The yoke has to serve two primary functions:
- to control the elevator and the aileron
- to issue commands from the yoke buttons and switches and to serve the central LCD display of the yoke
The first idea was to use commercial ones, which definitively shortens the time to completion of the cockpit. However, if you look at the market, you quickly come to the conclusion that all the yokes offered do not fit into the cockpit, because the housing of the mechanical part of the yoke is by far too large and does not fit behind the main panel, where the six-pack instruments are located. This means we have to backpedal and build our own one. No, I have to say our own two, because we need two of them, one for the pilot and one for the co-pilot.
In such a case a quick look into commercial web platforms is very helpful, because I could buy two used and identical yokes of a very well known company (the name begins with 'Sai' and ends with 'tek'). Because they were very cheap, I did not shy away from completely disassembling them and throwing the totally inadequate mechanical part into the trash can. I also did not shy away from simply sawing the internal steel pipe with a saw to finally only have the plastic horn in my hand. I only had to be careful not to saw through the hundred of cables lying inside of the steel pipe.
So I only used the plastic horn and the included switches, push buttons and cables. I also threw away the LCD display because I wanted to present my own dedicated information here. I would have thrown the LCD display anyway in the garbage, because it is controlled by the internal USB connected controller, and nobody knows, which information is flown between this controller and the LCD display. In any way, the LCD display was already in the trash can.
Then I completely disassembled the plastic horn and sanded it with pleasure and sprayed it with a beige paint that is almost identical with the one from the virtual beech baron cockpit. The final result is very impressive and I am already looking forward to flying with it.
The next hurdle was the mechanical part of the yoke, which is not as easy as I thought at the beginning. I then looked around at some high-end yokes on the net, which offer a reasonable mechanism. The most promising mechanical design I could find was the one from the company cirrus. By chance, there was also a video on youtube, which shows in detail the mechanical construction and the operation of the yoke. The centrepiece is a rubber band, which builds up the right moment and force for the aileron and elevator function, because the tension springs used with cheap toy yokes are just crap.
From then on it was not difficult to build up the mechanical and electrical part of the yoke, because most of them I printed again on the 3D printer, only the housing for the mechanical parts is made out of plywood, some pieces of white rigid FOREX foam and a plexiglas cover plate.