I recently acquired an avionics panel that is quite unique. The panel was acquired from a company that was responsible for altering the on-board communication system for 50 Boeing 737-800 jetliners; the aircraft were being refitted with global communication equipment. The upside for me was that the panels were being decommissioned and were not required by the supplier.
LEFT: Panel has three push buttons with backlighting and legends, and one toggle button (click image for larger view).
Late model NG panels are uncommon to find; therefore, it is interesting to observe the differences between the older style classic panels regularly seen on e-bay, and a newer style panel.
The first thing that comes to mind, other than condition, is the lack of a rear box assembly on this panel. Instead of an aluminum box, the wiring is protected by a stainless bracket assembly. The wiring looms are also much more refined and neater looking, while the backlighting, rather than using 5 Volt bulbs uses LED technology.
Most people are familiar with the 5 volt incandescent bulbs used to illuminate the light panels in Boeing aircraft - the bulbs produce a soft yellow-orange hue. The colour temperature is in stark contrast to the white hue produced by LED technology.
I beleive that airframes post 2006 utilise LED technology. Notwithstanding this, until older airframes are phased out, panel lighting will be a mixture of incandescent and LED lighting, or a combination thereof.
Matching Colour Hue
Attempting to match the backlighting colour hue, especially in the center pedestal and overhead panels has always been a challenge for flight deck builders, especially when using an assortment of older style OEM panels and panels made by differing companies (FDS, CP Flight, Open Cockpits, SimWorld, etc).
What many virtual pilots forget is that the only purpose for an airlines existence is to generate income and a profit for the company. Pilots on the other hand are more concerned with flying the aircraft.
LEFT: Wiring is very neat and the panel does not utilise the more commonly found aluminum box structure (click image for larger view).
There is very little thought as to whether a panel's backlighting is the same colour hue throughout all the panels. If and when a panel needs to be replaced, a technician’s only concern is getting a workable and certified instrument fitted into the aircraft as quickly as possible.
What this means for purists is that it is not unrealistic have a combination of backlit panels in the center pedestal, overhead, or MIP.
Cabin Phone System Panel - What Works
Although there is no obvious use for this panel in the simulator, it is a good-looking panel that improves the overall aesthetics - it fills a 'gap' in the three-bay center pedestal. The buttons do function and when depressed change colour and provide different cautions and call outs. Lifting the red cover and pushing the toggle to test causes the third button to illuminate 'smoke' in orange.
Although the panel has not been connected to an interface card, it is an easy process to connect a POKEYS or Leo Bodnar interface card to the wiring lumen, allowing connection with Flight Simulator.