Assemble your home flight
simulator cockpit with
self-drilling screws

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Self-Drilling Screws

The Do It Yourself Flight Simulator projects are built from plastic
PVC pipe.  

You can use self-drilling screws as one option to secure the pipes
in the connectors.  These are also known as self-tapping screws.

This type of screw includes a tip that is shaped much like a drill
bit.  They are designed to drill through sheet metal, and they work
really well with PVC pipe also.
within.  The pipe is held tightly in place.

The screws might be designated as a 8-18 or 10-16.

The first number refers to the size of the head.  See here the size 10 is thicker
than size 8.

The second number is the number of threads per inch.  16 or 18 threads per

For our purposes, it doesn't really matter which size or thread count you use.  
Either will do.  

In many of the DIYflightsims projects, we specifically recommend screws that are
3/4" long.  This unique angle shows we have drilled the screw through the
connector and into the pipe.  The pipe is held in place.

The common theory was that 1/2" screws were too short.  But look at this one.  
The drill bit part of the screw is sticking out and the threaded part of the screw is
long enough to hold the pipe in place.  Well that means the 1/2" screw should
work fine.

The advantage is that you can buy 75 1/2" screws for about the same price as
50 3/4" screws.

It's easy to drill the screws into the PVC connectors, but a little technique will
help.  Remember that the tip of the screw will work like a drill bit, so use a high
RPM setting on your drill.

You'll want to drill close enough to the edge of the connector to catch the pipe.  
How far does the pipe extend into the connector?  I'll make a mark here and
show you.  

Ok, with this in mind, make a dot for your drill.

Start very slowly when you drill, to prevent the screw from "walking" across the
smooth surface.  Once the screw starts drilling into the plastic, drill at full speed.

If you don't start slow, the screw, walks across the surface.  (black & white)
(show again slow-mo)

Be careful not to drill in the screw too much.  You don't want to round out the
hole and give the threads nothing to hold on to.

If the Phillips head screws are not available, the hex head screws will work just
as well.

You will need a socket adapter for your drill and a 5/16" socket.  

Drill them in just like you would the Phillips head screws:  slow and then fast.

After a coat of paint, the screws give your flight simulator a neat machined look.  
They help your home cockpit look more like a vehicle and less like plumbing.