My center pedestal outer frame was built from 1/4″ MDF wood and epoxy glue and I used a router to add a nice bevel to the edges.
I approximated, as best I could, the correct pedestal dimensions based on measurements from sources like below:
- A very good Boeing 737 measurements reference is MarkusPilot’s 737 measurements document
- Another helpful document can be found here: http://barrytech.com/boeing/boeing.html
At first, I chose to create my own support rails using wood and drilling the many mounting holes one by one. I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s a lot of very exacting work and a lot of manual labor using a drill press. I used real Dzus rail dimensions to figure out how to properly space and place the holes then marked them in pencil and drilled them one-by-one. If you want to go this route, do yourself a favor and learn to use a wood CNC machine and let it do all the work!
Better yet, just buy some real DZus rails from a place like Dallas Avionics where I bought mine. They come in varying types and lengths and since they’re aluminum they can be cut with a hacksaw quite easily. While Dzus rails aren’t super cheap, trust me in the long run the time savings and less headaches is absolutely worth it! Your panels will fit perfectly (assuming they were designed using real radio dimensions) and it’s real stuff so you can’t get any more realistic! Just keep in mind you’ll need to use special Dzus screws that twist to lock to mount your panels. You can find those on eBay or other places for pretty cheap.
I have been buying FlightDeck Solutions Ethernet radio panels which are correctly sized with their real counterparts and I’m happy to say they just dropped in perfectly!
For the blank panels I ended up designing them in the free (for hobbyists) AutoDesk360 CAD program and printing them on a 3D printer which took some time to research the various sizes and dimensions, then design them so they were thick and strong enough. It’s not too hard to do, just time-consuming. But you can always buy real metal blanking plates from places like OnceAloft or from sim manufacturers if you look around. They’re not too expensive.
One thing I did goof up was the fire panel enclosure. I made it too wide for the real fire panel I bought. So I’ll have to go back and fix that, but no big deal. Overall I think it came out looking pretty good.
Internally, I used a Phidgets relay to power on the backlighting for two sections in the pedestal. I set it up so some panels light up on “DC” power, while the rest of the panels come on when “AC” power is added. I used a CPU power supply to power the 12v and 5v needed for the various panels, and a FDS SYS card to connect all the non-ethernet components into.
To finish things off, I used an MDF primer and then latex paint from the local hardware store custom matched to the correct Boeing colors. Then I added the fake circuit breakers and guard with some parts from GLB Flight Products.
If I were to do it again, I might use thinner material for the pedestal enclosure, like 1/8″ MDF as the 1/4″ MDF is a little too thick compared to the thin aluminum used on the real pedestal. However, I think the next pedestal will be either a real pedestal or a purchased one. It’s very low on the priority scale at this point!
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