Further Design of a Flaps Gauge

This morning saw me arise with a spring in my step and rush down to the workshop to see my final prints for the new gauge. Things did not go well. The printer had failed in the night as the filament feed arm had cracked and stopped feeding the filament. Luckily, I had already ordered a dual gear system upgrade months ago, but never actually needed it due to the printer working flawlessly since I got it. Today's first job was fitting this rather beautiful red anodised piece of aluminium to the Ender 3 v2.

After that was installed, My Black GeeTech PLA would not print correctly. It was blistering and peeling all over. After trying it in both machines and it continuing to fail. I placed the last half roll in the bin. Got out a new roll of Amazon basics black PLA and boom we are off!

If you have ever looked at other peoples builds of any gauges, they normally utilise standoffs, multiple layers of perspex and a few gears. This indeed was how my old flaps gauge was constructed. It works, but lacks a certain something!

737DIYSIM's usual method of producing 737 gauges
737DIYSIM's usual method of producing 737 gauges

After contemplating the initial design, I realised this could solve several issues by 3D printing parts:

1) Setting the exact distance from the stepper to the gauge

2) Easy screw mounting for the Stepper. This allows for ease of maintenance

3) Enclosed area are to prevent light bleed

4) Fantastic LED placement giving almost perfect light diffusion

5) Working Needle lighting

6) A easy to produce bevel

7) The removal of the gear train

Below is the design for a single needle gauge. The dual needle gauge will be coming soon, I just need to get the dual controls and throttle completed. But as you can probably see I get distracted all the time when I get an idea I think might work.

The gauge back is printed and the 12v lighting strip is fitted around the circumference. It can be dimmed and the stepper motor mounts firmly to the back of the unit. I managed to buy 15 stepper motors and driver boards for just over 10 pounds (28BYJ-48). Super happy once I realised how well they work. I bought them ages ago, never actually thinking I would use them.

The new 737 gauge design using 3D printing and a stepper motor
The new 737 gauge design using 3D printing and a stepper motor

Now armed with testing complete, I wanted my old gauge removed from the cockpit to fit this new one. The problem being, I never actually thought about getting to the back of the MIP after fitting the 65" tvs. Another problem, for another day. I squeezed through the little gap and cut the wires to the servo.

I just wanted the Laser Etched faceplate from the unit, rather than use my 3D printed one. It was at this point I also realised I had a www.Cockpitsimparts.co.uk laser-etched faceplate. The only downside was the holes didn't line up for my cockpit. So out came fusion 360 and a quick redesign to align the mounting holes. Below is the first assembly and test print of the needle. The needle looks dirty because its translucent filament mixed with black PLA from the nozzle. Rubbish!

www.Cockpitsimparts.co.uk 737 Flaps gauge Decal with 3 printed parts
www.Cockpitsimparts.co.uk 737 Flaps gauge Decal with 3 printed parts

Next up was the needle design. It was constructed from 3 different colours of PLA. Clear, white and black.

This was printed using a 0.5mm nozzle and the parts clip together. The end of the needle is cut out to match the shape of the steeper motor shaft and is a tight push-fit on to the unit.

Here is the final result of the needle lighting:

Working 3d printed 737 Flaps gauge complete with backlighting
Working 3d printed 737 Flaps gauge complete with backlighting

The design works flawlessly, and I'm very happy with how neat the whole thing looks and performs. I can only see the design getting better for the remainder of the gauges. I can certainly now sit back, press a button and let the printer do all the hard work. Here are a few further design pics:

That's it for tonight, I need to get on and work on the dual control video!

Happy Building guys. I will release the design soon.


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