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Salaxi54's pit progress by Willy
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Author Topic: Willy's Pit  (Read 176904 times)

Offline Kukki

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #465 on: October 06, 2017, 11:32:04 AM »
The plan was to blast tiny insects at high speed at the paint while it was still drying to give it that "flown" look.   :whistle:

 :harhar: :harhar: :harhar: :harhar: :harhar:
Kukki - (Skype: kukki_22)

Offline Moon

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #466 on: October 08, 2017, 06:17:00 AM »
Thanks for the update Willy.  You are becoming the pit-paint expert!

I look forward to both your panel and pit updates.

Offline Willy

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #467 on: November 07, 2017, 11:29:56 AM »
Here's the latest on the New Pit project.

About a month ago I returned to this project. The first thing I had to do was to add the back bulkhead.  The original was a combo of plywood and aluminum. The plywood was rotted and the aluminum was corroded badly.  So after building a new plywood substrate and new aluminum back, here's what I had.

 
Next, I started sanding, applying bondo, sanding, applying high-build primer, sanding and oh I nearly forgot to mention, sanding

Once the sanding was done, it was time to start priming.  DISASTER!!!  Apparently I had not a clue as to how to use an HVLP Spray Gun, mix the paint properly and in general, shoot the Primer.  After several "misfires" resulting in more . . . wait for it . . . SANDING to remove the saggy, runny, Orange Peel Primer, I finally got the hang of the HVLP Sprayer and the Epoxy Primer.

My first attempts with the primer in the Electronics Bay, which is not normally seen, were less than perfect.  Here you can see the results which are certainly not perfect but good enough for the internal bay.
 







Continuing on and subsequently learning the correct HVLP Spray Gun settings and techniques, I managed to finish priming the outside surfaces (excluding the back bulkhead). 








I now have to prime the front bulkhead (top in these pictures) and then begin priming the interior.  Once all of the priming is done, I'll shoot the #36231 Gray paint then put the pit back on it's stand in its normal configuration and then prime and paint the back bulkhead. Once that is done I can shoot the Black paint around the top surfaces, make stencils and shoot the graphics on the sides.  I also need to build, prime and paint a floor out of Aluminum as well as walls for the side consoles. Those items were missing from the pit when I bought it. Additionally, I need to build shelves and racks in the Electronics Bay to mount most of the Power Supplies, ATA Transducers and other electronics.

Clearly, I still have a lot of work to do to get it ready to start installing and wiring my panels.
Beau "Willy" Williamson

I better go find my monkey!

Offline Willy

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #468 on: November 07, 2017, 01:57:44 PM »
I just took a look at some Light Plates offered on the other Falcon forum.  (Looks like most of those items are out of stock.)  From the posted pictures that I looked at, they also don't appear to have provisions for back-lighting.  (Unless I've missed something.)

Also, from looking at the prices, I think some of the prices I've considered charging for Light Plate Kits that can be back-lit by a matching Incandescent or LED PCB and that include the PCB, all the screws and mounting hardware are within reason for what one gets.  For example, the SNSR_PWR Light Plate is 40 Euro on the other site, which is about $50 USD.  I was (and still might) considering offering a complete SNSR_PWR Light Plate kit with everything needed to build it for about $150 USD. It seems to me that that is a pretty good price point for what you would get.  If anything, it might be a bit too low for the work involved.

Again, here's a picture of what I was considering offering for the Incandescent version of the SNSR_PWR Light Plate. (I still hope to design an LED PCB version some where down the road.)


However, before I start offering these kits, I need to get back to experimenting with the White paint layer so I can get the nice uniform white layer like the pros have and which will then light up properly.  Previous attempts with "rattle-can" white paint won't work due to the spatter of the paint which is not noticeable until you illuminate the acrylic panel from the back.  (I have to do a bit more on the new pit priming and painting before that.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the other Light Plates.  They look pretty nice and reasonably priced.  (I would suggest that they not paint the back and leave them clear for back lighting purposes.)  However, I think all of this punctuates the difficulty associated with making good quality Light Plates.
Beau "Willy" Williamson

I better go find my monkey!

Offline Moon

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #469 on: November 08, 2017, 05:10:39 AM »
Hi Willy, are you sure that the uniformity of the white paint layer is the problem?

I've done quite a few tests with my laser engraver and examined the results under a microscope.

I set the laser to burn through the black and clear layers, and just into the white.  My issues with inconsistent backlighting have been because of pin spots in the white layer, due to the inconsistency of the laser and a bit too much power.

