Category Archives: Woodwork

MIP panels mounted, Auto-brake and Loudspeaker panel testing.

The delivery of the MIP, auto-brake, loudspeaker and landing gear lever has arrived!

This weekend I took delivery of my first order of panels and hardware, I spent saturday mounting the panels and making a few alterations to the MIP frame to ensure the ECAM monitor fitted correctly. I soon realised that the 19inch wide-screen is actually too narrow and actually longer than required so I will eventually switch this out for a standard 19inch monitor which should then mean I can make use of both of the upper left standby instrument windows.

Testing flight for the new panel’s and electronics.

After a whole day of soldering the Korry switches in the auto-brake and loudspeaker panel I managed to give them a ‘test-flight’ from Belfast (EGAA) to London Stansted (EGSS) with a greased landing rate of -131fpm 🙂 – I took various photo’s of the panels and korry LED’s in action which can be seen on the photo gallery page.

I’ve also posted a quick ‘test’ video on YouTube showing the panels and korry switches in action 🙂 – The video can be found here:

The two PC setup running the flight simulator and flight deck.

I’ve now properly configured my second PC for off-loading some of the tasks of the main FSX PC (FS-MASTER) onto a new PC (FS-CTRL1) which now runs WideFS, ActiveSky, pmSounds SIOC (all USBOutput cards are connected to this PC). Now that the Auto-brake panel and Loudspeaker panel I also tested connecting the BBI-32 card to the remote PC and to my surprise I am extremely pleased to report that you can have BBI-32 and BU0836X cards connected to a remote PC using WideFS and it still registers button presses etc on the main FSX PC… which is awesome meaning that I will now connect both you input cards and output cards to the second PC all communication with the main FSX PC is then done over WideFS. Meaning that now the only thing my main FSX PC (FS-MASTER) does is run FSX, run the four displays (external view, PFD/ND, ECAM and standby instruments) and will have the side-stick, pedels and throttle levers leaving the other tasks (Weather Engine (ActiveSky 2012), ATC (FSInn), Flight deck sounds (pmSounds), Running the USBOutput cards (SIOC) and have all the BBI-32 cards to run the MIP panel switches and the OHP switches and rotaty encoders).

More updates soon! 🙂


Working on the sound and vibration systems in the cockpit

Well I had really hoped that this weekend I would have received the MIP panels but unfortunately they still haven’t arrived as yet…

Yesterday evening I also added a new page to my site outlining how the cockpit sounds and vibration systems are going to be done, the software and hardware involved as well as some tweaks (as the Wilco Airbus does not fully separate the panel sounds from the spoiler, flaps and gear ‘drag’ noises.) more details can now be found on the ‘Sounds and Vibration systems‘ page.

The two bass shakers (tactile transducers) that I bought on eBay last week have arrived!

Despite not feeling well at all today I made the most the day and since my tactile transducers arrived earlier in the week I was determined to get some ‘rumble’ in my cockpit

So I cut and screwed down some old chipboard to the seat box of where I have now mounted the two 25watt tactile transducers, I took apart an old Logitech 2.1 speaker system in the hope that the built in amplifier would power the two tactile transducers.

Original set-up, mounted underneath the seat the Tactile transducers are powered from the amp PCB that I salvaged from the old Logitech 2.1 sound system and 12v ATX power supply.

Originally when I dismantled the Logitech speaker system I left the transformer inside as I caught a glimpse that the output voltage was 12 volts of which I thought ‘great – I’ll connect the amplifier PCB up to my external ATX power suppliers which will be providing power to other parts of the cockpit’ of which I did do in the first place (photo on the left shows the original setup making use of the 12 volt DC power from my ATX power supply)

Once I did a quick flight test, I noticed that the bass and centre speaker from my Creative Inspire 5.1 sound system (or which is connected to the main FSX machine to a ‘splitter’ with the separate amplifier that was running the tactile transducers) started to get some feedback so I soon figured that there was something wrong… Double checking the transformer I found that it was in fact 12v AC so I dismounted the captains seat from the lower box and changed the wiring back so that the AC transformer was driving the amplifier PCB this then worked fantastic and stopped causing feedback that I had previously experienced.

