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  1. #1
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    Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    Hi Folks,

    Just wondering if anyone has tried this.

    In order to mount my A320 overhead (and for general cockpit realism) I have come to the conclusion that I need a proper frame to make a realistic shell. I went hunting at all the usual sim specialist shops before coming to the conclusion that prefabricated frames were just too expensive for me.

    I then had a notion to build my own and turned my head towards T-slot extruded aluminium profile, but even that was going to be a huge cost that I couldn't justify.

    From there I thought of cheaper solutions with Timber or MDF, but decided that I wouldn't get the structural strength I needed.

    I was watching an episode of Grand Designs and was intrigued to see people building houses with GluLam beams (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glued_laminated_timber). This seems to offer great structural integrity and allows for complex shapes to be built up.

    I began designing in Sketchup and have been able to produce a set of drawings that will enable me to make a frame made from 9mm MDF slices. I can use these to make 36mm GluLam structural elements (4 slices per element). All up, I think I can produce something similar to Vier Im Pott's light aluminium frame from around 8 1200x900mm sheets of 9mm MDF - which will be around $160AUD.

    I have also produced a 1/3 scale version of the plans which I will laser cut first to see if my drawings are correct and will post back here with pics when I have a chance to try.

    In the meantime, before I do all the cutting of the 9mm sheets - I would be grateful if anyone had any insights as to whether it is worthwhile to even try this, or if anyone has done anything similar.

    As usual, I will post the files to the library when I am sure it works

    H

  2. #2
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    Re: Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    Hi
    Mdf is perfect for the whole shell. I have made my shell from 50x50mm timber with the inside skinned with 3mm mdf
    I screwed it all together as its easier to correct mistakes and dismantle.As soon as you fix the 3mm mdf to the timber frame it becomes strong and rigid not to mention cheap. You only really need to get the inside looking good as the frame can be hidden.
    Regards
    Geoff

    Quote Originally Posted by Hypnorm View Post
    Hi Folks,

    Just wondering if anyone has tried this.

    In order to mount my A320 overhead (and for general cockpit realism) I have come to the conclusion that I need a proper frame to make a realistic shell. I went hunting at all the usual sim specialist shops before coming to the conclusion that prefabricated frames were just too expensive for me.

    I then had a notion to build my own and turned my head towards T-slot extruded aluminium profile, but even that was going to be a huge cost that I couldn't justify.

    From there I thought of cheaper solutions with Timber or MDF, but decided that I wouldn't get the structural strength I needed.

    I was watching an episode of Grand Designs and was intrigued to see people building houses with GluLam beams (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glued_laminated_timber). This seems to offer great structural integrity and allows for complex shapes to be built up.

    I began designing in Sketchup and have been able to produce a set of drawings that will enable me to make a frame made from 9mm MDF slices. I can use these to make 36mm GluLam structural elements (4 slices per element). All up, I think I can produce something similar to Vier Im Pott's light aluminium frame from around 8 1200x900mm sheets of 9mm MDF - which will be around $160AUD.

    I have also produced a 1/3 scale version of the plans which I will laser cut first to see if my drawings are correct and will post back here with pics when I have a chance to try.

    In the meantime, before I do all the cutting of the 9mm sheets - I would be grateful if anyone had any insights as to whether it is worthwhile to even try this, or if anyone has done anything similar.

    As usual, I will post the files to the library when I am sure it works

    H

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  4. #3
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    Re: Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    I'll be interested in your progress H, always looking for an interior liner solution!

    Regards.
    Soarbywire - Airbus Flight Simulation and Engineering | Jeehell FMGS - Free professional A320 avionics software for the cockpit enthusiast.


  5. #4
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    Re: Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    Thanks for that Geoff

    Do you have any pics? I'd love to see what you've done.

    Cheers,

    H

    Edit for spelling

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    Re: Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    Hi
    if you look at my profile pictures on this website youcan see some of the structure of my shell. I think my profile is public try this link.
    The reason I used 3mm mdf is because you can bend it around the frame because a cockpit shell is not all flat surfaces. Smiply painted in white ceiling emulsion at the moment to seal the mdf.


    http://www.mycockpit.org/forums/album.php?albumid=301
    regards
    geoff

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    Re: Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    Beautiful work! Congrats.

    On a related subject, has anyone ever used MDF to create a glareshield? How would you get it to bend?

    Regards,

    Steve

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    Re: Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Eisenberg View Post
    Beautiful work! Congrats.

    On a related subject, has anyone ever used MDF to create a glareshield? How would you get it to bend?

    Regards,

    Steve
    Hi Steve
    Don't know which glare shield you refer to but a 767 is flat over the mcp then angles down at each side so no bend.
    You can bend any timber by making a series of cuts say 15mm apart and 2/3 of the thickness on the inside of the bend then once it is fixed in position fill and sand over the cuts then paint. Another alternative is what's called bendy ply and even bendy mdf from diy suppliers. Search on internet. You can also bend perspex (acrylic sheet) by warming it carefully with a heat gun and simply applying pressure. Say for example make a jig or clamp then heat and bend and hold till cooldown. Don't put heat too close as surface willl bubble
    Regards
    Geoff

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    Re: Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    Thanks. Appreciate the advice. Have bent wood using the methods described but have no experience with MDF. I do not fly the big iron. Probably should have said that. I fly GA complex singles and twins.

    Look forward to seeing your project progress. Mine is not as ambitious but I am upgrading to a fully functional replica of a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit and will post some pics and my impressions once it gets here and is set up.

    Thanks again.

    Best,

    Steve

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    Re: Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    Ok .... so phase 1 has been a success The 1/3 scale model I made out of 3mm MDF slots together beautifully and seems robust and rugged. I haven't glued the laminar elements together - only using a couple of bolts on each to hold it in place. I think when it is glued and put together it will be easily strong enough. I can always add bracing if I need to. The next step is to cut the 9mm MDF panels to build the full-scale frame. I will start that this week, but it will require 8 or 9 1200 x 900 sheets to get all the parts!! I also have to fix my numbering system to something more methodical and I'll write up some instructions. Once it's all done, I'll upload the drawings.

    Cheers,

    H





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  13. #10
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    Re: Making a cockpit frame with MDF

    That is svery cool Hypnorm! - I'll shortly be starting to build a cockpit shell for my A320 project and your method looks great I too was was considering using MDF (cost friendly).

    I'd love to download and use your measurements once you've uploaded!

    Great work and thanks for sharing!

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