I've had success with spray cans:
4 coats of gloss white acrylic with a light sand between coats
3 coats of gloss clear acrylic with a light sand between coats
2 light coats of flat black acrylic, just enough to block the backlighting.

Spraying on a light box can help ensure a consistent application of white and black layers.

The laser needs to be accurately focussed and aligned and set to just engrave into the white layer.  Use air assist to keep the laser path clear and engrave from the bottom up so the smoke doesn't discolour the white text.

Offline Rufus

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #470 on: November 08, 2017, 09:14:44 PM »
Best answer - eliminate the white layer of paint, use translucent white acrylic as the substrate and burn/engrave through a black overcoat to reveal that.  It should be noted that when we see real light plates that are broken/scratched the material is generally white-ish and not clear - at least the part just beneath the black is!

Then the trick becomes finding the right acrylic and placing the lighting appropriately... :whistle: .
- Rufus

Offline Moon

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #471 on: November 09, 2017, 05:46:57 AM »
You're correct @Rufus , using a layer of 3mm white acrylic backed with 3mm clear acrylic is the easiest way.  I have some old panels from Hispapanels made like this, but the lettering is bit more grey than white and they are just as hard to backlight, as the light doesn't travel through the panel as well.  That said, they're nice panels, the service from Hispapanels was excellent, and their current panels look even better.

The method Willy is using is the most difficult to perfect, but results in the best panels.

I think real panels used to be screen printed and modern ones are etched with a super accurate fibre laser.  We're using CO2 lasers, but properly aligned, with the correct settings, it is possible to achieve a few paint layers of accuracy.

Offline Willy

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #472 on: November 09, 2017, 11:25:37 AM »
Good discussion here guys and some good ideas for Hobbyist Light Plates. However, the real Light Plates do not use the white acrylic.  I know this for a fact as I have seen them in various stages of construction and the pros use clear acrylic, machine it to the correct thickness and machine the pockets and holes in them.  They then bead-blast them to give the acrylic a frosted appearance that helps with light diffusion.  The issue with white acrylic is that it does not have the sort of light transmission capabilities necessary to achieve proper back-lighting.

Additionally, I understand the issues with the laser engraving and I have examined my results under 100 power microscopes and the engraving process is fine.  I also clean the engraved panels using 409 or other similar cleaner after the engraving.  This removes to sooty residue that can yellow the engraving and cause the light to be shifted toward a yellow color.  Again, the laser engraving is not the problem.

My problem with painting the prepared acrylic with white is micro-splatter from the rattle-can paint I have been using. (I've tried several different types.)  After painting and then following the same procedure as the pros, the Light Plate is examined for uniformity of illumination across the entire front surface after the application of the White and before application of the Black and laser engraving.  The pros accomplish this using the the actual lamps in the lamp pockets in the back of the now all white Light Plate in a dark room with a Spot Meter to check the light output.  Any hot spots are touched up by adding a little more paint with an Air Brush.  Any weak spots are touched up by lightly sanding off some paint.  The end result should be a uniformly illuminated white panel with the Spot meter showing about 1 - 2 Lumens of light output across the entire surface.  Only then is the Light Plate painted black and laser engraved.  This tedious procedure to achieve MIL-SPEC requirements is why the real LP's cost so darn much. Couple that with the built-in filters and you can see why the pros charge about $1500 USD for a new real MISC panel and can cost $350 - $400 USD used.

In my case when I illuminate the all white panel from the back (before painting it black), the light output has a mottled, non-uniform light output indicating improper atomization of paint droplets from the can.  I know that the pros use a spray gun to get the even white coating required.  However, beyond that, we have been unable to find out more details such as spray gun nozzle size, air pressures, paint reduction, and actual paint used.  This is where more experimentation is needed.  I will soon try spraying using an HVLP touch-up / clear-coat gun with a 1.0 mil nozzle and with highly thinned/reduced paint and with a slightly increased air pressure at the gun.  This is the general painting procedures used to improve atomization of the paint and eliminate this sort of spattered look in paint.  [Wish me luck.]

Having said that, can we use rattle can paints to get a reasonable result for our Hobbyist panels?  Of course! Look at the pictures I posted.  All of those panels will work great for most folks pits and can be back lit.  The problem comes for perfectionists like me who put a real Light Plate next to my Light Plate and turn on the back lighting.  The difference is very noticeable and unacceptable to me. If you don't have a mix of the real and DIY LP's, you probably don't care about this nor do you need to worry about it.  For me, I'm not trying/hoping to achieve full MIL-SPEC quality but I think that this white painting step is the only thing preventing me from being able to produce LP's that are pretty darn close to MIL-SPEC.

