Archive for August, 2013

Assembled 1st Annunciator Controller – 1.5 hrs

August 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Monday Aug 26, 2013

I designed an instrument panel with eight annunciator lights for important visible notifications and reminders. For example I want a red LED lighting up for a EFIS master alarm. I also want a green LED lighting when the Pitot Heat is on. Additionally, during pre-flight I want to press one button on the panel and have all eight lights turn on as a test of the lamps before takeoff. I found a product that lets me do this easily. It is called the IL-4A annunciator controller from This model supports four lights and I want eight so I bought two as kits for assembly at home. Tonight I assembled the first module. Quite simple really – just a little soldering. Each channel can be configured to monitor a circuit that either goes to ground or goes HI to +12V. If you want the light to go on when the circuit goes to ground you leave out one resistor. If you want the light to go on when the circuit goes to +12V you leaving out a diode. This first module is set to monitor four circuits that are all active when they go to ground. Next I plan to test the controller before proceeding to mount it on the aircraft or assembling the second module.


Categories: Avionics

Electrical Planning – 9 hrs

August 25, 2013 1 comment

Sunday Aug 25, 2013

Most of my time this weekend was again spent on electrical planning. I now have 20 separate schematics for the different major subsystems of the airplane such as main power backbone, ignition, VP-X wiring, transponder, autopilot, etc. It was just way too confusing to try to put those all on one schematic so I did it in modules. They are pretty close to done now. I am just cross checking everything and looking for errors. From that I compiled a list of materials I need such as wire, connectors, switches, and terminals. I was stunned when I added it all up and it came to almost $500 worth of new materials? The RG-400 coax and connectors alone total over $80.

After almost a full day of this I was aching to make something with my hands so I took a break from the electrical planning and worked on a couple of small hardware projects. One thing on my to-do list has been to install a quick release detent catch on the copilot control stick. A lot of builders do this for the wife so the stick can be removed for more comfort on long cross country runs. I bought the detent spring from McMaster Carr (P/N 92988A650). In fact I had to buy a bag of five so I have four left over and will gladly mail one to anyone who needs one. All it takes is a 1/4 inch hole drilled through the stick tube and receiver fitting. The detent spring just pops in. I put some heat shrink tubing on the spring before installing it to prevent chaffing on the electrical wires that will run through the tube for the copilot radio button. This view shows the detent spring installed in the tube.


And this photo shows the tube inserted and the detent snapped into place. It is quite solid.


I also fabbed a shield for the canopy release switch. I was worried that the microswitch could get damaged by a passenger getting in or out because it was somewhat exposed at the passenger’s right shoulder and that little lever on the switch is quite delicate. The cover is .032 alclad aluminum and it is attached by the same two screws that hold the switch plate to the latch. This photo shows it installed with the seat back pulled forward.


You can see in this next photo with the seat back in the normal position and the latch open that the switch would be more exposed without the cover. No doubt it will be even better with the seat cushions installed.


I also mounted the prop (maybe for the final time) and installed the spinner with my newly custom made gap fillers. You can see how nicely they fit in this view. Yes, you can only see one because the other two are on the far side but they all look virtually identical.


Categories: Canopy Latch Fingers, Prop

Installed ELT Antenna – 2 hrs

August 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Aug 18, 2013

I spent most of my time this weekend working on the computer planning out the electrical wiring schematics and building a parts list for an order to Steinair. This electrical network is more complicated than I expected.

The one visible accomplishment was the installation of the ELT antenna. I go the idea of mounting it behind the roll bar from Chad and Bekah’s web site. I don’t want to mount it outside the fuselage and this seems better than under the empennage fairing.


Categories: Avionics, ELT

Finished Prop Gap Fillers – 3 hrs

August 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Friday Aug 16, 2013

This post summarizes the work over several evenings to finish the prop gap fillers I made for my Catto 3-blade prop. Here is a view of one of the three gap fillers. I applied a layer of epoxy with microlight filler to each part and sanded them out flat to hide the rivets and make the surface flush with the spinner. Then I applied a good thick layer of UV Smooth Prime.


Categories: Prop

Installed ADSB Module, Making Prop Gap Fillers – 11 hrs

August 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Aug 11, 2013

My friend Scott came over on Saturday to help me install the Dynon ADSB module. I decided to mount it behind the baggage compartment using a modified Vans ELT/strobe mounting bracket. I ordered that kit a few months ago so we pulled it out and I climbed into the baggage compartment to match drill it to the J-stringers. It would have been a lot easier to install this thing before I closed out the aft fuselage. It was uncomfortable but we got it done including spraying a coat of primer on the bracket before riveting it to the stringers. The only modification I made was to install four nutplates in a pattern that matches the ADSB module hole pattern. This is ready for electrical and RF wiring.


Another project is the fabrication of prop gap fillers behind the blades. I considered making these out of fiberglass but I did not see an easy way to mold them so I followed the Vans suggestion and made aluminum two-piece gap fillers, Here is my first attempt. It started with a paper template that I refined in two or three iterations then I transferred that to aluminum. The part you can see below is .062 aluminum sheet and there is a .032 doubler behind it for a nutplate about 1.8 inches forward of the back edge of the spinner. The doubler prevents the sharp forward edge of the gap filler from bending outward under centrifugal forces. Catto must use a tool for making these cutouts because all three are very consistent.


