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I am planning on making a pair of rudder pedals from scratch. I don't know whether they should be hinged, or slide forwards and backwards.

On real aircraft, how do they work? Does it vary from plane to plane?

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I've never seen "sliding" rudder pedals in a light GA plane - though there may be such designs in transport aircraft, especially fly-by-wire planes.

If you're looking for simplicity for a homebuilt aircraft or simulator I'd go with hinged pedals pivoting at the floor similar to what you'll find on a Piper Cub (which can be made by welding tubes together into an I shape), or any number of similar floor-mounted designs:
Cub-Like pedals with square foot pads Cub rudder pedals with toe brakes

(As shown in the first picture, toe brakes can be easily retrofitted onto such a design, and as shown in the second you can mount square pedals on them if you want to, though the round bar has some advantages.)

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"I've never seen "sliding" rudder pedals in a light GA plane - though there may be such designs in transport aircraft, especially fly-by-wire planes." What GA planes do you base your statement on (just curious)? –  flyingfisch Mar 2 at 4:02
    
@flyingfisch Mostly Pipers & Cessnas, a few LSAs that I've had occasion to climb into as well. They've all had some kind of pivot mechanism (either a simple pivot like above or torque tubes) rather than a track that the pedal slides in. I could certainly see designing a sliding rudder pedal though - it would be simple enough to make it work with cables, and even easier with an encoder for fly-by-wire aircraft. –  voretaq7 Mar 2 at 7:24
    
yeah, I guess it would be easier to build sliding pedals than pivoting ones... –  flyingfisch Mar 2 at 16:26
    
I know some Extras have "electrically adjustable rudder pedals", but I don't know how they operate. –  Dan Pichelman Mar 2 at 18:34
    
@DanPichelman I'm not sure about the Extras but the Pipistrel Virus has a pretty awesome setup for (manually) adjustable pedal distance: youtube.com/watch?v=NfgllFkauZY –  voretaq7 Mar 3 at 2:20

On the Cessna's I've flown they both slide and pivot- sliding directs the rudder, pivoting engages the respective wheel's brakes.

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What Cessna models? –  flyingfisch Mar 2 at 3:58
    
Cessna 172s, from a range of model years. –  CoderTao Mar 2 at 4:00
    
OK, maybe it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer then. –  flyingfisch Mar 2 at 4:04
    
@CoderTao All the Cessnas I've been in have had rudder attached to torque tubes (built something like this) - I consider that a pivot (around the mounts on the floor) rather than a slide (in a track). Is this what you're describing, or have you seen something different? (Incidentally side-by-side Pipers have similar rudder pedal designs, but with the torque tube above the pedals instead of below them - you can sometimes find full rudder pedal assemblies for both Piper & Cessna on eBay) –  voretaq7 Mar 2 at 7:20
    
I can't comment on the actual construction / physical implementation- I never looked that close at them (best I can say is they're similar to what's seen here: farm3.staticflickr.com/2724/4337838025_18c852a8f2_o.jpg ); only that there were two actuating motions, one which seemed to be a linear slide, and the other a pivot. –  CoderTao Mar 2 at 11:26

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