Second attempt… Transformer fitted!

So, I decided to then connect my iPhone up to the 2.5mm splitter (to test the sound through both the tactile transducers and centre/bass speaker) it was awesome!!! – I played a couple of songs while sitting in the captains seat and the vibration was awesome and that was without any EQ tuning too I was extremely happy with the results until…. I decided to check the temperature of the heat sink/transformer   that was running the tactile transformers, both where extremely hot so I’ve now disconnected it until I can get my hands on a 100 watt+ dedicated amplifier as I figure the small amplifier PCB is just isn’t up to the job unfortunately.

Bass shakers (Tactile transducers) mounted in the seat box.

Despite the issues with needing to obtain a powerful amplifier I’m happy that the two tactile transducer are mounted and are giving good results so as soon as I have sorted the dedicated 100+ watt power amplifier the captain’s seat will be all sorted 🙂 – I’ll been keeping my eye out on eBay for some more tactile transducers as ideally I’d like to have one running inside the pedestal (to generate vibration so when holding the thrust levers it feels realistic on take-off etc.) and maybe one in the MIP structure/side-stick pedestal just to give more realistic vibration to the controls of which I will be in contact with so it really does feel like I’m flying an aircraft with some beefy engines behind me.

I really hope that tomorrow I’ll feel much, much better and if that is the case I will certainly re-build my old Intel Core2 Duo machine with Windows 7 64bit and prepare it as the sounds, WX, USBOuputs and comm’s (ATC) machine.. This machine will be running WideFS, pmSounds, SIOC, ActiveSky 2012, BlueSky (ACARS tracking software that I use ) and FSInn.

Adding the leather trim to the centre pedestal and new FSX build

I’ve been rather busy recently so have not done much else on the cockpit but to be honest even if I hadn’t have been busy I wouldn’t have been able to do all that much anyway as the weather in England has been pretty drab the last four weeks meaning that I wouldn’t have been able to get out in the garden to cut and work on the remaining bits of my centre pedestal and a few other bits and peices.

Earlier this week however I did a clean FSX build on my main flight simulator PC as I wanted to incorporate all my latest software and ensure that both of my graphics cards are installed and configured as part of the build. Well it took a couple of days of solid work to install a fresh copy of Windows 7 Professional (64bit), configure FSX, tweak it and install all my various scenery add-ons etc. I have literally just finished taking a full system image of both of my HDD’s using Acronis TrueImage 2012 (my main machine is running 1x 500GB 7200RPM mechanical HDD for Windows and a single 128GB SSD for FSX and all my add-ons) .

I’ve also been very interested in looking into merging the Wilco Airbus with the Project Airbus model for various reasons… firstly is that most people know that the Wilco external model is rather rubbish when compared with the Project Airbus model, another really cool feature of the Project Airbus model is the Wing flex! – I successfully merged my Wilco with the Project Airbus model and have now included this as part of the build and is the aircraft I will be flying in my flight sim!

Centre pedestal with leather trim

So this afternoon, it was surprisingly nice and sunny (despite being still rather chilly outside) so I decided to make the most of it and as I’ve borrowed my mums upholstery stapler I thought I’d add the leather trim and edging to the centre pedestal the results of which look pretty good in my opinion 🙂

So first of all I started off by cutting some 6mm MDF that I had left over and was surplus to requirements, the 6mm MDF was actually a perfect width for what I needed and now that the pedestal leather trim has been added looks great!

The 6mm MDF rim

So taking measurements from the website, I found that the height of the pedestal rim was 7cm, so I cut a 7cm rim for the entire pedestal and then using 1.0 inch wood screws initally screwed them into the pedestal as a ‘dry run’ as shown in the photo on the left.

Showing the faux leather stapled to the pedestal and then the wooden rim screwed back in over the top.

