Time for a re-scoping exercise

It’s been all quiet on The Project for several weeks now, hence the lack of updates. Basically, what happened was that when I started the project, I moved a lot of stuff out of the build room into my lounge – with the promise that I’d sort it out, throw away a bunch of junk, and then put the rest back once the shell build part of Phase 1 was done. I then was faced with a situation where I had to clear the lounge out at short notice (for re-painting) and so pretty much of all it went back in to the build room, putting a stop to the build.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been sorting stuff out a bit at a time, and last week I had AnyJunk.co.uk pop around and take away a van-load of useless rubbish accumulated over the years. I’m now in the process of fully clearing out the build room so that there will be only the sim and the tools and materials to build it in the room. This should be finished this week.

While I was on pause, I had a good long think. Spending time on mycockpit.org (which you really ought to visit, BTW), I had a look at what other builders were doing. I cogitated. I considered. I came to the conclusion that I had gotten a fair few things wrong with the build so far, and that I wanted to go back to the drawing board in some areas.

Also during this time, I decided not to move out of my current home – which I had been planning on doing for a while – and to stay for another year at least. This means that I can do some of the work from beyond Phase 1 that I had originally planned to put off until I could move somewhere else.

First of all, I’m going to build an enclosure. There’s just about enough room in the sim room to let me do this and still keep my ‘office’ stuff in there too. It will be business-jet size rather than, say, 737 size, as a concession to the available room. The enclosure will include a full base, dedicated seats – time to go hunting on ebay for car seats, I guess – and an overhead panel, which I didn’t previously have room for.

Second, I’m going to scratch-build a yoke rather than using the mechanical parts of the CH yoke that I have. I will still use the electronics from the CH yoke, though. This will allow me to fabricate a proper linked dual-yoke system.

Third, the computer hardware for the sim will come out of the MIP and into a dedicated rack outside the enclosure. This will give me much more room inside the console.

Fourth, I will rebuild the glareshield assembly – with which I have never been happy – and make some modifications and extensions to the pedestal. I’ve recently been inspired by the Boeing 787 cockpit and am going to take some touches from there.

Lastly, I’m going to consider – it’s not a done deal – building a 2-axis CNC machine so that I can engrave panels rather than printing them as is currently planned.

The change to an enclosure is going to raise the question of the visual display system earlier than I had planned. The original intent was to use a large LCD screen sitting on top of the console, but an enclosed sim changes things. At the moment I’m vacillating between the idea of having multiple LCD panels sized to fit (or just overlap) each window, which will require that I design the enclosure with that in mind, and using a projected system. The problem with projectors is that I don’ t have anywhere near enough room to do a traditional front or rear-projection system. Instead, I’d have to look at rear-projecting onto screens placed just outside the windows using a mirror assembly to cater for the lack of available throw length. This is definitely doable but will take a fair bit of experimenting to perfect. I’m probably going to buy a dirt-cheap portable projector to play with until I get the principle right.

All of this will extend the project by quite a while. I anticipate it’ll be a year before I’m anywhere near complete. I should have something I can begin to test-fly within 3 months, though, which – after 11 months – will be a relief.

So there you have it. It’s an ambitious set of goals, but I am inspired by the work of people like Ian Sissons and Ken Brand, and of course the master of the craft, Matthew Sheils, and I know it can be done.

Normal blogging should resume this weekend. See you there!