Cockpit Platform

The cockpit platform is where the entire cockpit rest on to. Needless to say that this structure needs to be really strong. The larger area of the platform will be made out of 18mm MDF while the sides and the inside structure will be built with 22mm MDF. I bought 3 sheets of MDF and because the original size is of 122cm by 244cm I needed the shop to make one initial rough cut for me, at least this way I could transport it. Once home I would then cut it down to size.

Platform Initial wood pile Since the cut out that was delivered it is still rather large and to make thing even more difficult the first cut I need will be a diagonal cut, I decided to do this with a hand circular saw, it isn’t something I really like to do because no matter how much preparation you do and how careful you are, you still cannot be as precise as you would using a table saw.

Platform Cutout Using one of the thinner cutouts left from the work that the shop did, I used it has a fence for the hand circular saw after having made sure to mark precisely where I needed to cut. This cut out is the same length of the sheet (244cm) which makes things easier. The first 2 sheets, both 18cm tick will be used for the top of the platform, which will be made out of two parts and no glue will be used making it easier should I be needing, in future, to move the entire structure to a different place, but between me and you…. I really hope this will never be needed. Since I will be using the hand circular saw to make the cuts I decided that it would be easier to cut the boards both at the same time. I don’t care if the 2 pieces will be a few millimeters longer or shorter than the original plan, as long as are of the same size. So step one will be to cut the length and the second step will be to cut the diagonal width.
Now that the two half platform tops have been cut, it’s time to cut the boarders. These are made of 22mm MDF and are all 18cm tall. I will be able to make the majority of it from one sheet of MDF, the rest will be cut out of some scraps I already have. Once the width is cut I can use my cross cut sled to cut their length down to size.
Platform Initial wood pileAt this point all parts have been cut to the right size, I will give it a good wipe and start bring all parts in the simulator room. Since the room is not that big I took upstairs the different parts in phases. I started with the first top and it’s respective 4 sides with the associated ribs. Some of the tools that you might want to have handy while building something like this, is a square and a few small clamps, this will allow to keep the different parts in square and firmly placed if you don’t have someone that can lend you an helping hand.
Metal BracketsI start by placing the top on the floor upside down, and I begin to attach the short front part of the 4 sides. I use small metal L brackets 40mm by 40mm to initially attach the side to the top.

I than move to the back side and finally the 2 longer sides. For one half of the platform I used 10 metal brackets. The brackets are attached using 4,2mm crews 16mm long with a cylinder head, this is to make sure that there is more force grip. Once the four sides are installed it is time for 6 ribs, since the platform is rather large and will sustain a lot of wait, I will be adding 6 ribs under the platform. The ribs will be screwed in place from the side but also from the top. Since one the platform will be turned around I will not be able to know where the ribs are located, I decided to first place all the ribs in the right location, than draw with a pencil two lines one on each side of the rib in the place where is attaches to the top of the platform, at that point I removed all the ribs and now I have clear marks to pre drill all the way trough multiple holes, this will give me the pilot holes for when I turn the platform around.
RibsOnce the marks are all done, I put the ribs back in and screw them with 4mmx50mm screws. The last thing before I turn the platform upside down is to connect the 4 sides to each other. A tip for when I built the second half is to first , after having made sure the 4 sides a precisely cut to size by doing a test fit, connect them together as a frame and only than start screwing this to the platform. At this point the platform can be turned around and I can see all the predrilled holes I made before. Before putting screws in, I went throw each hole again with a drill bit that countersinks also. Then I finished all up with the same screws I used for the ribs. One last thing before I moved one to the second half, I made two holes on the side of the platform that will be in between the two halves, this will be used to have cables going throw. In addition one this I forgot to mention was that one of the side has been placed at about 2.5cm further inside compared to the platform border, by doing the same thing to the other half, will give me a 5cm channel that can be used to run and needed cables.
2halvesThe second half is built just the same as the first; the only difference is that I did not drill the two side holes. Once also the second half is complete and both sides still upside down, I drilled four holes from side to side across the 5cm channel which I used to insert a 12cm long bolt in each hole, the bolt is 10mm in diameter and four of them will be sufficient to keep the 2 halves together. I than turned the entire platform upside down in the final position and frilled two final holes directly on top of the platform where the two halves are joining. The holes will be covered by the various hardware and will be used to drop the cables in the channel. At this point I filled all the holes used to insert the screws using a hole filler from Titebond, the same make of my wood glue. I left the filler dry during the night even if the instruction say that 2 hours is enough before sanding.
Finished platformNow that the platform is fully built I can move the cockpit on top of it and get busy with the next face which will be a mix between creating a temporary frame structure so that I can figure out all of the measures for it but also testing my newly arrived projector and create a projection scree.

So stay tuned for the next article.