the time I had flown around for about 100 hours I
had changed my mind on a few things about my panel. Nothing dramatic, and I was
still very pleased with its overall design and ergonomics, but some trends were emerging. First
off, I had built entertainment inputs into my audio system in both pilot and
copilot positions into which I could plug a Discman or MP3 player. I did this
even though at the time I placed a low priority on music while flying. My friend
Bruce told me I'd end up listening to music all the time, but I wasn't convinced
(maybe just thick-headed). So off I went into the world of flying my RV, and after
the test period was over and I was getting more acclimated to the plane, I
started plugging an MP3 player in. Quickly I began to enjoy it and record CDs
just for flying. Just as quickly I grew frustrated with all the wires and
paraphernalia in the cockpit as well as the volume problem created by plugging
most line level devices into most intercoms (PS Engineering PM3000 in my case).
Just then PS Engineering introduced their PCD7100 unit which incorporated their
very latest intercom circuitry, Intellivox, with a CD player, and all in an
avionics rack mountable configuration. Just what I needed. I had to have one, but of course there was no room in the panel for it.
I wanted that unit in my panel bad
enough that I began making plans for an entirely new panel that would
incorporate some other things I'd been thinking about along the way as well. A plan emerged:
build a new panel that incorporated the following changes:
- Remove the PM3000 intercom and install a PCD7100 by
extending the avionics stack downward
- Relocate several breakers or
switches presently below avionics stack to make room for above.
- Move avionics stack 3/4" to the
left to allow it to extend higher.
- Install an avionics fuse block under
the panel to eliminate the individual avionics breakers on the panel. Power
this fuse block with an avionics master
- Eliminate the heavy and expensive electric
gyros (artificial horizon and directional gyro)
- Locate the ADC (Air Data Computer) and Navaid in
the direct center of
primary flight instruments, but install them in a manner that allows space
for replacement of the ADC with a Dynon Development D10 or Blue Mountain Avionics EFIS/lite,
and possible replacement of Navaid with an Stec System 30.
- Upgrade the Electronics International
EAC-1 and cylinder switch to UBG-16 graphic engine analyzer (thereby
- Upgrade Garmin Pilot III to Garmin 295 to get
simultaneous map & HSI display since DG would be removed (color is nice also).
So, after flying the plane for only about six
months that's exactly what I did: build a new panel. I took the plane out of
service and dove in. My R.C.Allen gyros (artificial horizon and directional
gyro) had gone up in price since I originally purchased them such that I was
able to sell them for what I had paid for them. That money was used to pay for
the engine monitor and intercom upgrades. The labor to build the new panel and
re-install everything was the only real cost to this.
Once it was completed I discovered an unexpected
benefit of this simplification: a 2 lb. net reduction in aircraft
empty weight from 1,116 to 1,114 lbs. Overall I am VERY happy with this new
panel. As of this writing I have nearly 200 more hours on the plane and wouldn't
change a thing, it's perfect as far as I'm concerned. (of course what's
"perfect" to one pilot is a disaster to another, that's why we each get to
design our own panels!)
(click on a pic to see a larger version)
With the lights on.
outside air temperature probes: old version and new. Better, but there's still
no need for this protuberance.
By the way, my recommendation is to mount whatever OAT sensor you will be
using out on the wing so as to avoid any possible influence of the engine. Most
builders who locate their sensor anywhere on the fuselage report readings of
about 10 too high. The reason is that engine heat seeps out the edges of the
cowl and streams back over the fuselage. Why risk inaccurate readings which then
make TAS computations inaccurate?
The new avionics fuse block, supplied by avionics master switch/breaker.
This change saved space on my panel and allowed the avionics stack to extend
lower in the new panel. Note that the fuses are arranged in the same
position as the appliance they protect. I can therefore reach under the panel
and remove the desired fuse if needed.
being happy with the accuracy of the Van's tachometer and manifold pressure
gauge, I upgraded them to Electronics International units. Now all my engine