Designing and building the lower panel of the cockpit was definitively not a weekend project, not to mention the software development and digging around within the Simconnect library for the associated FSX variables and events. Therefore it took a little bit more time to complete the entire panel, but once it works with all the switches, LEDs, levers and knobs the job is done, because there is no reason for significant maintenance, at least up to now.
The complete panel is divided into three single ones, as there are:
- The left panel holds numerous switches for electrical, icing and light functions. It also includes the two magneto step switches and the gear lever, including the associated LEDs.
- The mid panel shows the two fuel level gauges, the engine alternator load and bus voltage indicators. In contrary to the original FSX design, I added two additional gauges, showing the outside temperature and pressure. Because the intention is to close the cockpit by a cabin, there is also a need for fresh air, when two persons are flying, because in some flight situations it can become really hot and musty. Therefore three dedicated outlet nozzles are completing the mid panel. The strength of the fan can be adjusted by the switches on the left panel. Whether I ever realise the AC switch with the associated cooling, is written in the stars.
- The right panel is a mingle-mangle of the standard FSX switches, like the brake and flaps switches. In addition there are two potentiometers to allow to dim all the illuminations of the entire cockpit during dawn-dusk and night flights. Beside the two switches and a push button for performing fuel-filling procedures, this panel also includes a very important control element, which allows to switch the control of the aircraft from the pilot to the co-pilot and vice versa. This includes the switching of the controls of the yoke for aileron and elevator, as well as the pedals for the rudder and the brakes.
The covers of the three panels are made out of white rigid FOREX foam plates with a thickness of 2 mm, which finally were sprayed with black dull paint. The self-adhesive labels are printed on a laser printer and placed to the correct position. However, these labels are not the first choice, because one can still see the borders of the label, where they were cut by the scissors, although I treated these borders with a black marker before gluing them onto the covers. Next time I should look for a better solution.
The cabling of all the panel elements is another issue. If you do not plan and implement that correctly, you end up in a mess if something does not work as intended. But with patience such mistakes can be avoided.
On the next three pages, the more detailed design of the three panels is presented.