Right Switch Panel
The right panel consists of the following elements:
- The flaps switch with the associated LEDs
- The park brake push / pull switch
- Two turn knobs for the illumination of all panels and the gauges
- A combination of two switches and a push button to perform fuel filling procedures
- A flight control switch to give the aircraft control either to the pilot or to the co-pilot
Yes, it's right that the black covers of the turn knobs are still missing, but as I already said, the simulator is still in development.
The flaps switch is a commercial three state one for the positions UP, APR and DOWN. The knob has been designed in CAD and was 3D printed. It is placed on the short lever of the switch and fastened with a grub screw.
The three LEDs give information on the actual position and movement of the flaps. As long as they are in movement, the 'IN TRANSITION' LED lights up. Only when the flaps have reached the final position, then the associated position LED lights up. When the flaps are in position 'UP', then none of the LEDs is on.
The park brake is a dedicated design, which is shown in the right pictures. It consists of several 3D printed parts, an aluminium axis and a small snap switch. The brown ring and the yellow flexible fixation lever ensures, that the park brake is fixed in the pulled position. The green knob is painted black and a silver plate is glued onto the round push / pull knob. The design looks very simple, but it took some hours to realise this idea. In particular the yellow flexible fixation lever has almost made me crazy, because the part is so small and when printing it, it can not cool down fast enough and the part looked really terrible afterwards. The trick is to print simultaneously four parts, although I only needed one of them. This however increases the printing time, but the final result looked perfect.
Panel and Gauge Light Dim Turn Knobs
With the exception of the four mid lower panel gauges, all gauges have integrated warm white LEDs to illuminate them during dawn-dusk and night flights. In addition, there are dedicated LED light bars to illuminate the main panel, the co-pilot panel, the lower panel and the two small pedestal panels.
To dim the light intensity of the gauges and the panels, the two turn knobs are realised by potentiometers, driven by 5V DC power. The center taps of the potentiometers are fed to the analogue inputs of the controllers, which measure the applied voltage. Based on this measurement, the controller calculates the necessary parameters to generate the pulse width modulation (PWM) for driving the LEDs. The power for driving all the LEDs is mostly provided by integrated current drivers of type ULN2803. To ensure, that the light intensity of the LEDs is proportional to the turn angle of the knob, the PWM parameter calculation is based on the Weber-Fechner law, which is basically an exponential function.
Let's assume the following: You are standing at the ramp and prepare your flight. Of course, you need to fill the fuel tanks with the amount, you calculated for your flight. This however can only be accomplished by terminating the flight and call the setting menu, where you can define the amount of fuel for each tank. Then you have to re-start the simulator, where you can proceed with your flight preparations. From my point of view not the most realistic way to do such a procedure.
I therefore implemented two switches and a push button, which allows to do the following:
- Select the tank you want to fill, either the right or left one
- Then push the fuel fill button, which increases the fuel level for this tank by 25% of its capacity (24 gallon)
- Each time you push the button, it will be increased by additional 25%, until you reach the 100% level
You can perform this procedure separately for each tank, by setting either the left of the right fuel fill switch to ON. This is the typical procedure, when you are standing at the gas station of the airport.
But this is not the end of the story. When standing at a gate, you can also call the fuel truck to fill both tanks to their maximum level. This procedure can be initiated by setting both fuel fill switches to ON and then pressing the push button. It takes a while, but then you will see the fuel truck coming and you see the fuel level indicators rising. Needless to say, these procedures can only be performed when the aircraft is on ground and the motors are off and the master battery switch is in the ON state.
It shall also be noted, that there is no associated FSX event available. Setting the fuel tank level can only be done by directly setting the 'FUEL TANK LEFT MAIN LEVEL' and 'FUEL TANK RIGHT MAIN LEVEL' variables to the required values.
The last, but most important switch of this panel is the red flight control switch. This switch 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 detailed implementation is already described on the pages for the yoke and the pedals.
A small green LED above the LCD display of the yoke indicates, who has control of the aircraft, either the pilot or the co-pilot.