Break time :-)

After seven months full time work on the Mk.IX Cockpit Simulator, we are taking a break this week. Be back at it next week to continue with the throttle quadrant.

Thought this would be a nice image to share in the meantime…

Pushing more buttons..

Buttons are on the schedule, and buttons we shall have!

Finished the starter and booster buttons which are mounted on the panel. These are 16mm pushbuttons as opposed to the port side pushbuttons, which are 22mm. The shape of the cover is is also different. Well, that completes all the covered (dual action) buttons!

Starter Buttons

Now work will commence on the engine control cluster.

Beauty in the little details

Modeling a historic aircraft cockpit one soon finds out that there is as much work in accurately recreating a small object as a large one. The three covered pushbuttons on the port side being a case in point. the original covers were beautifully crafted and we have been able to recreate these true to form. The functionality of these replicas is in fact more complex that the original. In order to inform the software that the switch cover has been opened, a second microswitch is clicked by the action of opening the cover.

The three pushbutton switches are shown below:Port Covered Pushbuttons

A rendition of the switch clusters on the port side:Spitfire Mk9 Sim Port Switches and buttons copy

Painting of 3D Printed Parts

Many of the control components are 3D printed in Nylon with Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). SLS uses a laser to shape and form extremely thin layers of powdered material by melting it together one-by-one to create a solid structure. The advantage of this process is that the excess unmelted powder acts as a support to the structure as it is being produced which allows for complex shapes to be made and no additional supports are required. This provides a lightweight, very tough product with a tensile strength of 48MPa.

Painting of the components is very easy, and the nylon accepts acrylic paints (and enamel, but they are less friendly to work with). The sintered nylon is absorbent due to its granular structure.

Below is a comparison with the Spade Grip having been spraypainted with Tamiya acrylic paint in semi-gloss black and flat aluminium.

After painting:

Spade grip painted
Painted Spade Grip

Before painting:

Spade 1

And a comparison with the model:

Spade Grip

The spade grip handle will be wrapped with leather.

Fuselage Construction

Cockpit Frame

The original Spitfire had a semi-monocoque construction, ie. it gained its strength from a combination of the shell and the rib frames and longerons. The construction was complex with many formers and jigs required to shape the various aluminium components.

Our construction exactly duplicates the shape and size of the original, and spans from Frame 7 through to a point halfway between Frame 12 and Frame 13. This allows the Malcolm Hood to slide back to its full extent. The dimensions allow construction in a single garage or small workshop (or your lounge of course ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

Fuselage Outline

Our fuselage construction has been greatly simplified and only requires gluing of the pre-cut plywood. The frames are hollow sandwiched plywood, the outer panels are 6mm and the inner fillers are a combination of standard thicknesses in order to duplicate the original.

 

Door

Today I thought I would share the design of the door. It had an important part to play, other than being an ingress and egress point. Note that the latch has two possible settings. In case of an emergency landing, the door would be opened slightly onto the second landing. This would block the canopy in an open position, very important if you had to get out in a hurry!

Door

Product and Supply Model

The current thinking is to make available the Spitfire Mk.IX Simulator Cockpit in the following formats:

Package 1:

  • Plans with water jet cutting patterns for plywood, aluminium sheet and mild steel plate.
  • Bend diagrams for plating.
  • Cutting details for standard extrusions.
  • Purchase electronics components and some of the more custom bits directly off our site.
  • Full assembly drawings and manual.
  • 3D Printing components purchased on our site and printed and distributed through Shapeways.

Package 2:

  • Fully assembled, on site, turn-key simulator, without motion simulation platform.

Package 3:

  • Fully assembled, on site, turn-key simulator including motion simulation platform.

Details on this and costing is planned to be available by the end of the year. Before the products become available we will be thoroughly testing and doing quality control on the packages. This will be done through building and testing the prototype.

We will also gauge the demand for an interface with say the Spade Grip to the Thrustmaster Warthog Joystick and make that available earlier. Such an arrangement would not have the full functionality of the TM joystick as the Spitfire grip only has gun control (safety, cannon, MG and both) and brakes.

Sim Build 2

Seat and support mechanism

There is a surprising degree of complexity in the design of ย the Spitfire seat support. It took nearly two weeks of work to devise an authentic mechanism that nevertheless will be simple to construct.

The seat itself is in plywood. The original had two versions, one made of aluminum and the other of a paper based composite. Our version is again simpler to construct but true to the latter style.

Seat Assembly

Canopy design completed

The Mk.IX canopy has been satisfactorily completed. The design differs from the early marks in that the bullet proof screen was moved inside the windscreen in order to reduce wind drag.

The sliding bubble hood mold has been designed to allow manufacture by vacuum forming.

The bullet proof glass is substituted by two layers of 2mm plexiglass with a wooden former in the shape of the original frame casting sandwiched in between.