Construction finally begins
after months of arriving at the perfect layout, and even buying
instruments for it. However as I began transferring the Panel Planner
layout to the actual panel blank I quickly discovered that it WOULDN'T WORK. It turns out
that the software doesn't scale the instruments or the panel template
correctly, especially in relation to each other. The arrangement I had,
and that I bought instruments for, wouldn't fit. I had to re-design my
panel on the fly and eliminate two instruments. Needless to say I don't
have much good to say about Panel Planner.This picture shows my new design with the conventional airspeed
indicator and altimeter eliminated. I'm going to rely solely on my RMI
microEncoder for airspeed and altitude information. Actually I will have a
backup in the form of my Garmin Pilot III GPS. It will normally run from
ship's power but will instantly go to it's batteries if power fails. It
provides accurate groundspeed and semi-accurate altitude information which
will at least get me down in the event of a total electrical failure.
|| Here's the panel after mounting the instruments I have now. The left two
spots are waiting for the new Van's tach and map gauge. My electric
attitude indicator, which will go in the remaining large round hole, is
off getting the 8 degree tilt put it in it.
||Everything was disassembled, the avionics rack fabricated and installed,
and the panel painted. I had a regular trophy shop engrave the labels.
Note that I had them made to go completely under all the switches and
breakers. This is extra work, but I think it looks more finished and will
be more durable... the breaker and switch nuts can't scratch the paint.
|| Here you can see the details of the avionics rack. I wanted the
flexibility of a rack to be able to change things around in the future,
new technology is always being introduced. The
top spot is that adaptor plate where my Garmin Pilot III will go. The
cut-out is precisely the shape needed when the two halves are put together
around it... two hours of trial and error to get it right.
||Details of the avionics rack construction. The main angles are 3/4"
.063" angle that are flush-riveted onto the panel. The two avionics
pieces are strapped together, and then the rear of the lower tray
will be bolted to the forward gear tower crossbar which just happens to be
at the perfect height.
||A main power wire will come from the battery contactor to the volt/amp
(internal shunt) meter visible in the center just above the row of
breakers. The output will then jump down the inch or so from the meter to
the bus bar. Another feed will be wired to the lighting bus on the right
||This is the Rocky Mountain
Instruments MicroEncoder which will be my sole airspeed and altitude
instrument. This can be bought either in a kit or prebuilt. It is a very
popular unit and most builder's opt to save the $300 and build it
themselves as did I. It's an excellent kit and easy to build. RMI also
provides great support.
||The remaining two holes are for
the Van's manifold pressure gauge on the left and my Garmin Pilot III GPS
on the right.
||Detail of the main breaker/bus
|Home Wing newsletter
(1.6 mb .pdf file)
|For those of you interested, I
wrote an article for our local builder's group about my thoughts on
building a panel. Feel free to download it. Just right click on it, select
the "Save Target As..." option, and save it to your computer
wherever you want it. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the file.
|| This is what it looks like
installed, although not wired yet. I should weigh the panel assembly and
post the exact weight, but it is surprisingly heavy. I can lift it
into place by myself, but need help holding it to install the screws.
||Location of the ELT antenna on an
RV-8 is a bit problematic. There are basically three options: one, inside
the empennage fairing oriented horizontally, two, somewhere in the
interior such as the right side of the passenger area, or three, a rubber
ducky at the very forward edge of the turtledeck. All three are a
compromise for various reasons. I chose option one which is the way Van's
has done all their demo ships. Frankly, the ELT technology we are using
now is almost obsolete and will likely be replaced with a new satellite
based system within 5 years. The installation I've used is the least
disruptive in terms of changing it later. The only holes you'd see by
changing are the control box located in the right sub-panel... changing
that one will be obvious.
||When all is said and done here's
how it looks installed in the finished plane.
|I just can't leave well enough
alone. After spotting a magazine ad for the AITI Mach III Air Data
Computer (ADC) I just had to replace my RMI Microencoder with it. I'll
post the story here soon along with some results. In the mean time you can
check out the ADC at www.aircraftinstruments.com.
||This is what the display will