Panel complete and other stuff

Total: 2367.1
wiring: 117
Panel: 2.5
Total wiring & panel: 263.5
Plumbing: 4.5
Total plumbing: 39.5
Firewall forward: 3.0
Total firewall forward: 6.1
Misc: 4.0
Total Misc: 9.7

So many wires. Little wires. Big wires. long wires. short wires. pins and sockets. So many pins and sockets. … The panel wiring is complete. The two main Dynon screens, the GTN650, and the audio panel (PMA-450A) are not yet installed because I don’t yet own them. But I did purchase the connector kits for those screens and have those installed with the trays. So when I do eventually buy these avionics I’ll just slide them in and be done. This was the part of the build I had been looking forward to from the start. It’s the only part so far where there was no learning curve to scale. The reason being that by profession I’m an EE and have plenty of experience with wires and circuits and pins and sockets. This was the easiest part of the build for me. … Now we’ll be back to the tough stuff – like the engine and installing windows and plenty more fiber-glass and body work.

Because of a misunderstanding on how the GD-40 (CO detector) interfaces with the other equipment I decided to drill a couple more holes in the panel and install the button and LED for this sensor. I had thought it just talked directly to the Dynon equipment but it doesn’t. So I added the button and light and the associated labels.

There was this annoying gap in the front fresh-air vents where they came in contact (or rather didn’t come in contact) with the sides of the airplane. I fixed this. The fresh-air vents look pretty good now, if I do say so myself.

All the pitot and static and AOA lines run fore-aft. This is done. The three lines run from their respective points in the tail and wings to the ADAHRS units in the back as well as the D6 in the front. There’s also a static air switch to open the static line to the cabin right on the panel.

I decided to install the remote magnetic compass for the backup instrument (Dynon D6). This is done and sits right under the ADAHRS units in the back.

Firewall forward: got the pass-throughs and a bunch of other stuff in place (almost ready to hang the engine).

Just lots of little things too numerous to mention.

Aft Top Skin

Total: 2236.1 hours
Aft top skin: 9.0 hours

Nothing special here. Rivited on the aft top skin. The fuse is now entirely closed up. This signifies the end to major airframe construction. There’s still a lot more to go. But this feels like a milestone.

Also had some fun at the airport while arranging for our hangar. The girls had a great time for over an hour flying the little airplane in the pictures. Also made a trip to Green Wood Hills Bible camp ground in PA where the girls played on a rocket ship. Also had a fun trip in a rental to Chapel Hill, NC (KIGX) to pick up a friend.

Panel labels

Total: 2227.1 hours
Total Panel and wiring: 144.0 hours
Total Misc: 5.7 hours
Panel since last time: 30.0 hours
Misc: 4.5 hours

Painted and put labels on the instrument panel. This process was more involved than anticipated. But in the end, it looks really good. I used a system called DecalProFx to turn the labels, once designed, into decals. Then when I was happy I clearcoated the whole panel. To design the labels, believe it or not, I used PowerPoint.  The decalPro process is a little involved and took a few hours to get “good” at it. The hardest part turned out being positioning the decals on the panel but I found a process that worked fairly well.

  1. Design the decal with a nice thick boarder (the boarder is required when making the decal anyway)
  2. Print it on regular paper and cut it out
  3. position it on the panel and hold it in place on one side with scotch tape.
  4. carefully cut out the interior with a small pair of scissors and tape down the rest of the boarder.
  5. Make the decal and use the boarders as a guide for positioning. Also on the decal put in a circle for holes in the panel where applicable. Mask the holes when applying the glue to keep them from sticking. The holes make a great guide.

Note that I also learned to mask off everything on the “mylar carrier” but the graphic itself from the glue application. This makes positioning a lot easier since nothing will stick except the graphic itself.

Because I wanted to put a graphic on the pilot side air vent indicating the location of the parking brake, I also created the bracket necessary to hold the brake pull-cable and I went ahead and installed the whole thing. And I also put a graphic on the head of the pull-cable.

