*All links below are provided just to show you what I'm on about. I'm not endorsing the sellers or anything- be sure to shop around and you will likely find them cheaper elsewhere.
The benefit of having a good initial design that was accurately CNC cut, is that the parts all fit almost perfectly. This means that bolting it all together was pretty basic.
A few things rules I lived by when I put mine together:
Here it is slotted together after I had just picked it up. No glue or screws, it is only held together using the slots and tabs I added to the original design in CorelDraw.
This is how I built up the gauges in the centre of the Main Instrument Panel. It is not an exact replica of an A-10C, but it gets the job done. The middle one is cut from 12mm thick MDF, the other two are 6mm thick MDF. They all get glued together before being bolted to the Main Instrument Panel.
Here is where I started gluing and bolting it all together. You can see how i have used countersunk screws on the front, which were later covered with filler, sanded and smoothed before being painted over. I used normal screws on the rear as they are not seen and I liked the industrial look.
Here is the floor and lower pedestal as per the original design. I made some drastic changes here later on down the track, but the floor panel here is the same one that is in my cockpit today.
Trial fitting the monitor. This is why i settled on these plans, i wanted to use a tingle 27 inch monitor to cover all the front gauges. You can see how i added a length of aluminium profile behind the monitor to strengthen it up a bit, and give me something to attach cables.
Trial fitting all the panels
These are the brackets I made up to fit the Thrustmaster Cougar MFD's. I could have made a change in the front panel design so these would bolt straight on, but i knew early on that i planned to make my own A-10C MFD's later on so these were only temporary.
One of the drawbacks of using a large LCD is that it covers the entire rear od the front panel, so you can't then bolt switches through it as they will foul on the monitor. Here you can see the spacer I added to the AHCP so the switches would fit. It's not realistic, but it gets the job done.
Version one of my fire handles. I was still designing the pull mechanism so they are just jammed in the glare shield for this photo.
Here you can see the centre console stack all glued together. This then bolts to the front of the MIP to give the centre gauges some realistic depth. I designed this myself - the original plans have a flat front panel.
Front of the Main Instrument Panel
Here is the front conole about to be painted. You can see I've added a piece of 2x4 timber along the bottom of where the monitor sits to give it some strength, as it had a lot of wobble in it when the monitor and rear cover were not bolted on.
Looking down on the glareshield. I hand drilled the holes to mount the fire handle mechanisms, only because i had not even thought about them before I had the cockpit CNC cut. You can also see how I have extended the front of the glareshield to give it a more realistic lip- this was done by hand after i realsied i had missed that in the design.
Eveything being painted.
Paint complete on the MIP. Details on the paint I used are here. You can see the brackets used to adjust and hold the monitor in place hanging loose on the inside.
Green pain on the inside just for shits and giggles. I had originally planned to have the outside of the consoles with no skin to give it a 'pulled apart aircraft' sort of look, hence why I wanted an aircraft interior green colour (even though the A-10C is grey inside...). I later binned this idea and covered everything up anyway.
Monitor fitted. I later removed the monitor from its plastic casing to get it a few millimeters closer to the gauge bezels. Who need a warranty anyway...
Front console painted and panels mounted.
Front console painted and panels mounted.
Here is the cockpit partially complete and flying. I was using a single projector in the corner of my garage, with only the MIP, the AHCP and LG panel working, pushed up to my Obutto Ozone. I flew like this for a few months whilst the rest of the cockpit was still being built.
This is the left side console glued and screwed together. I made no changes whatsoever to the plans on the side consoles- I just emailed them off and had them cut. What you see here is what you get with the original plans.
Left console trial fitting the Thrustmaster Warthog Throttle, which slots right in. I later ended up adding some 6mm thick MDF under the forward mounting bolts on the trottle to raise it up and angle it a bit more.
Trial fitting all the panels. You can see the black ones are the old panels I had made for me, pulled straight out of the Obutto Consoles. All the white ones are new and not even painted yet. You can also see a custom one that I was planning, directly behind the throttle, which was going to be all the F1 keys. I later deleted this idea and added them to the bottom of the CDU keypad.
Both consoles screwed and glues together. The left one is easier to assemble because it doesnt have the cutout for the throttle.
Both side consoles in place. No seat yet- still rocking parts of the Obutto. The only part left of that today is the cup holder!
Both side consoles in place.
Side consoles after they had been skinned. I used 3mm thick MDF sheet and just glued and screwed it in place. You can see all the screws were countersunk and have been filled and sanded smooth.
Both consoles skinned.
Starting to look like a jet now!
One of the things I do wish I had changed in the design before I had them cut was the ribs visible on the inside of the consoles. You can see how they almost touch the panels, and when the original design of the inner cover goes on they are flush with the edges of the panels, which is unrealistic.
Here is the original design for the inner cover on the side consoles highlighted in green. The cover is one large piece and would be flush up against the side of the panels when they were installed.
I sliced that cover into parts so it would fit in between the ribs. I wrapped it in the material I found in a local sewing store, which was the closest looking thing I could find to the stuff in the real jet- it just needs to be dyed grey.
You can see how the cover is now inset so the ribs are exposed. Not realistic, but its a design compromise so now I could mount the canopy disengage lever on the outside edge of the Environment panel. I am likley going to cut those ribs out in the future.
Thats about it for building the structure itself. Building the structure of the cockpit was probably the easiest part of this whole process, and if you are handly with a drill driver and glue you should have no problems making it yourself.
I did make some design changes myslef along the way, but all are completely optional and i only did them to improve realsim and because i could.
This is the easy part- its the the electronics and wiring for the panels that is not!
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