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  1. #1
    150+ Forum Groupie Cessna172sim's Avatar
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    Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    We are constructing a new CNC machine cutted backlighted plastic front panel for our avionics panel.

    First the clear plastic panel is cutted in CNC machine, then backpainted with a gray color. Then the front panel is painted with the final black coating.

    Once the black paint is dry and ready the panel is CNC cutted once again but this time only the letters are cutted.
    This way the backlight only lights the frontpanel texts and all other parts of the remains black.

    There is a special backlight plastic sheet that you can freely cut in any shape you want. Few pictures of the project:

    kuva1.jpg
    kuva2.jpg

    In the end all current front panel texts will be backlighted:
    http://www.lentosimulaattori.1g.fi/k...0/DSC00379.JPG

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  3. #2
    150+ Forum Groupie Cessna172sim's Avatar
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    Re: Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    Some progress here also:
    panel3.jpgpanel2.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images

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  5. #3
    300+ Forum Addict Tom_G_2010's Avatar
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    Re: Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    OP,

    Wow, looks very nice!!! What is the thickness of each later and the total thickness when assembled? Until I can save enough for hardware based avionics I am looking at doing an overlay on an LCD monitor. I'm curious if the back lighted panel might work.
    https://www.facebook.com/mycessnasim PC: Intel Core i7 Haswell @ 3.8GHz, 8Gb Ram, Win 7 64Bit, dual SSDs, GeFroce 780 SIM: FSX w/Aclrtn Pk, FSUIPC4, ASN, UTX, GEX, REX 4

  6. #4
    150+ Forum Groupie Cessna172sim's Avatar
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    Re: Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    The clear front panel that is first painted black, then CNC cutted (this makes the texts lighted) is only few millimeters thick. The revolutionary new invention for us is the LED 'film' that you can freely cut to the shape you like. This LED sheet don't make basically any extra thickness to the panel. It's very slim. The best part is that you can also dim the panel to your desired lightness level and only one power source is needed to light the whole backlight 'film'.

    If I would now start our project from the scratch I would definitely use LCD displays for gauges instead of servo gauges that are not so precise and needs to be calibrated pretty often (Simkits Altimeter).

    The easiest way would be Garmin G1000 style avionics. This CNC cutting and backlighting could be easily used for this kind of project also.

    Of course the final result and light leaking can only be seen when the current aluminum front panel for avionics is replaced with the new plastic backlighted version but at the moment in the test bench everything seems to be very promising.

  7. #5
    150+ Forum Groupie Atomic_Sheep's Avatar
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    Re: Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    Hi, this is fantastic! I have a few questions in relation to the LED material, are there various colours to chose from? And also where are these sold?

  8. #6
    150+ Forum Groupie Cessna172sim's Avatar
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    Re: Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    We bought ours from Ebay:
    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from...el+panel+sheet

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Green-EL-Pan...#ht_3677wt_907

    Our version is light green but there seems to be plenty of different colour options available.

    With a search word 'electroluminescent panel' or 'electroluminescent sheet' Google finds lots of different web-sites referring this subject.

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  10. #7
    300+ Forum Addict Tom_G_2010's Avatar
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    Re: Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    Quote Originally Posted by Vectro View Post
    . . . If I would now start our project from the scratch I would definitely use LCD displays for gauges instead of servo gauges that are not so precise and needs to be calibrated pretty often (Simkits Altimeter) . . .
    Based on yours and other feedback I had ruled out the Simkits hardware but was still looking into Flight Illusions. Either though are well out of my budget for far longer than I'm willing to wait to save the money so your words and experience are very encouraging.

    The LCD option is far more affordable but I'm not so sure about the G1000 although I haven't ruled it out.

    Thanks!
    Tom G.

    www.mycessnasim.info
    https://www.facebook.com/mycessnasim PC: Intel Core i7 Haswell @ 3.8GHz, 8Gb Ram, Win 7 64Bit, dual SSDs, GeFroce 780 SIM: FSX w/Aclrtn Pk, FSUIPC4, ASN, UTX, GEX, REX 4

  11. #8
    150+ Forum Groupie Cessna172sim's Avatar
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    Re: Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    For my taste G1000 might be even too sophisticated. I still prefer the good ol' 'steam' gauge sixpack.

    The challenge in this is that the control column goes through the gauge panel. Somehow the panel should be build from multiple smaller LCD gauge displays. Another option is to use LCD panel in only some parts of the main panel and the rest of the gauges could be servo driven. Flight Illusion seems extremely promising and I am thinking to replace Simkits altimeter that constantly goes out of calibration to Flight Illusion USB altimeter.

  12. #9
    300+ Forum Addict Tom_G_2010's Avatar
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    Re: Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    Quote Originally Posted by Vectro View Post
    For my taste G1000 might be even too sophisticated. I still prefer the good ol' 'steam' gauge sixpack. . . .
    I'm with you on that one. IF I go G1000 it would only be wiht he long term plan of going to servo driven steam gauges in the end. I'm sure when I go back to complete my private pilots license I'll end up getting some cross over training on G1000 but for many reasons analog is still my preference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vectro View Post
    . . . The challenge in this is that the control column goes through the gauge panel. Somehow the panel should be build from multiple smaller LCD gauge displays. Another option is to use LCD panel in only some parts of the main panel and the rest of the gauges could be servo driven. Flight Illusion seems extremely promising and I am thinking to replace Simkits altimeter that constantly goes out of calibration to Flight Illusion USB altimeter.
    Still something I'm pondering. I did find two sources for smaller monitors that other pit builders have used. With some carefull placement and going with slightly smaller than full scalre instruments I can cover the entire space around the yoke with three monitors.

    FreeWorld monitors from www.aliexpress.com come in sizes from 12.1" VGA monitors down to about 2"

    Another source is from a manufacturer called Lillyput and I found those at http://store.mp3car.com/Monitors_and...reens_s/21.htm

    Still more research to do, but headed in the LCD direction for sure.
    https://www.facebook.com/mycessnasim PC: Intel Core i7 Haswell @ 3.8GHz, 8Gb Ram, Win 7 64Bit, dual SSDs, GeFroce 780 SIM: FSX w/Aclrtn Pk, FSUIPC4, ASN, UTX, GEX, REX 4

  13. #10
    150+ Forum Groupie Cessna172sim's Avatar
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    Re: Backlighted avionics panel for GA cockpits

    Yep. Still waiting for that GA sim LCD screen where there is a hole for control column as default.
    Another option could be a flat panel where you could cut a hole yourself and it would still work.

    Actually I'm not sure have anybody ever tried this kind of method. By moving all unwanted components behind the actual screen and then cutting a hole to the panel could do the trick.

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