I figured that to make a decent job of it I need to securly attach the leather to the pedestal and then wrap it around the pedestal rim and then strech and staple down on the inside of the pedestal.

I have not yet added the internal panel rails as yet but this will be the final bit to do to the pedestal but so far I am extremely happy with the results. I’ll aim to add the panel mounting rails in a few weeks time but obviously that is dependent on weather and my next order that will be arriving is for my MIP so I’ll be working hard on that before I need to do anything else on the centre pedestal.

Folding and stapling down the faux leather… starting to take shape!

It was rather tricky to then pull the leather back up and over the 6mm MDF but luckily the leather is stretchy and once I had worked the corners a bit it folded over nicely and I managed to staple it down and it started to really look good (in my opinion anyway).

More photo’s of today can be found over at my Photo’s section.

Some more good news…. apparently I should be recieving my first order (being the MIP panels and hardware) this week so I should then have some more photos and blog updates very soon! – I can’t wait to get the MIP panels all fastened to the MIP frame and the hardware connected to my I/O.

Stay tuned… more updates very soon 🙂

Installed my seconds GFX card, additional braces added to the MIP stand and MIP I/O distribution board started.

I had hoped that my MIP panels and hardware would have turned up by now especially as I have just had two days off work (to look after my two children as it is half-term week) so although I wouldn’t have gotten away with dedicating my entire couple of days off work to the project I certainly would have had a handful of exciting photo’s to show you as opposed to the random stuff I’ve done the last couple of days.

At the moment the project has stalled really… I am waiting on my panels and hardware to turn up now before any further significant updates can be posted but I was determined to get as much ‘odds and sods’ done these last two days as possible so a breif run down of what I have acheveved the last couple of days:-

  • Installed my second PCI-E GFX card (will be used to power the ECAM displays and MCDU screen)
  • Additional MIP stand braces and monitor rest.
  • Started work on the MIP I/O distribution board.

My I7 FS machine with second graphics card just installed into the 3rd PCI-E slot.

The new card that I installed into my FS machine is a ZOTAC nVidia GT210 64bit PCI-E graphics card, yeah… nothing special but as it will only be used to drive the ECAM displays and MCDU display this will do just fine. My external view and PFD/ND displays are running on my nVidia GTX560Ti which is perfect.

I decided to install the GFX card into the 3rd PCI-E slot as opposed to the 2nd slot to hopefully better improve the cooling on my main GTX560Ti card. – Although I’ve installed the GFX card and installed the drivers I have yet to connect it up to a couple of monitor to make sure all is working in harmony… so fingers crossed when I do!
Yesterday morning just needing something to do on the project I decided to add some additional supports to the MIP frame, I added a cross beam to add additional support and also act as a brace to hold the PFD/ND monitor once the MIP panels turn up.

Rear view of MIP stand showing new cross support and glare-shield base mounting battons.

I also cut some smaller battons and attached them to the upper part of the MIP stand to enable more surface area to securely screw down the glare-shield section as there will eventually be rather a lot of over-hanging weight once the FCU and EFIC is properly mounted. -I am just really getting excited to receive my MIP panels as this really will give me a lot more things to work on and will make the project really start moving.
Yesterday afternoon I ordered some components from Spiratronics these included some self-adhesive PCB mounting risers which I will use to securely mount my I/O cards as well as some stripboard and IDC connectors and ribbon cable as I have decided that my new panel hardware will all connect to a single I/O distribution card of which I will in turn be connected to a Leo Bodnar BBI-32 card and a USBOutputs card.

The MIP I/O distribution card.

