Archive for November, 2013

More and More Wiring – 10 hrs

November 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Nov 24, 2013

Wiring continued this weekend. Progress is slow but steady. I estimate I have completed about 70% of the wiring job so far. One thing I did was assemble the 1K ohm resistor fuse for the starter annunciator lead. The resistor comes with the VP-X Pro harness kit. The resistor is soldered inline with the AWG 18 wire to the VP-X box and located physically close to the starter contactor.


This view shows the white wire routed along the red VP-X power wire to the starter contactor.


Here is a view from above looking down into the fuselage showing some of the point to  point wiring. I use a lot of zip ties to temporarily pull bundles together. It will get cleaned up more when I finish routing wires and finally lace all the bundles up tighter.


Categories: Avionics, Wiring

First Power-Up Successful – 9 hrs

November 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Nov. 17, 2013

I crossed another major milestone this weekend with the initial power-up of the VP-X and Skyview. I spent a good amount of time Saturday wiring up subsystems and there is still much to do but I got the VP-X wired to ground and power through the battery contactor. I want to try to test incrementally as the electrical subsystems are connected rather than wait until all the wiring was complete and hope for the best. So I flipped the Master switch, heard the contactor close and waited for the lights on the VP-X to flash, which they did. That’s good.

Before applying power to any avionics including the Skyview I needed to configure the VP-X. That means telling it what is connected to each pin and what current limits to set for each pin. That is done through a software program provided by Vertical Power. I downloaded it onto my netbook and connected it to the VP-X by an ethernet cable. Sure enough the green light on the VP-X flashed indicating it was talking to the laptop. The software detected that the firmware was out of date on the VP-X so it updated it before I could load the configuration file I had created on the Vertical Power web site.  After it rebooted the VP-X I was able to complete the configuration successfully.

This photo shows the laptop connected and the firmware being updated.


Then I connected the power wires for the Skyview primary flight display (PFD) to the VP-X. The VP-X is set to power up the PFD immediately when the Master switch is closed so I flipped the switch and held my breath. No smoke seen and the Skyview began to boot up. Hooray!


Initially it showed a black screen with big red X’s indicating that it could not talk to a GPS, ADAHRS, or EMS. The lack of GPS and EMS made sense because they are not wired to the Skyview yet, but the ADAHRS is connected. Immediately I remembered that I had connected the ADAHRS through the Skyview network port on the secondary Skyview display which is not powered yet and I thought that might be the problem. But after thinking it through I concluded that should not matter because the network ports are passive connections and the primary display should see the ADAHRS through the secondary display. After all if one display fails in flight you don’t want it taking out the network attached through that display.

So I continued to research the problem in the manuals until I read that the display won’t see the ADAHRS until a network setup is completed. But then I not could figure out how to run a setup because there is no Setup option on the Skyview menu. Further reading led me to the secret. Press buttons 7 and 8 together on the PFD and it will enter setup mode. Eureka! I was able to run a network detection and identify the ADAHRS. The firmware was out of date so it did the update for me and then connected to the ADAHRS.

This view shows the attitude, Map, and EMS displays. The GPS is still not connected so that is off-line but there is real data in the other two sections. This was a good day!


This was exciting but I also had the opportunity to help Bruce Hill, a fellow builder from Ramona, CA to make labels for his instrument panel on Saturday afternoon. He read that I had some success with Decal Pro and contacted me about getting some help. He came over with his panel and a graphics file and we spent about four hours making and applying most of his labels. He took a few home for installation later. He was happy with how it turned out and I was happy to help him.

Categories: Avionics, Wiring

Oil Pressure, Fuel Pressure and P-Mag Wiring – 4 hrs

November 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Nov 10, 2013

Continuing with the wiring fun I wired up the fuel pressure and oil pressure sensors to the Skyview EMS module. The sensors are the two brass devices with the three-color twisted wires routed through the pass-through.


On the inside of the fuselage the wires are spliced to the associated wires in the EMS harness including the +5V wires that I spliced together last week. I spliced the sensor wires with enough extra slack that I could cut and replice again if necessary.


