Instrument Panel

Time:2 Hours

I had shipped my blank instrument panel up to SteinAir in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago to have them cut out the avionics on their CNC machine. It had arrived back this week and I had forgot to blog about it. They have all the avionics dimensions saved and can configure your panel any way you want. The benefit to having them cut out all the holes is that they also cut all the screw and rivet holes. My configuration has the two radios, intercom and autopilot panel very close to each other. There are four nutplates for each off them which means there are a lot of holes. I cleaned up all the edges and holes before countersinking for the rivets. After that work was done I temporarily screwed it in place. This will now give me the correct placement and length of the harnesses I will build.  

 So the idea is that after I have all the harnesses built and I buy the avionics I will be able to screw them in place and attach the harnesses and I will be good to go. 

Console’s and Wiring

Time: 8 Hours

Had a great day in the shop today working on several tasks. First up was to rivet the two spar caps on so that I could put the consoles in place after finishing the wiring. These caps get blind riveted in place since you can’t get to the back side with them in place.  

   On the left side I added the two support brackets for the throttle quadrant.  

 With the caps in place I grabbed the left side console and worked on the wiring for the smoke system.   

 With as much of the wiring complete on the switches I put the console in place along with the throttle quadrant.  I fished all the wires from the switches into the gear tower and up behind the panel. 

 There were a few wires that needed to be made for the smoke system to be complete.  

   I moved on to the right side console.  
   The back of the panel area is getting to be a serious plate of spaghetti.  

 I figured now is a good time to start cleaning it up before I move on to another task. To do this i’m going to start building up all the wiring harness ends. I’m starting with the VP-X switch d-sub connector. This connector houses all the inputs from the switches on the consoles. It also has the flap control inputs from the pilots grip. An input from the starter contactor to allow a signal when the starter is engaged for an annunciation on instrument panel. 

  About eight more harnesses left to do to clean this area up. A lot of work done today and great progress. I also shipped out my pilot grip back to Tosten manufacturing to have a switch changed. On my flaps I had a switch that was off in the middle, momentary (spring loaded) in the down position and always on in the up position. This switch is designated like this (on)-off-on. With the VP-X you don’t want a switch that stays in the on position as it will continue to send power to the flap motor and you will get a runaway fault. Instead you need a momentary on both sides of the off position, (on)-off-(on). I emailed Tosten and they said send it and they would replace for free just pay the shipping. Great customer service for sure. 


Right Side Console

Time: 4 Hours

I started working on the right side console switches today. First thing I did was to apply the label that I had made from Once I had that into position I started adding the switches along with the backing plate I made to keep the anti rotation washers secure.  

   I am super happy with how these are turning out. To make things simpler for wiring I decided to wire all the switches I could while these are on the bench. So I started measuring the wire lengths to the various parts. This way I will have the wires done and be able to screw the console in place and fish the wires to their spots.  
 I need to get more wire before I can continue so I moved on to one other task I wanted to finish. If you remember in a previous post I installed the music jack for the passenger. Well after doing some looking followed by some research on the jack itself. What I found out was that this jack needs to be isolated from the metal structure just as the headset jacks. The way I installed it I had contact with the metal structure. So I did some research on washers to isolate it similar to the headset jacks. The issue was that the threaded portion of the jack is pretty short and doesn’t give me the room to add washers. So after some research I found a plastic housed music jack and ordered it. It snaps into a 3/8″ hole and since its plastic thre is no issue with the metal structure.  

 The fun part is since I have the wire run I will need to solder this new part while its in the airplane.  

 Those little solder tabs are very small and was fun to work with. After the heat shrink was cool I snapped it into place.  

   I’m happy with the look and the fact that it is isolated as it should be. No that I have this wire finished correctly I can now blind river the two side spar caps which will allow me to put the side consoles in place for good. Should be a good weekend of building. 

Baggage Door

Time: 2 Hours

I worked on the baggage door, which is the last building task before I get to mate the wings to the fuselage, yesterday.  Pretty simple task of demurring all the edges and holes of the top and bottom skin as well as all the notches of the two side ribs.  You start with the locking mechanism that sends two rods outboard of the lock that will catch two plastic blocks on the baggage door opening.  However they don’t supply the lock and you need to buy that separately from any source you want so I skipped this step for now.  Another note on the baggage door is after reading a lot of builders blogs and talking to my buddy Glenn I understand that the final figment of the door to the fuselage is a real pain in the ass!  It seems that nobody gets a good fit if you proceed with the plans at this stage.  So what I will be doing is following their advise and waiting until the fuselage is finished before attempting to finish the door.  The plan will be to rivet the exterior skin of the door first then attach the door to the fuselage and strap it down with ratchet straps so that all the edges line up perfectly.  Then from inside the fuselage up through the removed baggage floor I will blind rivet the bottom skin hopefully holding the shape needed for a good fit.  So for now I’m done with the door until I get a lock from Van’s and build that mechanism. 

   I need to do a little more research on weather to drill the hinge that will attach at the top now or latter with this new plan of attack.

Forward Top Skin

Time: 6 Hours

I started today with the intention of building the Vertical Power VP-X power connectors to clean up the area behind the instrument panel. What I found was the crimper that I bought from Aircraft Spruce, even though they recommend it just for this task,  was the wrong one according to Chad from VP.  

 These power connectors are very specific and need a specialized crimper. I emailed Cahd and he let me know that they have several that they loan out for free minus shipping as they are expensive, $380, to buy. He said he would ship one out at the end of the week. So I decided to stop the wiring and move on to actual building which I haven’t done for a while. The next task in the plans is to work on the forward upper skin and its parts. After cleoko’ing the skin in place I worked on the two support ribs that attach the aft sides of the skin to the windscreen roll bar. These ribs needed to be match drilled to the skins holes while making sure that edge distances are maintained. I took my time to make sure I didn’t damage the roll bar as I drilled.  

 One other thing I did to this area was to draw a line vertically matching the side skin below it. I have read in several blogs that guys have been cutting this piece of the skin off so the line from the side skin travels up evenly. This also allows for the canopy skirt to sit better from what I have read. So I decided to do the same and cut these tabs off. You can see the area or line in the middle photo above. Once I had all the holes match drilled I removed the skin and other parts to be deburred and dimpled.  

 Before I dimpled the skin I rolled the lower edge of the left and right side to help the skin lay on top of the side skins.  

 After the skin was done I moved to the instrument panel support structure and dimpled its flange along with the forward baggage aft walls flange. With those done I was able to rivet the instrument panel structure to the side skins as well as the top eight rivets that were left open to get the structure in place.  


 While I had the river gun and bucking bar out I finished the row of rivets on the right side forward skin where I had left open so I could work on the support angle on the inside for my new battery cover.  
 Not a lot of photos but a lot of work today, mainly deburring and edge work.