professional , and I need one like yours...do you have some tutorial a building guide or something ?...thanks in advance !

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Hi Mr Jim...really a titanic work!!!...looks very nice , professional , and I need one like yours...do you have some tutorial a building guide or something ?...thanks in advance !

 

Hi there is a basic (no photos) tutorial in this thread,but I am currently making additional panels for the 747 pedestal and will try to take photos of the process and post them here.

 

regards Jim

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