FINAL NOTE: The 1 - 2 Lumens of light output from the real LP's is way, way lower than what I have seen from others building back-light solutions on this forum.  In those cases, the LP's I've seen are at least 10x the light output and can be clearly seen in a lighted room.  The real LP's light output can really only be seen in a darkened room with pretty much all lights out.  This is consistent with good night vision (I'm not talking NVIS here) in a cockpit at night. This 10x or more light output is perfectly fine for the sort of Hobbyist pits that most folks are building.  I just don't want a mix of hobbyist, high light output panels and real panels in my pit.
Beau "Willy" Williamson

I better go find my monkey!

Offline Rufus

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #473 on: November 09, 2017, 03:13:42 PM »
....bead blast.  That was my next plan/suggestion.  I'm planning to buy a hobby bead blaster for use on a few projects...been thinking of cutting stencils and bead blasting through a layer of black paint and into the substrate to see what sort of effect I can get.  Applying/peeling the stencils will be tedious, though.

Another note about NVIS panels - from what I've seen, different services use different lighting colors.  I'm more familiar with USN cockpits and they tend to appear more green (and the panels may also be constructed a bit differently from Willy's description - dunno), whereas USAF ones tend to be more to the blue-green.  I have a feeling one will appear brighter under ambient light, but I'm not sure which one...

I can also observe that trainer panels I've encountered seem to be more like what we build - higher/stronger lighting.  I'm thinking that this may be to counter the effect of ambient light from the projection system, and so I might not expect that we should plan for panels lit as dimly as real ones - or at least insure that we have enough range of dimming to accommodate our own setups.  We can always dial them back, but if we build dim we may not be able to turn them up enough.

Great work, Willy... :thumbsup: .
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 08:20:17 PM by Rufus »
- Rufus

Offline Moon

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #474 on: November 10, 2017, 06:10:33 AM »
Apologies Willy, I didn't realise the level of detailed research you have undertaken on panel construction :hail:

Here's a few ideas, although you're probably well ahead of me :-[ 

I've found that micro-splatter is less of an issue when spray cans are warm, i.e. spraying on a hot day, as pressure varies with temperature.  Using a touch-up gun, where you can accurately set pressure, should give you a more consistent result.

Use a gloss white paint and spray the panel flat.  It's easier to judge the flatness of a gloss surface.

Lightly sand each coat face down on a flat surface, e.g. a glass plate with a sheet of wet and dry paper on top.

Best of luck with your paint experiments, I'm sure you're well on the way to outstanding results.  I look forward to your updates. 

 

Offline Willy

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #475 on: November 11, 2017, 11:41:50 AM »
Another note about NVIS panels - from what I've seen, different services use different lighting colors.  I'm more familiar with USN cockpits and they tend to appear more green (and the panels may also be constructed a bit differently from Willy's description - dunno), whereas USAF ones tend to be more to the blue-green.  I have a feeling one will appear brighter under ambient light, but I'm not sure which one...

I can also observe that trainer panels I've encountered seem to be more like what we build - higher/stronger lighting.  I'm thinking that this may be to counter the effect of ambient light from the projection system, and so I might not expect that we should plan for panels lit as dimly as real ones - or at least insure that we have enough range of dimming to accommodate our own setups.  We can always dial them back, but if we build dim we may not be able to turn them up enough.

Great work, Willy... :thumbsup: .
Thanks @Rufus

As for different colors, that is generally accomplished by the use of different colored filters.  Here's a link to the Lumitron web site on polyvision filters. (They are just one supplier for these filters.)  If you scroll down you'll see the "Color Table" with 2 versions of NVIS Green, Lunar White (which is actually a Blue filter to shift the warm Incandescent color from reddish back to white) and several other colors as well as.  You'll also see on their web site that they sell LED's and other items for Military lighting systems.  Some Light Plates use LED's today and this is discussed in MIL-DTL-7788G, "PANELS, INFORMATION, INTEGRALLY ILLUMINATED" which discusses all the Classes and Types of panels used in Military Aircraft.  The best I can tell, the F16 uses Class 1 panels (either -W, -BW or -NVIS Green A) of Type IV (embedded Incandescent) or Type V (PCB). The panels I've been attempting to build are Class 1-BW, Type V panels or possibly in the future, TypeVII (LED's on PCB).

