I made no changes whatsoever to the ejection seat design before I had them cut. I just emailed the same file I had bought from Flim off to the CNC shop and a week later I picked up the parts.
Glueing and screwing the parts together was the same as the side consoles, easy.
As soon as I got the seat put together, I realised I wanted to make some changes.
This is the seat in its original form. As soon as i sat on it, I realised the hard wooden base and straight seat back was just not tenable. Real seats need a solid base to minimise back injuries during an ejection,but my gaming chair where I would be spending hours at a time... not so much.
Another view of the seat in its original form, with primer applied. I had the seat cut out of plywood instead of MDF to make it stronger (for obvious reasons). This required more filling , sanding and paint to give it a realistic smooth metal look. The only thing I've added to the design here is the pieces of 2x4 Timber on the inside front to strengthen the corners.
It was about this time i started researching the ACES 2 ejection seat. I wanted the seat to be comfortable, but i wanted it to look like the real deal. A lot of my research came from the viperpits forums, and the free plans there known as brendas seat plans. Those plans are fantastic, measured from a real ACES 2. However a word of warning, the ACES-II seat in an F16 is drastically different to the ACES-II in an A-10C. The seat pan and back are at a different angle, the F16 is known to be an almost laying down position. You will not fit an F-16 ACES-II into an A-10C cockpit!
After looking at lots of photos of the real thing, I decided the first step would be to bolster the seat back so it was not so flat. I did this with strips of timber, roughly cut into a curve and then sanded into shape with a belt sander. It did not have to be perfect because it would be always hidden behind seat cushions, but I wanted it to feel right.
This photo shows how I bolstered the seat back. I cut strips of wood to a rough curve by hand, then sanded them down before gluing them in place on the seat back.
This is the end result after LOTS of filling and sanding. I used car body filler paste to smooth the whole thing out, and also filled all the holes in the seat back at the same time. It is not 100% realistic, but definatley better than a solid flat wooden back.
The wooden base was another issue altogether. Iwanted it to be comfortable, but look like a realistic ACES-II at a glance. At the time I was moving house, and by chance I was throwing away a very old couch and ottoman. I hacked up the ottoman to see how it was made, and removed the elastic straps that supported the cusion on top of it. Those elastic straps made their way into my new comfortable seat base.
Here is a photo of the top of the ottoman I cut up to see how it was made. You can see it is just a simple timber frame, with a lattice of elastic strapping, then a foam cusion material goes on top which was enclosed in fabric. This exact design, and the same straps, made its way into my seat base.
Here is the same design in the seat. I made a simple frame made out of timber the exact size to fit onto the seat. this frame is not glued and is removeable. The elastic strap was then stapled on to it, just like in the ottoman. MUCH more compfortable than a hard wooden base.
I then added a 2 inch think peice of high density foam on top of the timber frame and elastic, and held it all together by wrapping it in piece of grey material on like a cusion. The fabric is actually a just a cheap grey t-shirt cut up.
I wanted it the same colour as the seat, because the entire thing would be covered over by a realistic looking green ACES-II seat cusion. It still looks the part, but much more comfortable! You can also see ive added wood on the front of the seat to give it a more reaalistic looking shape. Its not perfect but when the real cushions are on it looks the part.
The next part i wanted to change was the headrest assembly. The original plans had a solid flat piece of MDF, and it was originally my intention to keep it in place and try to build it up to look more realistic, similar to what I did to boltser up the seat back.
That plan changed and I later decided to cut the whole thing off and remake it.
The original design of the headrest. After looking at lots of photos of the real thing i realised that there was no way I could get the shape and angles correct without removing it altogether.
So i cut it off altogether and went back to the drawing board.
Before reattaching the headrest i decided to use the opportunity to start on the parachute container. I dont have any plans for this, i just made up the dimensions and angles by bolting together bits of 16mm MDF on the fly in my garage comparing it to photos of the real thing.
Once i was happy with the general shape of the parachute container i started on the headrest. I lasercut a piece of MDF, that included correct cutouts so i could have some belt rollers installed.
I then tried using timber to build it up, with the intent to carve the wood into the correct shape.
Here is the first version i tried making by shaping pieces of wood. I wasnt happy with this, so again i cut the whole thing of and started it again.
Here is my second go at shaping the headrest. I cut out a cardboard template by hand to try and get the angles and dimesnions right. Once i was happy I measured up the template, and cut the parts i needed from 3mm MDF before gluing it all together.
Here are the cut 3mm MDF parts about to be glued in place.
Headrest glues together, gaps filled and sanded ready for paint.
This shows the final version of the headrest after paint. The rear of it is not very tidy, but is always hidden by the parachute container anyway.
Coming from the Obutto Ozone, which is just a normal car seat on a regular car seat manual sliding rail, I already knew the benifts of having the seat be easily able to slide back and forth. This helps with allowing people of all size in, and when you have a fixed centre mount stick it prevents frequest testical injuries when getting in and out.
I originally planned to take the seat rail from the Obutto Ozone and use that, but instead sold it rather than hack it up. I looked online for manual seat rails, before i decided to go to a local car wreckers and find one myself.