This is how it currently looks, As you can see I have made up a few ribbon cables which will be used to connect to the back of the MIP Auto-brake and Audio panels which will then connect the inputs and outputs (buttons, switches, encoders and LED’s) to the MIP I/O distribution board which will be mounted in the lower ECAM part of the MIP stand and it’s main function to keep all the wiring tidy as soon the MIP stand will no doubt become a maze of various cables for the displays, korry switches, console lighting etc.
I still need to wire up the upper IDC socket to some equipment wire which will be crimped with some boot lace crimps and then will be routed to behind the main board and then connected to one of my USBOutput cards. The photo on the left currently only shows the inputs wired which still need to then be soldered to a BBI-32 card but this is how far I have got so far.
I will post more photo’s once I have finished all the wiring on this card and mounted it in the MIP stand – it will become more apparent as to how and why I have decided to build this card to better help with cable management etc.
Bed time now – back to work for me tomorrow!

First coat of Airbus ‘Structural Blue’ applied…

Another productive day yesterday – As planned I managed to sand down all the primed panels and pedestal sections as well as the seat mount and managed to give them their first coat of the Airbus structural blue colour (RAL5017) as well as roller-ing on the first layer of final colour I also sanded down the side-stick pedestal that  I started on earlier this year (still need to do some more work on this though!) and also made some holes for cable management in the MIP panels.

Started to prepare the side-stick pedestal

To start the day off I got all the panels and pedestal sections out of my shed and began to sand down the first layer of primer that I had previously painted onto my seat box/mount and then applied the second layer (to ensure it dried before the end of the day).


Next up I had to measure and precision drill holes for the wood screws into the main panels and connecting monitor shelves as I knew that drilling directly into MDF sheet without drilling pre-made holes would cause the MDF to split, by drilling it now before applying the
top coat of paint I was able to also counter-sink the screw heads making it look more professional once all screwed together, so I also counter-sunk the screw holes.

Making sure it all screws together and the screw holes all correctly align…

After I had counter-sunk the screw holes I then sealed the exposed MDF fibres once again with my spare emulsion (what I was using as primer) and then once that had dried decided to screw together the MIP to ensure all my measurements and precision drilled screw holes
lined up (which luckily they did ;))

Now that I had proven to myself that all should be ok once it was time to re-assemble in my spare room I then carefully unscrewed the structure and then lightly sanded down all the panels for the first layer of RAL5017.

Panel having its first coat of RAL5017

As you can see from the picture the first layer sits nicely on top of the primer layer and is starting to look much better 🙂

Once all panels were painted I left them out to dry, luckily as rain clouds started forming above the paint had dried within 30 minutes and I then stored them carefully in my shed to allow them to ‘fully harden’ over the working week so that come next weekend I can apply the two top coats and then hopefully start adding some of the faux leather trim to the glare shield and centre pedestal rim.

First layer of blue applied!

I still obviously need to prime, paint and add trim to the side-stick pedestal too of which I will do hopefully next weekend as I mainly concentrated on the MIP, Centre pedestal and seat mount this weekend.

Roll on next weekend!! – If I’m lucky I may even be able to re-locate the MIP frame inside the house,a assemble and maybe even mount the glare shield which should then add extra stability to the MIP frame.

Paint and materials arrived and a busy day with more panel priming and seat box building

During the week the faux leather turned up which I mentioned about ordering in my previous blog post and for £14 from eBay I was well impressed… I now have a 200cm (2m) by 131cm (1.3m) cut of fire resistant faux leather of which I will be using to cover my glare shield with, top-part of my side-stick pedestal and of-course the rim around the top of the centre pedestal… hopefully it will do the job and make the cockpit look great!

All the bits and pieces ready to go..

On my lunch break at work yesterday I took a trip across town to B&Q and purchased a small roller set for a couple of pounds, two extra foam roller head’s (I plan on using one for each coat in case they go funny after each coat – when they dry out etc.), some Evostick IMPACT glue which I will use to stick the faux leather to the MDF and of-course the specially mixed Airbus structural paint colour (RAL5017 in a Matt Emulsion finish) – In total the bits that I purchased from B&Q yesterday cost me £32 which I cannot really complain at 🙂

All sanded down and smooth… ready for its second coat of primer.

After applying the first coat of primer (Spare emulsion that I had in the shed) to my MDF panels and the pedestal last weekend, I was keen to wake up early this morning and get out in the garden to sand down the panels ready for their second coat of primer.