As for trainers with high light output panels, those are probably perfectly fine for the pits most folks are building.  However, in my opinion you really want an "All-or-Nothing" approach to these and you don't want to mix and match real incandescent panels with DIY LED-based panels or you will get inconsistent lighting.  Since I have nearly a full set of the real panels, that pretty much dictates either scrounging eBay for the very expensive real panels that I'm missing or to do as I have been doing, learn how to make them myself.
Beau "Willy" Williamson

I better go find my monkey!

Offline Willy

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #476 on: November 11, 2017, 12:48:39 PM »
Delayed New Pit Update - The Back Bulkhead

I didn't show you pictures of this work in the previous posts but I think you might like to see what sort of restoration was necessary on the back bulkhead. 

When I purchased the pit, here's how that back bulkhead looked.


You can also see the rotted plywood substrate that was under the metal back of that bulk-head.


Once all of that old material was removed, here's what was underneath.

I then cut aluminum filler plates and then riveted them over all the round and race-track holes in the back (except for the bottom 4 holes).  However, I didn't take any pictures of that so just imagine all those holes now covered.

In order to build a new plywood substrate, I had to join several pieces of Baltic Birch plywood using Pocket Hole Joinery as you can see below.

(I had to join three pieces as those were the biggest size Rockler Woodworking stocked and I didn't want to buy a full 4' x 8' sheet of the stuff from some other supplier that requires full sheet purchases. Plus I cant get full sheets into my mini-van.)

Next, and in an attempt to protect the plywood from moisture, I put a good Poly-Urethane finish on the plywood, drilled and tapped holes in the metal back frame and attached the plywood with countersunk machine screws into the frame.  Here's how that looked when finished.


Finally, I cut the Aluminum back sheet to fit and gave it a good coating of Zinc Phosphate primer on the underside (not shown) to try to avoid corrosion down the road.  (I didn't show you the corrosion on the underside of the original metal back plate but it was REALLY BAD!!! UGH!).


Yesterday I finished priming the inside of the cockpit.  Today I may touch up a few spots and crevices with a paint brush or a small touch-up spray gun where I couldn't get full coverage with the primer. 
(Yeah, I know, no one will see where my primer job has some painter's holidays and less than full coverage but I'll know it is there.  8) )
   

Once that is done, it will be time to mask off everything but the inside back bulkhead, the rudder deck and the consoles and paint inside and out with FS36231 Gray.  Then I get to put it all back on its stand prime and paint the exterior back bulkhead on which it is currently standing. 

Then I have to mask the whole pit and paint the canopy area FS37038 Black, get the stencils made and put on the side (with masking) and paint on all the Graphics with FS36118 Medium Gunship Gray.  When all of that is done, I have to build, prime and paint a floor and install it in the cockpit.  (You may have noticed that it is missing a floor.)
Beau "Willy" Williamson

I better go find my monkey!

Offline Rufus

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #477 on: November 11, 2017, 01:27:50 PM »
Dang, Wily - what a great snag on that tub, and great work progress... :hail: !

...but now you've got me worried about that ARC-164 head/panel I purchased... :DOH: ...I totally agree with you about mixing lighting types, and as I don't have any info on this unit (yet...) I have no idea what I'm going to get when I'm finally able to integrate it and turn it on.  Probably white lighting?  But I should be able to tell by look for a "+" on the panel, right?

I'll need to keep track of your notes... :notes: ...
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Offline Willy

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #478 on: November 11, 2017, 09:09:41 PM »
@Rufus
Well I also have one of the real, mechanical ARC-164 Switching units shown below

(and one of the digital ARC-164 Switching Unit as well) and your comments sent me off into a bunch of research that I had always planned to do. (Now look what you've gone and made me do.  :-P )

If what you have is the digital unit, you should check with @Wolfman as I think he knows what sort of back-light requirements that takes based on all the work he did for his Digital UHF Interface kit.

However, if you have the older Mechanical Unit, I'm guessing that it takes 5V as well for the back light but when I look at the limited wiring info I have on that mechanical unit I see an input for "5.0 VAC Panel Lamps" but I also see an input labeled "28 VDC Panel Lamps".  My guess is that you just need the 5.0V (either DC or AC) to back-light that panel but that 28 VDC Lamp input has me confused.

On the other hand, coming up with the necessary connectors to interface the switches could be a nightmare.  Here's the back of that panel.


