Archive for October, 2013

First Attempt with DecalPro – 3 hrs

October 31, 2013 2 comments

Thursday Oct 31, 2013

After pricing dry transfer labels from various printers I decided to give DecalPro a try for my instrument panel. I ordered the kit directly from Pulsar and fortunately my wife has a GBC laminator that is compatible so the out of pocket cost is $90 plus shipping. My first attempt was to run one of the pre-printed sample labels that came in the kit. I followed the instructions as closely as I could and except for a few wrinkles in the foil application it came out fine. So I learned to be more careful and pull the foil tighter.

My next attempt was with a group of labels I printed on my laser printer. The group covered an area approximately 3 x 4 inches and it totally failed in the water bath. For some reason it did not transfer to the mylar at all. So for the next run I made a few changes. First I increased the border width around the labels because this is supposed to help prevent separation in the water bath. I also increased the size of my lettering by 1/2 step to put more toner down and I increased the saturation setting on the laser printer to the maximum level. When I dried the label with the hot air gun I increased the time and I cleaned the materials extra carefully. This time the labels transferred to the mylar as intended and I got a few good labels applied to the panel. Here is the set I applied for a group of switches. The three on the right were all applied as one label and the one on the left was separately applied. The hardest part was placing it correctly on the panel the first time. After the label touches it cannot be moved. It looks pretty good to me. I am certainly happier with this than I would be with P-touch labels.


Categories: Instrument Panel

More Electrical Wiring, Comm Antenna Doubler – 12 hrs

October 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Oct 27, 2013

Now that all the wires that run through the spar and the center tunnel to the tail have been loosely laid in I was able to tidy them up and install some tie bases to secure them. In this photo you can see the wires running along the tunnel next to the elevator pushrod. Next I terminated the wires for the flap actuator and flap position sensor into their respective connectors and mated them.


I trimmed the excess length off the power wire from the VP-X to the ADSB module and terminated that into the D-sub connector. The ADSB wiring is now complete on this end.


Likewise I trimmed the excess length off the power wire from the VP-X to the transponder module and terminated that into the D-sub connector. The transponder wiring is now complete on this end.


So the wiring in the bay aft of the baggage compartment is now done and I put the lower rear panel in place with clecos, installed the tunnel cover with screws, and put down the carpet in the baggage compartment.


One of the wires coming out of the engine monitor module is a +5Vdc supply which must be split to power the manifold pressure, oil pressure, and fuel pressure sensors. For this I installed an in-line crimp splice with one in and three out. It is mounted next to the EMS module, In this photo you can see it mounted to the rib.


On the other side of the fuselage I terminated the wires to the manifold pressure sensor (including one of the +5 Vdc wires mentioned above.


Last but not least my supportive wife helped me rivet the doubler plate to the fuselage for the comm antenna which is located under the pilot’s seat.


Categories: Avionics, Wiring

Painted Panel, More Wiring – 13 hrs

October 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Oct 20, 2013

Saturday morning I began preparing the instrument panel for painting. I removed all the instruments and switches and made a final pass at deburring all edges. I also removed the clecos that held the stiffener angle pieces onto the panel. The angles will be riveted  to the panel with flush rivets so I cut countersinks for all those rivets plus the rivets for the nut plates I will install for the Dynon display mounting. Then I used a scotchbrite pad to scuff up all surfaces. That was followed by cleaning with Simple Green and a wet scotchbrite pad.

I wanted to get a coat of primer on the surfaces that are riveted together so I sprayed a light coat of Ekoprime along the upper rear edge of the panel and the face of the angles. After letting that dry for a while I riveted the angles to the rear of the panel. The next step was to prime the entire assembly with the stiffeners attached.

Most of the rivets along the face of the panel were still visible after that so I decided to fill them with UV Smooth Prime because it fills small gaps well. It was just one dot of primer on each rivet but I had to let that dry well before sanding the surface flush. When I completed that the rivets had disappeared under all but the closest examination. After washing down the panel to eliminate dust I dried it in the sun for a while then sprayed a coat of JetFlex on as the final finish. That took basically all day on Saturday and here is how it turned out.


The next big question is how to label this panel. P-Touch labels are a common approach but I don’t think they don’t look very professional. Decal Pro is a homemade dry transfer kit but the reviews on that system are mixed. Some say it can be difficult to get good results. Dry transfers from a commercial printer are another option but not inexpensive at about $150 for a single 8×10 sheet of labels. Make one mistake and it will cost you another $100 or so for a second sheet. Ouch! Those seem like my main options. I just need to make a decision.