Here are the two pieces that make up one gap filler. The .062 thick piece is on the left. Compound curves are required to make these fit properly. I beat the parts over a large wood with a rubber mallet to form the curve that matches the circumference of the spinner. I simply bent it with my hands to match the conical curvature.


In this view the two pieces are riveted together such that the .032 is underneath and forms a flange that extends under the fiberglass spinner and a nutplate is installed for the lower left screw. That gives it a lot of strength and helps pull the two parts together for a flush profile.


This view shows the first filler mounted to the spinner back plate so you can see the underlying flange easily. I got all three of these made today but I need to do some surface finish work to make them look nice.


Categories: Avionics, Prop

Finished GPS Mount – 5 hrs

August 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Aug 4, 2013

I was able to finish the GPS mount today. Yesterday I left you with few details of the design but today the finished product is revealed. I put a light coat of primer on the mount parts first, then after the parts baked in the sun for an hour or so I sanded them smooth with 400 grit paper and applied a good coat of white enamel paint. That baked another hour in the sun and because I was impatient I riveted them together.


Here is how it mounts in the airplane. The hinge is attached to the engine mount using two Adel clamps. The aft edge attaches to the angle bracket I made and mounted to the firewall. It is quite sturdy and should have an excellent view to the satellites through the fiberglass cowl.


By removing just two screws I can tilt the GPS plate up to gain clear access to the oil filter. Here is how it looks tilted forward. Now the Dynon GPS antenna is mounted and I ran the wires aft through the pass-thru because they connect directly to the EFIS.


Today I also sanded the spinner exterior surface to knock off the gloss and sprayed it with two coats of UV Smooth Prime.  This thing looks great now. It is pristine clean and very smooth. I like it.


Categories: Avionics, Prop

Spinner Work, Making GPS Mount – 6 hrs

August 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Saturday Aug 3, 2013

Today I worked on two projects; completing the spinner and spinner bulkheads, and making a mount for the GPS antenna. The first major step was drilling the bulkheads for the K1000-08 nut plates, fifteen on the aft bulkhead and six on the forward bulkhead. I also finished the edges of the bulkheads and did the scotchbrite process to prepare for primer. After preping the aluminum bulkheads I sprayed on a light coat of primer and left them dry in the warm dry air outside.


While that was drying I started making a mount for the GPS antenna. I decided to mount the antenna forward of the firewall and under the fiberglass cowl. A lot of builders put antennas there. I designed this on the fly with available scrap materials. The idea is to have a plate big enough for two antennas (expansion room) and make it hinge so it can be moved out of the way for access to the oil filter. You’ll see what I mean later. This is how far I got on the fabrication today. All the aluminum parts are made and I started riveting them together. I will prime and paint this tomorrow when I have more time.


By now the spinner bulkheads were well dryed so I riveted the nutplates around the perimeters.


Categories: Avionics, Prop

Fitting the Prop and Spinner – 2.5 hrs

August 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Friday Aug 2, 2013

I was able to mount the prop today for a check of the fit and associated hardware. This looks really cool. I installed the back plate, prop, front plate and spinner. I left the prop spacer/crush plate off for now because it’s heavy.


I am surprised how large the prop spinner cutouts are. These were made by Catto. There is over a 1/4 inch all around and much larger on the back. I guess this is necessary to be able to slip the spinner on easily.


I think I will make some spinner gap fillers to close up the gaps on the back. I cut a piece of paper as a template and stuck it on with sticky back tape. If I can make something like this in fiberglass or aluminum I can then open up the gap to just enough for operating clearance.


After removing the prop so I can do some work on the spinner plates I put the front cowl on again. This is the first time since I finished sealing and priming the cowl.


I needed to trim up the aft edge of the spinner to be flush with the back plate so I did that with a cutoff wheel in the dremel tool. I then sanded the edges to a smooth finish and put the spinner back on the crankshaft (without the prop) for a check of the gap. Looks good from here.


I also did a bit of work on the panel. I am designing the overall electrical schematic and panel configuration on the computer for wiring purposes. I printed the panel layout in sections and put it on the panel as a check of the ergonomics. I actually got in the airplane and closed the canopy to try to get as real as I could. Indeed I decided to shift a few components a bit to improve the spacing.


Categories: Avionics, Prop

Installing EMS – 3 hrs

August 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Thursday Aug 1, 2013

There was an Airventure special going on at Chief Aircraft last week with a 5% discount. That was the best deal I found so I pulled the trigger and ordered my avionics including dual Dynon Skyview EFIS and a Trutrak Gemini PDF as backup. The Dynon system includes the GPS, engine monitoring system (EMS), backup batteries, and ADSB receiver.  The Dynon hardware arrived just before I went out of town.

I started installing the EMS today. It is one box with this massive pair of cables. The instructions say that the 9-pin D-sub connector is not used on Skyview systems so cut it off. It always makes me nervous to cut up perfectly good hardware so I paused and read the instruction 3 times. Then I took this picture and cut off the 9-pin.


Here is where I installed it. It is right behind the firewall on the left side where the EMS cables can easily route through the firewall pass-thru to the engine. I will replace those screws with better hardware when I can pick some up. I put the 9-pin on the EMS network connector to verify that the the network cable can route properly.


Categories: Avionics