I ended up finding an electric seat rail from the passenger side front seat of a Ford BA Falcon sedan, which cost me $80 AUD. It is adjustable 3 ways, forward/back, front tilt up/down, rear end tilt up/down.
The seat rail simply attached to the wood base of the seat with bolts, and as it runs on 12V i didnt even need another power supply for it- it hooks up to a 12V rail in the cockpits existing power supply.
The adjust for tilt is fantastic, and i usually have it tilted back slightly almost F-16 style for comfort when I am flying.
I also factored in the height of the seat rail when i raised the cockpit up, so the seating position in not too high based on the side consoles and MIP.
The seat rails are from a BA Ford Falcon. Three motors for 3 directions of movement. I had to use a grinder to cut some of the mounting points off where it would normally be bolted to the car floor, which was not a flat surface. Once those mounts were removed and the bottom was flat i used existing holes to mount it to the plywood floor.
I mocked up the placement before deciding how much height to add to the consoles and MIP to take into account the rails and motors.
It bolted to the bottom of the seat without any problems using the existing mounts where it would normally bolt to the car seat. i just drilled four holes into the seat bottom and it fit right on. I hadn't designed or measured it- I love it when things just fit!
Seat in position showing the tilt function. You can see how the front of the seat is raised in reference to the floor.
Seat front lowered and fully rearward. This allows easy access. The stick is mounted to the seat here- but later would go directly to the floor.
The Ejection Seat Handles are the original design, with a few additions I made. The Handles and Mechanism remain untouched, the only thing I did was route a channel to mount a micro switch and cable in order to get them working in the game.
I laser cut some MDF to give the handles some depth and look a little more realistic.
The wooden Arming lever that came in the plans was thrown away and i replaced it with one i laser cut from acrylic.
Here is the side of the seat before being glued together. You can see the original Arming lever in place that was not used. This is also a good view of the holes cut in the side panels that are actually raised sections on the real thing- i covered these with laser cut MDF later on.
Here is the Ejection Handle layout, in the closed position with the side cover off. The only thing i changed on the seat was the cutout for the micro switch that is activated when it is pulled, and a channel for the cable to go from the microswitch to inside the seat. You can see the laser cut MDF I glued to the sides of the plywood handle to add some detail.
Here is the Ejection Handle pulled. You can see how pulling it hits the microswitch which send the command to the game.
Here is the left hand side handle. This one i cut more material out of the seat to allow for the Arming lever. It is cut from layers of Acrylic, and you can see how it pivots. There is an RC car shock absorber to hold it in either the open or closed position with a nice solid clunk. I used the same design principle on the Landing Gear Lever.
Arming Lever armed. You can see how the handle hits the small microswitch which sends the command to the game. You can also see the markings for where I was going to route a channel for the Ejection Handle switch and cabling, similar to the photos above.
When I was designing the newer headrest, I added on some realsitic looking belt rollers.
These are actually functional, and there is room inside the seat so later on down the track if i find some suitable belts i can add a normal car belt retractor and have them retract realistically.
I found a small item at a Hardware store that i cannablised to get the rollers out, then designed and laser cut a suitable holder out of 3mm MDF. This was then bolted together and bolts into the seat behind the headrest.
I found this thing at a Hardware store for about 3 bucks. Its designed to be pushed under furniture to make it easy to move
Here it the underneath of the thing. I pulled the rollers out, which were almost dimensionally identical to the rollers in the real seat!
This is the assembly i cut out of MDF to hold the rollers in place. This then bolts behind the hole in the seat.
The finished rollers. Looks pretty realistic for some wood and scavanged wheels!
The original ACES-II plans do not come with the parts to make a parachute container.
I think Flims seat may be designed to have a real parachute container slide straight on, but I have not confirmed this as I've never seen a real one, nor seen anyone use these seat plans with a real one.
There are plans and measurements over on Viperpits.com to make a realistic one, however rather than use those super accurate complicated designs i decided to make it on my own based on photographs alone.
I wasn't chasing super accuracy for it, as the seat already had lots of artistic licence used in it, plus I didn't want to have to pay for my CNC shop to cut me more parts.
So I decided to make it from some scrap MDF that I had laying around the garage. Unfortunatley i have no plans to share for it, I didnt make any I just winged it by eye.
Here is the basic layout of the parachute container. Made of 16mm thick MDF, cut to rough shapes then glued together. Its heavy, and is not actually attached to the seat anywhere it just rests in place.
Another view of the container. The white bit of detail on the front is laser cut acrylic.
Here it is just before paint. The ACES-II in the A-10C never got the retractable pitot head and oxygen bottle upgrades like the F-16 (yet), but mine has anyway. I did this because I wanted to use the decals for the pitot retrofit kit that I got in the F-16 decal set (details below), and I just think it looks cooler.
The retractable pitot heads extended. They just rest in the lower position normally. None of it is actually spring loaded, its all just aluminum tubing and wire made to look like springs.
Pitot heads retracted in their lower position.
All the details is just layers of 3mm Acrylic i designed of photos of the real thing. The parachute material on the sides and top have not been made yet, but they will be in the future.
Once the seat was built up I added a few things to make it look more realistic.
If I've missed anything ill add it here later!
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