In the mean time I began mocking up the labels to work out the size, locations, and font of the labels. I just printed out samples on the laser printer and laid them out around the various instruments and switches.


Here is a closeup example where I am working out the distance above and below switches for labels.


On Sunday I worked on the wiring of the navigation/position/strobe lights. I have Aveo Ultra Aurora wing tip lights and an Aveo Posistrobe XP on the tail. The power to each is wired to a common circuit on the VP-X Pro using multi-conductor shielded wire. I installed this terminal strip in the fuselage under the seats to distribute the power in three directions. A shielded pair is wired to the strip from the VP-X (including the shield) and shielded triples are wired from there to the three lights. The third conductor in each run is for the sync wire that links the lights all together. Putting the strip here minimizes the weight of wiring and the volume of wires going through the main spar.


I also tried to tidy up the wires around the pilot stick area including the aileron trim servo wires.


Categories: Instrument Panel

Finishing the Center Subpanel – 6.5 hrs

October 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Oct 13, 2013

To mount the radio stack to the subpanel I first drilled four equally spaced holes in the two aluminum angles on each flange as guides for match drilling into the ribs and subpanel. Then I clamped the angles to the ribs and drilled through the holes installing clecos as I went. Then I drilled through the angles into the subpanel. These holes will all be riveted.


The next step was to remove the middle subpanel from the fuselage which requires removing the canopy as well.


A section of the subpanel needs to be cut out to allow clearance for the GTR 200 radio and the future option of a GTN 650 or similar IFR GPS. The GTR 200 needs a couple of extra inches for connectors/cables and a GTN 650 needs even more depth than that.  I don’t have to cut this hole for the GTN 650 now, but it will be much easier than trying to enlarge the hole after the subpanel is riveted to the fuselage. This just makes the future upgrade easier. I marked out the size of the hole I needed and began to cut with my dremel and cut-off wheel. This is how it looked after the rough cut.


And this is how it looked after cleaning up the edges with hand files.


While I was working on the subpanel I installed these nutplates for the adel clamps that secure the control cables and riveted the bracket to the subpanel.


Here is a view of the radio stack clecoed to the subpanel as I checked the clearance for the radios.


Categories: Avionics, Front Deck

Mounting Radio – 8 hrs

October 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Saturday Oct 12, 2013

My final piece of avionics arrived this morning via FedEx truck – a Garmin GTR 200 comm radio. I’ve had this on order for almost a month. It’s the latest model and has been on backorder so I was glad to finally get it. Here is a view of the faceplate as it came out of the box.


Of course the radio included the tray so I immediately set about mounting the tray in the radio stack under the audio panel. I designed my panel cutout to allow 1/8 inch clearance between the GTR 200 and the audio panel for cooling so I had to align the GTR 200 tray to the bottom of the cutout in the panel, mark the hole locations then drill them through the side ribs of the stack. Here is a view after I mounted the tray to the side ribs. I also made .062 thick spacers that  go between the trays and the side ribs so I could install screws near the forward ends of the trays into the side ribs for better support. This box is pretty rigid now.


Here is a photo taken as I checked the fit of the stack in the panel. Everything lines up nicely.


Then I put the panel back into the fuselage and set it up to align two pieces of aluminum angle that will secure the tray to the subpanel. You can see one temporarily held in place by a shop clamp.


But before doing that I needed to change gears and reinstall the tail feathers on the aft fuselage so I could determine how to route the wires to the strobe light on the lower rudder fairing. To do this I needed to back the airplane up so the tail sticks out of the garage because the rudder is too high for the garage door. The weather was great today and I needed to get this done and get it disassembled before dark so I put my focus on this. Here you can see the vertical stabilizer and rudder in place. I got some funny looks from people driving by the house today.


After examining my options and doing several iterations with the rudder on and off I drilled a hole in the aft bulkhead about four inches above the lower hinge and I cut a slot in the rolled skin of the rudder for the wires to pass through where they turn downward past the hinge and exit into the region where the lower fairing mounts. I am optimistic this will work well – although I have not seen it done this way before. Well that’s the fun part of a homebuilt airplane. I installed a snap bushing where the wires pass through the bulkhead and I will install braided sleeving over the wire bundle which is actually a twisted shielded triple with an outer jacket so it is already somewhat scuff resistant. I pulled the wires through so they would reach the strobe light with about 6 inches of margin and marked it with a piece of tape at the aft bulkhead. Look between the rudder and the aft bulkhead to see the wires.


