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  1. #1
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    Neil Hewitt's Avatar
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    Generic shell build - very early days

    Hi all.

    I've been lurking for a few months, but have held back from posting much about my own project, mainly because it was on hold for a while and then recently went through a Great Reset. My plan has always been to build a fairly generic pit that is somewhere between a light jet and a small glass-cockpit fly-by-wire airliner. Basically something that can be used for various purposes rather than a faithful, button-by-button build of a real aircraft. I figure that's an easy road in for the less experienced builder.

    Originally I was building a floorstanding MIP/console and pedestal combo only, with a view to making that the core of a full enclosure when I moved house (I'm currently renting in London). I got quite a way forward with that - just up to the panel-building stage - but then decided for various reasons that I wouldn't be moving this year or probably next, and so I took a deep breath and decided to go for the full monty. However, as I'm building in a first floor bedroom overall weight was an issue and I decided that my big, solid MDF constructions were just too big and heavy to stay, with all the new added weight. So, sobbing as I did it, I took those apart and disposed of the MDF, and began again.

    I'm now in the early days of building a shell. In keeping with my lightweight theme, I am building mostly of light pine baton and interior plywood. I decided from the get-go that this would be an interior-only shell, for want of a better term; that is, that I'm not going to try to make the exterior look like a real aircraft exterior. It's what's inside that counts

    I settled on a structure that relies primarily on two a-frames made of thick pine and some supporting posts at the front, with the remaining required stiffness imparted by the lateral strength of the plywood boards. This reduces the weight of the whole thing compared to the framing techniques some people are using - notably Ron Rollo's Learjet shell, or the wooden B737 shells I'm seeing. It makes the exterior very angular and not particularly curvy, but again it's the inside that counts.

    Anyway, for better or worse I thought I'd post a couple of pics of the build. Right now the only really recognisable part is the window framing. It's very early days, lots of construction to do and then lots and lots of detail work to do before I even get into the electronics and computers, and at the current work rate I don't expect to get into the interior much before the holiday season

    (Lots more boring detail for anyone interested in the project history at my project blog, http://milehighgeek.wordpress.com.)

    This is the base, freshly built:



    Then after the erection of the a-frames:



    I removed the supporting front post you can see in the previous picture when I built the window frames (which is, BTW, by far the hardest part of this build so far - working out the compound angles was an absolute you-know-what!), and added the three supporting posts under the frame.



    Finally, the (early) pilot's eye view...



    Be gentle with me

    NH

  2. Thanks skino thanked for this post
  3. #2
    10+ Posting Member Rob-PA7RM's Avatar
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    Re: Generic shell build - very early days

    Whooo. My compliments. Looking good. !!!
    Flightsim news @

  4. #3
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    Neil Hewitt's Avatar
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    Re: Generic shell build - very early days

    Thanks, Rob (/blushes).

    Got a small amount done over the weekend - mostly I just enjoyed the weather - but you can see where the overhead panel and interior cladding goes above the window frames now:

    frame_3.jpg

    It's hard work in this heat, though... think I need a portable aircon unit in the build room.

    NH

  5. #4
    10+ Posting Member Rob-PA7RM's Avatar
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    Re: Generic shell build - very early days

    Good luck with it. I'm following your weblog now. (rss feed)

    Rob
    Flightsim news @

  6. #5
    300+ Forum Addict skino's Avatar
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    Re: Generic shell build - very early days

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob-PA7RM View Post
    Good luck with it. I'm following your weblog now. (rss feed)

    Rob
    Me too Great Work!

  7. #6
    500+ This must be a daytime job Nick1150's Avatar
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    Re: Generic shell build - very early days

    Keep on posting

    Great job !!!

  8. #7
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    Neil Hewitt's Avatar
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    Re: Generic shell build - very early days

    Got a bit more work done this weekend. While the pace is going much slower than I had hoped - especially compared to some of the builds I'm following here at the moment (Clive's 737 and the Tony Hill Spitfire projects in particular - enormous respect for both of those and many others), I'm slowly getting somewhere.

    Today I spent cladding part of the interior, putting in a ceiling and sides in 6mm ply. Lots of finishing to do, as with all other elements of the build - the finishing is probably half the work, truth be told - but I'm starting to see a meaningful shape emerging. I spent some time agonising over whether to put in an extra pair of side windows for a proper 180 degree FOV, but decided that it's just not practical at the moment. The framing has been done in such a way that if I felt so disposed I could put extra windows in later on.

    The cladded area is where the flight engineer's station would go on an older plane. I'm thinking about putting a simulator ops station there. For now it's just a fairly blank plywood wall. Couple of representative pics follow...

    007.jpg006.jpg008.jpg013.jpg011.jpg

    Starting work on the footwells and MIP frame soon, hopefully. Though next weekend I'm off to Farnborough to get an up-close look at the 787, the A380, and the A440/M.

    NH

  9. #8
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    Re: Generic shell build - very early days

    Thought I'd update this thread. I'm annoyed by how little visual progress I've made in the time since my last post in July... but actually there's a fair bit of re-working been done. And I now have the sim enclosed on 3 sides, which is some progress

    I've reached the point where I have to tackle the whole MIP assembly, and planning for this is giving me nightmares. I can't seem to get any clear vision on it. Might have to go back to SketchUp and see if I can model the thing out.

    The other thing bothering me is that, having worked out where the seating positions will be, I'm probably going to have no more than 120 degrees FOV. I need a further set of side windows, but with the room size available to me I can't afford them - I'm going to have to use mirrored projection as it is. I guess it's better than nothing...

    Anyway, here's the obligatory set of photos

    dscf0090-e1281717847925.jpgDSCF0099_700x525.jpgdscf0084.jpgDSCF0097_700x525.jpg

    I really need to get my finger out and speed up this build, though. First flight by Christmas or else

  10. #9
    Warren fsaviator's Avatar
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    Re: Generic shell build - very early days

    I feel your pain Neil. That was what stumped me initially. I ended up wasting a few months before I finally reevaluated what was important and got back to work.

    Trying to cram the correct visuals into to little space is a nightmare. I've settled on the fact that my visuals will be adequate to fly the sim, and enjoy the scenery, but far from perfect. Maybe one day I'll tackle the mirrored projection.

    Remember, the key is to keep flying, so that after each stage in the process, you are rewarded with something else that adds to the realism.

    Cheers!

    Warren

  11. #10
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    Re: Generic shell build - very early days

    Thanks, Warren. I'm certainly guilty of going back over the same trail several times - I've restarted the whole project twice - but I'm getting there, albeit slowly.

    What I never seem to have enough of is time; or more precisely, the right combination of time to do stuff and the energy to do it too. Too often I promise myself I'll work the whole weekend, then find I just can't motivate myself because I've had a really long week at work and all I seem to want to do is vegetate. In this phase of the build where I'm using power tools and knocking and banging, I can't really go on beyond 6pm - I have neighbours that I want to keep reasonably happy - so I can really only work at weekends or holidays. When your hobby starts feeling like work, you know you probably need to get a fresh perspective.

    I'm thinking about giving myself a little extra motivation by going along here: http://www.ipilotlondon.com/

    It's an outfit that has a 737ng sim (I think it's all off-the-shelf from FlyEngravity or someone similar) set up in a major shopping centre. Frankly it's costly for what it is, but I think it could be the stimulus I need to get back to work Short of booking a corporate day at one of the real simulator centres (which I keep putting a line in my budget for, and the beancounters keep cutting it) it's the closest I'll get in the short term.

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