I was lucky with the weather and all day it remained generally sunny so I was able to fully apply the second coats of primer to all the panels including pedestals sections and then they all dried happily in the sun allowing me to the start on the seat box of which I would mount my BMW seat on top of…

Primed panels and pedestal sections drying nicely in the sun!

So having found some 2×4 timber in the shed and doing some research online (watching a few YouTube video’s of Airbus cockpits) I soon came to the decision that using one length on its side and one laying down raised the seat adequately – The seat I am using has some fancy controls on the side also allowing me to lower or raise the seat within a range of about 100mm (10cm) which is also pretty cool so I have some room at-least of errors 😉

So once I was happy with the general height of the seat – I worked this out mainly by comparing my seating position (my knee location against the upper pedestal compared to that of the first officers in this YouTube video) I then attached the seat runners to the wood with two large woodscrews and two pieces of cut out aluminium plate that I used as a washer for the rear holes as the woodscrew’s head passed through the rear holes.

The new seat-box/raiser unit in its raw, unpainted form…

Once mounted, the seat was very stable and I then screwed the lower piece of 4×2 on its flat side to the upper piece of 4×2 which the seat was mounted to, to strengthen up the two runners I then used some 12mm MDF cut to size (140mm high by 540mm wide) and then screwed across the two new raiser blocks to create a box like structure.

As you can see from the image, I also used a hole cutting drill piece to drill a hole in the front of the seat box in case I later wanted to install some foot well lighting or had  a need to feed some cables through.

Now that the seat-box/stand was ready to be primed I found another tin of surplus emulsion from the shed (as I had used up the other tin on the panels and pedestals earlier today) and then primed that too and is now drying in the garden as we speak (well as I type this blog entry!)… Once its dry I’ll pop out and just pop some wood filler in the counter sunk wood screws so that hopefully tomorrow when I get back on with the project I’ll be able to sand it down and have a full smooth surface ready for the second coat of primer.

Seat box in with it’s first coat of primer on

So as its getting on now and I’m due to head off out this evening I’ll be calling it a night until tomorrow morning, where and when hopefully it will be nice weather again all day and I can then get on with the bits and pieces that I hope to achieve tomorrow which are:-

  • Sand down and apply second primer layer to the seat-box/stand.
  • Lightly sand down all the panels and the pedestal and apply the first coat of RAL 5017 (…exciting!)
  • Start work on the side-stick pedestal.

Fingers crossed the weather will be as good tomorrow 🙂


Very productive weekend… Priming, sanding and ECAM/Throttle/Engine panel

I had a very active weekend on my project this weekend, here is a quick summary of what I achieved this weekend:-

  • Primed my pedestal (that I constructed last weekend).
  • Primed my MIP frame and glare-shield casing.
  • Screwed and glued the glareshield housing together.
  • Confirmed that B&Q will mix RAL codes.
  • Designed and printed the upper centre panels for my pedestal (ECAM brightness, ECAM mode switches and LED indicators as well as Engine starter panel), mounted and soldered in all the electronics.

So a little more in-depth now then…

From my last post that I made about last weekend, I found some old emulsion paint (a creamy colour that I had previously used to decorate a room in my house) of which was surplus to requirements and perfect for priming my MDF pedestal, the reason for priming the MDF is two reasons really firstly to seal the MDF, as you may know MDF is terrible for absorbing moisture and after cutting and sanding my panels the MDF fibres are left very exposed by coating the MDF in emulsion you are sealing the MDF and will be less prone to swelling due to moisture etc. in the future the other reason is to provide a good surface to paint the final layer(s) on later 🙂

I also had a nice surprise yesterday when I came across my MIP stand components which I had previously cut out last year (I had completely forgotten I had done that :)) so on Saturday I gave my pedestal a good coat ensuring the outer/visible walls and all cut  edges had a good coat of emulsion, I left to dry overnight and then lightly sanded down with sandpaper to remove the brush strokes etc and generally give a smooth even feel and then applied a second coat and is now back in the shed… ready for next weekend along with my MIP frame of which I also primed!

