Howto:Build your own Panel or Cockpit - Gauges, Instruments, Radios and Controls

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More content to follow, but for now:

from Guy Carpenter in Australia:

Gaugette - Building gauges and gadgets with Arduinos, Raspberry Pis and Switec stepper motors

Each item has a number of different parts. You'll need to become familiar with a few types of electronic devices and construction methods in order to make items in your cockpit look like the real thing. Here's a list of the low level components you'll find inside a typical simulator.

To get started, I planned to do a quick prototype for each of the devices listed below. You'll find more detailed information on this in Prototyping

Device Uses Strategy
Seven, Fourteen or 16 Segment Numeric and Alphabetic Displays Display of
  • Radio Frequencies in Nav/Comm Radios
  • Time, Distance and Frequency in DME equipment
  • Various Status Indications in an Autopilot
  • Radio Frequencies and Time in an ADF
Maxim MAX7219 Modules drive up to 8 7 segment displays. These can also be used for 14 and 16 segment displays. Finding smaller 14 and 16 segment displays to match may be problematic.
Toggle, Rocker, Rotary and Key Switches
  • Circuit Breakers
  • Lighting Switches
  • Magneto Start Switch
  • Radio & Autopilot Display Mode changes
  • Headphone/Off/Speaker for Radios
  • Flaps
Microchip MCP23xxx 16 bit Multiplexers are bi-directional and can be used
  • Directly, one switch per input
  • in switch banks using multiplexer outputs to drive a bank of switches read by an input on the same or another multiplexer.
    • One multiplexer used this way can read up to 64 switches.
    • Two can read 256.
  • Rotary Switch Alternative: Fixed resistors forming a voltage divider, 1 division per position, read by an ADC.
Rheostats, some with built in switches
  • Volume controls on Radios
  • Panel Light Levels
  • Throttle, Mixture and Primer Controls
  • An ADC input per rheostat.
  • Alternatives include rotary and magnetic encoders
Rotary Encoders
  • Radio Frequency Adjustment
Test Encoders to determine how fast they need to be read. Depending on timing, provide support for them using
  • the main switch bank approach
  • or a separate switch bank
  • a multiplexer using two inputs per encoder
  • direct attachment to a gpio port on an arduino or other microprocessor
Magnetic Encoders
  • Instrument Adjustment
  • Detecting the actual position of a rotating dial
Find a cheap one to prototype with...
  • Instrument Lighting
  • Indications in Radios
  • Marker Beacon Indications O/M/I
Two approaches are possible: Multiplexers driving one LED per output, or MCP23xxx
  • Moving Instrument Flags
  • Seat and Stick Shakers (Butt Kickers)
Multiplexer or GPIO output driving an amplifier.
Meter Movements Moving needles in gauges and instruments 1 DAC or PWM output per meter movement

Air Cores
Stepper Motors

  • Moving needles in gauges and instruments
  • Force Feedack Mechanisms
  • Direct connection to a pwm output
  • Connection to PWM through an H Bridge
  • Specialized microchips.
Mechanical Linkages
  • Clocks
  • Altimiters
  • Attitude Indicators
  • Anything with a rotating dial
  • Yokes and Pedals
Got any ideas?
Power Supply +12 +5 + 3.3
  • Standard or Non-standard PC power Supply from an old PC.
  • Other power supplies as needed.
  • Standalone Units on mains
  • Buck Supplies