Tutorial Presented By Member Gwyn Perrett (Westozy)
Greetings fellow cockpit builders!
A few of our members who own CNC machines have asked me to describe the process of how I have been creating my backlighting panels. Rather than repeating myself, I thought I would put a short tutorial together. First of all, I must state that I have only had the CNC machine a short time and I am still learning how to drive the beasty myself! Having said that, I think getting your head around a CNC machine and the software is not that difficult and great results can be achieved relatively quickly. My only regret is that I didn’t buy one of these toys years ago! They are a must for any hobbyist I think!
When I think of the labour time that went into the first A320TQ I built and how many parts the CNC could have cut out for me now – sigh! In November 09, I commenced building the A340TQ for a customer before I had received the CNC but I finished it with many CNC cut parts. It makes it so much easier and components are so much more accurate. I have gone back over the A340TQ and drawn all the components I had already made in AutoCAD so the next A340 TQ should be a lot quicker to produce. Before anyone asks, I’m afraid I won’t be sharing the files I produce for building simulator components, a business must have some trade secrets or there will be no business! I can only describe the processes that I have found work for me. They may not be the most efficient methods but as I mentioned before, and I am still quite new to the CNC machine!
Fig. 1 – My CNC set up
I like to use the router for cutting out pieces but I find that engraving is better using the Dremel tool as shown in figure 1, it’s much quieter too. My machine has a workable area of 350mm x 220mm so it can quite easily handle any panel or throttle quadrant part.
Hardware - Do I mention a CNC machine here or is that too obvious? I think you will really need one of those! A vertical bandsaw, table saw or jigsaw to cut out the raw materials required. A 3mm endmill and a 3mm 25 degree 0.5mm tip engraving tool. The material I use is 4.5mm thick Opal Acrylic sheeting, a 2.4m x 1.2m sheet cost