Instrument Panel Color ?

Discussion in 'Finishing Techniques' started by ebonheart_2, Jan 25, 2006.

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  1. Jan 25, 2006 #1

    ebonheart_2

    ebonheart_2

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    Howdy, what color do you all prefure for your instrument panel; or what color do you think would be best? I havnt read anything that said what a good color for an instrument panel is, but lots of military planes that I've seen either had flat black to a charcoal, a light gray, a few with light gray backgrounds and flat black forgrounds, a crazy light blue color:confused:(Russians), a garyish olive draby color (germans in early WW2), and finally.. some homebuilt planes just have a nice color that goes with the planes external colors.. like maybe it doesnt really matter(red, blue... polished aluminum/steel, yellow, etc).

    What do you guys think.


    http://www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/cockpits/mig25/mig25_panel_01.jpg
    (Crazy blue *Russians*)

    http://www.mnangmuseum.org/images/aircraft/P51cockpit1.jpg
    (Flat black)
     
  2. Jan 25, 2006 #2

    Chairboy

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    I was thinking about a light grey leather lining for the back of my instrument gauge. I'm a few years away, but I really like the look of the Columbia 350-400 panel (before it got all wacked out on G1000 goofballs).
     
  3. Jan 25, 2006 #3

    Craig

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    Panel Color

    James, my panel is light gray, with black instruments. The color probably doesn't matter too much, as long as it is non-reflective (no sun shades in open cockpit airplanes).
    I just painted it the same color as the rest of the interior. Didn't even think about it much.
    But now that I have, I may have an interior designer take a look and make suggestions (LOL).
     
  4. Jan 25, 2006 #4

    Rhino

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    James, I can't see the picture you posted. I think panel color is pretty much a personal preference.
     
  5. Jan 25, 2006 #5

    wally

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    My Pitts is a light gray primer from Walmart. It is not shiny and easy to touch up.

    Speaking of instrument panel colors, I saw a Gulfstream III with the panel painted a nice shade of PINK. I kid you not. The chief pilot thought the pink color would relax him. He had the same color panel when they bought a G-IV.

    Wally
     
  6. Jan 26, 2006 #6

    ebonheart_2

    ebonheart_2

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    Hmmm, pink, hmmmm..... since glare is really the only problem with the panels color (and if it looks good or not) are there any colors that arent nice to have? Other than ones that real bad glare? There's not a problem with the panel being too dark sometimes if it was flat black?? Or is that why the panels were usually a dark color, and the rest of the cockpit was a lighter color?

    Flat black or light gray seems the most common to me.
     
  7. Jan 26, 2006 #7

    orion

    orion

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    The little bit of history I found on this subject had to do with contrast and pattern recognition. In short, the more contrast there is between your indicators and the surrounding area, the less time a pilot has to "stare" at the instruments, deciphering what they say. Looking at older airplanes, most of the instruments have black backgrounds and surrounding panels, and white indicators or numerals. Under those conditions all one needs to do is just glance at the panel in order to get the whole story.

    This concept was further enhanced when "matched" instrumentation was introduced. This was most commonly seen in fighter cockpits where the use of bar indicators allowed for compact installation and fast recognition. The rectangular displays were usually mounted in a line right next to each other so quick comparisons could be made. Basically, for normal conditions, all the bar indicators lined up in a straight line. That way if anything was off, the line pattern would be broken and the pilot would immediately know there was sonething going on.

    Later this was also introduced into dial indicators so that for normal operating conditions, all the needles pointed in exactly the same direction.

    But for this to work there has to be good contrast between the instrument and the surface it's mounted to. Too many colors or too bright colors would seem to add a bit of distraction, requiring a few more split seconds for the pilot to interpret the readings. In a critical situation those few extra bits of time could be critical.

    But in the same breath I should say that about two years ago or so I squeezed into and flew in a new Mooney Ovation. The instrument panel was covered in a slightly padded white material and the instrumentation was for the most part black, with white or illuminated indicators. It looked sharp and aesthetically and functionally seemed to work quite well.
     
  8. Jan 26, 2006 #8

    ebonheart_2

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    So a light gray panel with black instruments should work quiet well. Polished panals wouldnt be good because of the glare at times right?

    Are these "bar indicators"? They did what you described anyway. :)

    How about that light blue russian panel? I sappose colors would work just as well as long as they werent shiny and the instruments stood out against them?
     

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  9. Jan 26, 2006 #9

    orion

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    Yes, a flat gray panel should work well, probably the darker the better. High contrast 3.5" instruments on top of that should be quite visible.

