Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hangar flying the instrument panel design

I'm going flying today, but I'm not going to leave the ground. I've been working on the layout of the instruments in the panel, and now I have to go put it in the plane, sit in the seats and fly some "fake" flights to get the "human action" part of it down. Are all the instruments in a logical spot for the most efficient usefulness for the way I fly? We'll see

I did make some changes from the last revision I made using ePanel Builder on For one thing, that program doesn't consider the aluminum angle that is installed on the backside of the panel, all along the side and top.
I also realized the Grand Rapids Technology EIS 4000 engine monitor was in a dumb spot for me -- above the radio stack. I use the RPM indicator a lot when I fly, so I movedit over so it would be in the critical flight instruments grouping, just under the Dynon 100.

I also moved the PS Engineering 1000 over, closer to where it is on the Piper Warriors I fly. There's no reas difference, I suppose, than if I'd left it way over there on the right side. But it's something I'm used to.

I'm not sure I'm particularly thrilled with where I have the TruTrak autopilot control panel, but I'll lave it there for now.

I was mindful of some things I read in the article I wrote a few years ago -- Principles and Myths of Instrument Panel Design. Stein Bruch, Doug Weiler, Tom Berge, Tom Irlbeck had some good advice. One that was worth remembering is Tom's observation that for people who don't have much in their instrument panels -- and I certainly don't have much -- they tend to space things out, which prevents adding spiffy new things one might find at Oshkosh.

As you can see, I've left a lot of room to add things.


I took the panel out to the plane and did some mock flights and made some changes. The TruTrak autopilot is now just below the Garmin portable GPS. I've set up three groups, basically. Flight instruments, navigation, and radios. I moved the intercome to above the radio stack (I can expand the radio stack later and use the hole. I moved the ELT switch next to the transponder.

Here's my reasoning. I can now run an emergency situation and am the width of a hand from everything I need, ELT, switch transponder, shed load, communicate the emergency in this configuration.

I'm not particularly thrilled with where the TruTrak is, but it's grouped with the GPS -- navigation.

I've also got everything is withing a 'half-reach,' so that no matter how tightly I'm strapped in, I can reach everything with a minimum of effort.


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