I also started wiring up the P-Mags. I first installed a jumper between pins 2 and 3 to force the P-Mag to the A curve for controlling advance. This is because the engine is new and not broken in. The B curve will produce higher CHTs so the A curve is recommended, at least through the break-in phase. I routed the other wires out through adel clamps to the forward fuselage.


Categories: Avionics, Wiring

More Wiring – 8 hrs

November 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Saturday Nov 9, 2013

I admit I am slow at this. It takes me hours to arrange and make these electrical connections because I don’t want to create a rats nest of wires. All the details have to be determined as I go – such as the routing of the wires, tie down locations, and most importantly the wire length. Today I connected all the wires for the EGT and CHT sensors for cylinders 1 and 3. This photo is the fruit of about 4 hours of work.


I next made two 26 AWG fusible links from a kit I bought from B&C Specialty. These are for the ammeter shunt.


Here is a photo showing the wires for the ammeter shunt installed including the two fusible links. I also wired the master switch to the battery contactor. I confirmed that the contactor closes when the switch is thrown. That is the first test of the power circuits.


Categories: Firewall Forward, Wiring

Panel Labels Completed – 7 hrs

November 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Saturday Nov. 2, 2013

I took a few photos of the DecalPro process so I thought I would post them for anyone who is interested. I am not showing all the steps but this will give you a flavor and a trick I learned. After printing the label graphics on the special blue paper using my laser printer and cleaning the materials the paper is run through the laminator with the black foil on top and the fiberglass board underneath. The tricky part is pulling the foil tight so it does not wrinkle as it goes through.


Here is the stack after it was run through the laminator twice.


Then the foil is carefully pealed off leaving the graphics with the black material transferred to the paper where toner was present. Since I am using black foil the graphics look the same as they did before running through the laminator. If I was using white or some other color foil the graphics would have that color at this point.


The way to tell that the color has transferred is to look at the foil after it is pealed off. The black material is now gone wherever there was graphics.


Next the mylar transfer film is laminated to the blue paper. In this process the black text and graphics bond lightly to the clear mylar film.


After that the paper with the mylar film attached is carefully placed in a water bath to release the graphics from the paper, leaving it attached to the mylar film. But it is very fragile and the lettering will detach very easily so this is a critical step. The mylar film is pat dry with a paper towel then cut into individual label groups. It is bonded to the panel using a spray adhesive. The circles your see on the label are just alignment aids I printed with the text to help get them placed on the panel accurately. This is the most challenging part of the process for me. Once the lettering touches the panel it is stuck. You can’t reposition it. In my first few attempts I found that it is not easy to get the placement right on the first touch. After placing a few badly and having to redo them my wife gave me a great tip using a clear acrylic block with etched grid lines that is normally used for arts and crafts (stamping). Using one of the blocks I was able to accurately place the remaining labels each time. Here is the process. After the label is sprayed with the adhesive included in the DecalPro kit, I carefully placed it on the block face down. Traces of the spray adhesive used in the  preparation process will hold it there well enough that it will not fall off during handling. Then I turned the block over and I could see through the acrylic to lower the label down onto the panel in just the right position and angle. As soon as it touches the panel the label is attached. This photo was taken right after placing the labels for the P-Mag swtiches. You can see the circles are concentric with the holes in the panel for the switches so the letting above and below are placed right where I wanted them.  For those interested the blocks are called Inkadinkado Clear Small and Medium Blocks and are available on Amazon for about $9 and also at Michael’s Arts and Crafts stores.


The label sticks to the panel MUCH better than the block because there is much more adhesive on that side of the label. The block just lifts off leaving the label in place. Then I rubbed down the label as described in the DecalPro instructions to help bond it to the panel. Then carefully peal off the mylar film leaving just the graphics on the panel. Of course, this technique won’t work unless the surface is flat.


Here is a view of the left side of the panel with lettering all applied.


After finishing the lettering I riveted the radio stack ribs to the subpanel.


Then I installed most of the switches and instruments in the panel – this time for good I hope. Wow, it looks clean and colorful. Some may not like the colored switch covers but I like the soft feel and the colors are meaningful to me. Red means the switch should normally be on at all times when flying (Master, ignition, avionics, etc.), yellow means it is used intermittently (pitot heat, boost pump, etc.), and blue is for lights.


Categories: Instrument Panel