Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Working man panel

If I were a typical RV builder these days, I'd be plotting out how to space out my two $10,000 Chelton flight instruments, and then sending the panel out to a special place to have it perfectly cut. Or I'd just give Stein Bruch $100,000 (as, believe me, some people have) to build the perfect panel.

But, alas, like my father before me, I have to go to work each day to earn a living and so I'm building a "blue-collar" panel. I'm cutting each hole myself, and then filing it down to the right size. By hand.

I'll know every inch of this panel, because I will have measured, cut, and touched every inch of this panel.

There are days when I read Van's Air Force and see the amazing equipment people are bringing to their project and the amount of money they bring to bear upon it, and think I'm not really much of a builder. Then there are days when I realize I'm doing all of this plane by hand, by myself, while juggling real life for a working person and I think that puts me in the company of the real homebuilders of years gone by like Tony Bingelis, who figured out how to do all of this without writing a big check.

So here's what I've got so far (left to right): Backup altimeter and airspeed indicator on the left, a Dynon D100 EFIS over a Grand Rapids EIS 4000 engine monitor, the Vertical Power VP-50 over the TruTrak single-axis wing leveler, an Air Gizmo dock for a Garmin 296 (without the adaptor to angle it toward me which turned out to be a waste of my $25), over an Icom A210 radio.

And that's where I am. So here's my question. Underneath the A210, will be the Garmin 327 transponder. How big of a gap (for cooling) should I account for when figuring out the height of the cut below the A210 radio? And I assume I'm not leaving a small piece of metal between the two, right?

Also, would it make sense to cut out a "blank" for another radio (you'll note I have no VOR capability) in the event I decide to add one and then put some sort of cover over it?

1 comment:

  1. I'm right there with ya Bob! Even tho I did have my panel cut on a water jet (for a measly $50...), I have LESS than eight grand in my panel, complete! No auto-pilot...yet, but I feel really good about building my day VFR airplane on a tight budget, and will thoroughly enjoy every second of flying the daylights out of it! Good on ya!