Builder of Month - February 2006
MyCockpit Featured Builder
Gwyn Perrett Boeing 737
IFSBI: Would you care to first give us a brief introduction about Gwyn Perrett?
Gwyn: My interest in aircraft started about the age of 5, 40 years ago when my uncle introduced me to his control line models. I started building plastc kit planes, moving on though my teens to various control line and radio controlled models. I started simming using FS4 and was hooked immediately, upgrading with each new release. In 1999 I was inspired to commence flight training at YPJT, which happens to be Australia's busiest airport, about 5km from my home. The FS experience made learning to fly a breeze and I did my first solo at 7.2hrs. I now have a restricted licence, (GFPT), with endorsements for C150, C172 & Eagle 150. I really enjoy aerobatics in the C150 Aerobat, The C172 is a comfortable joyrider and the Eagle is quite powerful and a bit of a handfull, especially when it's windy. It's easy to pretend it's a little fighter with centre stick, side throttle and the bubble canopy. I don't fly for real that regularly anymore as I prefer to spend on the sim. I am a mechanical engineering tradesman with so making andmachining parts is what I do for a living. What you see in my pictures has cost me about US $500 so far.
IFSBI: Where is your sim located, town, country, wife's spare bedroom?
Gwyn: I live in Perth, Western Australia, (hence - "Westozy"), with my wife and three kids. I'm building my sim in a small storeroom, it is only 2 meters square so that is a big challenge in itself! It will eventually be moved into my home studio when it nears completion. The small build area has made it necessary to make my sim in component pieces. It can be dismantled to fit through a doorway in 10 minutes. I plan to use multipin plugs to attach the major components when it comes to wiring time. I always designed my sim with portability in mind as I and intend to display it, perhaps even catch an order. I've already had an offer to purchase it on completion, but it won't be for sale for a while!
IFSBI: What made you choose this airframe?
Gwyn: I have never had a favorite "brand" as I believe powered flight is mankind's greatest mechanical achievement, and all aircraft are amazing creations. I have been a long time user of PMDG Boeing 737-800NG and therefore chose this program as my base. I hope to run my sim on one PC and keep it as simple as possible. It would have been easier to go Airbus with the simplicity of joysticks etc, but I enjoyed the challenge of creating dual yokes and I am really pleased with the outcome, it works very smoothly as intended, and will be easy to interface. I hope to have my sim flying within the next two years, but I'm not in any hurry and I'm sure it will never stop! I have 8 year old boy/girl twins and my son Alex is very keen on progress, he is a very good simmer for his age and quite competent in the Cessna. My sim should be "kidproof" and easily portable on completion.
IFSBI: When did you first start your project?
Gwyn: I started building my throttle quad about October 2004. About 180 hours of work later, I was using it on the desktop PC after dismantling a microsoft sidewinder for the interface. I only had one throttle pot for both engines at the time, but the flaps, speedbrake and reverse thrust all worked very well. I've been building reasonably constantly doing about 8 hours a fortnight.
My flap lever travels through exactly 120 degrees rotating a pair of 24 teeth sprockets which individually trigger microswitches 8 times to give the correct amount of F6/F7 commands depending on direction the lever is moved. I think that getting this to work and repeat accurately has been the toughest design job so far, it was a joy to see it work when I'd ironed out all the bugs. I eventually removed the sidewinder parts when I fitted the quad to my framework, I will need to dismantle a multi engine joystick for the interface later on. I figured making the throttle quad would be the hardest part so I started this piece first.
IFSBI: What parts are you using for your panels? Are they purchased, made yourself, or real aircraft parts?
Gwyn: I use photos from the net and PMDG screenshots to create my designs. I design and draw everything with the accent on practicality and ease of manufacture. My parts are not strictly photoreal Boeing, but if the drawings I make are correct, I know the parts will work. It's what I do for a living. Occasionally, improvements and mistakes happen during the building, but I try my best to avoid lost time doing rework. I don't really want to use any real aircraft parts because the challenge of creating replica parts to me is a big part of the hobby, plus the cash flow is always a problem! I have built my sim to work reliably and to be tough enough to hopefully survive any novice who sits in it. I have always had in mind the end product looking similar to an arcade car racing game. I am using 6mm PVC sheeting called "Trovidur" for the main components. It easy to machine with a router and doesn't need painting. I made the MIP in a day, it's obviously not finished yet but I'm pleased with the result so far. The PVC is expensive so I always take extra care machining it as mistakes can be costly. I doubled the thickness of the PVC where the monitors sit to achieve the correct chamfer depth.
IFSBI: You have a very interesting set of rudder pedals and there control. Could you explain a little about your design?
Gwyn: The rudder design came to me looking at a go-cart's steering set up. It is simple, quiet, and self centres really well. I have to admit that my rudder hinges aren't the best and I will be reworking them soon. The pivot points are too low and there isn't enough spring tension on the tilt braking movement. It's an easy fix but I'm concentrating on the radio box and centre console at the moment. The pedals are made from the same PVC and are plastic welded. I might replace them with aluminium units later on as I've just made a successful press jig for folding aluminium.
IFSBI: Where there any special problems that you came across while building the cockpit?
Gwyn: Yes, the PC technical side still to come. I can make parts but I don't know how to do phidgets, multiple monitor set ups and all that stuff, I joined IFSBI to share it's valuable resources and gain help from like minded people to help me finish it off my sim later on. IFSBI rocks!
IFSBI: Does your family support you in this project?
Gwyn: My wife was a bit worried when I started bringing home steel frames and car seats, but now the sim is starting to look like something, she is more accepting and occasionally shows it off to her friends and visitors. She is studying to be a speech pathologist so we are on one income for another two years so I'm not spending much on the sim just pocket money. In a couple of years I will buy the new PC, projector and sound system all at once to finish it off.
IFSBI: Do you have a web site where you post your project?
Gwyn: I only have pics at IFSBI at the moment but would like to build a website soon but I don't have skills in that area. Something I do intend to explore. I am really pleased that I have found people at IFSBI willing to help with the PC side of things and am pleased to share my mechanical skills to anyone who has the need..
IFSBI: Are there any other Hobbies or interest that you are also involved in?
Gwyn: I am a musician with a passion for Pink Floyd and I'm currently playing keyboards and 12 string guitar in a Pink Floyd tribute band called "PULSE". I am into sound recording and editing and have created three CDs for paying customers to date. I build small furniture pieces for my daughter's dolls so she appreciates her dad's workskills, "My daddy's a fixer", she says. I like playing playstation with my boy, Ace Combat 4 is a pretty good sim and he's getting quicker in the car racing. I'm always encouraging him to become a pilot to pay off his parent's bills!
IFSBI: Is there anything, during the build, you can recommend to prepare our readers for when building a project?
Gwyn: Take plenty of time to design and draw, success is all in the planning. Look for useful parts to use on your travels, scrounge parts to keep the costs down. Eg. my yoke columns are 2" PVC pipe with a tee glued on one end and one side of the tee is cut away. About $5 each column. the yoke handles are all made from PVC pipe and elbows, (already hollow for wiring), cost about $15 each to make. Prepare to part with quite a bit of cash as the things you can't make are expensive, eg. projector, monitors, software, switches, globeholders, etc. See problems as challenges, not problems. When you're stuck for an idea, move on to a different part of the project until the solution comes to you. Don't believe it will be finished one day, It's your hobby remember! Take your time and do it right the first time to avoid rework.