• Project Toggle Switch Panel

    Project Toggle Switch Panel

    By Ray Andersen

    Idea

    My name is Raymond Andersen and some of you might know me better as Rays Aviation. I do a lot of tests and reviews of both software and hardware for the flight simulation community and through that and my curious nature I decided to test my own skills and started up a project of building a toggle switch panel.

    The panel should be unique and of my own creation, this because I wanted to show that building a panel does not necessarily mean that you have to be an engineer or an expert on low voltage units or PCBs to be able to build a panel for your own home cockpit.

    I am not doing this project to start a production of units, but simply just contributing to the flightsim community with ideas that can improve every flight simmers home cockpit. Pricewise I don't really think that this panel is cheaper to build than other professional panels on the market, but this way I got the chance of building something completely unique.

    Getting Started

    Starting up a project is not easy and one of the most important things to do first is to find the scope of the project. Here I asked myself a lot of questions as:

    • What do I actually want to build and why
    • What do I want to achieve
    • How complex do I want it to be
    • Should I build everything myself or should I source parts externally
    • Which materials to use - metal, plastic, wood etc.
    • Potential sponsors
    • Deadlines
    • Etc.

    After a while I had defined my scope of this project and started the "mind-mapping" process which is a common way of getting the full picture of a project. I added all inputs that I could come up with and placed them in a numbered order which I then used as a basis for an estimated timeline.

    Here below is a draft that contains some of the input that I came up with just to show what I mean with doing "mind-mapping" - it is much like a brainstorm to secure that before starting the project, you actually do know as much as possible and has taken a decision on the top issues.

    I now had a very well described mind-map structure so I started to make decisions on the various selection possibilities. The result of this was a rough plan of the project that included specifics of what the final project would look like - here not design wise but more with what kind of material that should be used as front plate, what type of switches I would like to use, a list of potential sponsors and also which parts that I would need to source from external suppliers.

    E.g. since I am not a qualified person to develop and create PCBs I had to find a supplier that could do that for me - that could also be a supplier that already had a usable PCB in his/hers product portfolio, so here I had now specified that I needed to source the PCB from an external supplier but not any specific details on what the PCB had to be able to do.

    I didn't want the toggle switch panel to be too complex and therefore I decided that the PCB did not have to support either servos or digital displays, meaning that the PCB needed could just be a simple PCB that supported digital inputs. However I had one demand for the PCB which was that it should be able to connect directly to the computer using a USB cable and preferably without the usage of an external power supply.

    In regards to the programming of the switches I didn't find that to be that big of a deal - the PCB should just be recognized by the computer as external hardware and then my idea was that I through either FSX or FSUPIC should be able to configure the panel.

    I also had no possibility to develop and build my own toggle switches, so this was also a part of the project that I had to source externally. No problem though, because I didn't necessarily want to create everything myself, but more to show that there are a huge number of possibilities already to be found just by a quick search on the internet.


    3 Comments
    1. andyb's Avatar
      andyb -
      Wonderful piece of work Ray !

      andy.
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      Thanks

      Ray
    1. Laurence preston's Avatar
      Laurence preston -
      Nice bit of kit Ray
      who makes the pcb's

      laurence.
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