Hello Sim Building Crew!
It has been weeks since the last blog post and that has solely been down to work commitments. Seriously, this job has been amazing and normally pretty easy. The faults are normally box changes and the faults very apparent. Due to the age of our old girls (x3 Bell 212 HP helicopters), they are starting to have wiring faults and plug breakdowns on systems that are complex and the information is limited and dated. This is causing me to rewire complete sections and replace entire connectors which we are now finding can be obsolete. Nothing scares an aviation engineer more than seeing aged Kapton wiring hidden in the deepest darkest recesses of an aircraft (Google: Kapton wiring fire). Our parts department must hate me, over the last two weeks I have placed 22 orders for parts, with over half being obsolete or require parts to be specially made.
Normally we would steal from one aircraft to service the other two (canabilisation). This year, this hasn't been an option, due to an aircraft change. One of our aircraft has returned back to the UK for a complete rebuild and the replacement is a different spec with non-interchangle parts. Add in the lack of flights due to the pandemic and you get me, one stressed little avionics engineer running around like a headless chicken. Trying to make miracles happen out of thin air... Sometimes it happens, but moreover, I hang my head in shame when I tell the boss we need to order another part. This doesn't come more apparent when logistics tell us each of the three parts I want to order for the autopilot system are $38,000 each. A deep and meaningful conversation develops about my absolute certainty we need these parts over cost. Of course, we can change each part separately and confirm the fact, but with each part taking around 3 to 4 weeks to get here, thats a 3-month turnaround to get the aircraft back in the air. No pressure then.......lol.
That's work and you are not here for that, but that's where I am right now. The crews and I even spend our off crew time at work trying to find solutions and get the job done. When I do have a moment, now the sim is now flyable....well it was. All I want to do is go flying looking at the scenery. But when Dan Tye came along, it really highlighted a few major areas that needed to be fixed.
1) The APU EGT gauge doesn't work
2) The Flaps Guage was servo-driven and sucked.
3) The Captains Efis had various buttons that had corroded so bad they had failed.
4) The MCP is not backlit
5) There's only one FMC that is SOIC driven and fails to work every time I shut the sim down
6) The seat that has the J rail System really needs a locking device
I started with the EFIS unit, the first unit I created was designed for a CNC machine. But one of the many problems is drilling through the rotary switches. Go too fast and you catch the spring and end up ripping it out. Making the rotary switch useless. This weekend, I used my pillar drill to create 4 drilled rotary switches. The problem is, I also wasted 4! I needed a better solution that everyone can create at home with a push of a button. Hence the 3d Printed Efis was born. This unit is also fully compatible with the faceplates supplied from www.cockpitsimparts.co.uk which I cannot recommend enough. However, due to there fast-growing popularity, I believe there is a little wait for your orders. I will include the original 3d printed faceplate which can also be backlit if printed in white, sprayed grey and the text sanded. It's not going to look as good, but it will work!
As I was filming the build yesterday, I created the parts with 20% infill, although this was strong enough for the parts during the build, I was let down when I tried to screw the knobs onto the 3d printed shafts, which promptly detached from the unit. This led to a filming stop for 24hrs, while the printers went on a printing binge to produce the more solid new parts.
As I was waiting for the EFIS to print, and reprint. I also started to design the 3d printed gauge with stepper motors. These are an absolute winner! That is until you come to the dual needle. The stepper motors are not strong enough to overcome the friction of the 3d printed parts. So I now must come up with another solution.
I have also started to create a fully 3d printable FMC. This currently is my biggest success this weekend with parts coming out that I can sit back and say, "Guys build this, they are awesome.
Take Care Guys!