Category: Overhead

Overhead Update 5

While work has been progressing on the Overhead, I got little lazy in documenting it.  So I’ll try to recap what’s happened since the last update.

After my I/O cards came in for the Mastercards. I laid out the cars on the back panel and finished working on getting all the panels mounted to the frame.  The last two panels to install were the Electrical and Cabin Pressure Display panels as I needed to design and order some PCBs for them.

Here’s a look at the PCB’s made for the 7-segment displays:



The PCBs were mounted to the panels using 1/4″ black foam board sandwiched between the PCB and back panel. I didn’t take any photos of that unfortunately.  The black foam board helped with stopping light bleeding into the display windows and to hide the PCB.

Here’s a look at the overhead with all the opencockpits cards installed (though these will be rearranged little to make the boards connected in order 1,2,3 and not 1,2,4), the panels and all the switch covers and knobs:

overhead overhead overhead overhead overhead overhead overhead

Next I used black electrical tape to seal any gaps between panels to prevent light bleed. I stuffed the overhead with some white christmas lights I had on hand for backlight testing for this.

Once that was all done, I removed the lights and began the fun process of wiring all the switches and indicators.  I’m currently making my way down the first column of panels.

wiring wiring

And that’s pretty much it for now. I decided to go ahead and do all the switch/indicator  wiring first and they see how to add in backlighting.

New PCB Boards

One thing I’ve found in all the past panels I’ve built is that rotary switches can be a delicate thing to solder wire to.  Heat up a pin to long while you fiddle with getting a wire in place and you might loosen it causing it to fall out, or loose connection internally.

So this time around, I decided to build a PCB board I can solder a rotary switch too that has a terminal block for securing I/O wires. I designed a small 12 connector PCB that I can use on my 45 degree rotary and 90 rotary switches.


I got 10 of these boards along with 20 of my Mastercard I/O boards fabricated by JLCPCB in China. Both sets of boards with shipping was right about $47 (shipping was $19, boards were $28) with a lead-free surface and arrive in 9 days.

IO Card IO Card IO Card

Overhead Stand Test

Tested out the overhead and stand on the desk yesterday and everything worked well.

stand stand stand

The main 2×3 support that sticks out of the monitor unfortunately has a slight twist in it, so the overhead had a little lean to it.  The stand also had a tiny bit of sway in it from basically being a single, tall post.  So I’m planning on rebuilding the whole thing to try and get that support without a twist and maybe add a support of some kind off to the side to help prevent the sway.  But overall it turned out ok.

Overhead Update 4

Here’s a look at the latest work on the overhead.

After getting the back panel attached, I laid out all the panels on the frame to mark out drilling locations for screw holes and where notches would have to be cut for indicator or gauge clearance.

Overhead Overhead

I then gave the whole a sanding and while I had the frame outside gave it a coating of primer, followed by drilling out all the hole and notches.


I then gave the exterior a coating RAL7011 gray paint.

Overhead Overhead

I’m waiting on a order of rotary switches and all my opencockpit hardware to arrive, so in the meantime I began assembling a few of the panels that I could.

Overhead Overhead Overhead Overhead

Once my remaining switches arrive I’ll probably get all the panels assembled and indicators installed so they’re ready to drop in and secure to the frame.

Overhead Update 3

Progress has been moving along with the overhead panel.  The main frame is just about done.  Needs a little sanding, holes drilled for panels and then it’ll be ready for painting.  Here’s how it looks currently:


For the back panel I cut the shape out of 1/2″ 4’x4′ piece of plywood.


I then used use the 2 hinged to secure the back panel to the top of the frame.  I ended up going with these larger ones to so the mounting screws weren’t all right along the very edge of the board for a little bit more support.

overhead overhead overhead

For the front of the frame, I cut out 2 small blocks and epoxied in a 5/16 thread insert.  The blocks were then glued and screwed into the inside of the frame on both side.  A 5/16 hole was drilled through the back panel and a 5/16 bolt and washer secures the panel down to them.

overhead overhead

My orders of switches came in so I was able to mount some light switches to the light panel and some my bottom two supports installed.  These were jsut glued in to give the bottom section a little more support.


and lastly I was able to get my overhead stand tested out.

I first built a stand out of 2×3 and 1×4 wood, with a 2×3 sticking out. This will stick out over the monitors on the desk. The stand will be clamped down to my desk.


Then I used some 1×4 and 1×2 wood cut down to size to create a sorta U-Shaped changed on the back of the overhead and that a stand’s 2×3 board slips in.

overhead overhead

It worked pretty well and so far seems to be able to hold it well.

overhead overhead overhead overhead

Overhead Update 2

This week I was able to get the main structure of the frame built up. I have two small supports left to install in the bottom section behind the lights panel, but I’m waiting on my switch order to arrive so I can make sure the supports don’t interfere with a switch.

Next on the to-do list…. Working on the back panel and the desk mount.

overhead overhead overhead overhead overhead


Overhead Update 1

This weekend I started working on the overhead frame.  I’m using 1/2″ x  3.5″ wood for the exterior pieces and currently planning on using 1″ x 2″ (.75″ x 1.5″ actual) wood for interior beams.  For securing everything together, my plan is using some pocket screws on the interior pieces with wood glue.

Here’s a look at the frame and the beveled pieces I made for the bottom angles.  Hoping these all work ok for getting the needed angles made.

Overhead Overhead Overhead


Then just test fitting the panels in place to see how everything fits.

Overhead Overhead


Here’s a video that going over the progress so far.

PCFlight 737 Overhead

Once I received my PCFlights package I didn’t waste much time to get everything out the box to check it out. I was pretty anxious/nervous about seeing everything, hoping everything turned ok, but in the end I’m very pleased with my purchase.

I filmed the whole unboxing of everything. It’s not the most exciting video but I did it to A) show yall how everything came packaged and what not, and B) in case something came damaged I’d have it on video showing it came out the box that way.  I have that video embedded below.

Here’s a look at each set of items:

Overhead overhead Overhead

My first impression: Great looking hardware.

All of the panels look and feel great. Everything was nice and sharp and well packaged. I did notice a few of larger black plates they had a slight curve to them, but I think once they are screwed down to the frame that shouldn’t be an issue. The gauges are well built using thick acrylic plates and brass standoffs for the housing, and are backlightable.  The biggest surprise was the indicators.  I wasn’t sure how they were going to arrive, but I was happy to see the all came preassembled, even with resistors on the PCBs (I didn’t think they would). They even color coded every indicator on the pin connector. They light up great too.

indicators indicators indicators

After I got everything unboxed, I took photos of each panel and gauge, along some a few closeups of the indicators.
You can view all of those here.

And here’s the unboxing video of everything.  I’ll warn ya now, it’s kinda long and boring with not so great audio, lol