Those two small green 25 pin connectors on the inside (labeled XAI-P1 and XAI-P2 in the schematics) have most of the signals coming from the switches that you would need to bring out and connect into some sort of interface board.  Coming up with the connectors for those could be a problem. (I think those connectors are TRW 210-01-25-002. Good luck finding mates.) The other 37 pin Green connector sticking out the bottom of the unit is labeled W6P1 and that is where you have to feed in the power for the back-lights. 

Here you can see the label for W6P1 on the bottom left of my unit and the label for W6P2 that is part of the Memory Board which is missing on my unit. (Again, good luck finding connectors to that 37 pin connector.) :brickwall:


On the other hand, you might be lucky and have one of the units with the Memory Board installed in the back as you see here.


The connector sticking out of the Memory Board is labeled W6P2 in the schematics and it has all the frequency output lines that tell the radio what frequency to tune via BCD encoded lines for each frequency digit. Those outputs are .025Mhz, .05Mhz, .1Mhz, .2Mhz, .4Mhz, .8Mhz, 1Mhz, 2Mhz, 4Mhz, 8Mhz, 10Mhz, 20Mhz, 40Mhz, 80Mhz lines and then a 200/300Mhz line.

The Memory Board requires +6VDC and +12VDC and apparently has all of the logic and memory to store the Presets for Channels 1-20.  When you switch to "Preset" whatever frequency you programmed into that Channel is output on the frequency output lines.  If you switch to "Manual" the Memory Board presumably sends the frequency displayed on the front panel out the frequency output lines. 

It might be that one could provide the 6 and 12 VDC via W6P2 and the unit would provide direct frequency output via the frequency output lines.  However, there are some Clock and Data inputs to the board and without those it may not work.  Still, you would have a hard time interfacing that unit to BMS through the Memory Board.  It would be better if someone could design an interface board that screwed into the back where the Memory Board goes and that brings out the discrete switch settings.  Since the Frequency Switches are encoded in BCD (1, 2, 4, 8 ) coding, it would need the logic to convert those signals to the 1-10 values of each frequency switch and convert that to keyboard input codes.  (Unfortunately, I think BMS still doesn't have  keycodes for the 1-20 Channel positions. If that is still true, you still wont be able to get the Channel selector to interface properly.)

Having said all of that, it does look nice in the console.  The @Wolfman version looks even nicer and functions like the real deal but I think it too suffers from the lack of the Channel interface to BMS.  Hopefully BMS will add that soon if they haven't already.
Beau "Willy" Williamson

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Offline Willy

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Re: Willy's Pit
« Reply #479 on: November 11, 2017, 10:49:18 PM »
Here's a bit more detail if you are interested in these Mechanical Switching Units for the ARC-164 UHF Radios.

Mechanical Switching Unit Component Location


This clearly shows the location of the two 25 Pin connectors XAI-P1 and XAI-P2 that carries most of the switch outputs that we are interested in.

Mechanical Switching Unit Wiring

This shows the Memory Board with the pinout of the XAI-P1 and XAI-P2 connectors. The Frequency outputs (e.g. 1Mhz, 2Mhz, etc.) are all switched to ground when active (i.e. Active Low). 

The diagram also shows the W6P2 connector (right side of the drawing) on the Memory Board and its signals.  Most of those signals go to the ARC-164's Frequency Synthesizer which tunes the radio to the frequency of either the Preset Channel or the discrete switch frequency shown in the panel depending on whether the MODE Switch is in the "PRESET" or "MANUAL" position.


W6P1 Connector Pinout

Notice that it shows both 5.0 VAC "Panel Lamps" and 24 VDC "Power Lamps" input.  (Sorry for the poor image but I think it is good enough to read the pins and signals.)  It could be that there is a 24 VDC Power "ON" indication on the unit that lights up somewhere and the back-lighting is strictly the 5.0V input.  However, it is also possible that the logic in the panel illumination circuit must have the 24VDC apply in order to "gate" the 5V back-light voltage to the lamps.  (I'll try that out soon.)  From what I see here, those are the only two inputs needed on the W6P1 connector.  Everything else we need to see is on the pins of the XAI-P1 and XAI-P2 connectors.

So now we need another volunteer like @Wolfman to build an interface board that fits where the Memory Board goes and that does all the same things as his Digital UHF kit.  Maybe we can use the same sort of interface connectors that he used on the Digital UHF kit.  (Note: I have more internal wiring info of the switches and connectors that I could provide that volunteer.)
Beau "Willy" Williamson

I better go find my monkey!