Drzewiecki Design Home
HISTORY OF BUILD
VERSION 1 |
VERSION 2 |
Drzewiecki Design Home Cockpit System
Construction start: October 2005
Construction finish: December 2007
Putting in a seat
End of construction
PHOTOS FROM CURRENT
STAGE OF CONSTRUCTION ARE AVAILABLE
I began the construction
two 16mm chipboards. The walls
were to be 160cm high,
what gave a big surface to arrange. On
the right wall I mounted one of the keyboards (RIGHT_KEY) and one of
the six USB HUB's. I needed to design and build an appropriate
because not only the cabin's small size but also the heat of the
computer were causing problems with air circulations an making
breathing inside the cabin very difficult. On the left wall a
ventilator for 220V is visible that supplies the air inside the
The next stage
entailed construction of the main panel.
was wondering how it should be done so
that it could be easily removed together with the yoke whenever I
needed to use the computer for writing or other things.
few ideas. The
first one and the simplest was to place hinges on the left side of
the panel, which would allow the entire
unit to be raised and fixed to the wall when the joke was unbolted
from the desk.
However this solution was not successful because of
the tremendous technical difficulties which it would create (such as
I came up with a
different idea. The whole main panel was to be installed on guides
and moved up together with the joke.
strengthening and a great accuracy in work, this idea seemed to be
possible. However it was abandoned because of the great weight of
the panel, which
besides the joke was to include another monitor (displaying various
gauges) and 4
GoFlight modules including the MCP Pro. The whole set was
difficult to lift and the idea of placing a motor on the cockpit
roof was rather unrealistic.
At this stage I realised that it was necessary to
postpone the construction of the main panel, and to take care of
of the most important elements was the throttle. It was built, using
typical home methods. I removed a potentiometer from my old joystick
(which miraculously was still in my garage) and I build the device
on its basis. I used a stick from a rolling-pin, which after some
bending fitted perfectly. I set the chip so that when throttle stick
was back the reverse thrust during landing was automatically on.
placed a bulb in a way that it illuminated the stick from the
inside. Four light
switches were installed on the front wall.
In order to
is going on
in various parts of the cockpit I've built a diagnostic panel,
consisting of three voltage meters (one made in 1946!). One of them
measures the current outlet voltage (230V), another the
circuit (7V), and the third one the voltage on the computer circuit
behind the power unit (7V). The panel is equipped with a clock and a
data computer containing basic information about various airports -
like frequencies, runways length, altitude etc.. It is highlighted
and has a touch screen (like in palmtop), which is helpful during
all element were painted and installed on the right wall of the
cockpit. On the throttle wall there is a board painted in a
different color, which in case of breakdown is easily removable.
This allows fast access to the internal parts. Similar access point
is installed on the diagnostic panel - it reads "High Voltage". The
board was cut in such a way so that one could have access to all the
cables and wires under the desk.
The carpet under the
cut out and replaced with gray plastic foil. I
bought an old Volkswagen seat through an internet auction, which
after renovation was tested (turned out
comfortable) and then placed
on a gray-painted platform. The platform was needed for two reasons:
first, the seat was extremely low. Second, it had metal guides,
which were to be attached to a flat surface. The whole unit was
assembled in a garage and then not so easily transported and
installed in the cockpit.
construction of the platform resulted in the next consequences.
There were no options to normally place the pedals.
There was a need for a strong
frame containing two columns that was to be placed in the cobweb of
wires and cables.
I placed the
pedals under a certain angle,
so the structure was even more realistic and comfortable to use. Of
course, they were also painted gray.
In the mid of 2006
NaturalPoint TrackIR 4 PRO. This device has completely changed
the visual flights. I described how it works and my opinion about
the product in one of the topic of the
Drzewiecki Design forum.
For a proper
functioning of TrackIR small metal reflecting plates were necessary.
I installed them on a headphone set, using a 2mm cardboard. Up and
down head movement would often produce errors due to the
interference of hair. The problem was solved when with application
of the coupler visible in the picture.
In the meantime I drastically modernized my computer
equipment, preparing myself to the arrival of a new simulator - FSX.
I bought a new Intel Pentium D 930 3GHZ (x2) processor and two
synchronized graphic cards, GF XFX6800, 256MB each.
After a short break related
to the lack of time I resumed my work on the project, thinking that
it was about time to build the main panel.
During my trip to China I made a purchase of 15"
monitor, which I built into the right part of the panel.
It was also
necessary to build an additional small shelf for the mouse
since the main shelf was already used for the screen. The monitor
was set in a frame (slightly wider than its thickness) and fixed
permanently with some supports to the right wall and the desk. Two
main monitors were connected to a single graphic card and the third
monitor to a separate one.
Now I had to think how to
transform the cockpit into a comfortable office desk. I came up with
an idea that only the mid section of the panel could be movable,
while the yoke could be withdrawn inside with a regular keyboard
replacing it. The mid section was put equipped with guides and
painted. Next, I built a hood connecting the two walls. On the right
side I made a hole for a planned
GoFlight panel and
NumPad, enabling communication with
ATC. The mid section was lit, providing light for the keyboard
when the yoke was hidden.
Later, I bought a
used joystick and removed all the potentiometers out of it, which I
used for building a new module for controlling spoilers (airbrakes),
fuel mixture, and the propeller. The module has two buttons, one of
which controls the TO/GA engine thrust, and another the parking
brakes. The buttons were made of keys removed from a slightly
damaged keyboard and were connected to an integrated circuit. A
little bulb was inserted inside the module. The handles were taken
from a CH yoke. The module was placed in front of a monitor by the
throttle on the mouse shelf.
