Build Progress By Category - Instruments & Controls

More information on instruments and controls can be found in the design section.

April 2014


Kimini This book arrived today:
Kimini - How to design a mid-engined sports car from scratch by Kurt W. Bilinski

Handbrake I discovered this floor mounted handbrake lever for sale on eBay and it looked very light, being made primarily from Nylon. It was in excellent condition and is from a Mk I from Ford Focus (1998-2004). I won the item for 99p, so well worth a gamble. Now that it has been delivered I can see that it is very well made, with an in-built switch [814g]. There is also some scope to make it even lighter by removing some of the metal. I would struggle to improve upon this design and anything I might fabricate would have the same basic structure and dimensions.

Handbrake mechanism This photo better reveals the handbrake mechanism, which has a metal ratchet. It feels very sturdy and has a nice solid feel to it. It is a vast improvement on the Ford Escort one used in my Fisher Fury R1.


Final switches mounted And these are the modified switches mounted in my test 3D print mounts. I will be doing some more testing in the Fisher Fury R1 over the next few months, to see how well this layout works. So far it is working really well.

I've also finalised the electrics behind these switches now and all of the other lighting for this car. I have also completed the build of the indicator logic and timer, along with the relay board to switch the lights.


Modified light switch This is the final, improved switch [5.5g]. The extension has added just 0.3g.

Some people might ask why I've gone to so much effort with a couple of switches. My answer is that my main objective with this car is to provide the best possible driver involvement. Every interface to the driver (i.e. me) is designed to be intuitive, perfectly located and to provide the best tactile experience, feel and feedback. It is also optimised for me in terms of the size of my hands, the length of my fingers, etc.


Lego support structure A quick drive in the Fury showed that the new switches are about 10-15mm too short on their own and need some form of extension on the toggle. I've fabricated some from plastic and fixed them using Araldite. The kid's box of old Lego comes in handy for jobs like this!

The Lego is simply being used to keep everything in alignment whilst the glue dries.

Rear light cluster mount I'm getting better with Google Sketchup and this rear light cluster mounting frame took less than 20 minutes to create. The final piece is slightly different, to make it easier to 3D print.


Switch brackets installed These are the switches and switch mounts installed for usability testing in the Fury. Will try this configuration this coming weekend to see how well it works.

Behind steering wheel Nicely hidden behind the steering wheel when it is in place.


2nd 3D printed bracket Updated my design to include a switch cover and printed it out again. Printed with the switch mounting face on the bed this time, to avoid bridges internally supporting the new cover. The printing tool added ladders supports for the mounting holes this time though [5.4g].

Google Sketchup design

Kenex ET-600 scales Bought some Kenex ET-600 scales for weighing the lighter components I'm using on this car. These weigh up to 500g with 0.1g accuracy. Popular with drug dealers judging by the reviews on Amazon.


Aluminium paddle This is the aluminium paddle that is bolted to the central 'hub' [124g].

3D printed switch bracket Using Google Sketchup I designed an initial switch bracket to be 3D printed. This is not exactly how the final part will look like but, is an initial test print to help me learn how to use Sketchup and to check my measurements and the 3D printing process.

I know it doesn't look much but for a first attempt but, I am very pleased with the results. This is the start of something very big. The part is very strong and very light (~5g). Even the walls of the 'walls' in this piece are not solid to save weight. The front hole has a 'ladder' printed within it to help ensure the switch hole is printed round. This has been removed. The holes are all 6mm but the switch hole was drilled out to ¼" (6.35mm).

This part was printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer and took about 45 minutes to complete.

Switch mounted This is the part in place, showing the switch and relationship to the paddle. It uses the existing mounting bolts. It is designed to hold both single-pole or dual-pole switches, depending on the application. The gap between the paddle shift and the steering wheel is just about ideal for my size hands. In this new car it will be about 5mm less though.

This is a test piece. The 'final' 3D printed part will have a top cover, so the switch body is enclosed and not visible. It will also be printed in black plastic.

I'd always envisaged 3D printing would be a way to get quality components designed and built for my next car. The whole design and print process is perfect for low volume car manufacture like this and I'm now on the path to designing and printing more parts.

