Thursday, April 30, 2009

The best you can do

I still have a few days remaining on my two-week-vacation and now that I'm back from New England, I was able to spend the entire day at the hangar, with a break only to run into work to interview Rick Gray for this weekend's RV Builder's Hotline. Rick won the Grand Champion title at Sun n' Fun for his Rocket.

During the interview, Rick told me that the secret to building a champion RV -- or any other plane for that matter -- is looking at a completed part and asking oneself, "is this the best I can do?"

Great, just what I need: A conscience.

But it was helpful when I went back to the hangar that I decided to doublecheck the continuity on the ELT wiring I've been installing, and then make some minor changes in how I route it to the firewall.

Bottom line? I pushed the first button on something I've wired and it beeped and flashed, just like it's supposed to. OK, the ELT is actually powered by its own battery. All I was installing was a remote switch on the panel and a buzzer that tells me when the ELT is activated.

Still, I didn't expect it to work. "You're doing fine," hangar neighbor Ray Hurdt assured me, apparently aware of my tendency not to trust myself, even after 8 years of building this airplane. A few seconds later, I grounded the buzzer and heard a "beep."

"See?" he said. "You need to trust yourself more."

The fact is: I probably could do better and I probably will rewire the connector at the remote switch. There's too much slack in the wire for one thing and I didn't like the job I did crimping the female Molex connectors. But it works, and that's what counts right now.

Here's a shot of the ELT. See that wiring harness? Yeah, I made that.

I ran the wire forward through the bushings that also hold the elevator trim cable. I installed an Adel clamp to keep it low so as to avoid the pushrod to the yoke.

Then I cross it under the pushrod (and the left wingtip strobe cable) to another Adel clamp.

Through the center section bulkhead, down the center channel, and up the conduit along the firewall...

Then back along a rib, crossing over the Vertical Power power unit (not shown), through a bushing in the subpanel to the switch on the instrument panel.

One thing I don't like about this setup is the lack of strain relief at the connector to the remote switch.

So that's one more thing to check off on my weekly list at the hangar.

Of course, I have to add one more: "Do it again. Do it better."

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