Thursday, December 31, 2009

Spring-loaded Engraving Tool

Over the past couple of days, in our continuing quest to improve our products and methods of manufacture, we designed and built this Spring-Loaded Engraving Tool, which helps to counteract any inconsistencies in the levels of the material to be engraved.

As a measure of scale, the engraver cutting tool has a diameter of 6mm.

So far it seems to be working very well ... !

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wiring the overhead

Several components have recently been added to the overhead and for the next month or so work will be concentrated primarily on wiring more of it up. It's been operational enough to perform engine start-ups for a while now but the time has come to make it a more functional component of the simulator.

Below is an early picture of the overhead, just after the panels had been made:

And here is what it looks like more recently:

Since this photo was taken, all of the buttons and annunciators have been correctly placed and any and all spaces have now had their appropriate fittings made. The annunciators will all be backlit with their correct colours and each button will have their bracket attached, ready for wiring. Before this is done though, we're currently in the process of colouring each 'flow' area of the overhead in the appropriate shades of green or blue. This morning was spent developing the right technique to do this accurately and was very time-consuming, even on just a small section, but now that a method has been successful the rest should be much quicker.

Here's a closer view of one of the panels:

And here are the gauges that've been fitted:

Note: The graphics on the last temperature gauge are actually properly positioned and readable - the angle at which the photo was taken is just deceiving.

Also manufactured have been several varieties of 'switch gates' that prevent switches from being activated accidentally, a couple of which are pictured below (the second one with the gate open):

Included in the wiring schedule over the next few weeks will hopefully be a fair amount of backlighting work too.

An updated video of the overhead in operation will be uploaded once this work has been completed as well.
We actually took a multi-angled video of the simulator in operation a couple of weeks ago, although the day after we did this I purchased a third LCD screen for the flight instruments and decided to wait and upload a version that was free of the annoying CRT flicker ... only we then had placement problems with all of the on-screen panels. This has now been remedied by utilising the Flight1 ATR software, which looks great.

But now the overhead is in pieces!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Making the Fire Handles

Just in case my ATR72 simulator has an engine fire, I thought it'd be a good idea to finish off the Engine Fire panels on the overhead ...

I machined the base section of the handle from some 8mm thick clear acrylic which I then painted with a couple of light coats of red paint. The upper section of the handle is actually made from two 3mm thick red transluscent acrylic, and then I engraved the lettering into the top layer, which my son 'in-filled' with white paint. It turned out great, and I am very pleased with it.

The engraving on the brown panel was done in a different manner, so that it can be back-lit. The panel is made from white (opal) acrylic, and then the surface and edges were painted with brown paint. When the paint had dried and hardened up after a few days, I then engraved the lettering into the suface. This is done to the depth of 0.2mm, which of course goes through the paint and into the white acrylic underneath. Now, when I put white LEDs or small 'grain of wheat' lamps on the back, the light shines through the lettering creating the back-lighting.

Ultimately there will be some high-intensity red LEDs fitted inside the handle, which will light up the whole handle whenever there is an engine fire. The shaft is a short length of 1/4" brass rod. Yes, I will bore a hole down its centre for the LED wires when I fit them!!!