The next stage
involved building a roof. In the roof I made three openings: a
larger extension of the door opening (for easier entrance and exit),
for cables and wires, and for a network card antenna. The 16mm
chipboard was attached with seven screws to the walls. This produced
some unique acoustic environment -the wood started to resonate and
the whole cockpit would vibrate at low sound. Despite the winter,
the temperature inside the cockpit significantly increased.
In the cabin, an unusual acoustics was felt - the wood begun to
resonate and whole cabin vibrated at low tones.
several-week break and a failed attempt to switch to a new
as well as after formatting hard disk, I faced a number of days,
during which I would have to install various programs and then
configure them. Due to huge hardware requirements of the FSX, I
concluded that buying new equipment as compared to what could be
achieved by some additional software on the old simulator wasn't an
investment worth of making. I decided to buy a few accessories,
which drastically improved the quality of the graphics on my FS2004
- Active Sky
FS Global 2008,
Ultimate Terrain USA and
Ultimate Terrain Europe including
Eastern Europe. Flying has become extremely realistic visually
In the beginning of March 2007 I decided to finally program and
finish the displays in the
glass cockpit. Just now I could make use of the third monitor,
Navigation Display with
weather radar (Active Sky), as well as additional speedometer and
altimeter (FreeFD). The frames of the displays were made from
cardboard and then painted black. The software was configured so
that when computer was turned on, the whole set of displays was
The next stage of
realization of the
project was the
front monitors, which meant that they had to
be wrapped in black cardboard, closing the gap between the monitors
and the panel. Many element needed to be heavily framed
their equalizing or supporting function..
A new ventilation duct for the pilot was added. All cables and wires
were bundled in preparation for a new
overhead panel. In addition, the entire cockpit was vacuumed and
At the end of April 2007 there
came the time (which I so much kept putting off) for building an
overhead panel. I began with making a special platform to be located
at the same level as the top borderline of the main monitor that
would be a framework for other elements of the panel as well as the
base for a vent of one of the ventilation ducts. I concluded that it
would be technically impossible to make it in one piece, so I
decided to divide the panel into four parts (plus one in the end).
The first part (with two GoFlight panels) is shown on the photos.
The third and fourth segments were comparatively easy
to make. The third one contained an illuminated keyboard, and the
fourth one a 230V light bulb
with a switch. The housing of the light was covered with aluminum
foil for better luminosity (a few year ago I found out that aluminum
foil is a good conductor of electricity - now I'm rather careful).
The second segment
was the most difficult to make -
currently equipped with a main power switch for the whole cockpit, a
switch for all systems of the overhead panel (I couldn't use
ventilation for some time due to its lack), 3 ventilation switches,
5 cockpit light switches, 2 starters, and a GoFlight panel. Under
the roof an additional keyboard needed to be installed for
controlling the starters. When the segment was ready, it was first
tested and then
turned around stuck to the ceiling of the cabin.
elements were also connected and after a several-week-long
of all the needed elements the panel
could be treated as finished. Three
ventilation systems were finally working (5 fans, which
normalized the temperature inside the cabin.
I could finally remove the awful halogen lamp, which was used for
illuminating the inside - it was replaced with the top light from
the overhead panel as well as a special 12V electric installation,
illuminating all strategic elements of the cockpit.
Due to the tight
enclosure of the monitors, I moved TrackIR 4 PRO to the first
segment of the overhead (between the GoFlight panels), which
significantly improved the accuracy of the device. The next stage
included various tests and an initial tuning of the systems. I may
add that all the switches were easily available, e.g. at Internet
auctions, so was the lit keyboard (half price). The overhead was the
last of the most complex elements of the cockpit.
In the mid of
2007, after a little longer break than originally expected, we
finally managed to fully configure the cockpit equipment. The MCP
panel had never worked properly since the time we ordered it from
GoFlight. Two successive panels were sent back to the manufacturer.
Only the third one, which I received 6 months after the original
order, met all the requirements. Its proper installation however
caused some changes to be implemented in half of the remaining
equipment, which in consequence resulted in a partial disassembling
of the right wall of the cockpit. After successful installation of
all the elements, the cockpit became fully functional for the first
Since I started more online flights
over the Vatsim network and these flights require a constant
presence of maps, I designed a special shelf for maps, which I
attached to the left wall of the cockpit. There is an open space
over the shelf and the shelf itself can be used as an arm support,
which improves comfort for the pilot manually handling the control
wheel. The framework was made of 2-3mm cardboard.
A few months
lapsed and in the mid December 2007 I could finally say that the
front part of the cockpit, which starts form the entrance door, was
completed. I have modified and painted the ceiling by the Overhead
panel. The floor has been changed and the right wall by the throttle
is finished and sealed. In addition, I have fixed the seat platform
down to the floor, because it used to have a tendency to move around
all over the place. It is also the time for testing the new versions
of alpha VasFMC 2.0 and preparation for the World Flight 2008.
The next stage
involved painting the whole interior of the cockpit as well as
covering the frame so that no elements, such as supports and wiring,
are no longer visible. I also took care about the wires near the
The last element
of the design was a fragment of the roof near the cockpit door. The
part was connected to a printer so that all printouts could go
directly into the cockpit. This allows all printed materials to be
received in the cockpit without opening the main door. The paper is
delivered through a small slot in the Overhead panel. The roof was
carefully fitted to the door and sealed. During the daytime the
interior of the cockpit is pitch black
after the door is closed.