Dashboard Overview

This is the first step to a small home cockpit. The dashboard in this stage is build on a plywood panel. The whole dashboard is built modular, hence parts may be exchanged or retrofitted in the future.

All instruments are "Steam Gauges", no glass cockpit, no GPS. Pure old school aviation with VOR/ILS capabilities. Panels and instruments are 3d-printed with either PLA (polylactic acid, a biodegradable plastic made from corn starch) or PETG (polyethylene terephtalate which can be recycled). The colours as planned are RAL 5018 Turquoise blue for the panels, RAL 9005 Jet black for the Gauges and knobs (Mixture is RAL 3003 Ruby red) and RAL 8011 Nut brown for the glare shield rim. The decals are laser printed on self adhesive 100g paper. The round gauge glasses are milled from 1mm acrylic sheet.

By now, the dashboard consist of 12 3D-printed panels. 

From left to right and top to bottom, these panels are:

  • Upper border panel left: Engine cluster with 50mm double pointer gauges
    • left and right  fuel gauge
    • EGT and FuelFlow gauge
    • Oil press and oil temp gauge
  • Lower border panel left: Engine/Prop RPM gauge
  • Upper inner panel left: Navigation gauges:
    • CDI1 (Course Deviation Indicator) including glideslope for VOR and ILS navigation connected to NAV radio 1.
    • CDI2 (Course Deviation Indicator) connected to NAV radio 2.
  • Lower inner panel left: Magneto key switch and battery/alternator switch
  • Upper middle panel:
    • 70mm (dial diameter) main aviation gauges:
      • Airspeed Indicator
      • Attitude Indicator
      • Altitude Indicator
      • Turn Coordinator
      • HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator)/Kompass
      • Vertical Speed Indicator (VSI)
  • Lower middle panel:
    • Yoke mount
  • Upper radio panel:
    • Com1/Com2, Nav1/Nav2 Radio with 4x20 character display, double encoder for frequency dial and pushbutton for station select.
  • Middle radio panel:
    • Autopilot panel with 4x20 character display, encoder to dial in altitude or rate of climb/rate of descent and LED illuminated pushbuttons for autopilot modes.
  • Lower radio panel:
    • Transponder with 2x16 character display, station select switch, encoder to dial transponder code. Encoder switch selects the transponder code digit.
    • Several switches.
  • Upper border panel right:
    • 50mm double pointer gauge for Flap and elevator trim position indication.
    • Flap switch - Push up or down for next position.
    • Elevator trim wheel
  • Lower border panel right:
    • Throttle and mixture levers (pull/push)

The image shows the current state (mid December 2021).

The instruments are connected to the flight simulator computer via Arduino microcontrollers (so far 4x Mega, 1x Micro, 1x Nano) with Mobiflight. The flight simulator for testing is FSX-SE, later MSFS 2020. The round gauges are illuminated with 12V-LED strips, brightness controlled via the Arduino Nano PWM and an H-bridge. The gauges use either stepper motors or servos or both. 

First Test Flight

December 31st I had the dashboard ready for a first test flight. I had to rework the heading indicator and the course deviation indicator bacause the servos tended to get stuck. Redesigned them with tighter tolerances and tidied up the 5V power supply for the servos and steppers. All systems worked fine during the first test flights. Below are some images. Next parts to design are the whiskey compass and glare shield cover.

First testflight of the dashboard with all instruments installed and labeled.
The right cluster with radios, flap/elevator trim controls and throttle/mixture levers.
The left cluster with engine gauges, NAV gauges, magneto switch and main battery/alternator switch.
Main gauge cluster in flight.