Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

I’ve been through a lot in the aviation world, but not enough to ever get my pilot’s license. I started working on it about 9 years ago, and after doing a couple solo flights, I had an accident in a Mooney during takeoff. It was a bit windy, and the older Mooney’s have a very squirrley nose gear compared to a Cessna. I had a crosswind below my limits and it changed during my takeoff. This caused one wing to lift before I had enough speed for takeoff. As I started to correct for this, the wing dropped, and the nose gear touched again, causing me to head off the runway. I over-corrected, and went the other way, and went towards the opposite side of the runway. At that moment I had just about enough speed to take off, but I decided it was best to ride it out, and stay on the ground. If I had lifted too quickly in my panic, I could have stalled the plane and come crashing down, seriously injuring myself. I made the proper decision, and while I did a massive amount of damage to the plane, I came out completely uninjured. I was a bit shaken, but I knew that one day I would have to get back on the horse. The following summer, I started flying again, to get over my fear. It put the love of flying back into me, but things had changed, and I couldn’t keep up with the lessons due to finances. I decided to quit flying.

I did, however, stick to my simulator, and when Flight Simulator X came out, I was hooked to all the new features. A few years back I started looking into CH Products yoke and pedals. Then I discovered the Saitek equipment and was in love. I started by purchasing the yoke with throttle, and pedals. Then I purchased the multi-panel, then the radio panel, then an additional throttle quadrant, then the switch panel. I also purchased the TrackIR device so I could easily look around the cockpit without the use of a HAT switch on the yoke. I wasn’t satisfied, and hated the way it was set up, and wanted a more realistic experience without having to spend the money to fly for real. I knew it was time to work towards a real flight sim setup.

Since then, I’ve purchased a USB flight headset adapter made by Flight Sound, FS Panel Studio for FSX, some 737 throttle knobs for the saitek throttle quadrant setup, and a couple other random items. I haven’t had the space to build a cockpit until recently when I moved from my tiny townhome, into a new house with my wife. I’ve now got a full basement that I can use for whatever I’d like. It’s time for me to continue collecting and get started on building this thing. Unfortunately, I have a new baby on the way in just under a month, so I might have quite a few delays in this project.

I plan on purchasing the following additional items for the Simulator setup:
-1 or 2 32″ LCD TV’s to use as the windshield, rather than an external screen or projected image. This is more cost effective. Though I might just break down and purchase a 1080p projector…
-Additional Saitek radio panel for dual radio setup
-Saitek Backlit Information Panel
-MAYBE a Saitek instrument information panel or two, but probalby not since for the price of one, I can just buy a 22″ LCD monitor.
-Some car seats from a junk yard or universal racing seats off ebay. I’d like to find a car seat that has height adjust-ability if possible, for my step-son.
-A backlit keyboard for use within the cockpit when it’s dark
-An LED controller with some RGB LED strips from Oznium.com for in-cockpit lighting. Then I can make red, white, blue, green light, or whatever, and dim to a specific level.
-X-plane 10, or another sim alternative like Prepar3D from Lockheed Martin
-FSX Real Environment Extreme for FSX/Prepar3D, for greater ralism
-Maybe some additional plugins and extra planes to fly, including FSUIPC if necessary

I then plan to follow the recommendations of the guy who makes the 737 throttle knobs, and build a cockpit much like his setup. I will likely build from the ground up, by first building a rolling platform that can contain seats and a center console, then build up from there. Task for this weekend is to go seat hunting!

Stay tuned for my future posts!

1995 Toyota Tacoma HID retrofit

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Projects

I’ve had my 95 Tacoma for many years, and have been putting a lot of money into it lately to restore it. A couple years ago, I got the whole truck repainted black, and had all body damage fixed, and replaced the bumpers and interior carpet and other random items. I also upgraded the headlights to HID’s, but the headlight housings (standard 7×6 housing) were horrible, and didn’t spread the light the way I wanted it to. They also came with this “projector lens” gimmick inside them, which was worthless.

I found http://www.theretrofitsource.com by complete accident, and fell in love with their products. After a ton of research, I decided to buy their bi-xenon PNP kit (http://www.theretrofitsource.com/product_info.php?products_id=178)with FX-R projectors, since I already had ballasts. This came with projectors, shrouds, 4300k bulbs, and adapters to hook up the D2S bulbs to my existing ballasts.

They started out like this:

I started by cutting open the housings (the glue was a silicone glue, so the oven bake trick would not work), then painting the inside of the housing black.

I then cut a significant portion of the back of the housing off, with a nice level cut

I bought a 4″ sewer pipe cap for a mounting template for the projector:

I cut the end off the cap, sanded it down, then cut a hole in it for the projector, using a cardboard template I had made.

I then mounted the projector inside the template, and checked the fit. I also trimmed the apollo shrouds so that they would fit the projector, and inside the housing. I painted everything flat black again.

Here, you can see what the projector looks like in the housing, before doing the actual mount.

Using some bolts, I mounted the projector to the template.

Final coat of flat black paint (upper housing looks dimpled because I had some paint issues, and had to sand a bit with the dremel)

I then fused the housing and template together with plastic epoxy putty. I also sealed the front glass back to the housing.

Here they are in the truck before putting the grille back on

Here’s the light pattern from the projectors (pre-adjustment):

Here’s the comparison of the light pattern, next to my 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with factory HID’s. 25 feet away:

IMO, the cutoff of the Lancer, is better than the FX-R projectors. The cutoff is so hard and defined, rather than being soft and set a much different angle.

I’ve got a few more pics to add. I forgot to take pics of high beams, and of course, the finished product in the daylight. We just got a snowstorm that moved in, and now the truck is dirty as hell!

I plan on doing this same setup on my motorcycle (2008 Honda CBR600RR) in the near future.