Lot’s of time but worth it, I think. The panel labels look very good in my opinion. The labels themselves look professional. The positioning of the labels could be more precise in a few places but I don’t think the positional flaws will be noticeable once the panel is all populated with switches and screens and all.  I would recommend the decalPro kit to anyone doing the same thing. Just note that you’ll need a laser printer and a laminator. And if someone could invent some way to hold the decal for positioning that would make placement much easier.

One special thing we decided to do because we had a lot of space on the right side of the panel was to put on a Bible verse. Actually after a family discussion where we all discussed what verse to use, we decided on two. Given the perspective of the creation from an airplane we decided to use Romans 1:20 which says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Under it we have 1 John 5:20 which says: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

I also spent a little of this time installing a doubler for a GPS antenna in the back between the comm 1 antenna and the ELT antenna. This marks a change to the original plan which has this antenna on the cabin top. After realizing the amount of work for this antenna which requires a ground-plane and if installed on a non-metallic surface, a grounded braid around the RG400 cable, I decided to relocate to a metallic airframe location. This solves both the ground-plane problem and eliminates the need for the special braid. And it meets the spec of more than 2′ away from any other antenna. I don;t anticipate a problem. There was already a spare coax going front to back and in case it doesn’t work out because of proximity to the other antennae, I’m leaving the cable which runs to the cabin top in place.


Doors finished

Total: 2192.6 hours
Total Doors: 191.9 hours
Total Cabin Top: 139.3 hours
Doors this session: 35.8 hours
Cabin top this session: 12.5 hours

Worked to finish up the doors and the inside of the cabin top. This involved prepping and painting. Lots and lots of work involved. The fiberglass had to be sanded and filled and sanded and filled over and over again with a final skim coat of epoxy. The cabin top was filling and smoothing the region where the cabin top joins with the fuse. This had been filled with flox a while ago but now it was time to fill it and smooth out the transition. And I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

There are, of course, a few defects in the paint (aren’t there always?) – but no runs or sags – just a few spots in the doors where it turns out the prep must not have been perfect and a few specs of dust. All in all I’m pretty happy with the doors. And with the installation of the interior door handles I can now say the doors are finished.

The interior of the cabin is getting there. The transitions previously mentioned were painted and the underside of the glare-shield was repainted. I had originally painted it with a nice rust-o-leum gray but it got beat up in the course of events and we decided it would be better and look better for it to be the same color as the rest of the interior so I repainted it with the good stuff (Stewart Systems dawn patrol gray) and it does look a lot better.

Wiring wiring more wiring and plumbing

Total: 2144.3 hours
Wiring since last time: 53.5 hours
Plumbing since last time: 35.0 hours
Total wiring so far: 114.0 hours
Total plumbing: 35.0 hours

Wiring is everything having to do with the panel and getting electricity from the panel to where it needs to be. Plumbing is everything having to do with pitot/static lines and fresh air vents.

Much done. See the pictures (including building a deck for the in-laws which is not airplane related but it helps the kids build up some important skills which we all use for the airplane build).

Of note: Engine and propeller are here.

Issues. Serious issue with the front fresh air vents. The panel which is not stock seriously interferes with the position of the front NACA vents. And it’s impossible to use any standard fitting over both the vent and the NACA inlet. At least 20 of the “plumbing” hours were spent devising a way to get the air to the eye-ball vents and mounting those vents. I am still in the process of making it all pretty but am so far very pleased with the solution which is going to look great. In short, I made some boxes in which to mount the vents. And then had to fabricate a duct from fiberglass to direct the air from the NACA inlets to the vents. In the end because of the very tight space and my self-imposed requirement that the duct and hose must be able to come off and on without removing the panel, in the end I glassed the hose directly into the duct. This was a largely trial and error process so these ducts are quite ugly (ugly indeed). But they’ll do the job (and never be seen) and if I ever have to remake them (or I ever just decide to remake them to avoid that annoying feeling that a monkey could have done better) I’ll be able to make them look nice since I’ll know the final dimensions ahead of time. This was a bear of a job and it’s just time to move on.