Making Chips for a Purpose!

The plain DPDT toggle switch.

It’s nice to have a milling machine, and even nicer to have a specific task for which it is well suited!

The flaps in the original Subsonex were manual, with a lever on the left side of the cockpit. A recent change added an electric option, and I went with that in my jet – which meant I needed a place for a flap switch. I managed to shoehorn a DPDT toggle switch into the only available space on the left side of the cockpit, but the old human factors and cockpit design engineer in me just wasn’t happy with a simple toggle bat for an important switch.

Making aluminum chips.

So into the scrap bin I went, and came out with a 3/8″ thick chunk of aluminum. I sketched out a design, drilled some holes, milled it to shape, tapped holes for set screws and voilà! A regulation flap-handle-shaped switch that fits – and in my opinion, looks good doing it.

Finished flap switch handle.

The tricky part was the shape of the toggle switch bat. It is, in fact, shaped like a baseball bat, with a taper that makes it hard to fit into a cylindrical hole. I solved this by using two set screws – one from either side, with tapered points, so that they can be fiddled with to center the handle and then give a firm grip on the switch.

The result.
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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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