The next step once all items have been primed, sanded, a second primer layer applied and sanded once more will then be to apply several layers of the final colour, as mentioned above B&Q have confirmed they can mix colours based on a RAL colour code which I am extremely happy to hear 🙂 – Weather permitting I’ll make a trip to B&Q this weekend to get the colour mixed for the pedestal and MIP frame – I have heard that prices for custom paint mix starts at £22.

Sorry to be working backward but on Saturday I concentrated on getting my upper pedestal panel complete (well started and complete) as I am using a customised Saitek Throttle I needed to incorporate that into a panel, currently the cheapest Airbus Throttle and Engine Starter panel is over £1,500 (well out of my price range when I have many more important things to sort out for now) so I decided to incorporate the ECAM panel, throttle and engine starter panel on a single panel but made to look as if it was three (photos to come). All the momentary switches, toggle switches, encoders and rotary switches are now mounted and spent many hours yesterday soldering LED’s, resistors and switches together…. all of which seem to be working OK but still need to do the final test if FSX later on.

The upper centre pedestal panels was designed by myself in Adobe Illustrator (a great vector design tool) and then printed off, laminated then then carefully cut out with a Stanley knife (I should probably use a Scalpel knife but I didn’t have one to hand) the holes for the switches and LED’s etc then marked the 3mm PVC foamex before drilling the holes…. the Foam-ex is semi ridged and gives the switches a sturdy   mounting plate. After that was ready and confirmed that the PVC holes lined up with the laminated panel holes I then used double sided tape to stick the laminated panel design to the PVC panel and then finally mounted all the switches and LED’s and the Saitek Custom Throttle.

All-in-all a VERY productive weekend… lets see what next weekend brings although on my ‘to-do’ list of which I hope to achieve is as follows:-

  • Get the side-stick stand out of the loft, get that finished – a whole needs cutting for my Logitech Attack3, sanded down, primed… ideally want to elevate the left side of the stick and provide a slanted look stick (using some precision cut and sanded MDF)
  • Apply the second coat of primer to the MIP frame panels.
  • Give a final sand to the pedestal now that it has had both of it’s primer layers applied.
  • Get some PVC Faux leather cloth ordered from eBay (during the week hopefully to have in time for the weekend)
  • Get the Airbus blue colour mixed by B&Q.
  • All going well and I do manage to get the Airbus blue paint from B&Q, I will then apply a total of three layers using a foam roller to the Pedestal and MIP stand… After leaving for a week to dry etc I will then aim to upholster the glare-shield top and pedestal rim using the Faux leather to complete the pedestal and glare-shield 🙂

Really good progress (in my opinion) so far, still loads more to do but I am looking forward to it and gives me stuff to do 🙂

A start on the new pedestal

Today I decided to make the most of the fair weather outside and make a start on my pedestal so I cut some MDF and started to join my pedestal base together using a mixture of grab adhesive and wood screws, I decided to build it in two separate parts to enable it to be easily split to make it smaller and easier to get through door-ways etc.

So at lunchtime I took a trip to Wickes and bought some extra 12mm MDF so the pedestal, once I got home, I cut the peices to size (based on the actual measurements from the A320) and then joined them together using batons, screws and grab adhesive.

To make things look cleaner and neater I then counter-sunk the screws into the MDF and filled over the screw holes with Grab Adhesive of which I will then fully sand down (ensuring a flush finish) next weekend  giving it a complete sand, dust down and then seal and prime the MDF using plain white emulsion paint (of which many people over at recommend)

Next weekend (weather permitting) I’ll hopefully complete the pedestal and have it ready for final painting (once I can get hold of the correct Airbus paint) and then will get hold of some faux leather for the top rim around the the pedestal

I’ll take some pictures next wekend before sanding down and priming etc…. sorry I ran out of time today!