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Overhead

The Overhead is one of the cockpit sections to build, that took the longest, waiting a whole month (as in the T’s & C’s), for the panels to arrive from my good friend Manolo at Hispanels.


They all arrived neatly packed and protected in a box, so the first thing to do is lay the out on the floor to check them out!


Hadn’t even washed them off at this stage, so exited at the thought of being able to put together the overhead, blissfully unaware of the hard work I have in front of me at this stage....!


All looks good so far, so now we need to build a frame to mount it all on.

I had already downloaded a JPEG of the overhead and printed it in 1 to 1 size and laid it out on a frame I had made earlier:


Strangely enough I had made the frame to exactly the right size also, so no need to re-engineer one to fit.


Now I need to start experimenting with the LED light boxes and it soon became apparent that the cost to buy each Enunciator LED bulb holder would be prohibitive, bearing in mind my budget, just after paying for all the panels.


So I set out to make some of my own out of Balsa wood and that little ingenious contraption the Hot Glue Gun, fantastic for sticking Balsa together and not having to wait 20 minutes for it to set.


So we see on the left I am making one of the “Multiple” box sets to put the LED’s into.

This is done by drilling two small holes in the back plate of the Balsa, so I could mount the LED, with a touch of Hot Glue to stop it from moving, as shown below

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So I can start to locate each panel section in the now painted frame, also making “Bus bars” to drop the 12 volt current down to match the LED’s working specifications.


I achieved this by making small “Matrix Board” modules with resistors and terminal blocks to use for each different “Module” as it was constructed.


Bizarrely, different colour LED’s need different resistors to make them work correctly, hence the two different size resistors you can see in this picture:

Now we can start to place the finished “Modules” in to the frame and test them for lighting and effect:

I bought some knobs from “Megastore” painted them up to use for the rotary switches and also some of the white switch covers and inserts for the “Toggle” ones.


Painting the switches was easy enough, however placing the black stripe on the knob took some thinking to do, eventually I saw on Ian Sissons site he had used very thin “Go Faster Stripe” from a car accessories shop, next stop Halfords...!!

The Overhead is almost finished, well the lights, switches and knobs you see it hear with a mains (240 volt), light bulb behind it to show the backlight effect, but how am I going to back-light it?

Surely I am not having to make an LED pod for each section to light up the wording?


Brain-wave....why not light it up from behind with a mains bulb......?

So this little baby is born, I made an exact copy of the Overhead frame shape and boxed it in, glued a sheet of kitchen foil to the lid and fitted a small grille at the lower end and a PC fan at the upper end for cooling, the system is driven by a 240 volt “Dimmer” and the rotary switch is fitted to the overhead panel as you can see above.


The outside of the box looks like this, it all marries up with the lower frame when fitted, so no light escapes.

The bulbs are just Halogen ones fitted in a ceramic holder (Maplins).

Well now we come to the complicated bit we need to interface as much as we can to the PMDG programme itself, as many of you will know, that’s the most difficult bit to do, not even PM was able to do this when I was putting this together.


But I didn’t just want it to look pretty!

I mentioned earlier in this web site that I used small electro-mechanical timers to simulate the time delay between moving the gear lever down and the gear “Warning lights” operating, why not use the same with some of the overhead enunciators?


The APU on-line lights are just a matter of “time” after the APU Gen switch is thrown and so forth.........


So I used this little baby (from Rapid), to achieve my goal, it comes as a kit, when completed it has a programmable chip which as the literature suggests can be programmed 14 different ways.


Essentially; timed to close when a switch is on or off broken or wait for a time then switch...... Just the job!

Next on the agenda is interfacing the “switches” to make things happen in the programme, it is much easier now, thanks to Peter Dowson’s FSUIPC, he has included macro’s into his interface programme that can be assigned to switches on an overhead, through (I am using) Leonid Bodnar’s BU0836X Joystick Controllers.


It wasn’t so simple then, I am talking 3 years ago......


I had to use “Key to mouse” along with another programme and hardware to move my mouse to an open screen of my overhead and click the switches to make them work at the same time as the physical switches in the overhead.


So here’s the finished product, mounted in the cockpit and ready to roll, note the cockpit is only a frame at this stage.


No front screen and or side views yet..............


Made some BIG changes since this lot, Have added a rear overhead, and fully integrated ALL of the enunciators with ProSim 737, everything works as it should do, I can’t praise this programme too much, what a Bobby Dazzler!


Photo’s below show Overhead as it is now and all lit up and working like a treat!