Here is a good view of the slot. I placed it above the second rivet in the rolled skin and cut it wide enough to allow the rudder to swing from stop to stop without hitting the wires. Here is one option to protect the edges wires from the raw edges with caterpillar edging from McMaster-Carr. I might glue these on with ProSeal. I plan to look at other options as well. With this done I ran the tail strobe wires from the seat pan area under the baggage compartment, through the aft fuselage to the tail using that tape mark to determine how much wire to leave hanging out until I get it terminated to the strobe.


Categories: Avionics, Wiring

Electrical Wiring, Interior Installation – 12 hrs

October 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Oct 6, 2013

Saturday I got back to the job of electrical wiring on this monster. I started by cutting the long run of wire I had spooled up on the left wing and I installed knife connectors for the pitot heater wires. These are larger 14 AWG wires that carry up to 10 amps. This gives me a clean connection at the left wing.


I continued laying out and pulling wires through the fuselage based on my electrical schematics. My immediate goal was to get all the wires laid out that must pass through the wing main spar. Why? Because there are only four snap bushings that are available to pass wires through and I have been concerned about whether all the wires that need to get through there will fit. The second concern is which wires should run through each of the four snap bushings because that affects wire length.

It turned out to be an iterative process. I ran the wires along routes that made sense to me based on where they were going but I had to make some compromises because of limited space in each bushing. I think I got all the wires through the spar laid in if not terminated on each end. Most are labeled right now at each end as to their function. They come together in two bundles in the tunnel area and go up the firewall to the subpanel area where the VP-X is located. I used zip ties to temporarily tie the bundles together to keep them organized. Just getting to this point was a lot of work. One change I made was taking all wires out of the snap bushing that contains the manual trim cable. That put more pressure on the other three snap bushings but I did it because I realized that I could never take the manual trim cable out again with other wires sharing the bushing without cutting those wires. The threaded end of the trim cable just barely slips through the snap bushing. Overall this is a major accomplishment because I got all the wires to fit and I am happy so far with the routing.


I also spent some time connecting the wires to the pilot stick grip wires (7) and securing them in and organized manner. There is lots more of this type of work to do and it is awkward working down in between the ribs under the seats this way.


On Sunday I started working on installing the Classic Aero Interior for real – not just a quick fit of the pieces like I did last week. The first step is to glue two pieces leather to the diagonal brace of the side rails. This piece will be exposed and the leather trims it up nicely. Oh, but first I had to rivet the side rail channels to the spar – something that I never had completed. So that first step took and hour or so to complete. Then I made a paper mask so I could spray the part with adhesive and catch the overspray.


I found I had to trim the leather piece slightly to prevent it from overlapping the snap bushings on the spar where the rudder cables pass through. You can see the arch shaped cuts on each side in the upper piece compared to the untrimmed piece below it.


Here is one leather piece installed with spray contact adhesive. Notice the snap bushing on the right side.


The arm rests and side pockets were the toughest to install. Getting the holes lined up was a pain that took me a good hour to master. One complication was the custom stiffener I had installed under the arm rest. Little did I know at the time that it would interfere with the side pocket piece. I had to trim the side pocket frame slightly in areas that are not visible once installed. My accomplishment today was getting the pilot’s side installed and about 25% of the copilot’s side. More to come on this job.


Custom Mount for Light Dimmer Controller – 3 hrs

October 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Friday Oct 4, 2013

The spousal unit had to go under the knife this morning to repair a torn meniscus in her left knee so I took the day off to accompany her through the procedure. In the afternoon as she rested and the drugs wore off I hung out in the garage and made this custom mount for my interior light dimmer controller. I stacked it in top of the two annunciator controllers to save space on the subpanel. The dimmer controller was purchased from and handles up to four channels. It works with LED lights and I will use it for the instrument panel LED strip light, the baggage compartment light, and the annunciator lights. One channel is a spare right now. I also need to dim the Gemini PFD but it requires a simple 5K potentiometer for dimming. The PWM dimmer won’t work for that.


Categories: Uncategorized