So my Christmas break is over, and I’m catching up on all of the stuff I’ve neglected over the last two weeks. As I mentioned in a blog post, I’ve been planning for several weeks, and started working over the break, on a new instrument panel. My buddy Andy was good enough to give me a panel to start with (he switched to the flat panel), and I’ve been working on it. I’m sure a lot of folks will wonder why I would do this now, so let me explain.
First, the panel we’ve been flying with was very ugly as it was re-purposed after Blue Mountain went out of business and we shoehorned the Grand Rapids EFIS in there. We’re getting ready to put in the interior, so the panel needs to look nice in the near term, and we decided it would be easier to start fresh. While kicking this thought around we were talking with another builder (the Brainards) about their plans to use the Vertical Power system for power distribution. There were a great many things in our plane that seemed like a good idea at the time that were also going to make trimming the interior out more difficult, not the least of which was the copilot-mounted circuit breaker panel. The VP-X from Vertical Power would eliminate these breakers and they’re troublesome wiring, and generally simplify the whole system. If you follow this rat hole to it’s logical termination, a great many sins of the past (a lot generated by the panel changes from Blue Mountain’s failure) could be solved and tidied up by swapping the whole electrical system for the VP-X.
So, this is what we’ve decided to do. I’ve done the planning and ordered everything I think I need, but some of which (including the VP-X itself) will not arrive for a couple of weeks yet. I did however get a fair amount of work done over my holiday. All of the old electrical system has been removed, so now I have an answer for the “how much wire does it take to run a Velocity” question I’m always getting. I’ve also cleaned up nearly every old bump and oddity that I wanted to remove (I’ve got the old EFIS battery and some diode mounts to blast yet) vanquished. I’ve got the new panel setup with a 3 mm metal overlay for the instruments to mount in, and have bonded it to the fiberglass panel. I never really liked how the instruments mounted onto the fiberglass, and this will give a nice rigid base. Everything outside of the metal reinforced areas will be filled even and covered with 3M Di-Noc faux carbon fiber. The panel edges have been cut and matched for nutplates, and the new pilot side will feature the prop controller for the constant-speed prop we will probably order in the coming weeks.
I’ve also built a new avionics shelf for the AHRS that now runs from side-to-side across the fuselage just behind and slightly below the panel similar to my buddy Andy’s. I plan to mount the VP-X on it, and run the wiring up the wiring ducts to the nose and through a grommet in the canard bulkhead rather than having so many wires crossing above the canard as I did previously.
On my break I also built a new custom glareshield out of last-a-foam, again on a recommendation from Andy. The factory shield never quite fit the way I would like, so why not? I still need to glass mounting tabs onto it, but it is very close to finished. While I was making the new radio stack rack mount, I improved the rear stack mounting with bars on both sides the support the rear of the whole stack, and then used two bars to attach the G430 box to the fuselage structure. I’ve also mounted a 5″ 1/4″ thick bar to the bottom of the panel that I intend to connect to the fuselage sides as well as triangular throttle/prop/mixture reinforcing tabs on the ends so that (hopefully) you can grasp the panel bottom when you’re racking your seat forward.
As you can see, it’s quite a little project, and there are a handful of other items I mean to clean up along the way. I expect the electrical portions of the project will take at least all of January, and if we get the interior and the prop, we’ll probably be down the whole winter.
Posted By: Brett FerrellSunday January 2nd, 2011 at 10:40 PM