The switch on the left side is a single pole on-off-on toggle switch and will be used for the indicators (left - off - right). A similar switch on the right-hand side will be used for the headlights (high beam - side lights - low beam). These switches can only switch very low currents and this is also true of all the instrumentation switches in this car. The side lights will be powered via a power transistor and the headlights via high-current relays. This approach minimises the length of high current wiring required and means I have more options when choosing high quality, good looking components. I took a similar approach in my Fury build but, this car will go to even greater lengths to reduce the weight of the instrumentation and wiring.

The other driver for taking this route for these switches is to simply improve the usability and driver experience. Mounting these switches in these locations means they are easily reached and have a nice quality, tactile feel. The orientation and location is intuitive (to me) and my testing in the Fury has shown this configuration to work well. Mounting switches here also means the dash is less cluttered and thus looks better.

March 2014


Testing indicator switch Finally got around to making a test bracket, to try out my indicator switch on the Fury. This is purely to test out the positioning and usability of this arrangement and the final solution will have this switch mounted inside a housing created using 3D printing. The same 3D printed part can be used on both sides :-)

Testing indicator switch This is what it looks like behind the wheel. It is basically invisible. The advantage of this approach is that it is very light weight and simply bolts onto the AB Performance paddle shift.

And so I went out for a test drive to see how well it works. Firstly it has a superb feel and weighting and is very easy to operate. A huge improvement on the dash mounted switch I currently use. Secondly, the stalk is too long. It basically gets in the way slightly when my hands are resting on the wheel. In fact the ideal length of the stalk in my view is exactly that on the original, unmodified switch!

This is good. I've got a very light and easy solution to providing indicator light control now and I can see how a similar switch on the right-hand side would be useful for the low and high beam headlight control. This means I don't need to fit many switches to the dash in the new car, resulting in a much cleaner and simpler dash layout.

Testing indicator switch This is the view from above. The paddle shift is an ideal distance from the back of the steering wheel and there is plenty of room for the switches, without fouling anything else.

July 2013


I have been working on an interesting project to build a 1080p 30fps dashcam recording device this month.

May 2013


My preferred solution is to use the billet allow paddle shift mechanism developed by Andy Bates. I've now had this installed in my Fisher Fury R1 and it is just brilliant. It is rock solid and fully adjustable.


Dropped my Fury R1 off with Andy Bates today, to have the clutch replaced on my Fisher Fury R1. His new Sabre race car is so very close in layout to what I'm planning, so close in fact that I'm thinking this steel space frame design is the way to go.

The Sabre is currently optimised for racing and the bodywork is obvious designed with this in mind. It looks very feasible to replace the bodywork with something closer to what I have in mind though. The only changes are that the roll bar would need rear support stays insead of forward ones and the bodywork would need fixing points for a windscreen.

The Sabre looks very easy to convert to a single, central driving seat too as the steering rack is already symetrical.

I've also asked Andy to fit his latest paddle shift mechanism to the Fury. This should provide a much more positive feel and addresses all of the design issues I had.

June 2012

30th June

Steering wheel buttons I've added these two buttons to the steering wheel on my Fisher Fury R1. The right (yellow) one operates the horn. The left (orange) one operates my radio comms system (for use on track days and when travelling in convoy). Ideally, I'd have liked them closer to my thumbs but, I'm testing this layout for this new car.

25th June

Clevis to rose joint Trying out a stronger and lighter linkage from the paddle shift to the cable end in my Fisher Fury R1. The parts shown here weigh 35g.

24th June

Indicator stalk This is the indicator stalk I've fabricated for my new car. I've used carbon fibre tube (from a kite) and Araldite to lengthen a SPDT mini toggle switch. I can use a SPDT switch (on, centre off, on) because of the clever electronics used for my indicators and hazards. It weighs just 8g and will mount on the paddle shift.

I can't test this out on my Fisher Fury R1 because it uses a high current design to control and power the indicators but, I've built something similar using a high current switch, to test out the ergonomics.

Top • Last page update: 16 Apr 2014