    I really have no explanation for the Russian paint scheme outside of that it was probably some political decision or a paint color that was the only one available at the time.

    I don't recognize the components you show in the picture but it does look like the type of thing I was talking about. The only GA bar instruments I've seen recently are from a European manufacturer but I haven't been able to track down the company.
     
  10. Jan 26, 2006 #10

    ebonheart_2

    ebonheart_2

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    I belive those bar instruments showed the amunition levels in this Bf-109, but I dont know for sure.
     
  11. Jan 27, 2006 #11

    ebonheart_2

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    This would be a dark gray panel with high contrast instruments, correct? Just not with 3.5" guages... that's pritty big.
     

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  12. Jan 27, 2006 #12

    StRaNgEdAyS

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    Need to get me some of those... be handy for clearing the pattern..:gig:
     
  13. Jan 27, 2006 #13

    orion

    orion

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    Regarding gauge sizes, for conventional application the standard 3.5" gauges combine visibility with "economy". Seems like quality gauges that are smaller tend to be rather expensive. A friend of mine uses these small gauges in his BD-5J, which he uses for airshow and lately, military applications. They're beautiful and very high quality but generally cost two to three times what you'll pay for the standard sizes.

    And yes, personally I really like the black on gray contrast. In reconstructing my Cherokee panel I've been using a "hammered" black background, but that's only to keep the original look.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2006
  14. Jan 28, 2006 #14

    ebonheart_2

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    Hmmm, looking in Aircraft Spruce & Specialty the biggest guage I saw was 3-3/8", and the others were between 3 and 3-3/8". When designing is 3.5" standard to allow room incase bigger than expected guages are used? Was your friend getting to blow stuff up with his Bd-5J?:shock:

    Well... it's likely that if you cleared the pattern out here you'd get one of these up your tail pipe in a heart beat (F16s only 50 miles away).:whistle:
    http://www.voodoo.cz/falcon/o/M61A1.gif
    http://www.daveswarbirds.com/b-17/photos/wings/aileron120.jpg
    http://album.virtualfighters.net/albums/video/thumb_battledamage.jpg
    It sure would be cool though.

    How about this?
    http://www.pacific-fighters.com/ss/Do-335A-1_Cockpit_011.jpg
    Wouldnt coloring simular guages help the pilot find them quicker? Just like putting colored bands inside the guage to help you quickly tell if something is too hot or not? If the pilot knew that a certain color ment a certain guage it would really help him/her in a new plane... atleast.

    That panel (Dornier 335A-1) also had a dark gray panel. :)
     
  15. Jan 29, 2006 #15

    Jman

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    Ok, I gotta know what he does with is homebuilt for the military. Will I be up against this guy when I go fight the "Simulated" Russian horde at Ft. Erwin CA this coming March? :D
     
  16. Jan 29, 2006 #16

    orion

    orion

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    Sorry, I meant to say 3.375", not 3.5".

    The BD-5J is used now primarily by the Navy, although there are joint exercises, where the small size and speed of the airplane are used to simulate cruise missiles. This allows the military and their contractors to "dial-in" their sensing and targeting equipment. Since they can do multiple flights at just about any altitude and course, it is significantly cheaper to do it this way than risk destroying a multi-mil $ Tomahawk or ALCM on each run.
     
  17. Jan 29, 2006 #17

    ebonheart_2

    ebonheart_2

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    !!SWEET!! Homebuilt airplanes can actually do things for the military? I guess acting as a cruise missle would be cool until they told you to fly into something. What else can you do? Would they ever let you be a Russian and get on Jmans 6? :p:

    Ya, 3.5 is a big guage; especially if it was only 20" away or so.
     
  18. Feb 2, 2006 #18

    Jman

    Jman

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    I'm a bit confused (maybe it’s the Vicodin I'm taking for my wisdom teeth removal). I thought you couldn't use a homebuilt for commercial reasons. Is the restriction only for taking passengers? I guess it must be because I can't see being restricted from say...inspecting pipelines or taking aerial photos. Can I take a passenger along while inspecting pipelines in a homebuilt because the passenger is not paying for the ride?

    Pretty cool gig to say the least!
     
  19. Feb 2, 2006 #19

    orion

    orion

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    I'm not a 100% sure about this but I think the bottom line for commercial activity for homebuilts has to do with carrying revenue passengers. However, in this case I think that is a moot point since the military is not necessarily constrained in its activities by FAR rules.
     
  20. Feb 2, 2006 #20

    ebonheart_2

    ebonheart_2

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    Is there a certain place you could look to see if the military is wanting somebody to do something like this for them (act as a cruise missle so they can calibrate their instruments)?
     

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